Showing posts with label USCCB. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USCCB. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

It’s Iimi! Of Course I’m Still With Him!

A few months ago, when I stepped up my writing on abortion, someone asked what changed my mind. Recently, with my defending the USCCB voting to write a draft document on the Eucharist, others wondered if I was disillusioned with Pope Francis. My answer to both is, that I haven’t changed my views and, of course, I’m still with the Pope. I simply reject the false interpretations around him and trust that God will continue to protect His Church.

For those interested in the “behind the scenes” of the comic, in designing Fr. Gabe, this program doesn’t have clerical dress. So what he wears is actually a black variant of a uniform that male students might wear in Japanese schools.

Monday, June 21, 2021


In a past article, I discussed how the reaction of American Catholics to the USCCB voting to draft a document about the Eucharist showed a deep and dangerous situation that needs correction. I likened the backlash against disciplining public sinners to an iceberg. However, as the backlash grows, it has also revealed what a vocal portion of the non-Catholic United States population thinks about the Catholic Church: they hate us when we say that certain things are evil, and actions have consequences. They take advantage of this backlash to claim that the Catholics of the world agree with them and try to silence the Church. If we would just be silent on these evils and be a charitable NGO instead, the world would have no problem with us. 


The problem is, we cannot just be a philanthropic organization if we are to be faithful to Christ and His Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). We are sent to instruct the world on what we need to do if we would be saved (cf. Acts 2:37-40). If we refuse to do that, we will be held accountable for those who fall into damnation from our silence (Ezekiel 3:17-21).


It is true that Pope Francis has stressed mercy and compassion in how the Church reaches out to sinners. There is nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, some people misinterpret Pope Francis and his calls for mercy and compassion by assuming that people can come to communion if they “feel called” without repentance or changing their behavior. That is not and never was any part of his call for mercy.


It is also true that, in Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis stressed that we cannot assume mortal sin without determining if all the conditions (grave matter, full knowledge, free consent) are present. And, in the context of divorce and remarriage, there are situations where the knowledge or consent might be lacking. But we are not talking about people who were badly instructed or coerced into a situation where they cannot escape an invalid marriage. We are talking about Catholic lawmakers who say they will not follow their Church’s teaching against legalizing and expanding abortion as a “right.” Since the Church has made clear that abortion is grave sin and politicians are obliged to oppose it, canon 916 requires those in grave sin to not “receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession” does apply. And those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion” (canon 915). So, the Church in America needs to address this issue. Those Catholic lawmakers who do work to protect and expand the evil of abortion must be corrected. 


Among the bishops, the disagreement is over how to handle this matter. Since we must not commit rash judgment, we must not impute bad will to the bishops we disagree with. That can be hard when one has passionate feelings on what we should or should not do, but sometimes being a Catholic is difficult because we must be willing to put God’s will above our own. American Catholics often resent and rebel against teachings we disagree with, praising or condemning the Popes and bishops depending on whether what they say line up with their views. Both sides downplay their own rebellion with special pleading, while being rigorous towards those they disagree with, even though they are guilty of the same thing.


So, while the bishops might legitimately have different views on how we should best approach those who know what the Church teaches and refuse to change, we cannot use that difference as an excuse to defend those we politically favor who do wrong. The Church in America needs—as the Ladaria Letter reminds us—to unite around the teachings of the Church and come to a common understanding on how to respond to those who refuse to follow these teachings.


Our part is to stop judging rashly. If someone calls the ~73% of the bishops who voted in favor of drafting a document “defying the Pope,” they have rashly judged. If someone accuses the ~24% who voted against drafting the document “pro-abortion” or “pro-Democrat” they have rashly judged.


The document has not been drafted yet and will not involve President Biden when it is drafted§. Acting against pro-abortion politicians in one’s own diocese is already permissible. The anger over national policy is months—possibly years—premature.


The iceberg of Catholic factionalism and dissent needs to be broken. Catholics need to relearn obedience to the Magisterium and charity towards those they disagree with.  If we can do that, we can break the iceberg that threatens the mission of the Church. If we will not, then we are merely part of the iceberg of rebellion.




