Saturday, July 11, 2009

Who's On First?

From Under The Rubble

by Christopher Manion
The Wanderer, July 2, 2009

So Obama has weighed in on the removal of Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales by the country’s Congress and Supreme Court, and, ultimately, the Honduran army. It’s “not legal,” says Obama – but neither was Zelaya’s plan to pull a Chavez-style coup of his own. The Honduran constitution limits the president to a single term. Zelaya, elected in 2005 with 49% of the vote, wanted to defy the constitution – undoubtedly modeling himself not only on Venezuela’s Chavez, but perhaps also on our own stateside Democrats and Republicans who routinely ignore the U.S. Constitution at home and abroad. Well, Zelaya announced that, whatever the Honduran constitution says, he would run for re-election anyway. To accomplish that goal, he announced a referendum, which the country’s Supreme Court and Congress both declared illegal. He ignored them, and demanded that the army provide security for it.

Army Gen. Romeo Vasquez Velasquez refused, citing the constitution. Zelaya fired him and branded the rest of the government as “elitists.” The rest of the country’s top military commanders quit in support of General Vasquez Velasquez, and the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the general’s firing was illegal. The Honduran Congress stripped Zelaya of his presidential powers, and instead of providing security for the Sunday referendum, the army surrounded Zelaya’s house and sent him packing to Costa Rica.

Since Zelaya is a leftist, this event is popularly known as a “coup.” Were he a rightist, his removal would be hailed as “national liberation.” But let’s not quibble about vocabulary, since by now the reader might be experiencing what Bill Safire, who used to be funny, once coined as “MEGO” – “My Eyes Glaze Over.”

The average American isn’t expected to keep up on all those Latin American tinhorns, and neither is our own youthful, energetic president. Obama certainly doesn’t want to be bothered with such depth of detail without his teleprompter – after all, isn’t General Motors bigger than General what’s-his-name in Honduras anyway? But we can all rest assured that our State Department, under the seasoned hand of Hillary, has everything under control – right?

Well, as one Foreign Service lifer used to answer every question, “only up to a point.” And how we arrived at that point – that is, history – is worth looking at. Let’s start with the last eight years.

The Seven Lean Years

In attempting by force to enkindle the “natural democratic spirit” in Middle Eastern Islamic societies after 9-11, the Bush Administration missed a golden opportunity to solidify the still fragile, America-friendly democracies in Latin America. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan had managed to clean up after Jimmy Carter and nurture that continent’s move away from dictatorship while directing the final, triumphant conduct of the Cold War leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

A historic feat indeed. Alas, the Bush years were different. In fact, the contrast with the Reagan years could not be more stark, nor the consequences more dire. Latin America has for years been a foreign policy backwater, attracting sentimental leftists to academic and government posts dealing with the area. The tough assignments were Russia, Asia (primarily China), and the Middle East, and Europe. Regarding Latin America, Bush’s first Secretary of State, Colin Powell, didn’t have a chance. After a long battle, he lost control of foreign policy to the neocons. They then damaged him beyond repair by feeding him disinformation regarding Iraq and WMD that Powell repeated in public testimony before the U.N. Security Council. Dismayed and discredited, Powell finally left office.

Colin Powell was succeeded by Condi Rice, Bush’s National Security Advisor. Rice was undoubtedly well-intentioned, but she was simply inept. Nonetheless, President Bush valued her highly, as he did his other gentle protectors, Karen Hughes and Harriet Miers, whose support he relied on most during the years that Dick Cheney ran the executive branch and foreign policy as the most powerful vice-president in history.

While the Bush Administration studiously ignored our neighbors to the south, China’s top leaders treated Latin America like their backyard, sealing long-term economic and political deals, encouraging leftists and anti-Americans of every stripe, and simply outclassing their American counterparts. During the Bush years, U.S. officials appeared to be merely bewildered as Latin America veered ever more leftward. With Obama, that momentum will now be facilitated by Hillary’s State Department and the Senate veteran Chris Dodd, who has steered Latin American policy to the left for the Democrats there for almost 30 years.

A Whiff Of An Empty Bottle

Dr. Erik von Kuehneldt-Leddihn was a conservative original. He traveled the world, lecturing six months out of every year, spending the other months studying at his home in the Austrian Tirol. He knew a dozen languages and was always busy learning another one (“I have to go upstairs and study Japanese,” he said on one of his last visits, as he finished breakfast). Dr. von Kuehneldt-Leddihn was “an expert on everything, including expertise,” one wag fondly observed, and Leftism, his magnum opus, still stands as a true work of genius.

