Is the USCCB an Intrinsic Evil?
By Jim Fritz
I know! I know! There are many saintly bishops within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), but is the USCCB as an entity an intrinsic evil? This article takes a look at the actions of this group and lets you determine the answer. First, let's define an intrinsic evil using some of the USCCB's own words. Then, let's look at some of the actions of the USCCB in recent years.
There is a strong tradition in Catholic moral theology that evaluates the morality of acts according to a threefold test that looks at 1) the act itself, 2) the intent of the actor; and 3) the circumstances surrounding the act. All three must be good (or at least neutral) for the act to be morally licit. Traditionally, to say that something is "intrinsically" evil is to say it is evil at the level of the act. It is "objectively" wrong, regardless of the intent of the actor or the circumstances. Such acts can never be morally licit. This does not mean, however, that such acts are always greater evils than acts that are evil by intent or circumstance.
What are these Intrinsic Evils? According to the Church these are: 1) murder of unborn babies (abortion); 2) murder of the sick and disabled (euthanasia); 3) conception of human lives for the purpose of Fetal Stem Cell Research; 4) illicit and intrinsically disordered sexual licentiousness; and, 5) cloning of humans.
Actions of the USCCB
The actions we will review are:
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship
To put it bluntly, this USCCB document has played a decisive role in empowering Catholic supporters of abortion by providing the escape clauses needed to convince Catholics they could vote for a pro-abortion candidate in good conscience. There are two major loopholes in the document. First, it states that Catholics are allowed to vote for a supporter of abortion rights so long as 1) the voter does not intend to support that position, or 2) there are offsetting "morally grave reasons." The document never explains what constitutes "morally grave reasons," leaving it to the reader to make his own determination which can be quite erroneous.
It is this writer's contention this clause was purposely inserted into the document by socially progressive bishops as a loophole. Common sense indicates the bishops had to have been aware this clause was a loophole to allow voting for pro-abortion politicians and not an accidental opening. Arguments that Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship needs to be taken as a whole to be understood do not hold water. The loophole was taken out of context repeatedly and published on the websites of the pro-abortion candidates. At a conference at Creighton University in June, John Carr, Executive Director of Social Development and World Peace for the USCCB, "stressed that the bishops' document does not shut the door on any candidate, not even one who supports abortion rights." The bishops were told this, and they still left the loophole intact as this was their original intent. Although several bishops have spoken out forcefully, saying the document is being abused, it was never changed or clarified by the USCCB.
Bishop Robert Vasa pointed out that voting for a pro-abortion candidate is never justified when the opponent is pro-life. Similarly, Bishops Kevin Vann and Kevin Farrell in a joint letter to their faithful insist there are no "'truly grave moral' or 'proportionate' reasons, singularly or combined, that could outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion each year."
Is this act of letting the purposely defective Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship stand as a document to be used by the faithful an intrinsic evil?
Catholic Campaign for Human Development
In 1969, the U.S. bishops established the CCHD to fund low income controlled empowerment projects and to educate Catholics about the root causes of poverty. In 1994, The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly, ran a series of articles by Paul Likoudis shedding light on the activities of the CCHD. Likoudis wrote that the anniversary "brought [many U.S. Catholics] to plead with the… bishops for an investigation of and an audit into what kinds of programs the ecclesiastical apparatus has funded." Likoudis exposed a broad range of serious problems. They included financing organizations that support abortion and contraception, funneling money into leftist groups working for socialistic political goals, and organizing voter drives to elect radical politicians. Likoudis exposed the intimate connection between atheist Saul Alinsky's Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) and CCHD. Alinsky, the grandfather of a new type of community organizing, promoted radical and immoral means. Approximately one third to one half of all organizations funded by the USCCB's CCHD are Alinskyite groups with philosophies antithetical to Catholic teaching on social justice. The CCHD has used millions of dollars from unsuspecting Catholics to fund these groups.