(†) I have encountered people who deny they have factional leanings, but I can only ask, “Is that really true?” Whether we are aware of it or not, all of us are tempted to give one side a “pass” when we either fear the opponent more or favor our side. Justice forbids us to act that way, however.


(‡) Only 50%+1 is necessary to begin drafting such a document. However, approval for a national policy (which may or may not be included in the final draft submitted to Rome) either has to be unanimous or 2/3 and approved by Rome.


(§) Canon 1405 restricts judging a Catholic head of state to the Pope.

Saturday, June 19, 2021


Canon 915: Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.


Canon 916: A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.


There is a rule of thumb for an iceberg. For every foot sticking out of the water, ten feet are below the surface. So, except for when a change of balance causes a shift that reminds us about how big it is, the visible portion looks less threatening than it actually is. Aside from the practical nautical knowledge of navigation in icy waterways, this knowledge makes for a lot of memes involving what lies beneath a problem.


In the aftermath of the USCCB meeting of June 16-18, I think the iceberg meme serves as a useful symbol for the hostile response directed towards the bishops. Yes, we now have an ominous threat emerging where Catholics—including Catholic politicians—have reacted with hostility towards the decision to draft a document that in part looks to consider the requirements for receiving the Eucharist. But that threat was not caused by the USCCB vote. It was always that big beneath the surface. What the vote did was expose just how big the threat is.


The hidden part of the iceberg in this metaphor was just how large the number of American Catholics who failed to grasp what the Eucharist really is and how we are to prepare ourselves to receive it, combined with the failure to understand that the teachings of the Church are not opinions that can be rejected. The result is, when the bishops voted (fewer than 25% voted against it), it brought how big a problem it was to the surface.


The situation is that the long held teaching is being labeled as “weaponizing the Eucharist” by those who fall under the prohibition. And that demonstrates, as Ven. Pius XII put it:


Perhaps the greatest sin in the world today is that men have begun to lose the sense of sin. Smother that, deaden it — it can hardly be wholly cut out from the heart of man — let it not be awakened by any glimpse of the God-man dying on Golgotha's cross to pay the penalty of sin, and what is there to hold back the hordes of God's enemy from over-running the selfishness, the pride, the sensuality and unlawful ambitions of sinful man? Will mere human legislation suffice? Or compacts and treaties? In the Sermon on the Mount the divine Redeemer has illumined the path that leads to the Father's will and eternal life; but from Golgotha's gibbet flows the full and steady stream of graces, of strength and courage, that alone enable man to walk that path with firm and unerring step.


The loss of the sense of sin makes reception of the Eucharist “a right” and the Church insisting on our need to receive sacramental confession if we are conscious of grave sin “being political.” It is a problem that runs deep and over a long period of time. With no past agreement on how to handle it, this reaction demonstrates the opposition has hardened.


This is not going to be a lament on what might have been. There is no point in saying “we should have dealt with this earlier.” We have to deal with the situation as it exists now. Unfortunately, because the bishops are in disagreement (168 for, 55 against, 6 abstentions), those Catholics who are supporting what the Church has always called evil can play on this division to attack those who want to enforce the Church teachings.


That does not mean we can attack those 55 bishops who voted against writing the document. Sure, under canon 212 §3, we can make our concerns known… if done “with reverence toward their pastors.” But disagreement over how to handle a situation does not automatically prove a rejection of Church teaching or moral laxity.


Nor can we claim that the 168 bishops voting in favor of writing a document are acting “in opposition to the Pope.” The Ladaria Letter did not forbid the bishops taking action. It called for “agreement as a conference,” which doesn’t necessarily mean a unanimous vote (73% voted in favor. A 2/3 margin is required). During the process of drafting it and before voting for it, there will be opportunities to come to agreement on what is to be done.


But we should be speaking out against the dissent that attacks Church teaching. Sure, one can legitimately say that Bill Barr was wrong to sign off on an execution (this is currently a popular tactic on the internet… though it’s a tu quoque and the differences are greater than the similarities). But, if these critics are aware that his action was wrong (and it was), then they are without excuse for not also condemning the continuing actions of the pro-abortion politicians who enable and protect the evil of abortion.


