The following is a letter to me from Kevin Gavin, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. I asked his permission to publish it here, which he kindly gave.
Dear Deal, I read your recent commentary published by The Christian Review on Monday and was deeply concerned. We’re certainly all entitled to our opinions and free to make them known as broadly as we wish, but it’s crucial for those opinions to be based in fact.
I’m writing to clarify the issues raised by Archbishop Chaput in his column of August 9, 2016, “Some personal thoughts on the month ahead.” I also want to encourage you in the future to bring your concerns to me at the Archdiocese before you publish them. If you had questions about what the Archbishop said and what he meant I would have helped to clarify those issues. What you ended up writing painted the Archbishop as someone who has laid aside the importance of respecting the dignity of human life and that’s entirely inaccurate.
The Archbishop was providing his personal thoughts as a Catholic citizen. He underscored some key points that Catholics should bear in mind in any election. Our faith may be a personal thing but it is never a private thing. As such, our actions in the public square should be a reflection of the principles of our faith and forming one’s conscience in relation to action in the public square is critical. In the course of his column he even said that the right to life undergirds all other rights. He went on to recommend “Living the Gospel of Life” as an important reading resource in this upcoming election.
Your argument that the Archbishop has opened the door for Clinton as a potential choice for Catholic voters is also puzzling to me. He never said that directly or indirectly. He said that both candidates have serious flaws and he meant it. He won’t be endorsing or opposing any candidates and he isn’t going to tell people which candidate to vote for.
What he did was a very basic thing. He reminded Catholics to be Catholic and to do it in every aspect of their public and private lives. That’s as fundamental as it gets. He laid out his personal struggles with the choices we’re all facing and provided resources for people to better form their own conscience. People do have choices beyond the major parties whether it be an independent, a write-in, or a complete abstention from the process. Whatever choice an individual makes, it ought to be appropriately formed.
You indicated that you’ve admired the Archbishop for many years in your piece. In light of that admiration, and basic good will, it would be have been better if you’d asked a few questions instead of publishing assumptions.
Kenneth A. Gavin
Director of Communications
Archdiocese of Philadelphia