Showing posts with label bishops. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bishops. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Gates of Hell 1, Catholic Church 0

The Catholic Church -- the institutional church, at least -- in this country is finished. The gates of hell, we are assured by scripture, will not prevail against the church everywhere, but they have here.

I say this after reading a "little" story from Pennsylvania uncovered in today's grand jury report on the spiritual, ethical and legal cesspool that is the Catholic Church there. The entire document is here. Maybe you have the stomach to tackle it in its immensity -- I do not.

But this one snippet from a massive global scandal and sacrilege is instructive. A huge story begins to just become a jumble of factoids and statistics, but the horror is best appreciated in looking at just one thing.

JUST ONE destroyed life. Sorry, make that two . . . because abortion. Just one mutilated soul. Just one sociopathic prelate.

This, from Diocese of Scranton in the 1980s, is just one in an unbelievably long parade of horror from just one American state since World War II. Here is the account from the local newspaper today, the Times Leader:

You can be assured that what the grand jury -- various grand juries over recent years -- uncovered in Pennsylvania will likewise pop up out of the clerical swamp in every diocese from sea to shining sea.

You also can be assured that most of our shepherds are wolves in chasubles and mitres.

I feel as if I should have more to say about this, something eloquent, profound and original. I don't.

Perhaps it's the cynicism I've clung to for the last 16 years as a coping mechanism. It's not ideal, but it seems to work for me and keeps me somewhere within Christianity instead of screaming "F*ck you!" as I storm out the door into . . . what? Nothingness?

Yeah, probably nothingness. And then the pointy-hatted motherf*ckers could notch yet another lost soul onto their liturgical staffs.

And yes, I just said "pointy-hatted motherf*ckers." The great scandal of American clericalist Catholicism is that all the "right" faithful will be a lot more scandalized by my phraseology than by priests raping young boys and girls, homosexual brothels disguised as Catholic seminaries and "princes of the church" aiding and abetting all of the above.

If you are offended, go say a rosary for my damnable soul . . . on the grave of an abuse victim who killed himself or herself after the misplaced shame and the unceasing torment became too much to bear.

Some of us will remain Catholic in the wake of this filth. I don't know which -- the jury's still out for most of us, I suspect. But I do know this: Whichever way we find to keep the faith, such as it is and assuming we do, it will not be the way we have kept it in the past. At all.

The collapse of the institutional church will follow the collapse of the hierarchy's reputation and credibility, a process begun in earnest in 2002 and finally completed today with the Pennsylvania grand jury's scathing 900-page report. The collapse of that credibility flowed out of the collapse of episcopal integrity, the visible sign of God-knows-how-many collapsed episcopal souls.

May God have precisely as much mercy on them as they showed their flocks.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

It depends on WHICH law, now, doesn't it?

Just when you think the Trump Administration surely can sink no lower, some kakistocrat in the executive branch looks at you, smirks and says "Hold my Zyklon B."

Today in Berlin-am-Potomac, there was the daily White House press briefing with Obergruppenlügner Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and the subject of children being forcibly wrested from their asylum-seeking parents at the Mexican border came up.

It went something like this.

During one exchange, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said to CNN reporter Jim Acosta, a frequent sparring partner, “I know it's hard for you to understand even short sentences.”

Acosta had asked Sanders about Attorney General Jeff Sessions's attempt, earlier in the day, to use the Bible to justify the Trump administration's immigration policies, which include splitting up families that arrive at U.S. borders seeking asylum.

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” Sessions said in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Other biblical passages, including some written by Paul, have been cited by advocates of softer immigration policies. In Romans 12, for example, Paul wrote: “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. ... Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.”
“Where in the Bible does it say that it's moral to take children away from their mothers?” Acosta asked.

“I'm not aware of the attorney general's comments or what he would be referencing,” Sanders replied. “I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law.”

Sanders and Acosta went back and forth until Sanders insulted Acosta's comprehension skills. On a telecast of the briefing, another reporter could be heard scolding Sanders for a “cheap shot.”

Sanders then falsely asserted that the Trump administration is separating children from their parents “because it's the law, and that's what the law states.” In fact, separation is not required by law but is a Trump administration practice that White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly calls a “tough deterrent.”

Sanders gave the next question to CBS's Paula Reid, who performed an on-the-spot fact-check.

Unmoved, Sanders continued to insist, falsely, that the Trump administration is simply doing what the law mandates. When Reid asked whether the administration will “take responsibility for its policy change,” Sanders replied, “It's not a policy change to enforce the law.”
OH . . . and this is what the United States' Catholic bishops think of the Trump Administration's "biblical" immigration policies:

Leading U.S. Catholic bishops on Wednesday escalated their criticism of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, calling new asylum-limiting rules “immoral” and rhetorically comparing the crackdown to abortion by saying it is a “a right-to-life” issue.

One bishop from the U.S.-Mexico border region reportedly suggested “canonical penalties” — which could refer to withholding the sacrament of Communion — for Catholics involved in implementing the Trump policies.

The comments came as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — the organizing body of bishops — gathered for a biannual meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The topics of migration and asylum have long been a focus for the U.S. church; more than 50 percent of U.S. Catholics under the age of 30 are Latinos.