So, I believe that the iceberg that threatens the Church in the United States is the disobedience and the justification for evil given when that evil is on our side. It is easy to be self-righteous towards the other side’s faults. But, if we will not repent of our own failures while condemning the other side for theirs, then we should remember the words of The Lord: “For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you (Matthew 7:2).” This does not mean that the Church is guilty of being judgmental when she applies censure to the recalcitrant who publicly flaunt their disobedience. But it does mean we play the hypocrites if we excuse our own side—going against the teachings of the Church—for what is unforgivable for our enemies.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

It’s Iimi! Just Who is Factionalized Here?

With the Bishops’ meeting beginning tomorrow (6/16/21), I thought this would be a good time to get out one final manga on the misconceptions and hostility directed against it. Like Iimi does at the end of this piece, I urge the readers to pray for our bishops that they may reach a decision that is God’s will.

In this episode, with Daryl being absent from the youth group, Sean goes on the attack over bishops acting “in opposition” to the Pope and accuses Iimi of acting against the Pope. Iimi points out that while she might have preferences on what should be done, she will be obedient to the teachings approved by the Pope even if it should go against her preferences. 

For those who are interested in the “behind the scenes” notes, this comic was written script first, instead of constructing both text and pictures at the same time.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

It’s Iimi! The Ladaria Letter and Other Things

The “Ladaria Letter” seems to be a Rorschach test for Catholics… hold it up to the anti-Francis Catholic or the so-called “Pope Francis Catholic” and they see a rebuke of the US bishops. Regardless of whether they see that as positive or negative depends on misunderstandings of Pope Francis’ preaching on Mercy.

Iimi takes a different approach, seeing the CDF letter from Cardinal Ladaria to Archbishop Gomez as a reminder to the Bishops about what is necessary to address the issue of pro-abortion politicians in a divided American episcopate.

Relevant documents:
The 2002 CDF Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life
Aparecida Document of 2007 (which explains “Eucharistic Coherence.”)

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Look to Your Own Beam First

“Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)

Those involved in factional fighting might pretend to be acting for the “good of the Church,” but the reality is they are selectively quoting what the Church teaches to discredit their political opponents. Then, when challenged over the sins of their own side, they argue that “the stakes are too high” to worry about that at this time. The problem is this way of thinking will never find the “right time” to challenge their own faction. There will always be a perceived crisis that prevents us from looking to reform ourselves.

But we are called to change ourselves regardless of what others do. Our Lord tells us:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

Yes, teaching others to reject evil is part of the Great Commission (cf. Matthew 28:19-20). But if we will not do what we expect others to do, we will answer for it.

This gets worse as Catholics misidentify Church teaching and political preference. The result is accusing Catholics on the “other side” of wrongdoing, while never asking themselves about their own behavior.

10 I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. 11 For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you. 12 I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:10-13)

Recently, the war between the Original Pro-Life Movement (hereafter OPLM) and the New Pro-Life Movement (hereafter NPLM) has flared up again. It is not a new conflict. It happens in America with every change of a Presidential party in power. One party thinks that abortion is a “human right.” The other recognizes it is not. Catholics, of course, can never licitly support abortion… even though some Catholics do.

The battle of the OPLM and the NPLM basically comes down to how abortion should be weighted when it comes to the moral obligations of voting. Both factions are caricatures of what the Right to Life means. The OPLM generally argues that abortion is the worst evil of our times, and we can never licitly vote for a candidate or party that supports legalized abortion. The NPLM tends to argue that since the other social justice issues are a part of the Seamless Garment of Life, we need to elevate them in the discussion. Unfortunately, the practical result of this factionalism is that the OPLM argues that “the stakes are too high” to hold candidates accountable for issues other than abortion, while the NPLM argues that “the stakes are too high” to worry about abortion. The OPLM Catholic tends to vote Republican regardless of that party’s failings and the NPLM Catholic tends to vote Democrat regardless of that party’s failings.

Both factions are quick to point out the failures of the other side. But, neither does more than pay lip service to their own side’s failures. The result is, hostility and self-righteousness grow apace.