He once told me about a short story he had written (I’ve never been able to find it – he published it under a pseudonym, and in an obscure journal) -- in the late 1940s. He referred to it on several occasions to illustrate the inevitable decline of a culture, or even a civilization, once its central core of truth is abandoned.

The final scene is unforgettable. A young man has become a revolutionary. His father, a weak-kneed Lutheran minister, tried to restrain his son with reminders of the civic virtues, admonishing him to avoid extremes – all typical of the plaintive liberal weakling. The son, fed up with his father’s vacillations between progressivism and propriety, finally erupts. He points to the portrait hanging over his father’s desk. It depicts his grandfather, whom his father reveres – who was all his life a staunch and devoted Lutheran minister.

“He believed in something,” the son shouts, pointing to his grandfather. “He had principles, he had faith, he had courage, he had convictions. But you – (here his father cringes) – you -- you are living off the whiff of an empty bottle!”

I was reminded of Dr. von Kuehneldt-Leddihn’s young revolutionary by Hilaire Belloc’s description of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury under Charles I. Laud came to power as “the leader of and representative of those who feared and disliked Puritanism as a moral disease.” Laud had “sympathy” with all things Catholic – images, Our Lady, the Sacraments, even the Eucharist. But he and his cohorts “remained (though they would not have admitted it) thoroughly anti-Catholic, because they rejected that one part of Catholic doctrine which is its essential -- the combination of unity and authority. The unity of the visible Church and its invincible authority were repugnant to their growing nationalism, and those who preserved such an attitude of mind were just as much the enemies of Catholicism as the most rabid Puritan could be, or the most complete agnostic.”

As we survey the cultural wreckage around us, and hear platitudes about “human rights” (the homosexual slogan) and “I am personally opposed to abortion but…” – we see everywhere a dying body politic. But the whiff of an empty bottle cannot revive it. Only the Truth – Christ crucified, who unites us while platitudes and perversion divide and destroy us – can save us. Loyalty to Christ, to his Vicar on earth, and to the unity he represents is the true hope of the world.

Another Battleground

From Under The Rubble

by Christopher Manion
The Wanderer, July 2, 2009

During the early days of the Reagan administration in 1981, Guatemala was living through one of its more chaotic moments. The country’s military waged pitched battles with armed Marxist-Leninist terrorists throughout the country. Cardinal Mario Casariego, Archbishop of Guatemala City, was candid regarding the number of Catholic priests who supported the revolutionaries. There were quite a few of them, he told me – disobedient, passionate, and harmful to the Catholic Church as well as to the country.

The Cardinal’s observation came to mind when I was given a briefing by the U.S. embassy staff in Guatemala City. This "country team” meeting involved in-depth presentations by all the senior embassy officials -- perhaps ten in all. As they surveyed the economic, political, agricultural, and military disasters besetting the country, they never mentioned religion, much less the Church.

When they were finished, I asked a simple question: "I understand there are many American protestant missionaries here in the country. Have any of them come to you and said something along these lines: "Please tell the military government that our church doesn't preach politics like the Catholics, we only teach the Bible."

“Oh, yes!” came the answer -- from virtually everybody around the conference table, almost in unison. Then there was a moment of silence as they all stared at one another. Apparently, every one of them had heard similar complaints from American protestant missionaries in Guatemala – they were afraid that the military government classified all American missionaries as leftists, just because so many Catholics were. These non-Catholic missionaries -- primarily independent Evangelicals and Baptists – were all over the country, including some remote village areas that were often controlled by the terrorists. They didn't want the military to think that they were terrorist supporters -- "like those Catholics."

What surprised me most was how ignorant our State Department officials were. Every one of these "experts" at that briefing had heard the same complaints from Americans in Guatemala, but had never bothered to report them or even to discuss them with each other. As far as religion goes, they were clueless -- like most secular government types then and now. Furthermore, most of them were liberals, if not socialists, and they probably thought that, for all they knew, Liberation Theology represented progress for Latin America.