The statements, including by the conference’s president, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, came two days after Attorney General Jeff Sessions ruled that fear of domestic violence or gang violence aren’t clear grounds for seeking asylum in the United States. Sessions said asylum claims have expanded too broadly.

But the bishops said the ruling this week came on top of other Trump White House moves that they oppose. Those include ending a program that protected from deportation the “dreamers,” young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, and reducing significantly the number of refugees allowed into the United States.

“At its core, asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life. The Attorney General’s recent decision elicits deep concern because it potentially strips asylum from many women who lack adequate protection. These vulnerable women will now face return to the extreme dangers of domestic violence in their home country. This decision negates decades of precedents that have provided protection to women fleeing domestic violence,” said a statement Wednesday by DiNardo in his capacity as USCCB president.

According to the Religion News Service, Tucson Bishop Edward Weisenburger raised the possibility of implementing canonical penalties for Catholics “who are involved in this,” referring to children being separated from their families at the border. Canonical penalties can range from denial of sacraments to excommunication, though Weisenburger did not specify what he intended beyond referring to sanctions that already exist for “life issues,” RNS reported.

“Canonical penalties are there in place to heal,” Weisenburger said. “And therefore, for the salvation of these people’s souls, maybe it’s time for us to look at canonical penalties.”

Efforts to reach Weisenburger for details were not immediately successful late Wednesday.

Some activists noted that it was rare for bishops to even talk about spiritual penalties in a political context, aside from warnings from some bishops to politicians who support abortion rights. John Gehring, a former USCCB staffer who is now a progressive faith advocate at Faith in Public Life, tweeted that “it’s hard to overstate” the significance of Weisenburger’s remarks.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Catholicism today

You may wonder why I've not been all over last week's deal where a national Catholic newspaper published an interview with the Rev. Benedict Groeschel in which the Franciscan friar, psychologist and popular EWTN host called Jerry Sandusky a "poor guy" and said that, sometimes, a kid will seduce a poor, poor priest in the throes of a nervous breakdown.

Because we all just know kids want it and, besides, poor Father just can't help himself.

And you also may like to know why I didn't call bullshit on Groeschel and his order stating that he "misspoke" because he's old, sick and just not that sharp anymore, and that he really didn't mean to "blame the victim." Even though what he said in the National Catholic Register interview -- during which Groeschel wasn't challenged on his contentions, and which blithely ran online . . . until it didn't -- was the same thing he's been saying for years.

Saying amid angry attacks on the "satanic" mainstream press for even covering the Catholic sex-abuse story to start with. Saying to abuse victims themselves.

Yes, you may be wondering why I didn't call bullshit on that in this cyberspace.

you may be wondering why I didn't point out that the Register's uncritical, incurious interview wasn't terribly surprising, being that Groeschel was a marquee personality for the Eternal Word Television Network, and that EWTN is owner of the newspaper. Or why I didn't express my bemusement at why EWTN, in announcing Groeschel's "retirement" from television Monday, noted the friar's advanced age and illness, that his comments to the Register were a sign of that . . . but didn't mention it never had a problem with such sentiments when he was a decade younger.

You may be wondering why I didn't Hank Aaron that one right out of the ol' ballpark.

And what about Bishop Robert Finn getting convicted of not reporting a child-pornographer priest to the authorities? Nice example of Christian propriety the prelate of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., was setting for the flock, eh?

I bet that if I had been all over that one today, I would have said the judge was wrong for not throwing him in the pen for a year.

Yeah, I probably would have. But I'm not going there . . . or there . . . or there. Frankly, I'm weary unto spiritual death of it all. I'm weary of the arid slog that is this church that's so compromised and confused.

If I wade into that tar pit, I'm going to convince myself that a "hapless bench of bishops" and a cultish, boring-ass Catholic cable network matter a hell of a lot more than they do in the spiritual scheme of things. If I give 'em all what's coming to 'em, I'm going to think I matter a hell of a lot more than I do in the scheme of things, and I'll end up telling the Catholic Church to kiss my righteous ass.

There's one small problem with that, though.

I got nowhere else to go.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Usher us out, the whipped and the feckless

Beauty: Unhip, unhappening, un-now, un-Catholic?

The Catholic Church is under assault from the brownshirts of the Movement for Deracinated Sexuality and its Vichy government in Washington.

Our bishops decry the fiscal destruction of Catholic social services and health care by bureaucrats who insist, in the name of equality, that the church give its blessing to what it theologically and morally cannot. They fret that Catholics are being pressured not only to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, but render what is God's, too.

We all talk about Jesus' command to "take up your cross and follow me," but we all hate it when our turn comes. They killed Him. On His account, they'll kill us, too, given the chance. On to Calvary.

But what really irks me is not that secularists resort to persecution in the name of liberty. That's their nature, like it is the nature of dogs to eat their own vomit.

No, what irks me is that my church -- through its sins and sins of omission -- has made it so damned easy for the devil. Half of those aggrieved bishops have been asleep at the switch, it seems; the other half have been tearing up the track, and now everyone is shocked,
shocked the train's come undone.

