The USCCB and Pogo

By Jim Fritz

Many readers will remember the famous quotation from an animal character named Pogo by cartoonist Walt Kelly back in the 1950s, “We have met the enemy and they are us.” Set in the Okefenokee Swamp of the southeastern United States, the strip often engaged in social and political satire through the adventures of its anthropomorphic funny animal characters. As stated by one biographer of Kelly, “It perfectly sums up his attitude towards the foibles of mankind and the nature of the human condition.” There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blast on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, but he may be us.

Perhaps the U,S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has finally realized that the enemy is the bishops themselves. After decades of the bishops supporting liberal social policies, they must now realize who the real enemy is. During the last election, Catholics voted for Obama by 54 percent. The bishops promoted this by (1) their support of the health care law which is now resulting in mandates requiring religious employers to pay insurance coverage of birth control and abortifacients; (2) ignoring canon 915; and, (3) issuing a ridiculous, incorrect, and totally useless document titled, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.

When did this all begin?

The Second Vatican Council (also known as Vatican II) addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It opened under Pope John XXIII in 1962 and closed under Pope Paul VI in 1965. No one can really state that Vatican ll caused the decline of the Catholic Church; however, the fifty years since the end of Vatican ll have been a disaster for the Church. The number of priests has greatly declined even as the population has increased. The religious women have had an even greater decrease in numbers and those who are left have drifted so far from Church teaching they are now not even recognizable as nuns - especially those who sport business suits and mannish haircuts. Catholic schools have closed by the hundreds, and many parents refuse to send their children to those that remain open. Only a handful of Catholic colleges can really be classified as Catholic. After Notre Dame awarded an honorary law degree to Barack Obama it was renamed “Notre Shame” by true Catholics and even some Protestants. There are currently Pro-Homosexual (Pride) Clubs at 107 Catholic Colleges. Bankruptcies have occurred in eight dioceses due to the sexual abuse scandal. And the list goes on and on and on.

How did it happen?

The term "The Spirit of Vatican II" was used to promote the teachings and intentions attributed to the Second Vatican Council in ways not limited to literal readings of its documents, but not in contradiction to the "letter" of the Council. “The spirit of Vatican II” was invoked for a great variety of ideas and attitudes. Writer Michael Novak described it as a spirit that "…sometimes soared far beyond the actual, hard-won documents and decisions of Vatican II. It was as though the history of the Church were now to be divided into only two periods, pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II. Everything 'pre' was then pretty much dismissed, so far as its authority mattered. For the most extreme, to be a Catholic now meant to believe more or less anything one wished to believe, or at least in the sense in which one personally interpreted it. One could be a Catholic 'in spirit'. One could take Catholic to mean the 'culture' in which one was born, rather than to mean a creed making objective and rigorous demands. One could imagine Rome as a distant and irrelevant anachronism, embarrassment, even adversary.”

In 1972 Pope Paul VI said, "Satan's smoke has made its way into the temple of God through some crack." It is not hard to determine what is meant by the ‘crack.’

As stated in a recent issue of the New Oxford Review, Tom Bethell states, “John Paul ll’s evident lack of interest in governing the Church didn’t help. He deserves to be called ‘the Great’ for his role in ending the cold war, but he seemed inattentive to the laxity of the world’s bishops (bishops he himself appointed) and the lack of moral and doctrinal discipline that plagued the Church.” When the clerical sexual abuse began in 1992, John Paul ll did next to nothing. He made mistakes in his appointments such as Cardinal Law in Boston and many others. He made mistakes in tolerating and even supporting errant clergy such as Cardinal Sodano.

The story of Cardinal Bernardin and his ”Seamless Garment” is especially sad. Cardinal Bernardin promoted a project entitled "Catholic Common Ground Project" which was to host a series of conferences designed to stimulate "a new kind of dialogue" to help define the future course of the Catholic Church in America. Bernardin's promotion of the Common Ground Project raised red flags among orthodox Catholics who recognized that this project, if successful, could drive a wedge between the United States and Rome and precipitate a schism. Even Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston distanced himself from the Bernardin initiative. He stated, "Dissent from revealed truth or the authoritative teaching of the Church cannot be 'dialogued' away." He then very sharply pointed out the dangers of Bernardin's approach. Cardinal Law cautioned that popularity--even among bishops--is no guarantee of orthodoxy. He reminded the faithful that during the time of King Henry VIII, all but one of the bishops of England had broken away from Rome.

The name Archbishop Rembert Weakland only needs to be mentioned to invoke horrible abuses by a ‘Catholic’ bishop during this time.

Views of the Second Vatican Council in the form “The spirit of Vatican II” were condemned by the Church's hierarchy, and the works of theologians who were active in the Council or who closely adhered to the Council's aspect of reform (such as Hans Küng) have often been criticized by the Church for espousing a belief system that is radical and misguided. However, discipline of the clergy was sorely lacking.

Canon 915

The number of bishops and cardinals who ignored canon 915 is mind-boggling. Some canonists argue that the rule of canon 915 which forbids administering Holy Communion to those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin applies to the giving of Holy Communion to legislators who persistently support a legal status for what the Catholic Church declares to be a grave sin, namely, abortion, a matter on which there may be no legitimate diversity of opinion among Catholics. This is the view expressed by the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in a letter sent in early June 2004 to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Cardinal McCarrick refused to disclose this letter, even to his parishioners.

Others have cast doubt on this interpretation, and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington has declared his view, which he attributes also to the great majority of bishops in the United States and elsewhere, that canon 915 "was never intended to be used this way."

