Changing the Social Environment

Editorial

Cardinal Dolan, Where Are You?

 

Cardinal Timothy Dolan has done an outstanding job leading the Catholic resistance to the HHS mandate. Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), an advisor to Benedict XVI, he has a well-deserved reputation as a spiritual leader. However, during the past few weeks much has been written concerning the controversy created by Cardinal Dolan’s invitation to President Obama to attend the annual Alfred E. Smith dinner. Much of what the cardinal and other bishops have written has been an attempt to justify that invitation. Much of that written by Catholic organizations and national writers has been extremely critical, depicting Cardinal Dolan as naïve or stupid or much worse.

During his administration, President Obama has done everything in his power to undermine the teachings of the Catholic Church. He is implementing programs and policies that may soon require the Church to repudiate its basic beliefs or close down all of its charitable and educational organizations. His support of the intrinsic evils of abortion and same-sex “marriage” is without precedent in any other administration.

When Cardinal Dolan is seen hosting both candidates for president at the Al Smith Dinner, it will be made very clear that a vote for either candidate is acceptable to the hierarchy and does not violate Catholic teaching. And is this not exactly the impression Cardinal Dolan wishes to Leave with his flock? After all, does not the USCCB transmit this idea by republishing its spineless document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship?” This 40-page document is nothing more than an excuse for “Catholics” to vote for a supporter of an Intrinsic Evil as long as that candidate is on the side of social justice. The majority of Catholic bishops as well as the majority of Catholics (54%) voted for Obama (the most pro-abortion politician in American history) during the last election.

Another statement from Cardinal Dolan regarding the Democratic Party further presents his insight: “Do you not think it’s a cause for celebration in the Catholic community in the United States of America that the two vice-presidential candidates are Catholic? Did you ever think it would come to this? We’ve got two men who — and you can disagree with one of them or both of them — say they take their faith seriously, who don’t try to hide it, and who say, ‘Hey, my Catholic upbringing and my Catholic formation influences the way I think.’ Not bad. Not bad.” With all due respect, how can Joe Biden – abortion supporter, same-sex marriage cheerleader – ever be thought of or seen as a SERIOUS Catholic? Joe Biden has made a mockery of Catholicism. In every opportunity to cast a vote to end the lives of unborn children, he has done so. How can Cardinal Dolan say Joe Biden is a SERIOUS Catholic? Maybe because “good old Joe” supports “social justice?”

Cardinal Dolan is in lock-step with the majority (but not all) of the Catholic bishops who do everything possible to aid Obama’s re-election. None of our bishops spoke out against those speakers at the Democratic Convention, including Joe Biden, who proclaimed to be Catholic while affirming their undying support for abortion, contraception, Planned Parenthood and same-sex marriage. No, not one word from any Catholic bishop anywhere in the country. Where is the condemnation from the USCCB for politicians who falsely assume the mantle of Catholicism? Where is the concern and care for the souls of millions of people watching the Democratic Convention led to believe by the deafening silence from Catholic bishops coast-to-coast that these politicians are legitimate Catholics espousing legitimate Catholic positions?

With the lone exception of the HHS protest, nearly every action in the political realm by the nation’s Catholic bishops has very likely ensured an Obama victory this year.

 

For the past three years the bishops have been in high-volume support of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and they overwhelmingly support government-sponsored national health insurance in spite of the fact that at least ten of our Popes have come out condemning socialization of any type, let alone socialized medicine. It is the single issue of being forced to pay out money for their employees’ contraception they oppose on the grounds of religious liberty.

            The USCCB presides over departments such as the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) overseeing organizations including Catholic Relief Services where millions of dollars are given or funneled to various “social justice” groups who advance the Culture of Death. They deny this, issuing statements indicating this has all been cleaned up. The bishops have been lying about this for 40 years.