There's the lack of catechesis, which is a fancy way of saying we haven't passed the faith down to our young for the better part of half a century now. And, of course, there's the Catholic sex-abuse scandal.
That's a fancy way of saying Satan is running amok in the sanctuary.

THEN THERE'S the Catholic War on Beauty, waged mercilessly by the liturgical betters of the schmucks in the pews, since the first day in 1964 that somebody handed a guitar to a coffeehouse-washout folk singer and said "Go do Mass. And be relevant."

Being "relevant," of course, means "Ignore the accumulated wisdom and beauty of the ages, compiled through the blood, sweat, tears and prayers of the communion of saints." Sometime around 1964, I imagine, that prototypical anti-Dylan first decided "Kumbaya" would be really cool to sing at Mass.

It had to have been like letting the Ebola virus loose at a preschool. A mere couple of decades later, we had whole Masses written by Marty Haugen. My God, Harry Truman just dropped The Bomb on beauty.

On transcendence.

On our ability to . . . check that . . . on our
desire to look upon the face of God.

Looking upon our own deformed visages in sanctified self-worship is so much more satisfying to us now. Which explains the implicit arrogance of "Gather Us In."

But it's worse than that.

For instance, one has to wonder whether the Haugenification of the Catholic Church is manifestation or, to some degree, causation. It's the whole chicken-or-the-egg question: Did our abandonment of holiness and responsibility lead to the godlessness that spawns ugliness and banality, or did our utilitarian embrace of ugliness and banality in the name of "relevance" render us unable to see God?

How does one "see" God, after all, this side of heaven? One sees God in beauty . . . which we Catholics largely have abandoned in the name of utility. That and liturgical lounge lizards.

Maybe it's a moot question now. Maybe what we have here is a feedback loop of mundane wretchedness, both artistic and spiritual. Not to mention moral and behavioral, as in the case of The Scandals.

Whatever the case -- and this gets me back to where we began -- the church now is under attack from a hostile culture and government because we succeeded in losing the culture, something which never is won in the first place so much by argument as it is through aesthetics and witness. Beauty can bypass the brain and its defenses to conquer the soul, and American Catholicism thus has unilaterally disarmed.

And our culture now belongs to the barbarians.

On the bright side, though, martyrdom historically has been an effective witness, too. So there's always hope.

Monday, April 12, 2010

IT'S TRUE! Onion not making that s*** up!

Until now, I always thought The Onion was just making stuff up.

You know what I'm talking about -- for instance, the "fake" advice columns like "Ask a Bee" and "Ask a Faulknerian Idiot Man-Child."

You'll note that I put "fake" in quotation marks. That's because I don't think The Onion is making that stuff up -- at least not all of it. The was brought home by an Italian Catholic website,
Pontifex, which apparently has run a real-life version of "Ask a Faulknerian Idiot Man-Child Bishop."

AND THE retired bishop then went on at length about how the recent media scrutiny of the Vatican is all a big conspiracy put together by the Christ-killers. From London, The Times reports :
A retired Italian bishop has provoked fury by reportedly suggesting that “Zionists” are behind the current storm of accusations over clerical sex abuse shaking the Vatican and the Catholic Church.

Monsignor Giacomo Babini, the Bishop Emeritus of Grossetto, was quoted by the Italian Roman Catholic website Pontifex as saying he believed a “Zionist attack” was behind the criticism of the Pope, given that it was “powerful and refined” in nature.

Bishop Babini denied he had made any anti-Semitic remarks. He was backed by the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI), which issued a declaration by Bishop Babini in which he said: “Statements I have never made about our Jewish brothers have been attributed to me.”

However, Bruno Volpe, who interviewed Monsignor Babini for Pontifex, confirmed that the bishop had made the statement, which was reported widely in the Italian press today. Pontifex threatened to release the audio tape of the interview as proof.

Monsignor Babini’s reported comments follow a series of statements from senior Vatican cardinals blaming a “concerted campaign” by “powerful lobbies” for accusations that Pope Benedict XVI was involved in covering up cases of clerical abuse both as Archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982 and subsequently as head of doctrine at the Vatican.

None has explicitly blamed Jews or any other group. However Bishop Babini, 81, said Jews “do not want the Church, they are its natural enemies”. He added: “Deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are deicides [God killers].”

He was quoted as saying that Hitler was “not just mad” but had exploited German anger over the excesses of German Jews who in the 1930s had throttled the German economy.

Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee said Monsignor Babini was using “slanderous stereotypes, which sadly evoke the worst Christian and Nazi propaganda prior to World War Two”.
YOU KNOW, by the time the Vatican gets through asking Catholics -- at least on this issue -- to believe several unbelievable things before breakfast, and by the time various Catholic clerics and laymen get through saying patently crazy things in defense of the church, you have to wonder how many people will be scandalized right out of believing in God.

And scandalized right into believing
The Onion.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Omaha . . . I am your archbishop

The Diocese of Springfield, Ill., where the Vatican went to find Omaha's next archbishop, was a MESS when Bishop George Lucas got there, and he's spent a decade trying to clean it up.

Lucas will find his next see to be merely a mess, with the most pressing problem being that vocations to the priesthood here have dried up -- the Archdiocese of Omaha will ordain no new priests this year and none next year, either.