The fact is, the Catholic Church does indeed teach that the Right to Life is the first right. However, her teaching shows that both factions have gone wrong:

In effect the acknowledgment of the personal dignity of every human being demands the respect, the defence and the promotion of the rights of the human person. It is a question of inherent, universal and inviolable rights. No one, no individual, no group, no authority, no State, can change—let alone eliminate—them because such rights find their source in God himself.

The inviolability of the person which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, fínds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights—for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture—is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.

The Church has never yielded in the face of all the violations that the right to life of every human being has received, and continues to receive, both from individuals and from those in authority. The human being is entitled to such rights, in every phase of development, from conception until natural death; and in every condition, whether healthy or sick, whole or handicapped, rich or poor. The Second Vatican Council openly proclaimed: “All offences against life itself, such as every kind of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and willful suicide; all violations of the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture, undue psychological pressures; all offences against human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children, degrading working conditions where men are treated as mere tools for profit rather than free and responsible persons; all these and the like are certainly criminal: they poison human society; and they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonour to the Creator”. (Christifideles Laici 38)

So, on one hand, Catholics cannot limit the right to life to abortion. On the other hand, Catholics cannot reduce the importance of abortion… it is listed next to murder and genocide, after all. Moreover, certain rights are considered secondary to the right to life. So, while rights to housing and healthcare are important, we cannot sacrifice the obligation to oppose abortion to them.

I would say that contra the OPLM, we do have an obligation to speak out against more than abortion. But contra the NPLM, we also have an obligation to oppose abortion as the first assault on the right to life.

Therefore, I think the assaults on the bishops are unjust. The OPLM is wrong in saying that the bishops ignore abortion. They are not. But the NPLM is wrong in claiming that the bishops were obsessed with abortion and neglecting the other issues. Anybody paying attention to the USCCB releases showed they spoke about all the issues Americans were wrong over… but they were always attacked for not speaking about Y, when the focus of the debate was X.

Let us face the facts: when a Presidential administration is in line with Church teaching on X but wrong on Y, the bishops will tend to focus on Y. If the administration is in the wrong on abortion, the bishops will speak out on abortion. If the administration is in the wrong on immigration, the bishops will speak out on immigration. They are not behaving in a partisan manner. I would say that the person accusing them of being partisan is the one who is biased. 

We can see this OPLM v. NPLM factionalism in play with the USCCB expressing concern over Biden and abortion. Both factions will pick out their heroes and villains on how they face the fact of a pro-abortion Catholic President… the first in US history§.

And I think that is the key to the situation. America has had pro-abortion presidents before and Catholic pro-abortion politicians before. But this is the first time we have had a Catholic pro-abortion President in the United States. So, the US bishops are dealing with something entirely new#.

So, it does not help when the OPLM and NPLM are picking out heroes and villains from the bishops. Yes, the bishops are publicly divided over what should be done, and that should not be. Yes, we do need a solution on how to handle it. And yes, all of us (including me) have ideas on what that solution should be. But our response should be prayer for them to reach a wise decision, not accusing the bishops we disagree with of bad will. Because of this, I say that the OPLM and NPLM need to spend more time considering the beam in their own eyes and less on the splinter in the eye of their foes. It might help coming to a non-partisan response that helps the bishops instead of hindering them.


(†) Relatively speaking. Often, a political party will support an action that the Church teaches but do so with a different motive.

(‡) “Pro-Choice” is a propaganda term where the party tries to separate the claimed personal feelings of the politician from what he does, even though the claimed personal feelings have no impact on what he freely chooses to do. We should not use the term.

(§) Remember, when the first Catholic President was elected, Roe v. Wade was over ten years away, so it was not a factor.

(#) Canon 1405 does limit the judging of a chief executive of a country to the Pope. But that is beyond the scope of this article and will need to be addressed another time. Briefly, it can be used to interpret the meaning of the Ladaria letter as saying that the bishops need to be unified and talking to Biden privately before bringing it before the Pope. It does not mean that those bishops wanting to move beyond the status quo are wrong. Also, keep in mind this canon was not part of the revision of canon law.


Saturday, December 1, 2018

Thrown Under the Bus: Pope Francis and the USCCB Conference

[Note—this article intends no disrespect to the bishops. Under Canon 212, I am expressing my concerns that the reaction at the November conference is being misused by the Pope’s critics to make it appear that he is to blame for this. I plead with them to consider the unjust resentment directed against him because of it.]