Well, it certainly didn’t represent progress for the Catholic Church there. Evangelical missionaries from the United States roundly denounced the Catholic Church. Like the Liberation Theologians, they attacked it as a backward institution that kept the people poor. Like their American sponsors, they preached “the Gospel of Prosperity,” promising Latin Americans that “God wants you to be rich.” Jimmy Swaggart packed them in, 90,000 people a night, at the soccer stadium in Lima, Peru.

Most of these American evangelical missionaries were supported by individual, independent congregations throughout the United States. Those churches tithed religiously and made their foreign missions a highlight of their activities. Their missions built schools, medical clinics, and orphanages, and also provided a good number of volunteers from the congregation for several weeks a year to work on those projects.

Unfortunately, leaving the Church has not helped Guatemalans achieve either peace or prosperity. A friend there tells me that gangs, kidnappings, and murder now abound. He’s been there since I first visited in 1959, and he’s never seen it worse. People are looking to get out, either to Spain, or to the U.S.

The Theology of Reconciliation

Liberation Theology was popular among the Latin American left for political, not religious reasons. “Human rights” advocates in the United States would criticize only governments, not the revolutionaries who terrorized their countries. Politically, the terrorists got a free ride in Congress: the domestic Left relentlessly attacked President Reagan’s policies, often employing religious language and stooges. Not surprisingly, the culturally illiterate State Department officials were pathetic, and always on the defensive.

That was not the case with the Latin American Church. Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo of Colombia became known and beloved by American Catholics in the 1990s because of his heroic efforts on behalf of the family. But in the 1980s, as secretary and then president of the Latin American Bishops Conference (CELAM), he championed “the Theology of Reconciliation,” an authentic antidote to Liberation Theology based on man’s true liberation from sin in Christ, rather than in ideology and revolution. Cardinal Lopez Trujillo was never fooled by the religious trappings of liberation theology – he knew from long years of study and experience that it represented the Marxist theory of class warfare, which he knew would destroy Latin American culture.

Pope John Paul II made over 100 international trips during his pontificate, but the very first was to the meeting in Puebla, Mexico, in January 1979 – arranged by then-Archbishop Lopez Trujillo. Puebla lay the important groundwork for the Church’s response to Liberation Theology for the next 25 years.(Incidentally, the principal advocate of liberation theology, both at the preparations for the meeting in Puebla and throughout the 1980s, was Father Gustavo Gutierrez, O.P., who now serves as the Cardinal O’Hara Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame.)

A Two-Front Battle

For 40 years, the Catholic Church in Guatemala (like its sister churches throughout the hemisphere) has fought on two fronts: first, against the "liberationists," and second, against the "sects" -- the fundamentalists. Unfortunately, a recent report from the Catholic News Agency (CNA) indicates that the battle is far from over – that the Catholic Church in Guatemala is seriously threatened by the growth of Evangelical sects that try to win converts with offers of money, jobs, and other material goods:

“Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a Catholic Charity that works with oppressed and suffering Christians throughout the world, found that half of the people of Guatemala are now Evangelical, and new churches are appearing rapidly,” says the report, which actually describes a steady process that took over 30 years. The report details allegations that the fundamentalists’ recruitment efforts include outright payments and even bribes, which may be true; but the most powerful attraction of the “sects” is their focus on the Bible, and the stress they place on economic advancement as part of their evangelization.

Our own bishops confront similar problems -- again, on two fronts. First, we have our own Liberation Theology -- the "parallel Catholic Church" applauded by Obama at Notre Dame – that is advocated by Catholic university faculties and the staff of the USCCB. Second, a detailed study by the Pew Charitable Trust reports that ten percent of American evangelicals are former Catholics. Of course, some of those defections can undoubtedly be attributed to Catholics who disagreed with the moral teachings of the church and who left in search of friendlier pulpits. But as Wanderer readers know all too well, there are other very plausible reasons, too many to number, for this sad exodus.

The U.S. Church also confronts the Latin American dilemma. The millions of Hispanic immigrants, legal and illegal, in the United States undoubtedly comprise millions of former Catholics who are now members of fundamentalist churches. Like their brother bishops in Guatemala, our bishops naturally want to keep the Catholic faithful from jumping ship. While we might differ with their chosen means – supporting amnesty for illegal aliens, and advocating a left-wing political agenda in Washington – the laity should certainly do all it can to help our bishops and priests bring wavering Hispanics back to the fullness of the faith.

Perhaps we can start with Sonia Sotomayor.