Other than that, the new prelate will face a bunch of run-of-the-mill millennial Catholic crises . . . lousy religious education for the church's youth, not enough priests to do the job, the ongoing ecclesiastical Fifth Column that is Catholic secondary and higher education, etcetera and so on.

HERE'S A BIT from this afternoon's story in the Omaha World-Herald:
In his prepared remarks, Lucas said he is humbled to be given the responsibility of leading the 220,000-member Omaha Archdiocese.

"I look forward to learning about all the ways the Gospel is preached and lived in the Archdiocese of Omaha," he said. "I have a great deal to learn and you all have much to teach me."

Lucas showed he had done his homework by prominently mentioning Catholic schools, a focus in the family and social lives of many Omahans. He said even a casual observer would be impressed by Catholic education here.

"I look forward to not being a casual observer, but an active participant in this endeavor," he said.

To priests, Lucas said, "Not only will I depend on you to teach me, I will depend on you to support me, as I support you."

To non-Catholics, Lucas said he had been very active in inter-faith work in Illinois and plans to continue that in Omaha.

Lucas, 59, was named today by Pope Benedict XVI as the replacement for retiring Omaha Archbishop Elden F. Curtiss, who had submitted his mandatory resignation when he turned 75 two years ago this month.


Pope John Paul II appointed Lucas bishop of Springfield in October 1999. He was installed Dec. 14, 1999.

The Springfield diocese is home to about 170,000 Catholics in 164 parishes, according to the diocesan Web site.

The diocese, in south-central Illinois, is served by 99 active diocesan priests and 62 religious order priests. The diocese also has eight Catholic hospitals, a religious seminary, a Catholic university, a Catholic college, seven Catholic high schools and 54 Catholic elementary schools.

Lucas comes to Omaha under much different circumstances than when he went to Illinois in 1999. A sex-abuse scandal involving the former Springfield bishop, Daniel Ryan, was brewing in Springfield at the time. It eventually erupted into greater scandal and lawsuits along with the national clergy sex-abuse crisis.

In an interview today, Lucas said the diocese had taken the steps it needed to take to protect children, to be transparent and to ensure that the diocese was operating with integrity.

That said, he added, "The hurt of the abuse is still felt very deeply by those who were abused."
BUT AT LEAST he won't -- at this writing at least -- have to deal with allegations his predecessor had a taste for underage boys or deal with a diocesan chancellor who gets beaten up in city parks by teens who take umbrage at being propositioned for sex.

If he's lucky, he won't have to call in an outside investigator here in the next five years, and he won't have the Omaha equivalent of the radically traditionalist, bomb-throwing
Roman Catholic Faithful accusing him of a hands-off policy toward "predatory homosexuals." That and of having a taste for high-school boys himself.

The Decatur (Ill.) Herald & Review
reported on the whole mess in August 2006:
Lucas called for an investigation of alleged clergy misconduct "amid a climate of increasing doubt and mistrust" in February 2005, the report stated.

The probe was spearheaded by Springfield attorney Bill Roberts, a Methodist.

The investigation found "some misuse of power and some serious misconduct" by a "very small number of priests," Lucas said.

Lucas remains confident in the virtuous service of the vast majority of the more than 120 priests in the diocese. He acknowledged the "painful truth" of revelations and hopes the investigation will restore the confidence of parishioners.

"I'm deeply sorry for the misdeeds of any priest whom I have placed in or allowed to remain in a position of trust in this diocese," Lucas said.

The report stated that former Bishop Daniel Ryan engaged in sexual misconduct with adults and used his authority to conceal his actions.

"Although denied by Bishop Ryan, this behavior did occur and caused scandal in the church by leading others to do evil," the report stated. "It resulted in feelings of hurt and anger, as well as thoughts of doubt and mistrust, both in the church as an institution and in its leaders."

The report documents anecdotal evidence of Roman Catholics abandoning the faith because of Ryan's actions.

"The investigation found a culture of secrecy fostered under Bishop Ryan's leadership which discouraged faithful priests from coming forward with information about misconduct," the report added.

Ryan no longer participates in public ministry and does not live in the diocese, the report stated.

"We saw a culture that had grown very permissive, very lax, a culture lacking discipline, a culture in which at some point the people became distrusting and wary of bringing things to the head of their church in this diocese because they believe that it wouldn't be handled appropriately," Roberts said.

Some believe Lucas rewarded priests who protected Ryan by honoring them with the designation "monsignor," the report noted. The probe found no evidence Lucas was aware of alleged misconduct by honorees but found Lucas could have researched some priests' characters more carefully.

The panel found false and without merit the allegations by area resident Thomas Munoz, who claimed to have engaged in sex acts with Lucas, five priests and three seminarians. Munoz failed a polygraph test and has a history of criminal and deceptive behavior, the report stated.
IT'S NOT EASY being an archbishop. But it's got to be easier than being bishop of Springfield, Ill.

At least once the Star Wars jokes get old.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The point of hilarity

St. Thomas Aquinas counseled us to "drink to the point of hilarity."

This evening, for me, that would be one shot of Early Times. Because I hardly can contain my "hilarity" looking at this, sober as a judge. Oh, Lord have mercy!

This is so rich!