The aftermath of the USCCB bishops’ conference last month led to one undeniable conclusion: the secular and Catholic media are generally treating the Pope as if he were the one to blame for the state of the abuse crisis.

There were things leading up to it: for example, Vigano’s (unjust, in my opinion) accusations started the narrative that the Pope was part of the coverup conspiracy. There was also the Pope effectively telling the reporters to do their homework and investigate the claims themselves (which showed Vigano’s accusations had more holes than Swiss cheese riddled by a machine gun) which was wrongly portrayed as “no comment.” Using the “argument from silence” fallacy, the Pope’s critics argued that his refusal to play along with a stunt (that was obviously calculated to be released at a time that would cause the most damage), as “proof” that he was hiding the truth that would convict him (also a “shifting the burden of proof” fallacy).

This sets the background for the USCCB conference in November. The bishops planned to vote on some proposals involving oversight and sanctions against covering up bishops that were potentially in conflict with canon law. Then, on the opening day of the conference, it was announced that the Vatican had ordered that the bishops not vote on these issues, and wait instead for the meeting of all the leaders of bishops’ conferences scheduled for February. Cardinal DiNardo and others expressed “disappointment” at the decision, Catholics were outraged. The term, “swept under the carpet” was a common epithet.

Except it wasn’t. Cardinal Müller and others pointed out that these proposals were literally submitted at the last minute. There was no time to review them properly to make sure there were no conflicts [§]. In other words, the Vatican wasn’t covering up. Those responsible for submitting the proposals in a timely manner dropped the ball in an unforced error [@]. But bishops were saying they were disappointed instead of saying mea culpa. It was troublesome because it’s not like this requirement was unknown prior to November 2018.

In fact, the situation probably would have been worse if the Vatican had just allowed it to go for a vote. Canon law requires that decrees from such a meeting be reviewed and approved before they can take effect. Both the 1917 and 1983 Codes of canon law make this clear:

(1917 Code of Canon Law)

(1983 Code of Canon Law)

If these dubious proposals had been voted on and, after review, found to be in conflict with canon law, they would have to be rejected. But do you think people would recognize “oh, the bishops were corrected”? No. The Pope would be attacked as “blocking reform” and vilified by people either unaware of or uninterested in the fact that the Church is governed by the rule of law, not arbitrary decrees [&].

This is not a case of the Pope “having the right” but being unwise to use it (as someone told me). This is a case of the Pope being in the right. There may or may not be canonical problems with the proposals. But that must be determined before they can be promulgated. The USCCB (for whatever reason) failed to submit their proposals in a timely fashion then. The USCCB can submit their proposals to the February meeting where this can be determined now. Then we can determine their merits and whether they fit in with or contradict the nature of what the Church is.

But the use of language expressing “disappointment” over something that could not be otherwise is stirring up resentment against something that is not the fault of the appropriate Vatican Congregations (Congregations of Bishops and CDF), and to use it risks looking like “throwing the Pope under the bus for the failure of others.


[§] I find it curious that many Papal critics who rightly laughed at Pelosi’s “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy,” wanted the Vatican to accept exactly that.

[@] I don’t know if it was bad planning or deliberate. But it seems to me that to avoid rash judgment, we must not make an accusation of malfeasance without proof.

[&] Canon Law, like secular law, can be amended. But it can’t just be ignored when we desire it.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Reflections on Firearm Controversies and the Church

(See: To gun violence, Archbishop Cupich says 'Enough!' - Chicago Tribune, USCCB Testimony before Congress 2013and Confronting a Culture of Violence: A Catholic Framework for Action)

The Second Amendment is one of these things that people tend to fall into the either-or fallacy. Either one supports their perspective or one supports all sorts of horrible things. For the person who believes more legislation is needed to prevent gun massacres, people who oppose them are seen as callously disregarding suffering in the name of politics. For the person who believes that there are legitimate reasons to own firearms, the calls for legislation and restrictions are seen as a confiscation which punishes the legitimate gun owner. There is no middle ground in this rhetoric.

