La Crosse diocesan attorney writes op ed ripping pro-life Kapanke in favor of pro-abort

By James G. Birnbaum | La Crosse | Posted: Monday, June 6, 2011 12:15 am

Should Sen. Dan Kapanke be voted out of office for his recent actions in Madison? Absolutely for at least two reasons, what he did and why he did it.

First, his vote against the collective bargaining rights of the working class was unprecedented and radical in its breadth and scope. It was totally unnecessary and unrelated to any fiscal necessity.

It has created chaos in local governments in the short term, seriously and in some cases irreparably harmed his constituents and left a destructive legacy politically and economically never seen before in Wisconsin history. This one, unnecessary, vindictive, ideological vote demands his recall. 

Second, Kapanke has changed. He turned his back on his friends, neighbors and constituents in favor of out-of-town and out-of-state wealthy right-wing ideologues who have and probably will again dump millions of dollars to smear Rep. Jennifer Shilling like he attempted to do with Rep. Ron Kind.

Kapanke is too far indebted and in the pocket of big business to be trusted. We need a senator who is one of us, who can’t be bought and who will take our calls and not those of the Koch brothers.

Some votes, because of their consequence and intent, mandate a forfeiture of public office. This is one of those votes.

In the recall election, vote for Rep. Jennifer Shilling, a person of loyalty and integrity.
LaX Trib

First... weak letter!  Face it, you support the recall because you didn't vote for him the first time around.  You are hoping for a low turnout for the election so as to snatch back what is yours.  Second, modernizing collective bargaining is the only concrete answer as to why there's a recall in the first place?  Puleeeze.

I've posted on Birnbaum's political contributions before.  He exclusively supports pro-abortion politicians.  It has been brought before more than one bishop in this diocese and no action has ever been taken against him.  He still is the diocese go to guy in legal matters. 



Matt said...

I can't seem to wrap my head around the FACT that a publicly pro abort attorney is on the payroll for a Catholic Diocese. Maybe it's me, but does this not send a confusing message to the faithful. This guy is against so much that The Church holds to be natural law - I can't fathom how this is possible. How can the faithful be expected to follow or understand Church teaching when those in Authority are not?

Dad29 said...

Yah, well, Matt Flynn was the Archd'n lawyer here in Milwaukee (maybe still is.)

Democrat Party all the way. He was the one who threatened and suppressed victims and whistleblowers in the homosex-predator episode here.

Nice, eh?

Badger Catholic said...

Dad29: Wow a lawyer and a Packers backup QB. Guy must be busy! :)

I know it's an ancient point, but someone needs to hold lawyers accountable.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, guys, the relationship between any attorney and a very long-time client is difficult to entirely get out of without causing lots of unintended problems for the client. Mr. Birnbaum has done some very good work for the diocese particularly in defense of unfairly accused priests. That is why he continues to be retained. However, he is no longer allowed to give the bishop advice with regards to the Church's advocacy for Life issues, especially where it regards election law since he has abundantly proven himself unable to separate his democratic party loyalties from his duty to the Church. This has been so since (I believe) 2008.
I do agree however - if he values his representation of the diocese so much, you'd think he'd sit on his hands when it comes to this kind of public advocacy. As a priest there's a lot of things I don't say or do because it could be perceived as crossing the line. For instance, I haven't had a candidate's bumper sticker on my car in years.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

This election has NOTHING to do with abortion, particularly since the state has not authority to tighten its laws on the subject significantly.

You are right that many of those pushing the recall didn't vote for the targeted incumbent in the first place -- which is also true of those trying to recall three Democratic incumbents. But, elections are decided by the 20-30 percent of voters who are NOT particularly committed to any given party or ideology. The bet is, a lot of people who voted for this guy last time around are horrified by his recent performance. It may be true. There were more than one sign in Madison reading "I voted for Scott Walker and he spit on me."

I am blessed to live in a district represented by one of the Wisconsin Fourteen. Nobody in this are has been targeted for recall, because we love our Wisconsin 14 state senators. Alberta Darling is in for a fight though.

Badger Catholic said...

Father, I agree he has protected the diocese well.... but eventually it seems there must be a tipping point. The situation has become scandalous.

SJ: Puleeze. The unions are perhaps one of the biggest pushers of abortion legislation in the state. It has everything to do with abortion. A vote for unions is a vote for abortion. I could support an ethical union, but the current batch of public unions in Wisconsin are extremist when it comes to life issues(and obviously that support is not needed for normal union functions).

Anonymous said...

Fr. Michael---Thank you for your comments re: Mr. Birnbaum. I realize that he has done some very good work for the Diocese of LaCrosse. That said, he is going to either retire or die someday (I'm not wishing for that---simply stating a fact). The Diocese will have to carry on w/o his services at that point. Why should the faithful be exposed to his non-Catholic views and end up being confused? How does that help the average person in the pew? I would hope that there is at least one lawyer in the Diocese of LaCrosse who is faithful to the teachings of the Catholic church that could fill Mr. Birnbaum's shoes and provide excellent legal advice to the Bishop and his staff/advisors. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you just picked up on this OpEd. I read it the day it was published, and it irked me that JB didn't just keep his opinion to himself considering his history and his representation of the Diocese.

Matt said: "How can the faithful be expected to follow or understand Church teaching when those in Authority are not?"

I've been asking myself that same question - often, recently.

There is a great article written by T. Brundage, the former judicial vicar for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee called "Resolving Disputes Within The Church".

In this article Brundage states:
"It is my belief that civil attorneys often do a disservice to the church, as well as to the practice of justice"...
"civil attorneys are asking the church to stop being the church, which is a sure path to trouble."