No Way To Treat A Laity

From Under the Rubble

The Wanderer, p.3
June 18, 2009

In this “age of the laity,” the laity that the USCCB bureaucracy pays attention to features Chris Dodd, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Pat Leahy, and Nancy Pelosi. Now Barack Obama, has taken the lead, brandishing his newly-minted Fighting Irish imprimatur and adroitly evading moral absolutes as he preaches the same political agenda that the USCCB has embraced for years.

Obama’s speech at Notre Dame was a clarion call for pro-abortion “Catholics” to stand up and fight for the heresy that Pope Benedict has called “the dictatorship of relativism.” That effort requires a sly semantic two-step -- first, reductionism: equate the importance of the paramount life issues of abortion, stem-cell research, and contraception to the “social justice” issues like those found in the platform of the Democratic Party. This approach echoes the “seamless garment” sleight-of-hand promulgated by Obama’s favorite bishop ever, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin.

The second step is pragmatism: we must (ahem, regrettably) admit that we are not within practical reach of reversing Roe v. Wade, passing a Human Life Bill, or adopting a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution. Therefore, we must find “common ground,” without alienating those pro-abortion politicians whose cooperation and support is so critical to the successful expansion of our “seamless garment” goals. Now, those same pro-abortion politicians are all supporters of “gay rights” as well. They are busily cooking up “hate crimes” bills that might outlaw the preaching of Catholic moral teaching altogether, as like-minded leftists have already done in Canada and England.

Many bishops have taken a firm stand of late in defense of traditional marriage, but some apparently find it difficult to take the next step and preach Humanae Vitae, even though Paul VI prophetically predicted the evils that are ravaging our culture today. These sinful indulgences are advocated in the public schools and celebrated on once-Catholic university campuses. They permeate the entire popular culture, and represent nothing less than a brazen and virtually unopposed frontal attack on the Catholic Church.

Models Of Perfection

On June third, we celebrated the Feast of Saint Charles Lwanga and companions, who were brutally executed by Ugandan King Mwanga on June 3, 1886. King Mwanga, a homosexual, hated Christians. Charles Lwanga was a lowly page in the court of the King, but he and his companions bravely rejected the King’s advances. The irate King ordered savage executions for the boys, all of whom chose to die for their Faith. Their heroism so impressed Pope Paul VI that he canonized the Ugandan Martyrs in 1964, then traveled to Uganda to in 1969 to break ground for a Basilica to be built on the site of St. Charles Lwanga’s execution.

On that occasion, Pope Paul VI said, “Who could have predicted to the famous African confessors and martyrs such as Cyprian, Felicity, Perpetua and – the greatest of all – Augustine, that we would one day add names so dear to us as Charles Lwanga and Matthias Mulumba Kalemba and their twenty companions?… The infamous crime by which these young men were put to death was so unspeakable and so expressive of the times. It shows us clearly that a new people needs a moral foundation, needs new spiritual customs firmly planted, and to be handed down to posterity.”

Holy Mother Church is so devoted to the memory of these valiant young men that Pope John Paul II made a pilgrimage to the basilica in 1993. All Uganda reveres them every year on June 3, which is now a national holiday there.

Like many homosexuals today, King Mwanga hated the Catholic Church. Yet Popes Paul VI and John Paul II underscored the heroic witness of the Ugandan martyrs to the truth of Catholic moral teaching in defiance of the king’s hatred that he inflicted with such brutality. Today, as we watch one “Catholic” state after another ratify some sort of officially-recognized homosexual consortium, Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions might be admirable models for our prayerful advocacy of moral foundations and spiritual customs based on the truths of the Catholic Faith.

Pope Paul VI visit to Uganda came less than a year after he had promulgated Humanae Vitae. He clearly recognized the fearless heroism required to defend moral teaching in the face of a decadent culture backed by a vile and powerful ruler. Today, in our midst, the battle is on. Saint Charles Lwanga and companions, pray for us!

Abortion Is Child Abuse

The Catholic Church teaches that abortion is an intrinsic evil, but a lot of Americans don’t think we really mean it. A majority of Catholics -- and possibly even of our bishops -- apparently voted for Obama, and today many “Catholics” willingly serve and support the most pro-death administration in American history. How can we restore the unity of the faithful that prevailed among our ancestors just 100 years ago -- when virtually everyone (and not only Catholics) considered abortion to be murder?