But what I don’t see in this dualistic debate is taking people on each side and asking them, “What do you think needs to be done to change this?” There is no dialogue to try to find a solution that both sides can work with that protects the innocent and keeps lethal weapons out of the hands of those likely to misuse them. In saying this, I am not saying “Can’t we all get along?” The problem is, neither side strikes me as wanting to compromise. To the person who thinks personal ownership of firearms is the cause of the problem, it appears that they will not be happy with anything less than a model for gun ownership along the lines of European limits. To the person who believes that personal ownership of firearms is necessary for defense against criminals or a government turned dictatorial, they will not hear any proposal for limits.

This is why I do not blame the Obama administration or the NRA—I actually blame both of them for contributing to the problem, demonizing the other side and not willing to achieve a compromise. Indeed, any possibility of compromise is seen as ignoring what one side holds important.

So, people continue to die from violence. Statistically, that number probably will never be reduced to zero, regardless of whether we outlaw every firearm in America or arm every individual in America with firearms. So we need to avoid two types of thinking:

  1. Thinking that if only we eliminate all firearms, everybody will be safe.
  2. Thinking that defending the Second Amendment means we can’t have any restrictions.

It is this mindset that the Church has to face when it weighs in on the issue. The American bishops recognize that some restrictions are necessary, but they also speak on how there needs to be more than only restrictions. Now, there is not any official document which teaches “Catholics must support X on pain of sin.” I don’t expect there ever will be either. The Church rarely speaks by saying “support this bit of legislation!” Rather the USCCB sets forth what she sees as important considerations and encourages lawmakers to apply them to their work.

Now, the USCCB does actually make some good points in talking about the culture of violence—it demonstrates that firearms by themselves do not cause the situation we have been in since the 1990s, and that we need to address these core issues. Again, this is not an either-or issue. It’s not a matter of either addressing core issues OR restricting guns. It’s a both-and situation. We need to both address the culture of violence and keep firearms out of the hands of people most likely to use these firearms to harm innocents. I think the weakness with the current approach is that the bishops sometimes are not precise enough in their language, allowing partisans on both sides to either make it sound like the Church endorses their position or to vilify the Church.

For example Archbishop Cupich, wrote today in the Chicago Tribune. He rightly speaks about the issue of the Second Amendment, saying, "Surely there is a middle ground between the original intent of the amendment and the carnage we see today.” That’s very true, and I applaud this. But, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. He speaks about needing “reasonable legislation” and “better gun controls.” But what does that mean? This can span the range from “keep them out of the hands of crazies” to “ban them outright.” That uncertainty leads people assuming things based on their own political beliefs.

The whole problem, as I see it, is the polarized society we have cannot come to an agreement on what is “reasonable” or “better.” As a result we see people acting offended or self-righteous over the Archbishop’s words.

Now, the right of self defense is recognized by the Catholic Church. Indeed, the Catechism says:

2263 The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor.… The one is intended, the other is not.” (1737)

2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow: (2196)

If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful.… Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.

So the question is, how does one reconcile the Catholic recognition of self defense as legitimate, the Second Amendment and calls for firearm restrictions? I think we Catholics in America do need to have our own discussion on the issue, guided by the bishops. That means we need to set aside our own political preferences and set aside demonizing people who think differently on the issue. I mean Archbishop Cupich takes a position (but not using his teaching authority as bishop in doing so) that might be more politically “liberal” than what I am comfortable with, but what he has to say is not to be written off as “partisan” and rejected out of hand. He is certainly not heretical or holding a position inimical to Catholic teaching. 

Ultimately, I think the problem in America is we have become so polarized that we no longer trust anyone who does not share our position. The result is we no longer have any way of finding a compromise that protects the innocents while keeping lethal weapons out of the hands of those who are dangerous. I think ultimately, we need to understand the scope of our responsibilities in order to stake out an informed position. I think the bishops can indeed help us understand how to do so. They have a lot to say which is worth studying. But to do so more effectively, I think it would help for them to avoid vague terms that can be misinterpreted.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

USCCB Rebuts Obama Administration

You can find the article HERE.

We're in a nasty battle for the freedom to do as we ought to do, with the propagandists for the government seeking to mislead people into thinking we're mindless bigots.

