Michael Voris, who is a constant amazement, inspiration and motivational force to me, appears in a series called “The Vortex” which is available on YouTube and his web site. RealCatholicTV is the only internet Catholic television news outlet, and let me tell you, Voris is among the best we have seen. In his most recent presentation, “Obama and the Catholic Bishops,” Voris exposes the USCCB definitively and with no holds barred.
Voris provides an accurate history of how the USCCB got into the pickle it is in today, and why the Democratic party’s principles and philosophy of yesteryear, which became synonymous with the Catholic bishops’ teaching many years ago, has today become the fundamental basis for much, if not all, the scandal that swirls around the Catholic bishops and their bureaucrats.
As Voris tells the listener, "When you sleep with dogs, you are gonna get fleas." But let us not take his word for it; let’s look at a few fleas.
With no disrespect intended, I have to begin this exercise with Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Catholic lawyer, author and apologist for dissent. Califano recently wrote an editorial for the Washington Post regarding the recent news that Rhode Island Bishop Tobin denied Holy Eucharist to pro-abortion Congressman Patrick Kennedy. He reflected back on his years with President Lyndon Johnson, boasting that as his chief domestic advisor,
I was the (Catholic) White House aide responsible for enforcing those policies.
Johnson's actions prompted a stinging attack from Catholic bishops, who charged that he was coercing the poor to practice birth control. The president told me to "work something out" with the bishops, who were our needed allies in battling poverty and racial discrimination. At meetings with Father Francis Hurley, the bishops' top Washington staffer, and Detroit Archbishop John Dearden, leader of the American bishops, I assured them that we were offering an option to the poor, not coercing acceptance.
We ultimately agreed that if the president phrased his policy in terms of "population control" (which allowed for more food and the church-approved rhythm method of family planning as well as contraception), the bishops would cool their rhetoric. LBJ kept his word, and when he later signed a U.N. declaration supporting population control, the bishops were silent.
Carter and I opposed federal funding of abortion unless the life of the woman was at stake, a position Catholic bishops shared. Congress authorized funds for abortion in that circumstance and in cases of rape or incest "promptly reported." My options were to resign or to enforce the law by issuing regulations that defined "prompt" reporting. Back then, women generally did not report rape or incest unless they thought they were pregnant, so I set prompt reporting at within 60 days. The bishops were furious, and their attack vehement. Some said that I should have resigned rather than enforce the law. But none suggested that I be denied the Eucharist.
Please note Califano’s stunning comments that the bishops, even in the late 1960s, were pandering to the Democratic party, but in this case, on the question of the intrinsic moral evil of contraception, which is anathema, or at least should be, to Catholics regardless of their power or position. It is particularly interesting to note that Califano was responsible, or at least it seems so, in keeping the bishops silent on this most crucial matter. But what is most distressing is that clearly, and history bears this out, the bishops acquiesced. It’s those darned fleas, isn’t it!
Califano also clarifies for all of us that in those days of camaraderie between the Catholic bishops and the Democratic party, there were moments of furious rhetoric but nothing of substance to set forth the fact that Catholics in public life could not set aside their Catholicism for the sake of politics.
Archbishop Charles Chaput made the same point I am making when he wrote in the year 2000:
Exactly 40 years ago this fall, candidate John Kennedy promised a group of Protestant ministers that he wouldn't let his Catholic faith interfere with his service as president, if he got elected. And he was elected . . . and he kept his word.
Looking back, this was one of the watersheds of public life in our country. Without ever intending it, Kennedy created a model of accommodation which then helped to shape a whole generation of Catholic officeholders . . . all of whom found a way to live comfortably with the canyon that opened up between their private consciences and their public service. Of course the cost is high. Pragmatism in public life usually has a louder voice than conscience — and private conscience can very easily become not much more than private opinion.
Indeed Archbishop Chaput has placed the problem precisely where it belongs. Califano, another perfect example of what the Archbishop is teaching, boasts loudly even now about his glee at being one of the political heirs of this false idea that one can easily feel no pangs of conscience for setting aside his or her Catholic identity for the sake of political accommodations.
If you don’t believe it, listen to another infamous Catholic in public life.
There are millions of pro-abortion rights Catholics who understand that women faced with unintended pregnancies or complications in wanted pregnancies have to make difficult, complex decisions for themselves and their families. They do not make the decision to have an abortion lightly and without weighing all of their options. They must retain the ability to make this decision and the ability to access the care they need, whatever their choice may be. That means they must have access to health insurance that covers abortion care– just as millions of Americans must have access to affordable health insurance and health care.
Kennedy Townsend is, of course, no stranger to controversy. She is a public dissenter of much of what the Church teaches. Perhaps she takes comfort in thinking that there are “millions of pro-abortion rights Catholics,” though it causes many of us great pain to realize that this is so.
What is really most interesting about her is that she is constantly admonishing Catholic bishops and not a single bishop has ever taken her to task on the matter. There is no record of a Catholic bishop ever publicly calling her to account and making it clear that she may not receive the body of Christ nor is there a public record of a single bishop responding to her nonsense.
Finally, there’s the case of Sr. Donna Quinn of the Sinsinawa Dominican community who recently made headlines again due to her public support for abortion.
Railing about the Senate’s failed amendment that would have limited abortion payment in health care reform, the Chicago Tribune reported:
“The Amendment lost today but now the work will be to take this Bill and come out with the same good news when the Senate and House work together,” Quinn said.
Citing a poem about the Virgin Mary, Quinn noted the providential date of the amendment’s defeat.
“I was reminded of being with men and women from the Unitarian faith tradition last year as they celebrated Mary who by her assent, they believed, was one of the first women in the New Testament to express Choice,” Quinn said.
Quoting writer Jeannine Gramick, Quinn wrote: “Faithful and respectful dissent is vital to the life of the [C]hurch. It enables the [C]hurch community to think, to deliberate, to debate and to grow in relationship to one another and in relationship to God. We cannot afford to let our dissenters be silenced. They are a gift to our [C]hurch."
Of course, it is not at all true that “respectful dissent is vital to the life of the Church.” The truth is that dissent is destructive and creates scandal from one end of the nation to the other. The Catholic Dictionary defines doctrinal dissent as "[t]he theory that a professed Catholic may legitimately disagree with an official teaching of the Catholic Church and, in fact, should disagree in order to advance the Church's interests."
It goes on to say:
It is based on one of several erroneous premises, e.g., Modernism, which denies that divine faith is an assent of the mind to God's revealed truth, or process theology, which postulates an evolving deity and therefore also an everchanging truth. Most often the dissent applies to some doctrine of Christian morals which, though infallibly true, because taught by the Church's universal ordinary magisterium, has not been solemnly defined.
Obviously there are many fleas parading around as Catholics these days. And until the Catholic bishops acquire the unanimous wherewithal to use a heavy dose of truth as the cure-all for this type of flea infestation, the problem will continue unabated.
As Pope Leo XIII so accurately taught: "The first law of history is not to dare to utter falsehood; the second, not to fear to tell the truth."