What's sad is that any serious Catholic gives a flying intercourse what Rush Limbaugh has to say
about l'affaire Obama at Notre Dame. I'll worry about that, however, after a bit of hilarity.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Now do you get the picture?

You might be wondering where I'm coming from on this Notre Dame brouhaha over Barack Obama's commencement address and honorary degree.

I certainly was blunt in that last post, but perhaps I could be more clear about why I have no patience for bishops like Thomas Olmsted deciding to double security at the stable after all the horses have fled. Perhaps I can explain myself this way:

I live in the Archdiocese of Omaha. From what I can tell, it's a pretty typical Catholic diocese -- not completely whackadoodle, not completely dyspeptic and suffering from a more-or-less average degree of maladministration.

If you attend Mass at your average Catholic parish, you're likely to hear at least as much (and maybe more) about this

. . . as you will about this.

Then again, the archdiocese can't function without our

I mean, without money, how could the chancery spend $389,000 to purchase this

. . . so this man

. . . can live happily ever after in comfortable retirement digs?

Of course, when things turn political and there's (!!!!!) a sudden, grave threat to the traditional family, traditional morality and natural law, you'll see the state bishops' conference make a little noise about this

. . . but you'll never, ever see the bishop draw the line -- even in the most charitable, pastoral manner -- here

The star of Jurassic Queen ("Mature Audiences Only 18+"), by the way, is the choir director at Omaha's Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

Needless to say, if one thinks about all this in light of the gospel -- or even in terms of basic decency and justice -- you could find yourself in a situation something like this

. . . or certainly like this

So, in times like these, is it any wonder so many Catholics, for so many reasons, just end up heading for this?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Oh. Puh. Leeze.

The Catholic Church's man in Phoenix -- having eluded the city's rampant drug-cartel shanghaiing specialists -- is keeping a laserlike focus on the things that matter in life.

Like ripping Notre Dame's president a new one for giving America's president an honorary degree.

And it seems the cardinal sin here isn't that the Rev. John Jenkins is making nice with one of the more enthusiastic boosters of Abortion Nation. It seems that the cardinal sin here is this:

"It is a public act of disobedience to the Bishops of the United States."
WELL . . . we can't have that now, can we?

Don't get me wrong. What Notre Dame is doing . . . not a good idea. It does muddy the Catholic Church's clear teaching about the value of every human life and the unequivocal need to protect and honor every single one of them.

And it calls into question whether we're serious about what we say we believe. Like, maybe we just like to talk nice about what we -- wink -- "believe."

On the other hand, life is full of "teachable moments," and it seems to me the Catholic Church in this country could care less about carpe-ing the diem. That's Latin, your excellencies -- a dead language you ought to know a little about.

I'd like to see the American church attuned to making the most of all kinds of "teachable moments," particularly when they involve the President of the United States. Then again, I'd like to have a bazillion dollars and a ginormous checkbook, too.

One's about as likely as the other.

THAT'S BECAUSE if the Catholic Church can't even convince a single, solitary Kennedy to act -- and cast congressional votes -- like a Catholic, I don't know what it could do with poor old Barack Obama, over whom it has no authority.

I dunno, perhaps Father Jenkins unwittingly is providing a teachable moment to the American bishops. And that moment says "You're a joke. You are turning Christ's church in America into a joke. You are unserious, and the church you lead is becoming unserious as well."

For 14 years, I had a pretty good chance to closely observe Catholic teen-agers, of both the public-school and parochial-school stripes. For almost 20 years, I've been a part of suburban Catholic parish life.

And I wasted several professional years being overworked and underpaid in Catholic media. That experience nearly destroyed my faith, but that's not important now.

What's important is that I've been able to directly observe just how fat, self-satisfied, lazy and corrupt is the Catholic Church in this country. What's important is that I've learned it's no mere glib exaggeration when people say one of the best places to lose your Catholic faith is in a Catholic school.

What's important is the realization that if the Catholic bishops were at all worried about teaching -- especially Catholics . . . especially the young -- the gospel of Jesus Christ might have a fighting chance in this culture.

As it stands now, not so much.

FRANKLY, your excellencies, if you have nothing so say apart from whining about how you've been disrespected, kindly shut the hell up. I would have a lot more respect for you if you had the faith of a deranged street person standing at 72nd and Dodge with a sandwich board reading "REPENT! THE END IS NEAR!"

Back in the day, the crazy street preacher would have been John the Baptist. Perhaps you've heard of him.

Come to think of it, one way or another, all our ends are near. Perhaps even that of the church in America . . . just like all those vanished churches the apostle Paul once wrote to.

And gentlemen, you're not exactly apostle Paul material.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Oh, puh-leeze!

Apparently, America's Catholic bishops have been talking to themselves. This may be news to them.

But with prelates across the land gravely warning Catholics about voting for pro-abortion candidates -- and with those same Catholics studiously ignoring them to the tune of breaking 55 percent to 45 percent for the abortion enthusiast Barack Obama,
according to exit poll data -- the fact of bishops' soliloquizing seems indisputable. Their moral authority seems to be about equal to the man Americans electorally recoil from tonight -- George W. Bush.