In 2006, the Employment Policies Institute released a study called Rotten ACORN: America's Bad Seed. It describes ACORN (one of the organizations funded by the CCHD) as a "vast web of groups run by long-time anti-corporate activist Wade Rathke and a handful of his closest allies…[with] more than 75 organizations run…out of one office…in New Orleans." The thirty-page report with 140 footnotes goes on to describe what essentially is the "Rathke family business," up to its neck in voter fraud, shaking down banks and private businesses, funneling massive amounts of money into the pockets of family members through its spider web of networks, and mistreating its employees. Rathke was forced out in 2008 after his brother, Dale, embezzled almost a million dollars which Rathke covered up, keeping his brother on the payroll for eight years after the 2000 crime. Finally, after the FBI began an investigation into the CCHD funded ACORN, the USCCB decided to suspend funding. They did not cancel it - they merely suspended it to continue again when the publicity dies down. The USCCB still refuses to overhaul a completely dysfunctional organization that, according to one of their bishops, cannot possibly be managed under its present organizational set up.
After the election of the most pro-abortion candidate in history, supported in part by the CCHD, is this another example of the USCCB supporting an intrinsic evil?
Rejection of Canon 915
Church's Canon Law 915 states: "Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion." Debate on the issue was closed several years ago with a letter from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. The then-head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith intervened in a debate between the US Bishops on the issue in 2004. Cardinal Ratzinger said in his letter titled, "Worthiness to receive Holy Communion," that a Catholic politician who would vote for "permissive abortion and euthanasia laws" after being duly instructed and warned, "must" be denied Communion. Ratzinger's letter explained that if such a politician "with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it." Recently Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, confirmed this position. Former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, whom Pope Benedict appointed this year to head the highest judicial court in the Vatican, has remarked on the need for bishops to uphold this canon, since without doing so they undermine belief in the truth of the evil of abortion. "No matter how often a bishop or priest repeats the teaching of the Church regarding procured abortion, if he stands by and does nothing to discipline a Catholic who publicly supports legislation permitting the gravest of injustices and, at the same time, presents himself to receive Holy Communion, then his teaching rings hollow," wrote Burke. "To remain silent is to permit serious confusion regarding a fundamental truth of the moral law."
Cardinal Arinze in 2004 said a pro-abortion politician "is not fit" to receive Communion. "If they should not receive, then they should not be given," he added. In November 2007 during a video interview, Cardinal Arinze was asked again if a person who votes for abortion can receive Holy Communion. He replied, "Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that? Get the children for first Communion and say to them, 'Somebody votes for the killing of unborn babies, and says, I voted for that, I will vote for that every time.' And these babies are killed not one or two, but in millions, and that person says, 'I'm a practicing Catholic,' should that person receive Communion next Sunday? The children will answer that at the drop of a hat. You don't need a cardinal to answer that." Excommunication is allowed by Canon law which says the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with receiving communion, which is receiving the body of Christ. Yet the USCCB refuses to enforce this law.
With the majority of the bishops refusing to enforce Canon Law 915 to stop "Catholic" politicians from supporting abortion, is this another example of the USCCB supporting an intrinsic evil?
Publication of Always our Children
In October 1997, a document entitled Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children was published by the Committee on Marriage and the Family of the USCCB. To be fair it should be made clear the document was composed without any input from the majority of the American Catholic bishops, who were given no opportunity whatsoever to comment on its pastoral usefulness or on its contents. The illusion is given, perhaps deliberately, and carried forth by the media to the effect that this is something the U.S. bishops have published. However, to this date the USCCB has not denounced this very flawed and defective document, and it is still being promulgated by the homosexual movement.
Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz, who has been one of the most vocal opponents to Always Our Children, had the following to say: "The document, in a view which is shared by many, is founded on bad advice, mistaken theology, erroneous science and skewed sociology. It is pastorally helpful in no perceptible way. Does this committee intend to issue documents to parents of drug addicts, promiscuous teenagers, adult children involved in canonically invalid marriages, and the like? These are far more numerous than parents of homosexuals. The occasion and the motivation for this document's birth remain hidden in the murky arrangements which brought it forth.
"Not only does this document fail to take into account the latest revision in the authentic Latin version of The Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding homosexuality, but it juxtaposes several quotes from the Catechism in order to pretend falsely and preposterously that the Catechism says homosexuality is a gift from God and should be accepted as a fixed and permanent identity. Of course, the document, in order to support the incorrect views it contains, totally neglects to cite the Catholic doctrine set forth by the Holy See which teaches that the homosexual orientation is "objectively disordered." Also, the document's definition of the virtue and practice of chastity is inadequate and distorted. "The character of this document is such that it would require a book of many pages to point out all its bad features, which sometimes cross the border from poor advice to evil advice. For instance, I believe it is wicked to counsel parents not to intervene, but rather to adopt a 'wait and see' attitude when they find their adolescent children 'experimenting' with homosexual acts. Parents have a grave moral duty to prevent their children from committing mortal sins when they can. It is certainly and seriously wrong to counsel parents to 'accept' their children's homosexual friends.”
