Matt C. Abbott
September 15, 2005
Controversy over two USCCB officials
By Matt C. Abbott

First there was the report that Teresa Kettlecamp, who works for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office of Child and Youth Protection, "serves on the advisory board of the pro-abortion Feminist Majority Foundation's National Center for Women and Policing."


Now there is controversy over another USCCB official.

According to Randy Engel, executive director of the Export, Pa.-based U.S. Coalition for Life:

"On September 2, 2005, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Office of Media Relations issued a statement by Dr. Eugene Fisher, Associate Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and a consultant to the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, on the death of New York Rabbi Balfour Brickner on August 29, 2005.

"The full text of the statement by Dr. Fisher reads as follows:

Rabbi Balfour Brickner was one of the great leaders of Reform Judaism and one of the greatest American religious leaders of the second half of the twentieth century. He was a man of social vision and moral courage who never backed down from the good fight for the rights of others, whether the cause was civil and religious rights or labor and Jewish-Christian relations. He was a mentor and a guide in these matters not only to many in his own community but equally to many within the Catholic community.

As a leader of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now the Union for Reform Judaism) and the Rabbi Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York, he participated in dialogue not only with Catholics in America but also internationally. He was a biblical prophet with a sense of humor. He was, in brief, a mensch. We in the Catholic community involved in interreligious and social work have lost a great friend. And the world has lost one of its most important voices. May he rest in peace with the Lord, and may his name forever be a blessing.

"Dr. Fisher's unqualified praise of Rabbi Brickner as 'a great friend' of Catholics and the Church carefully omits any reference to the seedier aspects of Rabbi Brickner's well known, long-time crusade for 'abortion rights' and 'homosexual rights.'

"Rabbi Brickner served on the boards of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), the PPFA Board of Advocates and the PPFA Clergy Advisory Board, Planned Parenthood of New York City.

"Rabbi Brickner was a founder of Religious Leaders for a Free Choice, a New York-based pro-abortion organization.

"Rabbi Brickner was a founding member and board member of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), renamed NARAL Pro-Choice America.

"Rabbi Brickner served on the board of the New York affiliate of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCAR). In the mid-1970s, Rabbi Brickner, testified on RCAR's behalf before the U.S. Senate in favor of abortion rights. He stated that in Judaism the fetus in the womb is not considered a person and has 'no juridical personality of its own.' In fact, he stated, 'a fetus did not acquire legal standing until thirty days after its birth.'

"Rabbi Brickner frequently expressed his pro-abortion opinions in PPFA's publication Clergy Voices.

"In 'Bush Administration Alchemy Would Turn a Fetus into a Child,' Brickner charged that by making the fetus eligible for health care, the Bush Administration was turning 'a fetus into a child and a woman into a vessel.' He stated that the unborn fetus 'is not a child' and 'it is not a living soul.'

"Rabbi Brickner is quoted by WOMENSENEWS as stating: 'The media has played and pandered to the Roman Catholic Community and their position as though it is in some ways definitive toward reproductive choice.'

"Rabbi Brickner helped draft the 2000 SEICUS (Sex Education and Information Council of the United States) 'Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing,' which upholds contraception, abortion and homosexual rights including the right to 'the blessing of same sex unions,' cradle-to-grave sex instruction and population control."

Continues Engel:

"Dr. Fisher's claim, made on behalf of the USCCB, the official arm of the American bishops, that Rabbi Brickner was a great religious leader whose name may 'forever be a blessing,' needs to be refuted; Dr. Fisher and his superior, the Rev. Arthur Kennedy, executive director of the Secretariat, need to be sent packing; and the members of the hierarchy who permitted this scandalous statement to be issued need to issue an apology to the pro-life community. In addition, the Vatican should remove Dr. Fisher from any advisory position to the Holy See on Jewish ecumenical relations."

© Matt C. Abbott

Comments feature added August 14, 2011

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic columnist with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Management from Triton College in River Grove, Ill. He has worked in the right-to-life movement and is a published writer focused on Catholic and social issues. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome thoughtful feedback from readers. If you want our correspondence to remain confidential, please specify as such in your initial e-mail to me... (more)


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