Statement of the Cardinal Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Blase J. Cupich, the Bishop of the Diocese of Belleville, Michael G. McGovern, the Bishops of the Diocese of Peoria, Daniel R. Jenky and Louis Tylka and the Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, Thomas J. Paprocki on the Recent Comments of U.S. Representative Mary Miller
We appreciate that Congresswoman Mary Miller has apologized for any harm her words caused by using a reference to one of the most evil dictators in history. As the events of the past days have reminded us, words matter. Words from elected officials matter more. To reference Adolf Hitler in support of any policy position normalizes an evil person. It does great harm and shows deep insensitivity to the Jewish community, as well as the many others who suffered from the racist Nazi ideology and in the war waged to eliminate it. Also troubling was her comment: “Whoever has the youth has the future.” Read in light of the Hitler reference, it objectifies children as pawns in a game about power and influence, rather than seeing them as future actors in bringing about the common good. The common good is not served by demonizing opponents. Pope Francis has called for a new kind of dialogue which moves beyond merely finding common ground or avoiding offense, and instead seeks a true encounter with others. Words matter, and words of true encounter can contribute to healing.