I can't elaborate here, but JB's involvement in the Diocese does, indeed, often prevent the Church from being the Church.

They'll abandon you if *he* feels they should.
Speaking from experience, here.

Badger Catholic said...

Anon: please forgive my tardiness. I am one guy who writes a blog as a hobby. Please feel free to email me anything of interest.

Anonymous said...

I thought about it, BC...but wasn't sure how you'd receive it.

When JB was briefly discussed another time and I commented, my criticism of him wasn't very well-received.

I should have given you the 'heads-up'- I will next time!

Badger Catholic said...

It's a blog. So well received or not, it's news we all care about! :)

Anonymous said...

You know, if you guys are so scandalized by this (and I'm not saying that you shouldn't be) you really do need to let Bishop Callahan know. Griping about it on a blog isn't going to do anything except to make us feel all warm and fuzzy in our righteousness.

Anonymous said...

Have tried to reach Bishop Callahan on other issues...more than once.
He simply doesn't respond.

Sad, really.

Anonymous said...

I just have this picture of Grima Wormtongue in my head. . .

Siarlys Jenkins said...

"A vote for unions is a vote for abortion."

In the absence of any evidence presented to support this startling conflation, I must consider it to be the product of delerium.

On principle, I would have thought the opposite to be true. The larger the paycheck, the more comprehensive the medical benefits, the less likely it is that prospective parents would conclude "We can't afford another baby."

Union don't write laws. Legislators do. Decisions about abortion are constitutionally reserved to the individual woman concerned, no matter what the legislature wants to enact. So, let's vote on issues that the legislature can actually accomplish.

Badger Catholic said...

ALL of these unions (WEAC, et al) support pro-abortion/pro-contraception measures and the sex ed bill that passed last year.

This is the NEA's statement on abortion: Resolution 1-12 (2003) Family Planning. "The National Education Association supports family planning, including the right to reproductive freedom. The Association also urges the implementation of community-operated, school-based family planning clinics that will provide intensive counseling by trained personnel."

How many pro-life candidates has the union lobby supported?

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I have a sense that, somewhere deep down, you have a kind of working class view of the world. It is hard to see it, through the fog of the current political climate, and the way you choose to respond to the current political tendencies trying to dominate the airwaves.

I can understand how you could oppose abortion, although I see that issue differently. (I don't believe it is a "class" issue, although I once met a man who said as long as rich women can fly off to clinics in Switzerland, he would cheerfully help poor women get to affordable clinics in Mexico -- that was before Roe v. Wade).

To say that VOTING for a law authorizing unions to function effectively is a vote for abortion... that is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

I can assure you that if every public sector union endorsed restored criminal penalties for abortion, I would NOT support the current Walker program, even if it were introduced by Tammy Baldwin... bad analogy, I don't have much respect for Baldwin anyway, but you see the point I hope.

Unions, like most organizations, like to think that the resolutions they pass at conventions have great influence on the world. They are deluding themselves. The nitty gritty of what unions accomplish is delivered at the bargaining table, and no collective bargaining agreement has ever made abortions more or less legal.

Badger Catholic said...

I had a nice long comment typed up, clicked the wrong button and now it's gone. *sigh* I'll try and recap. I am pro public schools and unions. Vouchers are good to get kids out of individual failing schools but it will never replace the public system.

That said, abortion and the other life issues are the only social issues on the table right now to Catholics. There's no such thing as justice for teachers who continue to support this tiny closed minded view of the utilitarian person. I'm not opposed to a just wage and benefits, with that said I support Walker's plan. As the political pendulum swings, I'm sure there will be some time I could support them(assuming they go neutral on the life issues). But sorry, at best I'm throwing out the shark, baby, and bathwater. A strong teachers union means giving teachers the freedom to be pro-life, to vote pro-life, and to allow that to be expressed in the classroom, even if you or other union supporters disagree with that fundamental. If the attitude of the teachers union is one of intellectual and dare I say moral freedom, then why is the latter forced upon them. If the teachers union took a politician stand that they would teach Creationism and support Creationism legislative efforts, I suspect you might not be supporting them in today's scenario.

In times past, foreigners ensuring low populations in other countries might be considered an act of war.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I fundamentally disagree that abortion is THE issue on the table right now. I seldom consider it at all when voting. I haven't had a pro-life pro-labor Democrat like Tony Hall on my ballot, but I could gladly vote for one. Frankly, I don't think voting is going to change much on abortion - most of what counts has been settled as a matter of constitutional balance between the power of the state and the autonomy of the individual, a balance I support as sound, conservative application of well established precedent.

I don't believe Walker, or his party, give a hoot about the sanctity of life. They've observed that it is a good issue to get a fraction of the working class to vote them into office, where they can stab working families in the back on the economic issues that really matter.

I would agree with you that the teacher's union should not be engaged in making demands about what the curriculum will be, whether concerning abortion, gay marriage, creationism, or any number of other subjects. And I agree that it is sometimes difficult for teachers NOT to take a stand on what words are expected to come out of their own mouths in the classroom. I can't begin to wrap my mind around the idea that the answer to bad politics is to destroy anyone's unions.

Badger Catholic said...

I think you are upset that Walker does not worship the unions like previous administrations.

Walker's actions seem to completely contradict assertion on his apathy to life. Many other Republicans in Wisconsin, you are correct.

No action presented in the current budget destroys unions. Protecting the consciences of teachers(who object to harmful actions taken by WEAC) is an important step in the right direction. Until the WEAC is viable, I will not support them. I would support having a more diverse selection of teachers guilds in the state versus one group with a monopoly on the education workplace.