Saint Francis de Sales would have been concerned, if not horrified, at the situation in the Catholic Church in the U.S. today. I say that without reservation because he once said, “It is true charity to point out the wolf wheresoever he creeps in among the flock.”
I have been pointing out the wolf for many years now, particularly as the scandals and problems affect the greatest "treasure of the Church": the Holy Eucharist. Unfortunately, the actions of various members of the hierarchy are, at best, befuddling and, at worst, absolutely outrageous.
Among those things that have caught my attention recently is a spate of news reports that are baffling on many fronts. While I would give any prelate the benefit of the doubt, I am also painfully aware of how such events affect average faithful Catholics who simply cannot believe what they are reading.
Take, for example, the funeral Mass of the recently deceased bishop of Wilmington, Delaware, Michael Saltarelli, who died of bone cancer on October 8. Bishop W. Francis Malooly, who succeeded Bishop Saltarelli, praised him in glowing terms as a faithful servant of the Church.
But Bishop Malooly is the very same bishop who proclaimed he would not and will not deny Holy Communion to Vice President Joseph Biden, who is from his diocese. The bishop claimed at one point that he would not “politicize” the Eucharist. His predecessor, on the other hand, was a defender of the faith. Bishop Saltarelli made it perfectly clear that, regardless of whether or not Biden was elected vice president, he would not be permitted to speak at Catholic schools in the diocese because of his manifest support for the act of abortion.
While Bishop Saltarelli did not go so far as to publicly announce he would enforce Canon 915 and deny Holy Communion to Biden, he did say,
The promotion of abortion by any Catholic is a grave and serious matter. Objectively, according to the constant teaching of the Scriptures and the Church, it would be more spiritually beneficial for such a person to refrain from receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. I ask Catholics in this position to have the integrity to respect the Eucharist, Catholic teaching and the Catholic faithful.
What a tragedy that, between these two bishops who have shepherded the same flock, there is such disparity regarding a fundamental truth of the Catholic faith. If Catholics in the Wilmington diocese are confused, there is good reason. When their shepherds are not united, how should they perceive those in their midst who have public prominence and claim to be Catholic, but support the killing of preborn babies?
On October 12, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Francis Cardinal George, issued a statement on the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama:
In the name of the Catholic Bishops of the United States, I would like to offer congratulations to President Barack Obama on his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. As he has graciously said, much of the work of realizing a more peaceful and just world for all persons and nations remains to be done; but the prize was given because as President of the United States he has already changed the international conversation.
I was stunned to read this and had to ask myself why the USCCB had to make a comment on this event at all. Pope Benedict XVI did not find it necessary to do so. Surely the USCCB must realize that Obama is among the most flagrant abusers of the natural law, due to his disrespect for the lives of preborn babies. To receive a “peace” prize as he continues to preside over the worst type of war – the war against innocent preborn children – simply makes no sense. Why offer such praise in the light of such a stark dichotomy?
The Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, printed a commentary on Obama’s Nobel Prize that stated in part, ”The American president's [war policy] is an oscillating policy, similar to his policy for the important bioethical issues and in the first place, abortion, which has sparked so many disputes among Catholics in the U.S.”
The entire problem of public comments by the USCCB brings me to yet another worrisome event involving the USCCB’s president. Let me preface my comments on this subject by saying that I cannot imagine the weight of responsibility that sits on the shoulders of Cardinal George in his role as the USCCB’s current president. And I have no way of understanding the political pressures that put him in the limelight when he would perhaps prefer to be simply leading his flock in the Chicago archdiocese and remaining focused on souls instead of media quotes. But that is his cross and we pray for him daily.
However, when it comes to the evils that can lurk in a such a massive piece of legislation, especially as it is largely written by proponents of the culture of death, I am perplexed by the USCCB’s push for universal health care reform. Yes, they have made statements regarding abortion and “conscience rights,” but. overall, they seem to strongly endorse yet another big government program in a push for reform in a “must do” and hurried way. Thankfully, some individual bishops are voicing an approach that can bring about needed reform in keeping with Catholic principles, including that of the “principle of subsidiarity.”
Just a couple of days ago, His Eminence spoke about this issue with members of the press and he was quite honest in telling them that the ground is still shifting on the question because the legislative proposals are fluid. He did say, however, that “the abortion issue will vitiate the whole project if it’s not attended to.”
But he then went on to say that the bishops have two goals: “Everybody should be taken care of, and nobody should be deliberately killed. It’s up to the politicians, the lawyers, and legislators to see what the mechanism for doing that is.”
Cardinal George knows as well as we do that, as long as politicians such as Vice President Biden and other pro-abortion Catholics are allowed to continue receiving the body and blood of Christ while advocating the direct murder of the preborn, there will be deceit of the worst possible kind – especially on the subject of health care reform. Let us not forget that the architect of this concept of reform now being pushed in Congress was none other than the late pro-abortion Catholic senator Edward M. Kennedy.
The USCCB's letter to the U.S. Senate of October 8, 2009, lends some hope that the leadership of that body is coming to see things as they really are:
[W]e remain apprehensive when amendments protecting freedom of conscience and ensuring no taxpayer money for abortion are defeated in committee votes. If acceptable language in these areas cannot be found, we will have to oppose the health care bill vigorously.
Any politician who defies Christ and is willing to defile Him by his actions and his words can never be trusted to be truthful about anything, even when dealing with the president of the USCCB.
While it is true that Obama is not a Catholic, it is a documented fact that his community organizing days in Chicago began in an organization funded by the Catholic Church!
Today, many of those doing his dirty work for him, such as House Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Finance Committee members John Kerry, Maria Cantwell and Robert Menendez, are allegedly Catholics, but each is also totally dedicated to abortion on demand. These men and women present a clear and present danger to the Church, to the babies and to any credibility that any promise emanating from the White House might hold to be true. Surely Cardinal George is aware of this.
It makes perfect sense to me that those who hold the positions of greatest influence within the Catholic Church – the bishops, archbishops and cardinals – need to unify. The USCCB should unanimously take a firm position and make it clear that the body and blood of Christ will not be defiled any longer by those in elected office who violate Catholic teaching while maintaining a spurious Catholic identity.
The damage these disobedient Catholic men and women are doing to the credibility of the Church, to consciences of the faithful who are misguided by what they witness and to the preborn children themselves cannot be quantified. Addressing this issue is more urgent than the push for health care reform.
Our Blessed Lord must be perpetually in agony over such scandalous behavior and lack of faith. If the USCCB were to defend the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist from sacrilege and make it their top priority, my sense is that miracles would begin to happen and even White House operatives who are quasi-Catholic might take notice. The Scriptures and the testimony of the saints show that God can work great things through the faithfulness of those who serve Him unreservedly.
When we become more faithful to all that is holy and the discipline our faith demands, then a genuine discussion of principled, ethical health care reform might be considered. But until then, forget about it.
Health care reform and life-and-death control over the weak and vulnerable in our midst do not belong in the hands of an administration dedicated to advancing the culture of death. The bishops know this, and it is my hope they also know that they have the power – the power of the Holy Spirit – to stop the madness by simply defending Christ and letting the chips fall where they may.
“It is true charity to point out the wolf wheresoever he creeps in among the flock.”