This is the time for all people to do what they can depending on their talents.  We're now in a battle over the souls in our nation.

Monday, March 22, 2010

All For The Want of a Horseshoe Nail: The Scapegoating Begins

Source: Bishops Share The Blame | Blogs |

[Disclosure: This article is an expansion of a response I wrote on another blog]

Let the Blames Begin…

For better or worse, health care has passed.  I believe it is for the worse of course.  Not because I oppose a reform of the system we have, but because it is a "reform" which makes legal things which must be condemned and opposed as evil.  What I find tragic however is to see that instead of a unified front to challenge the evils, we are now seeing infighting among the Christians, pointing fingers.  Among Catholics, this is shown as pointing fingers at "The Bishops."

The problem I have with the Register's assessment, in saying…

Again, while the Bishops have acquitted themselves well through this process recently, they cannot ignore the past.

The hard truth is that for years the Bishops have allied themselves with the pro-abort party in matters related to health-care, and now they claim 11th hour betrayal.

When you hang out with thieves, you shouldn’t be surprised when you get robbed.

Moreover, the Bishops silence for years in the face of pro-abortion Catholic politicians has given aid and comfort to those who seek the death of children.  The Bishop’s unwillingness, with some obvious exceptions, to effectively address or discipline pro-abort Catholic politicians allowed for the Democrats to portray the Church as divided on the issue.  They have also allowed a culture of dissent to flourish for decades that culminated in the shameful last minute endorsement by a group of radical nuns that seriously hurt the cause of life.

The bishops’ decades long collective silence on these issues allowed for this culture to develop and has resulted in the USCCB being understandably criticized as an extension of the Democrat party (the Democrat party at prayer they say).  This is the horrible result of that ungodly alliance.

…is that while many bishops may not have saw the danger at the time, they certainly stood strong during this Health Care debate.  I was never in any doubt that the USCCB opposed the Senate Bill from the time it was originally created, so I disagree with the "11th hour" claim.

Reflections on the American Bishops

Yes, American bishops had been weak for decades.  For that matter, German Bishops prior to 1517 were also weak in enforcing discipline in the Church, leading to the abuses that Luther opposed.  Does that mean the bishops after this time were to blame as they sought to repair the damage done?  Whatever happened in the past is past.  As Catholics, we believe that people can repent and begin working for the truth.  Many of those bishops responsible for the silence of the 80s and 90s are retired or deceased.  Many of those who remain seem to have been strongly encouraged when Pope Benedict XVI visited America and began speaking out.

Remote Cause vs. Immediate Cause

This is the confusing a remote cause with an immediate cause, like the old poem:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail

Often (mis)interpreted as saying small things lead to big losses.  However, one has to assess how far back one can reasonably assign blame.  Is it reasonable to say because one nail was missing, the kingdom was lost?  Or is it more reasonable to assign blame to a failure to prepare for contingencies?

Did certain bishops back in the 1980s and 1990s often behave ineffectually?  Yes.  Did they sometimes identify Democratic policies with Catholic teaching?  Yes, tragically.  Did some bishops think Obama would be a good president?  Yes, it sadly seems to be so.

Is it correct to say that because bishops in the past failed to act as they ought, that this is the cause of the situation we face today?  I think not.  I am inclined to think the direct cause of this is too many placed all their trust in Stupak and failing to consider other contingencies.  The bishops who spoke out did not rely on Stupak.  They kept speaking out to the members of Congress, seeking to convince as many as they could of their moral duties.

Who Failed to do Their Job Now (As Opposed to the Past)?

Some failed in their duty and some did not.  This is why I must disagree with the Register article when it says:

Blame may be cathartic for some but that is not the reason I bring this sorry history up now.  Like the Republicans, the Bishops too must learn from their mistakes.  If they continue to ally themselves with the Democrat party and continue their cowardly and ineffective “pastoral” approach to pro-death Catholic politicians things will only get worse, and yes they can get worse.

So it is time for all of us to admit our mistakes and learn from them.  Lives depend on it.  We failed them before, let’s not do it again.