This is a painful thing to consider if one is a believing Catholic. Catholics believe -- well, Catholics used to believe -- that the church's teaching authority rests on the shoulders of their bishops. Catholics used to believe those men literally held "the keys to the Kingdom."

Catholics used to believe these men were their shepherds.

The shepherds have lost their flocks. And it has been their own damned fault.

OF COURSE, with such an ecclesiastical calamity being as horrific to contemplate as it is observably true, "orthodox" Catholicism's "amen corner" finds it much easier thing to dwell, instead, upon the persecution they see as being sure to befall us at the hands of Evil Secular Humanism.

The persecution that was to befall us in 1992. Or 1996. Or 2000, if we hadn't gone for Bush 43.

Now, folks like Steve Kellmeyer are pretty sure we're really gonna get it now:

We don't have to be happy, we do have to be joyful.

Being happy is being comfortable, healthy and well-fed.
Being joyful is knowing that God's plan is being worked out,
and our obedience and submission to it contributes to His glory.

Jesus was not happy on the Cross, but He was joyful.

We fast and pray, we ask for mercy, but we accept whatever comes, punishment or pleasure.

Times of persecution were prophesied.

If we are found worthy to be subject to them, we should rejoice.

"Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

"My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.

"It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

"Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears."—Hebrews 12:3-17

Every drop of blood shed by the abortionist's scalpel will have to be repaid.

Perhaps we have been chosen to participate, be God's co-workers, as St. Paul said, in this work of redemption ...

Conversely, if the Butcher from Chicago fails in his bid, then we must raise our voices in the ancient hymns:

Non nobis, Domine, Domine,
non nobis, Domine
Sed nomini,
sed nomini,
tuo da gloriam.

Not to us, Lord,
But to your Name, be all glory.

FIRST, MR. KELLMEYER, I saw the campaign Sen. Obama's opponent ran. I know what the Butcher from Arizona stood for -- slightly less bloodshed at home, a lot more bloodshed abroad. A John McCain victory would have been nothing for which to thank the Almighty.

We pro-lifers thanked God for the victory of George W. Bush. Magnanimously, as it turns out, we blessed the name of the Lord for the judgment that was to befall us. And George W. Bush, indeed, has been a harsh judgment upon this land.

As for the Catholic Church, though, I fail to apprehend what calamity President Obama can visit upon it that it hasn't already visited upon itself. When apostasy has become normative and shepherds have been thoroughly corrupted, the only thing left for Caesar to do is kick around a corpse.

Unseemly, yes, but the damage already has been done.

The Catholic Church tonight is one where the flock heeds not its shepherds' voice. Which is no big deal when the shepherds have so little to say. At least lately . . . except to issue commands to a flock which no longer knows why, exactly, it ought to listen anymore.

FOR 14 YEARS, my wife and I volunteered in Catholic youth ministry at our suburban parish. It was a tenure I recall through the small minority of kids we saw emerge out of the youth ghetto into an adult relationship with Jesus Christ and His church.

Our parish is a large one. For 14 years, the percentage of our Catholic kids bothering to engage with the parish's ministry to them has been a small one. The number of kids emerging from that process to show real signs of still believing any of that stuff is smaller yet.

For our Catholic youth, as for their Catholic elders, their professed faith is one thing, their lives and practical beliefs are another thing entirely. For the most part, never the twain shall meet.

For the past 20 years, almost, my experience of Catholicism has been one of a mighty struggle for faith, a slow realization of the implications of that faith and an up-and-down process of living it. For nearly that long, my experience of the future of my church has been of a church pandering to the indifference of young people little interested in anything she has to offer -- a dysfunctional dance of a self-doubting institution desperate to be cool and popular but not necessarily respected.

Did I mention, also, intellectually denuded and culturally tone-deaf?

Likewise, I have watched bright young people, hungry to follow the Spirit's promptings, be disrespected, marginalized, scandalized and bored right out of Catholicism. And perhaps right out of any meaningful relationship with Christ.

THERE ARE serious consequences when a church makes grand claims for itself, then turns around and acts as if those claims are without meaning. From my perspective, here in the middle of America, I see a dying church.

I see a landscape where orthodox Catholic faith is ever more countercultural. And that's just within your average Catholic parish.

I also survey a landscape where those who most vociferously claim the mantle of "orthodox" Catholicism often confuse party politics and peculiar subculture with religious truth and "authentic Catholicism." They are as clueless as their heterodox, reverse-image dopplegangers in the church.

I suspect neither extreme would recognize "authentic Catholicism" if they saw it. In these times, in this church, who would?

LONG STORY SHORT, if persecution the church is to face, it is in large part because the Catholic Church -- for all intents and purposes, as a whole, in this country -- has cast aside
the Great Commission:
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."
MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, the pro-life movement wouldn't, late this election night, find itself in such shambles politically if religious Americans -- particularly Catholic Americans . . . especially their shepherds -- had taken care of basics before playing politics.

Culture precedes politics. Always.

American Christians . . . American Catholics forgot that. And all Steve Kellmeyer's (for one) hyperpietistic faux submission to God's will in the face of anticipated persecution ultimately will prove no substitute for Catholics actually getting off their asses and loving their neighbor. Not to mention teaching their children.