Christ prayed “that all may be one,” (John 17:22), but today the sheep are scattered indeed. In recent months, many of our bishops have bravely confronted the Culture of Death in the political sphere. At their upcoming meeting on the weekend of June 17-19, they have two opportunities to make further progress.

First: In 2008, when employees of Catholic Charities of Richmond, Virginia, procured an abortion for a minor under their care, neither Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo nor the director of Catholic Charities reported the incident to the Safe Environment Director in the Chancery. The lawyer for the diocese justified such secrecy, insisting that abortion is simply not considered either child abuse or murder by the Diocese of Richmond.

At their meeting this month, the bishops should take their cue from Bishop DiLorenzo. They should amend the definition of "abuse" in their 2002 Dallas “Charter For the Protection of Children and Young People” to include “abortion, or the procurement of an abortion for a pregnant minor.” It may seem like a no-brainer, but believe me, the bureaucrats, lawyers and insurance companies will scream bloody murder if the USCCB even discusses the issue in public.

But wait, there’s more: Bishop DiLorenzo fired four employees after this incident, but required them to sign nondisclosure agreements or lose their severance pay. This cover-up, was paid for with the money of the faithful to keep from the faithful facts they deserved to know. Such deceit was a central ingredient of the scandals for decades – but today it is also a direct violation of article VII of the Dallas Charter, which requires – which demands -- transparency.

Is there any worse occasion of "child abuse" than the murder of the defenseless child in the womb? The bishops should act swiftly.

Second: another no-brainer. the bishops should amend the Charter to reverse their decision in Dallas to exempt themselves from its provisions. In 2002, the bishops acknowledged that they had lost the credibility of the faithful because of the clerical sex abuse scandals. Cardinal Avery Dulles warned them that their Charter would alienate them from their priests. You could see them on EWTN, furtively glancing at the cameras as they voted to amend the definition of “cleric” to exclude bishops.

Unfortunately, that same approach has also alienated many of our bishops not only from their priests, but from the laity. In 2002, the bishops thought they could sweep it all under the rug and “put the scandals behind them.” Today we know all to well the damage wrought by that approach.

The Greatest Generation? No Way!

From Under The Rubble
The Wanderer, P. 3
June 11, 2009

In January 1973, my car broke down after dark about an hour north of Green Bay, Wisconsin. The temperature was 30 below, I was in the middle of nowhere, and the only building within a mile was a farmhouse set far back from the highway. No one was home, but the door was open. I went in, called the police, and waited for a tow truck.

Two hours later, I saw the flashing lights out on the highway. As I went out, a car came up the driveway. It was the farmer and his family and the biggest dog I have ever seen, barking at me from the back seat. "My car broke down -- that's my tow truck," I explained. "I've been in your house for the last two hours.” The farmer just laughed and said, "Well, that's great!" I didn't think to tell him how grateful I was that he had taken his dog with him.

The tow truck driver had my car up by the time I got there. When I climbed in, he let fly. "I own this company. None of my drivers wanted to work on a Friday night. So I came out to get you myself. (Pause)... one of these days, us old folks are going to stop pulling this gravy train, and you kids are going to have to get out and push."

My generation is not the greatest. I was born two weeks after George Bush and three weeks before Bill Clinton -- certainly nothing to brag about. So I thought of my tow truck driver when I read the address by Indiana's governor, Mitch Daniels, to the graduating class of Butler University in Indianapolis, delivered at about the same time that Obama was speaking at Notre Dame. Here's what Daniels said about us “children of the baby boom":

“As a group, we have been self-centered, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, and all too often just plain selfish. Our current Baby Boomer President has written two eloquent, erudite books, both about -- himself…. We have spent more and saved less than any previous Americans…. we ran up deficits that have multiplied the debt you and your children will be paying off your entire working lives…. We voted ourselves increasing levels of Social Security pensions and Medicare health care benefits, but never summoned the political maturity to put those programs on anything resembling a sound actuarial footing.

“In sum, our parents scrimped and saved to provide us a better living standard than theirs; we borrowed and splurged and will leave you a staggering pile of bills to pay. It's been a blast; good luck cleaning up after us.”