Also to the bishops’ credit was the savaging of the Paul Ryan budget proposal by modernist heterodox Catholic academics without one word of serious defense, with the lone exception of one bishop. Ryan’s point was rather simple, “… if we don’t get this debt under control...the poor are going to REALLY suffer in the coming economic meltdown.” But it seems bishops from coast to coast were once again content to let the liberals chastise Ryan in the national secular media. Not one word came out of the USCCB headquarters saying anything like Ryan might have a point.

The USCCB political efforts have the net effect of greatly helping the Democratic Party take America down the road to moral and financial ruin. And from the bishops has come an absolute refusal, a roar of deafening silence, to chastise or openly condemn their Democratic friends who parade their phony Catholicism in front of millions, who desecrate the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ by receiving Communion. This sacrilege is allowed to go on unaddressed by large numbers of bishops who are disobedient to the Church by ignoring Canon Law 915. They have been told time and time again by the Vatican to be obedient.

This financial support for the Culture of Death and its political parties has gone on for years and years, all under some misguided and nefarious support for “fighting poverty”. Meanwhile, for all their supposed efforts the poverty rate now stands higher than when they began. The picture is clear. The aspirations of the bishops are largely aligned with the policies of the Democratic Party with the exception of abortion and same sex marriage. And even there, when Catholic democratic politicians stand up and express their undying support for these evils, the vast number of bishops do nothing, refusing to deny them Holy Communion and refusing to publicly announce the excommunication these politician have already incurred themselves. The bishops are supporting and helping to stay in power a party dedicated to the Culture of Death, all in the name of supposedly prudential policy judgments proven absolutely ineffective in their stated goal of fighting poverty.

Occasionally, we hear a nice, Catholic-sounding speech from a prelate. We see an interview in which past sins are admitted, but nothing is suggested or done to fix the problems resulting from those sins. Instead, what we see are campaigns designed to whip up the faithful to support an American constitutional principle while the underlying intrinsic moral evil is completely ignored. It is as if the concern is more for jurisprudence than the salvation of souls. In fact, one might conclude the salvation of souls isn’t even on the table anymore. It is as if none of the leaders, or very few of them, really believe in Hell anymore. At some point reasonable people have to start wondering.

            Cardinal Dolan and the bishops of the Church have convinced us by their actions and lack of action over the last several months that the future of the Catholic Church in America is hanging in the balance. It looks like we will see another repeat of the Cristeros here in America before our bishops wake up. Inviting the Baby Killer in Chief to dinner and a night of humor and congeniality is not how we will save our Church.

Jim Fritz

 

 


Changing the Social Environment

 

In the October issue of First Things is an interesting article on the social aspects of politics. The author, R. R. Reno, looks at politics in a much more historic way than we see while watching the evening news. He states the social contract in America is coming apart and will be revised or rewritten in the coming years.

He describes how the first major social revision began shortly after the Civil War, instigated by the newly formed Republican Party intent on ending slavery. All of the movers and shakers at that time were Republican and most were Protestant. Their revision was mostly based upon the Protestant work ethic. The problem with it was that it could not deal adequately with the social issues of the times, and the Great Depression swept it away.

Thanks to the New Deal, by the 1950s, the movers and shakers had become predominantly Democrats reflecting the new governing consensus of liberalism and activist government that even spread to Europe where it was labeled “Social Democracy.”

In the early years the clergy of the Catholic Church supported the Social Democracy by linking the teachings of the Church to the Progressive Movement. Catholics argued when the free market fails to provide for the needs of the workers, then the government should rightly intervene. The Catholic bishops called for minimum wage laws, housing for workers, health insurance and help for the disabled and elderly.  As Reno states, “Thus began the Catholic Church’s advocacy of the modern welfare state.” This was a good thing in the days when workers left the informal networks of their families and friends at home and became part of the industrial revolution in the big cities. 

Unfortunately, politics designed to help the poor can also harm them. In his book, Losing Ground, Charles Murray documents how the welfare programs launched in the 1960s had the perverse effect of subsidizing a destructive culture of poverty. Later, politicians realized what they were doing and revised the welfare system in 1996 under President Clinton.