Just like Jesus told them to do in the first place.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Oh, Lord, giveth unto us Mussolini. Not Hitler.

I'm starting to get rather offended by all this election praying.

I'M ALSO GETTING concerned that all the Catholic instigators of all the election praying allow -- either willingly or ignorantly -- good people to assume they must pray for the triumph of McCain-Palin over Obama-Biden. What good is that?

As I've said before, been there and done that. We ended up with George W. Bush, who has managed to lead the nation into a disastrous and unjust war, as well as authorize both official torture of war prisoners and limited federal funding of legalized cannibalism -- also known as embryonic stem-cell research.

This is what we Catholics prayed for -- and got -- in 2000 . . . all in the name of "life."

Anyway, this is the latest from the Rev. John Corapi, a noted Catholic evangelist:

No other issue, not all other issues taken together, can constitute a proportionate reason for voting for candidates that intend to preserve and defend this holocaust of innocent human life that is abortion.

I strongly urge every one of you to make a Novena and pray the Rosary to Our Lady of Victory between October 27th and Election Day, November 4th. Pray that God’s will be done and the most innocent and utterly vulnerable of our brothers and sisters will be protected from this barbaric and grossly sinful blight on society that is abortion. No woman, and no man, has the right to choose to murder an innocent human being.
I SUPPORT FATHER CORAPI in his call for prayer. I adamantly oppose what it seems he'd have the Almighty pull off in regards to the presidential election. When it comes to casting a vote for the protection and dignity of human life, voting for John McCain over Barack Obama is like picking one method of suicide over another.

What, are we to vote for Mussolini to save ourselves from Hitler? Are we supposed to convince ourselves that ordering one scoop of degradation and death is virtuous but two scoops is the Antichrist Special?

Me, I'd just as soon pray for wisdom, revival and mercy. And for the poor unborn babies who may or may not get slaughtered in the womb. Or worse.

WHAT I REALLY WANT, though, is for the Catholic Church to act like the Catholic Church. I want bishops to be holy and act like shepherds.

I want priests to man up.

I really would rather not, as I leave Mass, be given "voter guides" that are no more than George Soros-funded apologetics for the abomination of desolation.

I just want my church to act like what it says it is. If it had been doing such for the last 50 years, perhaps I wouldn't feel like we're cultural, moral and spiritual paralytics sprawled in the roadside ditch of history.

And, finally, I no longer want to have that sick, sinking feeling that -- at this perilous time in my country's history -- the best advice I'll get from the most orthodox voices in my paralytic church is "Vote for Mussolini. It's important."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pray for war and ruin; it's important?

Bishop Robert W. Finn, ordinary of the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph in Missouri, wants his flock praying about the coming election.

THIS IS EXACTLY the kind of thing I was talking about in the last post. From the bishop's letter, published on the blog of the diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Key:

Our Catholic moral principles teach that a candidate’s promise of economic prosperity is insufficient to justify their constant support of abortion laws, including partial-birth abortion, and infanticide for born-alive infants. Promotion of the Freedom of Choice Act is a pledge to eliminate every single limit on abortions achieved over the last thirty-five years. The real freedom that is ours in Jesus Christ compels us, not to take life, but to defend it.

Together with the other Bishops of Missouri I am calling on all the faithful to make this last week before the election a week of prayer for our nation - a week of prayer for the protection of Human Life.

Join me in calling upon Mary in this month of the rosary. In 1571, in the midst of the Battle of Lepanto, when the future of Christian Europe was in the balance and the odds against them were overwhelming, prayer to Our Lady of the Rosary brought the decisive victory. We ask her now to watch over our country and bring us the victory of life.
I REMEMBER doing just that in 2000 -- EWTN interrupted regular programming to pray in just that manner as the Supreme Court considered Bush v. Gore. And look what's become of us.

Look. What's. Become. Of. Us.

Late-term abortion, in some cases, has been restricted minimally. But embryonic stem-cell research has not. It now occurs with limited federal funding.

We now have government-sanctioned torture of "enemy combatants."

We have a government that spies on its own citizens.

We are fighting two wars -- one patently unjust, as it turns out -- with no end in sight for either.

And do I really need to mention the economy . . . and how it got that way?

I USE EWTN 2000 as a prime illustration of "Watch out what you pray for . . . you might get it."

Back in 2000, in some manner, I think we were trying to somehow stave off divine judgment -- "Elect the 'pro-life' creep! It's important." In my opinion, it looks like judgment is exactly what we got for all our calamity avoidance, and are getting still.

That goes in spades for the Catholic Church.

The implication of Bishop Finn's prayer -- amid any number of episcopal statements just like it -- is clear: "Oh, Lord, please grant unlikely victory to thy avatar of Life, John McCain."

If that's the case, it's just a load of bull. Been there, done that, and I'm not going there again.

IN CASE you haven't noticed, "life" is hosed either way in this election. "Life" is going to have to rely on means other than politics to triumph in this sick land.

John McCain is not the solution to the problem represented by Barack Obama and what he represents. I'll vote for neither, and the Church ought not be praying for the triumph of one of these fools over the other.

I would suggest, instead,
"Lord Jesus Christ, son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

The real problem we face lies right in front of American Catholics, and it ripples through everything. It's this: The moral authority of American bishops rests at about zero, and the Church they lead is getting there.