Illegals: The Next Generation

Meanwhile, in the name of “Welcoming the Stranger,” our bishops are advocating amnesty for illegal aliens. They also support giving them generous government benefits like universal health care and exemption from immigration law enforcement. So I was surprised, for a moment, to read that the bishops have recognized some limits to this taxpayer largesse. While they support “unlimited” visas allowing extended family members of illegals to enter the U.S., they oppose visas for homosexual “partners.” Apart from that, apparently, anything goes.
Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, puts it this way: “It is extremely important that barriers that keep the nuclear family—husband, wife, and child—divided are removed as soon as possible. The legislation achieves this goal while preserving the ability of other close family members, including siblings of United States citizens, to reunite with their loved ones and without eroding the institution of marriage and family.”

Of course, the “barrier” that prohibits such reunions on U.S. soil is the law. Nothing prohibits aliens from reuniting with their extended families in their home country. Why doesn’t Bishop Wester advocate that? Sure, millions of illegals now have “anchor babies” – children born in the U.S. to an illegal mother – but why don’t they reunite back home, where they are all legal? Somewhere between twelve and twenty million aliens already reside illegally in the United States. Bishop Wester’s proposal would double, and perhaps triple, that number. Coming from corrupt countries, wouldn’t these immigrants tend to vote for “corruptos” like the ones they knew back home? Is that what Bishop Wester wants?

Alas, the good bishop fails to tell all. I volunteer as a translator for law enforcement. Most of the people we interview are in the U.S. illegally. Virtually every one of them leaves family in his home country. Now, each illegal must not only pay thousands of dollars to a “coyote” to get smuggled into the U.S., but he must continue paying bribes long after he arrives. Not only does he send money home to his wife, but he must also bribe his hometown police chief, the local gang leader, and the mayor – or his house will be ransacked and his family assaulted. Virtually all illegals come from corrupt countries where survival requires breaking the law and paying bribes. That is not their fault, but it is the only culture they know. Their habits will not magically change merely because they are legal in America.

Studies indicate that forty percent of those who actually attend Mass in the U.S. are Hispanic. Sadly, in recent decades, huge numbers of Latin American Catholics have left the Church to become evangelicals – apparently, they do not like liberation theology. Moreover, the Pew Foundation reports that ten percent of American evangelicals are former Catholics. Do our bishops fear alienating Hispanics and losing them to the evangelicals if Catholics don’t support amnesty? If so, shouldn’t our bishops tell us, in this “age of the laity”?

A local clergyman asked me this winter to translate for a Salvadoran who showed up at the rectory. He had no job, no friends, and no plans, but wanted money to stay in town. “Why don’t you go home,” I asked him. “I would,” he replied, “but my wife wants the kids to go to school here.”

La Piñata

Free school, free health care, free food stamps, and a host of other “free” taxpayer-funded benefits – no wonder Mexicans call it the “Piñata.” It’s great for them – but what about us? Why doesn’t Bishop Wester tell the people in the pews that virtually every decent home in the countries these “strangers” come from is surrounded by a wall, with barbed wire and shards of glass on top? That many homes require round-the-clock guards? Why do you think that is, Your Excellency? Because otherwise the house would be trashed within hours. And what about rampant kidnapping? It’s a way of life south of the border – not only with the hundreds of thousands of well-armed members of the criminal drug gangs in Mexico, but with countless common criminals throughout the hemisphere who just want to make some easy money.

You don’t have to read Spanish -- the Los Angeles Times reports regularly how Mexican, Salvadoran, and Honduran drug gangs have spread their tentacles throughout the United States – with kidnappings, decapitations, and, of course, bribes. When our local sheriff is called to deal with Hispanics, the single most common phrase I have to translate is, “get your hands out of your pockets.” The deputy is afraid they are reaching for a gun. I know they are getting out their wallets -- to pay a bribe.

Before committing the Church to this radical agenda, doesn’t Bishop Wester owe the faithful an explanation?
From Under The Rubble

Christopher Manion

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.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

L'Osservatore Romano needs a new editor!

Kudos to The Wanderer for Marielena Montesino's two-part commentary on the hijacking of L'Osservatore Romano. Over the past few months, the Vatican paper has not only failed to enlighten Catholics, it's added to the mass confusion inflicting the Church. The outright Obama love-fest is particularly appalling to orthodox Catholics in the United States who see Obama's rhetoric swallowed hook, line, and sinker despite his radically pro-abortion actions. Montesino calls for removal of the paper's editor, Giovanni Maria Vian. I second that!