“Calamity and frightening disaster' are terms which are not too excessive to describe this document. It is my view that this document carries no weight or authority for Catholics, whom I would advise to ignore or oppose it."
With the USCCB seemingly supporting illicit and intrinsically disordered sexual licentiousness by their lack of action, is this another example of the USCCB supporting an intrinsic evil?
Harry Forbes, who heads the USCCB's Office for Film and Broadcasting, in his latest review, praises the movie, Milk, which exalts the first openly homosexual man elected to public office in U.S. history. According to Forbes, Milk contains scenes of "male kissing and non-graphic encounters, rear male nudity, murder, suicide, and some rough language, crude expressions and profanity."
Despite such material, and despite the movie's blatant glorification of the homosexual rights agenda, it is not rated "Morally Offensive" (O), but only receives a rating of "L," for "Limited Adult Audience." Furthermore, in his review Forbes in no way objects to or cautions viewers about the content of the film, instead offering nothing but words of praise.
Forbes calls the movie "a solid biographical drama about San Francisco Supervisor and gay rights activist Harvey Milk." Forbes also speaks approvingly of the movie's strong emphasis on the Catholic faith of Milk's assassin, Dan White.
Forbes has written other reviews praising films that promote and glorify homosexual behavior and attack the Catholic faith, including "Brokeback Mountain," which is about a sodomite relationship between two cowboys, and "The Golden Compass," which is atheistic and vilifies Christianity.
Despite repeated protests from priests and Catholic laity, the USCCB continues to allow Forbes to write reviews on the organization's behalf.
Human Life International President Fr. Thomas Euteneuer angrily denounced Forbes' latest pro-homosexualist review. "Moral outrage is the only response to someone like Harry Forbes who consistently trashes Catholic values in his movie reviews and gets away with it," wrote Euteneuer. "We are accustomed to pagans celebrating their values and letting lots of immorality slide with a wink and a nod, but when the official movie reviewer for the USCCB does it time and time again with no consequences, we have no credible moral compass with which to evaluate the content of movies any more."
With the USCCB seemingly supporting illicit and intrinsically disordered sexual licentiousness, is this another example of the USCCB supporting an intrinsic evil?
During this last election only 50 bishops stated that abortion is the most important issue in a U.S. election. It is an abomination that less than 20 percent of the bishops came out against an intrinsic evil. There is no excuse for all the rest who failed their flock by not fighting for the lives of the least among us. Can you imagine what the impact would have been if all of the bishops of the USCCB had honored the sanctity of human life?
In short, we're talking about a sorry organization that should have been dissolved shortly after its inception years ago. One of its founders, the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, was so unCatholic that he enabled purported Catholics to easily vote for pro-abortion politicians by equating abortion with any other peace and social justice issue, ad nauseam, via a 'con' which he referred to as a "seamless garment."
Infiltrations of the so-called "social progressives" and the confusion in the Church by these people have been going on since the formation of the USCCB. Many of the social justice advocates have replaced the goal of heaven with a goal of earthly happiness and their focus is very much on placing these same advocates in charge of worldly means with the power to distribute these means to those they deem needy. It is amazing that so many in positions of authority in the Church have not yet caught on to how this undermines the Faith rather than supports it.
Approval rating and trust in the USCCB could not be lower. The good bishops are embarrassed by the actions of the USCCB. The faithful are disgusted. The credibility of the USCCB is lower than the US Congress composed of lawyers and politicians, not bishops. Positive actions by the USCCB, such as opposition to the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), must be viewed with suspicion. Do they know FOCA is not likely to pass and are simply trying to look good?
We offer no answer to the question posed at the beginning. We believe it is obvious, but leave it up to the reader.
We offer no solution other than prayers, plus verbal and written comments to your bishops. We believe there are many saintly bishops who are as embarrassed as we about the USCCB. Give them your support. Be active in your protection of the unborn, the handicapped and the elderly. Be active in your protection of the Faith.
"Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops, like bishops, and your religious act like religious." (Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen)
Here is the website where you can fine the contact information for all the bishops in the United States. By going to the individual diocese, you can find their e-mail addresses. http://www.usccb.org/bishops.shtml. Also, for your information Pope Benedict XVI's e-mail address: email@example.com.