Examples of cardinals ignoring canon 915 have been numerous. On January 2, 2011, Governor of New York Andrew M. Cuomo, a Roman Catholic, received Holy Communion although he was living with the well-known television personality Sandra Lee, to whom he was not married. Canon lawyer and professor Edward N. Peters described his reception of Communion as objectively sacrilegious and that in view of the public character of the two people involved and the widespread knowledge of their cohabiting, Communion should in accordance with canon 915 be withheld from Cuomo. It was not.

Why aren't "Catholics" like Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, who introduced a gay "Marriage" bill, excommunicated, denied Holy Communion, or at least publicly reprimanded? With the Church "leadership" providing this kind of example, no wonder a majority of so-called "Catholics" support same-sex "marriage".

Exclusion by canon law from access to Communion is not limited to the cases mentioned in canon 915. For instance, canon 842 §1 declares: "A person who has not received baptism cannot be admitted validly to the other sacraments." Cardinal Wuerl, who ignores canon 915, recently disciplined a priest, Father Guarnizo, a devoted traditional Catholic priest who tried to uphold the sanctity of the Holy Eucharist, the actual Body of Our Savior Jesus Christ, from sacrilegious receipt by a self-confessed lesbian. His actions make many wonder if he really believes in the Real Presence, and he sets a terrible example for fellow Catholics.

Thanks to God we have some priests and bishops who refuse to make a sacrilege of the Eucharist. Cardinal Burke has stated. “If the lack of right disposition is serious and public, and the person, nevertheless, approaches to receive the Sacrament, then he is to be admonished and denied Holy Communion. In other words, the Church cannot remain silent and indifferent to a public offense against the Body and Blood of Christ.”

Catholic Universities

Education is integral to the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good News. First and foremost every Catholic educational institution is a place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth. (Pope Benedict XVI, Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., Thursday, April 17, 2008)

Why have the bishops allowed Notre Dame to honor the most pro-abortion president in history with an honoree degree in law? The university locked up 88 protestors, including two priests and several pastors, and it still retains its status as a “Catholic” university, thanks to the inaction of the USCCB. One of the incarcerated priests, eighty-year-old Father Norman Weslin, recently passed away. He is a hero to many of us in the pro-life movement. See a video of the arrest at The USCCB sat by and did nothing but express mild disapproval.

Georgetown University has been allowed to host Kathleen Sibelius, the author of the anti-religious, conscience-denying clause in the Obama "health care" law, as a commencement speaker. Sebelius, Director of HHS, is now subverting the freedom of religion guaranteed by the US Constitution. Again, Cardinal Wuerl, who has the power to do something such as withhold the designation of “Catholic” from the university, has done nothing more than offer a public chastisement of Georgetown University – a literal slap on the wrist.

Georgetown University alumni, students and others are preparing a canon lawsuit to be filed with the Archdiocese of Washington and the Vatican, seeking remedies including the removal or suspension of Georgetown’s right to call itself Catholic in its fundraising and representation to applicants. It is very sad when you must sue the bishops in order to require them to perform their duties.

As noted by the Cardinal Newman Society, eleven scandalous commencement speakers at Catholic colleges and universities are scheduled for this year.

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship

It is incomprehensible why the USCCB issued a 40 page document instructing Catholics on the why and how to vote without clearly naming the five intrinsic evils. Did they expect the average parish to provide this huge document to each parishioner? Did they expect anyone to really read it?

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 in good conscience vote for a pro-abortion candidate. 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, lacking explanation or direction, could be quite erroneous.

Common sense indicates the bishops must have been aware this document allowed voting for pro-abortion politicians as long as these politicians supported the progressive ideas sponsored by certain bishops and in some cases, provide the money they sought for their own causes. Many writers have contended that money has been the major influence for this document and the socialist agenda of the USCCB. It is hard to deny this.

Although several bishops have spoken out forcefully, saying the document is being abused, it was never changed or clarified by the USCCB.

What is needed is a simple, two-page document stating: (1) the need for Catholics to vote; (2) the need to investigate the candidates, and (3) the five non-negotiable principles. This document should be published repeatedly in every church bulletin months before the election and supported by an applicable homily..

Homilies need to stress that intrinsically evil actions are those actions that fundamentally conflict with the moral law and can never be performed under any circumstances. It is a serious sin to deliberately endorse or promote any of these actions, and no person who really wants to advance the common good will support any action contrary to the non-negotiable principles involved in these issues. These issues are (1) Abortion, (2) Euthanasia, (3) Embryonic Stem Cell Research, (4) Human Cloning, and (5) Homosexual "Marriage". Obama, who the majority of bishops and 54 percent of Catholics voted for, supports all five of these evils. .

The Future:

Will the bishops wake up? The current administration has taken the bishops for a ride, and the bishops finally appear to be awakening to the fact they have been lied to. If the Supreme Court does not abolish the unconstitutional health care law, the bishops will soon have to close Catholic hospitals and schools. This will most certainly be true if the current administration is voted in again. We cannot have 54 percent of Catholics voting against our own principles. The Evangelical Christians may be the ones to save us from our own bishops.

The bishops should hang their heads in shame knowing that by their actions they helped elect the most pro-abortion president in history. They should hang their heads in shame realizing they were duped, and most of them took it in as gullible, naive men lacking basic common sense.

We must pray to God that the bishops realize the harm their lack of decisive actions have caused and will assume the leadership demanded by their position in the Church.

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