The problem I have is that it is clear from the actions of Bishops being increasingly vocal since the beginning of the Obama administration that they already have learned from their mistakes.  Yes, we now need to do more still.  Some may still do less than they ought, but this article seems to negate the strong witness bishops have given.

If We Wish to Judge, Let Us Begin With Ourselves

1 † “Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

2 For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.

† [Commentary from NAB] This is not a prohibition against recognizing the faults of others, which would be hardly compatible with Mat 7:5,6 but against passing judgment in a spirit of arrogance, forgetful of one’s own faults.

People want someone to blame.  If so, perhaps we should begin with ourselves, on our own failure to do enough at our level.  Did we do our best to oppose the bill, or did we decide to let Stupak do it for us, failing to consider he might be turned?

I believe that, if we examine our actions, most of us will have to say the latter.  Perhaps I should have written more on the subject than I did, for example.  I believed the statements of the bishops were quite strong, but perhaps I ought to have made them available on this site to inform the (admittedly small) number of followers of this site.  I could have looked for links to put on the site banner.  I couldn't have forced people to change their minds, but I could have perhaps let others know of other views.  For that, I can only say mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Yes it is easy to point fingers.  Yes, Archbishop Niederauer (for example) should have imposed discipline on Pelosi long before.  Yes other bishops have been lax.  Yes, the USCCB can use a better system of vetting when people try to use their name to promote a political agenda.  Yes, the visitation of the American nuns should immediately be ratcheted up a few notches in intensity.

Indicting the Whole For the Acts of Some

However, there is a large difference between being disappointed in saying certain bishops should have done more and indicting "the bishops" as a whole.

The USCCB did make their voice known through the proceedings, urging changes and once it became clear that the final senate bill was set, shifted to outright opposition.  When the CHA made their 11th hour deceits, when certain nuns misrepresented themselves as speaking for 60,000, when the Stupak compromise was announced, the USCCB made clear that these things were unacceptable, and urged members of Congress to vote against this law.

Certain Catholics in Congress may have used the words of dissenters to justify their wrong actions, but they would be guilty of vincible ignorance in the face of what the Bishops spoke out about.

We cannot control what others do of course.  We can control what we do.  We can only make our voice be heard and pray.

What If They Opposed Obamacare and Nobody Came?

I believe this comic, from makes clear our duty now.  If we know this bill will impose injustices on us, it is up to us to fight, and not expect others to.  I think Berthold Brecht said it well:

What if they gave a war and nobody came?
Why, then, the war would come to you!
He who stays home when the fight begins
And lets another fight for his cause
Should take care:
He who does not take part
In the battle will share in the defeat.
Even avoiding battle will not avoid battle.
Since not to fight for your own cause
Really means
Fighting on behalf of your enemy's cause.

Let's avoid pointless recriminations now.  We have this to deal with now, and we need to face it united as Christians, not infighting among ourselves.  The infighting, the blame seeking and the scapegoating only aids those we must oppose.

Now, for better or for worse we have this system of Health care.  Now, it is our duty to challenge those aspects of it which are contrary to what we believe to be right and just.

Now is not the time to blame and scapegoat.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Importance of Remembering the Sequence of Events

Source: The Catholic Key Blog: USCCB Reaffirms Opposition to Senate Bill, Commends Senator Nelson

I'm sure certain Catholics will treat the actions of Senator Nelson, and the USCCB praising his efforts as a certain cause-effect, in order to paint it as Catholics supporting abortion.  However this would be dishonest.

The Catholic document showing Cardinal DiNardo praising Nelson, shows the cardinal's statement, was dated 12/18/09, and seems to be based on facts listed in the Cardinal's 12/14/09 letter.  Nelson's sell-out happened late on 12/19/09.  So in terms of sequence, the praising of Nelson took place before his unacceptable compromise… a compromise Cardinal DiNardo and the USCCB could not know it happened.

The USCCB has stated that the Health Care bill is unacceptable as it exists now.   So both liberals who want to argue that it is ok to be pro-abortion and Catholic, as well as the conservatives who wish to argue the Bishops are "heretical", would be misrepresenting the position of the Church.

One hopes the USCCB does come out with a strong statement now… it is certainly needed.  However, let us not blame them for something which they did not do.