Why might that be?

What Bishop Finn and all Catholics need to understand is that the chickens are starting to come home to roost. One sign of that is the bishop demanding that all Catholics pray for something fully half of Catholics no longer believe.

Why is that? Huh?

Just wondering. Is what I'm doing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We believe in one BRAAAAAAW! . . .

It's a fact of life that when a self-important fool -- or a ship of fools, either real or perceived -- strenuously proclaims objective, countercultural truth, your "Average Joe" is likely to regard that objective truth as just more mush from the simp.

If American Catholics were to make a contemporary film about this phenomenon, we'd have to call it The Bishop's Life.

THAT'S PRETTY MUCH where the Catholic Church finds itself a couple of weeks before the 2008 presidential election, as Catholics (and everybody else) studiously ignore prelates' admonitions against voting for candidates who support intrinsic evil -- in other words, abortion rights -- without equally grave counterbalancing reason. Of course, it doesn't help that the candidate one might logically assume gets the bishes' blessing has his own "intrinsic evil" demerits and belongs to a political party which long has played pro-lifers for suckers.

Not that your average Catholic has much more than a 50-50 chance of actually being pro-life -- a fact that, in large part, may be traced back to the plot line of our mythical film.

And the plot line to our mythical film -- The Bishop's Life -- has everything to do with how (and why) American bishops will be playing host to all kinds of chickens coming home to roost. Which, of course, goes back to American bishops' complete loss of moral authority during the past half century. The last of it disappeared around 2002 in the clerical sex-abuse scandals, when the prelates who seek to tell you that voting for pro-abortion politicians is, depending on your motivation, either "formal cooperation" or "remote material cooperation" in evil were exposed as "formal" or "remote material" hypocrites.

Objectively, why should "Joe the Catholic" listen to a damn thing His Excellency has to say about, well . . . anything amid the ruins of a church where pulpit appeals for the diocesan annual appeal far outnumber any appeals for Catholics to uphold the sanctity of human life?

WHY SHOULD any of us give a damn what says this bench of bloated, bleating bishops when, as one invokes the fires of hell against pro-choice pols and the Catholics who love them, another dithers as parish staffs in his diocese stuff parish bulletins with "Catholic voter guides" produced by the George Soros-funded umbrella group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, or at least groups affiliated with it?

It's just like what happens to your PC when you load it up with poorly written programs -- garbage in, garbage out.

Sunday evening, I found some garbage stuffed into my church bulletin. Produced by the NETWORK Education Program, a voter chart expanded upon every wonderful thing Barack Obama promises about ending the Iraq War, expanding health services and paid sick-child leave, but had this to say about the Democrat's position on abortion:
Opposes an abortion ban.
IN CONSIDERING John McCain -- and note, please, that I can abide neither John McCain nor his sleazy campaign -- here's the NETWORK party line:
Supports an abortion ban with exceptions in cases of rape, incest and risk to the mother's life. In 2005, voted against expanding health services and education to reduce unintended pregnancy. Will seek ways to promote adoption as a first alternative to abortion.
AFTER LOOKING at this disingenuous piece of goo -- a disingenuous piece of goo with catchphrases like "conscientious Catholics" and "consistent ethic of life" all over it -- I told my Republican wife that I, as an old-fashioned liberal Democrat, was offended. Liberal Democrats used to be a lot of things, but smarmy, devious and disingenuous were not among them.

A "religious" organization that takes money from George Soros (who also funds the pro-abortion, heterodox likes of Catholics for a Free Choice) has no moral right to even utter words such as "conscientious" or "consistent ethic of life." A parish bureaucracy that tries to put an imprimatur on partisan propaganda needs a clear message from the local bishop: Get your heads out of your ass, or find new jobs at Democratic headquarters.

Like THAT will happen. A blind eye can be turned upon any sort of heterodoxy, political shilling or liturgical abuse, it seems, so long as the annual appeal gets pushed hard enough from the pulpit.

After all, at least in Omaha, Feed My Sheep = Pimp My House. Maybe, though, this year's appeal can help add lots of coop space to the chancery and Archbishop Elden Curtiss' pending retirement digs. Maybe all the annual appeals across all of America's dioceses can be tapped to build hundreds . . . thousands . . . millions of coops on church properties all across the land.

All the better to house all those chickens coming home to roost.

ALL THOSE CHICKENS started their long journey when bishops forgot who they were and why they were here. When prelates forgot what they believed and why they should proclaim it, teach it . . . and live it.

Catholics' fowl journey got under way well and good when their leaders lost their faith and proclaimed themselves ever closer to a therapeutic deity. It gained fellow travelers when church bureaucrats decided it might be more "enlightened" to teach children crap and call it catechism.

Er . . . religious education.

Chickens are coming home to roost in a church where Catholics figure they not only don't have to believe any of that mess but don't have to pretend they do, either. In chanceries where, for too long, fat wallets have been equated with a healthy church. And where, for much too long, there has been an unwritten 11th commandment: Do as I say, not as I do.

Chickens are coming home to roost, boys. They will know their shepherds by the chickens*** on the chasubles.