However, this same Congress (Democratic) fueled an economic disaster by the rules and regulations of selling houses to people “who could not afford them,” thus causing a housing bubble and bust under the Bush Administration.  This was supposedly another good program with good intentions that resulted in economic failures that hurt the poor. 

Another Social Justice program promoted by the bishops was the Affordable Health Care Act, or “ObamaCare.”  Again, good intentions with negative results! In addition to the resultant HHS Mandate, a direct assault on the First Amendment, the ObamaCare act resulted in a stagnating economy already in bad health. 

Since November 2008, the annual budget deficit increased from $10 trillion to $16 trillion or over $51,000 for every person living in America, including all of our children and grandchildren.

The poverty rate went from 13 percent to 15 percent. The number of food stamp recipients went from 30 million to 45 million. None of this demonstrates good results from our government’s attempts to provide social justice.

Will all of this change? Reno believes it will – if not in this election, at least in the next. If it were left up to the bishops it would not change. They are too dependent upon government handouts.

I recently received a letter from Timothy O’Donnell, president of Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia.  In this letter he lamented the corrupting effect of federal government subsidies.  How true. The corruption began in 1965 under President Johnson’s Omnibus Education Act which made millions of dollars available to Catholic colleges in exchange for their agreement to adhere to government rules. It didn’t take long. Notre Dame soon declared independence from the Catholic Church to qualify for government funds. And you all know the infamous story of the “Notre Dame 88,” when an honorary degree was awarded to President Obama during his first year in office, and campus police jailed 88 peaceful protesters for objecting to the presence of the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history on the grounds of the (formerly) Catholic University and the honor given to him.  

O’Donnell claims to have never taken a penny of federal funding, and for that reason Christendom College is one of the most truly Catholic Colleges in the United States. I believe that to be true. You can count the number of true Catholic Colleges in the US on one hand.

To emphasize his point, O’Donnell listed several heretical plays put on by so-called Catholic colleges – during Lent. No wonder these colleges graduate so many agnostics and atheists. The skulls of these collegiate clergy will surely adorn the road to Hell when the time comes to measure their service to the Lord.

If we go back again and look at the corrupting effect of federal government welfare, are we not seeing the same thing? A good example of how this plays out is the bishops’ vicious attack on the Paul Ryan budget. They do not want to lose their dollars from the federal government. To the bishops it is irrelevant that Ryan has taken a true Catholic social doctrine approach. He asks how we are going to pay for all of the social programs the bishops have endorsed during the last century. He sees the real threat is the exploding federal debt. Even Pope Benedict has warned that as we continue to kick the fiscal can down the road we are basically transferring costs to future generations. This is not social justice for our children and grandchildren.

Reno points out, “Ryan has also emphasized the notion of personal responsibility, which flows from the Catholic principle of solidarity” and aims to find solutions at the lowest possible level. It is better for an individual in consultation with family members, decide on the solution of problems rather than expect big government to attack the problem with a “one-size-fits-all solution. Ryan believes entitlement reform should be conducted at the lowest possible level, i.e., the individual and family. This fits in fairly well with the moral principle as taught by the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, the bishops did nothing but criticize the Ryan budget.

I have often wondered when hearing or reading in one of the Gospels the account of the rich man asking Jesus how to obtain the rewards of Heaven and what he must do to follow Jesus that Jesus told the man to sell his possessions and give to the poor. I never read that Jesus instructed the rich man to ask the government to tax the rich and give to the poor.  Jesus never told his apostles/bishops to stay in their nice homes with the elaborate wine cellars and ask the government to give to the poor. When we do this, the government becomes the poor people’s God, and they look to the government for their salvation.

From Archbishop Sheen: "It is time for the laity to exhort our bishops to be shepherds rather than politicians, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus who rebuked the politically-motivated religious leaders of his day as  "white sepulchers ... full of dead men's bones."

Jim Fritz

Home Page