Cancel Culture vs. Public Prayer

Monsignor Robert Batule, a regular commenter on this blog, is a long-time friend who has favored me over the years with his insights and affirmation. He is a dedicated pastor; a theology scholar who teaches dogmatic theology at St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers; and, as editor of the Catholic Social Science Review, a nationally prominent commentator on Catholic social thought and its application to the great issues of our time.

He has also become the catalyst, recently, for a local politician’s exercise in cancel culture.

It seems that shortly before Christmas last year, Msgr. Batule, as pastor of St. Margaret of Scotland in Selden, Long Island, was invited to give an invocation before a meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature. In doing so, he included prayers for the unborn and for religious liberty.

This struck one legislator as a violation of the U.S. Constitution–an unwitting demonstration, on her part, of just how disconnected too many of our government officials are from the true meaning and spirit of our nation’s founding documents. She introduced a bill to require “neutral” prayers before the legislature that do not “advance religious doctrine.”

Of course, that is not what Msgr. Batule’s prayer did. He provides a brilliant response on the website of Crisis magazine, cogently explaining the natural law and its application to such issues as freedom of conscience, religious liberty, and the sanctity of human life. I encourage everyone to read it, and share it with others.

And when you have, please join me in thanking and affirming Msgr. Batule for standing strong, as he has throughout his priesthood, in challenging those who would expunge expressions of religious faith from the public square.

Published by Rick Hinshaw

I have spent the last three decades in primarily Catholic communications work: as a reporter, news editor, columnist, and for eight years editor of The Long Island Catholic; several years as co-host and co-producer of The Catholic Forum program on the diocesan Telecare channel; two stints as Director of Communications for the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights; and a year as Associate Director for Communications at the New York State Catholic Conference. I also served for three years as Public Information Officer for the late Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon, a staunchly Catholic and active pro-life leader. Over that more than 30-year career, I have gained an ever deeper understanding of and appreciation for the moral and social teachings of our Church. In my various roles I have lent my voice to articulating those teachings and their applicability to the critical issues of our time. That is what I intend to do with this blog. Moreover, at a time when our political and social disagreements seem to have degenerated into constant vitriol, vilification, verbal abuse and intolerance of those who hold differing opinions, I hope that this blog can contribute, in some small way, to a restoration of respectful debate and discussion, where we can defend our beliefs forcefully without demonizing any who disagree with us. As a Catholic commentator, that is what I have always striven to do--remembering that even as we are called to stand firmly in defense of our Church, her teachings, and our right to be heard in the public square, we are also called always to be the face of Christ to the world--most especially to those with whom we disagree.

12 thoughts on “Cancel Culture vs. Public Prayer

  1. Hi Rick, the world is losing its mind. I remember Fr Batule very well from my years working for the diocese. Please convey to him my thanks for his fearless and level-headed words. Given his background, he’s hardly to be suspected of being a “religious fanatic “! If you haven’t read a novel titled “Lord of the World “ by Msgr Robert Hugh Benson (1907), I urge you to do so. It’s frighteningly prescient. Even Pope Francis has been recommending it. Love and blessed Easter to you and your family.


    1. Thank you, Nancy. I will be sure to bring your kind words to Msgr. Batule’s attention, and I now can’t wait to read the book you recommend. Happy and blessed Easter to you as well!


  2. It is both sad and outrageous that in recent years “Freedom of Religion” has started to be interpreted as “Freedom FROM Religion”. What gives people the right to suppress religious expression in the public square because their beliefs may be different? A public prayer is not proselytizing, its no more than free speech, and certainly it is not “forcing” others to agree with your religious stance. I have been to events where prayer was offered by protestant ministers and by Jewish Rabbis. These are not my exact beliefs necessarily but NEVER have I done anything but stand in respectful silence. In these circumstances the best thing to do is to hope to hear common ground, which in the case of prayer, is almost certain. I wonder how low and petty a person has to be to object to someone praying? I say bravo to this priest for answering the objections to his public prayer. We are going down a slippery slope as a nation in MANY areas, and we dare not remain silent in the face of suppression.


    1. Exactly, we have to continue to stand up and be heard–not angrily, but forcefully and intelligently–which have always been Msgr. Batule’s forte.


  3. Hey Rick!      Msgr. Batule’s response was brilliant!  Wonderful that you highlighted him and his fidelity to truth! Love,Eileen


    1. Thank you, dear! Proud to help, in my small way, to share Msgr. Batule’s wisdom, insights, and as you say, fidelity to truth, with others.


  4. I have the utmost respect for Father Batule! I respect his knowledge and his never ending reverence for the Catholic Church! I find, quite often, that people who flap their gums about people’s religious rights, don’t have anything better to do than criticize and mock what they don’t understand! People need to have something to believe in! If you choose not to have any religious convictions, that is fine! It is your right! However, do not demonize me because I believe in something or someone and you dont! I believe in the powers of prayers. Do what?
    Doesn’t make me a fanatic or a criminal!
    Let people be who they want to be !
    Enough if this already! Get a life!


    1. One would hope that those who disagree with something in a prayerful invocation would be able to calmly take the time to reflect on it, consider whether there may be truth and wisdom to be gained from it, and, even if they still cannot agree, being respectful and appreciative of the invocator’s sincerity and prayerful approach.


  5. To Msgr Barule’s invocation prayer, and his response to Fleming, I say “Amen!” to both! There is no argument against being the people we believe God created us to be, and living His word. Objectors have the right to their own beliefs…just don’t tread on ours!!! Thank you and Bless you, Msgr Batule! Your brilliant mind is working for God and we, HIS followers!!!


    1. Right! Surely this legislator has used her position to promote the “right” to abort unborn children. So why should a clergyman, invited to pray before the legislature, have to refrain from praying for the protection of those children?


  6. On this Good Friday It is fitting to recognize Msgr Batule’s unwavering defense of the most vulnerable. When I lived in Williston Park and was a member of the Corpus Christi Knights of Columbus Council he was persistent in reminding us of the victims of abortion. May God continue to bless him and his holy work.


    1. Well said, Walter, Msgr. Batule has indeed long been a consistent and eloquent voice in defense of the unborn. And I’ve always appreciated the political and cultural savvy he brings to his efforts to defend life, the family, and our religious freedom.


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