Acton Institute Powerblog

Sisters’ Proxy Resolutions Dilute Catholic ‘Brand’

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Standing up for religious principles in an increasingly secularized and politicized country has become extremely difficult for religious and clergy. It doesn’t help their spiritual causes when these very same religious and clergy cannot delineate between what their respective faiths teach and what is simply the desire to attain a political or economic result.

For example, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, a member of the Interfaith Counsel on Corporate Responsibility, have issued a shareholder proxy resolution to Walgreens requesting the drugstore chain abandon the sale of tobacco products.

To borrow from Sam Cooke, I don’t know much about running a successful franchise but I do know a bit about most of the world’s major religions, especially Roman Catholicism. Not a whole lot of faiths espouse anti-tobacco theology. Those that do require only that their followers adhere to religious practices and customs rather than forcing everyone else outside the flock obey as well. That last, incidentally, exists only in the secular realm populated by such statist politicians as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

So the radical sisters from the City of Brotherly Love want Walgreens to stop selling tobacco? Back in my corporate-flack days, this was called “diluting the brand” as there’s nothing in Roman Catholic doctrine that addresses cigarettes, cigars, snuff and chew or the selling thereof.

But there’s plenty in said doctrine that refers to the intrinsic sinfulness of contraceptives and contraceptives that may also work as abortifacients – both sold, by the way, at Walgreens, and both, coincidentally, completely ignored by the Philly nuns in their litany of leftist proxy resolutions.

Contrast the St. Francis Sisters’ activism with the decision to boycott the Boston College graduation ceremony made by Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley. O’Malley traditionally delivers the blessing for the ceremony, but will take a pass this year to protest the selection of Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny – who endorses abortion legislation – as speaker at the event.

As the old Sesame Street song goes: “One of these things is not like the other.” Standing one’s ground on religious merits is not part of the nun’s liberal “narrative,” which apparently derives far more from Planned Parenthood and nanny statism than it does Roman Catholicism.

Bruce Edward Walker has more than 30 years’ writing and editing experience in a variety of publishing areas, including reference books, newspapers, magazines, media relations and corporate speeches. Much of this material involved research on water rights, land use, alternative-technology vehicles and other environmental issues, but Walker has also written extensively on nonscientific subjects, having produced six titles in Wiley Publishing’s CliffsNotes series, including study guides for "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest." He has also authored more than 100 critical biographies of authors and musicians for Gale Research's Contemporary Literary Criticism and Contemporary Musicians reference-book series. Most recently, he was managing editor of The Heartland Institute's InfoTech & Telecom News. Prior to that, he was manager of communications for the Mackinac Center's Property Rights Network. He also served from 2006-2007 as editor of Michigan Science, a quarterly Mackinac Center publication. Walker has served as an adjunct professor of literature and academic writing at University of Detroit Mercy. For the past three years, he has authored a weekly column for the mid-Michigan Morning Sun newspaper. Walker holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University. He is the father of two daughters and currently lives in Midland, Mich., with his wife Katherine.

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