From Under The Rubble
The Wanderer - June 4, 2009, p. 3
Contradiction or Capitulation?
The recent unpleasantness at Notre Dame has shed a helpful light on a contradiction that has increasingly troubled the American Catholic Church for the past forty years. Bound up in this contradiction are, on the one hand, the Church’s bureaucracies, and their budgets and political agendas. On the other hand are the teachings of the Catholic Church and the Magisterium.
Like many bishops, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, the former President of the USCCB, welcomed Obama’s election victory as “a great step forward for humanity.” At Notre Dame, Father John Jenkins echoed Gregory’s sentiment, declaring that, “as the first African-American holder of this office, [Obama] has accelerated our country’s progress in overcoming the painful legacy of slavery and segregation.” There were celebrations all around.
We should recall that the USCCB’s voter guide for the 2008 elections, Faithful Citizenship, specified only two “intrinsic evils” of which Catholics should take special notice when considering how to cast their ballots - abortion and racism. From the signals that the faithful are receiving these days from the majority of bishops, Catholic universities, and the virtually unanimous left-wing bureaucracy at the USCCB, it is evident that “racism,” however loosely defined, is much more universally opposed where the rubber meets the road than abortion is. For example, one strains to remember a Catholic University ever honoring an outspoken racist on campus, but pro-abortion speakers are routinely welcomed at a good number of them.
A recent example nicely outlines the irony. At Providence College in Rhode Island, a student group invited Tom Tancredo, a pro-life former congressman from Colorado, to speak on campus regarding the immigration issue. But Mr. Tancredo opposes granting amnesty to the twelve- to twenty-million aliens illegally in the country already. Therefore, the President of Providence College, with the full support of Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, withdrew the invitation because Tancredo disagrees with the USCCB bureaucracy, which supports amnesty.
While the college didn’t actually call Tancredo a racist, the administration certainly treated him like one. It reacted as though Tancredo advocated an evil far more intrinsic than abortion. But Providence College has often welcomed pro-abortion speakers to campus, and undoubtedly will again, even though the USCCB has called on Catholic institutions not to do so. In this regard, as Socrates would put it, the USCCB is Providence College writ large. In theory, our bishops abhor racism and abortion. In practice, many of them abhor racists but not pro-abortion politicians, as long as those politicians support the bishops’ liberal political agenda.
About a quarter of the American hierarchy, including some major prelates, eventually criticized Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame. However, I have not heard similar criticism from any senior administrators of Catholic universities. This is not surprising: while the bishops are still muddled in contradiction, the universities have virtually collapsed in capitulation to secularism.
Salvation As Politics – Or Politics As Salvation?
This past January, the USCCB urged President Obama and Congress to pass government-run health-care, amnesty for illegal aliens, increased funds for Medicaid and SChip, more taxpayer funding for a variety of government poverty programs, new government spending for a “national safety net,” and – oh yes, to seek “common ground that will reduce the number of abortions in morally sound ways.” The billions that the government spends at home and abroad on contraception is not mentioned. The USCCB has indeed endorsed President Bush’s “conscience protections” for health care providers who oppose contraception and abortion, but Obama abolished those protections anyway -- long before he was cheered at Notre Dame.
Ideas have consequences, said Richard Weaver. Well, so do contradictions, and they are becoming clearer all the time. Obama’s triumph marks a victory over racism -- but embryonic stem-cell research, homosexual rights, abortion on demand, and attacks on public witness to religious faith will all be advocated in Obama’s America. But so what? How on earth can our bishops acknowledge Obama as the most pro-death leader in the western world when they are so busy cheering his election as a victory over racism?
As is the case in so many moral questions, the answer is simple but not easy. Borrowing the theme of Obama’s campaign, the bishops need to embrace “change.” Let’s face it: when it comes to protecting human life, the Church that Obama singled out for praise – that of Cardinal Bernardin – has failed. A long-time member of Bernardin’s staff at the USCC (who is as much a fan of Bernardin as Obama is) tells me that, while Pope Paul VI was valiantly trying to resonate Catholic moral principles in Humanae Vitae, Bernardin was busily politicizing the USCC (now the USCCB) irreversibly to identify the liberal agenda with the Catholic Church in every possible way.
Money Talks, Nobody Walks
Catholic leaders embraced Bernardin’s political agenda, preaching it far and wide, for years. As payback, federal money flowed freely. Unfortunately, some of the advocates of this largesse were, and are, among the most corrupt politicians in the country. Wanderer readers will recall how Father George Parker, who barred pro-abortion Senator Chris Dodd from his parish in the Connecticut Diocese of Norwich, was forced to retire by his bishop in retribution. As Cardinal McCarrick put it later, years of perpetuating Cardinal Bernardin’s cozy relationship with the pro-abortion “social justice” crowd on Capitol Hill had put today’s bishops in a bind: either keep the money flowing by keeping silent to, or risk “alienating” the corrupt pro-aborts (and their funding) by preaching Humanae Vitae and applying Canon Law to rampant scandal and crimes against the Eucharist.
The simple solution --“Damn the funding, follow Canon Law and preach Humanae Vitae” – certainly resonates with the truth, but it poses problems to the current organization of Catholic institutions all over the country. Our bishops might be tempted to be silent, but they now confront an even more dangerous threat: Obama’s radical allies, including his appointments to the federal bench, are simply going to declare war on the orthodox Catholic bishops in this country.
In fact, they already have. Homosexual groups are demanding that the IRS remove the tax exemption of churches that oppose same-sex marriage. Catholic hospitals are being forced to offer “family planning” services and referrals. Obama’s judges will require that Catholic organizations provide “equal protection” for GLBTQ employees, applicants, students – you name it. On every front of the culture war, the Obama Left wants to push the Catholic Church to the wall.
Meanwhile, Father Jenkins drones on: Obama “has set ambitious goals across a sweeping agenda -- extending health care coverage… improving [public] education …. promoting renewable energy….”
Jenkins represents capitulation. What we need is a revolution. The Catholic Church should refuse all government funding immediately – it’s all stolen money anyway. Then it should renounce its tax exemptions, to prevent Obama’s Thought Police from threatening to revoke them. These steps would allow our bishops to be bishops, preaching the Gospel in all its beautiful fullness, and to turn away from pro-abortion politicians and government bureaucracies and towards the people in the pews for their sustenance and support.
Another “Catholic” Justice?
Obama has nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace David Souter on the Supreme Court. Much is being written and spoken about her Catholic background – especially the Catholic education she received thanks to the Archdiocese of New York. Do not expect her to be grateful. If Sotomayor were pro-life, she would still be sitting out on the curb in the Bronx, and she knows it. Now we know it.