It was a bit of a shock to read the flowery statement made by Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of the Wheeling-Charleston diocese, regarding the death of West Virginia’s Senator Robert Byrd. There was a moment when I wondered if perhaps the bishop did not know that the late senator was an avid supporter of abortion, but then I realized that such a scenario is impossible. And yet, Bishop Bransfield wrote these words about a man who could not understand that all human beings, including preborn children, have human rights. He said, “The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston offers its most sincere condolences to the Byrd family, and we pray during this difficult time that family and loved ones will remember that Senator Byrd is now at peace with the Risen Lord and, with his late wife Erma Ora Byrd, is experiencing Perfect Joy.”
If this sounds like the bishop has elevated Byrd to sainthood, you might be on to something. American Life League found this so distressing that we issued a statement in response, focusing attention on the “message of Our Lady of Fatima during her 1917 apparitions in Portugal: that the outrages, sacrileges and the indifference of men greatly offend God and that many souls go to hell because there is no one to pray for them.”
The statement called on pro-life Americans to pray for the senator’s soul and for Bishop Bransfield, “that he may realize the opportunity he missed before any others are scandalized by his words of praise for the senator.”
Contrast this latest genuine travesty with Bishop Rene Gracida’s blog regarding “Catholic” Vice President Joseph Biden, who recently assured the citizens of Kenya that if they adopt a new constitution decriminalizing abortion, this would “allow money to flow” into the country from abroad. The retired bishop of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas, writes,
Vice-President Joe Biden has confirmed my 2008 intuition by his at times bizarre behavior, frequent gaffes and downright stupid remarks since being elected. Most of his gaffes have dealt with political rather than moral issues. Now, however he has crossed the line as a Catholic and has openly supported abortion-on-demand for Barack Hussein Obama’s father’s homeland: Kenya. Now he has taken a stand on Kenya’s proposed new constitution, a stand which is probably a violation of US law and a stand that is certainly immoral. Perhaps God, who knows whether or not Biden’s brain was permanently damaged by his brain surgery, will not judge him too harshly, but the Church, which does not have that kind of knowledge, should certainly speak out and reprimand him.
This is why, when a heroic shepherd of the Catholic Church actually stands up and defends truth, it is incumbent upon each one of us to remember that individual in prayer and hold him up as an example of why we love our faith.
When Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin recently wrote about the rightness of Bishop Thomas Olmsted’s actions in recognizing that Sister Margaret McBride had excommunicated herself from the Church, he wrote that Bishop Olmsted “has to deal with the law the way it is, not the way he—or anyone else—might wish it to be, just as every cop and every judge has to deal with the law as it is in his jurisdiction. So I don’t see grounds for faulting Bishop Olmsted for seeking to apply the law—as it is, not in some other way—to events in his diocese. That’s his job.”
Amen and alleluia! What we need are more bishops who, as the good shepherds they should be, are guiding souls along the path to sanctity instead of allowing them to fall into perdition.