Right Way of Relating
For over twenty years many Catholics have expressed puzzlement over two situations in the Catholic Church: Why pro-life Catholics are unable to get most priests and bishops involved in combating abortion and why, year in and year out, bishops remain so zealously and publicly focused on eliminating capital punishment.
Aside from a few bold leaders, the hierarchical response to thirty-four years of legal abortion is a weary, repetitive annual statement from the NCCB and a dramatic appearance at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception’s Mass on the eve of Roe vs. Wade’s anniversary. Anyone who has ever attended the Mass that precedes the March for Life, witnesses first hand the spirit and power of the people “terrible as an army set in battle array,” waging spiritual warfare on behalf of the sanctity of life. But when the valiant warriors return home they find the same old apathy among the majority of their priests and bishops. Sadly, Cardinal Law’s once inspiring voice ringing out, “Tomorrow, we march,” is now a tarnished reality.
When staunchly pro-abortion Catholic John Kerry became a presidential candidate, the long awaited teaching moment arrived. The world’s eyes watched while Kerry simultaneously trashed Church teaching and received Holy Communion. It could have been the bishops’ finest hour. They dissembled; millions were misled.
At this year’s United States Council of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) November conference in Washington, D.C., Cardinal McCarrick said he would meet with Catholic politicians who reject Church teaching to seek their opinions on the abortion issue. Another Catholic bishop is telling us that publicly pro-abortion Catholic Congressmen “don’t understand their faith.” Just what exactly about killing a child in the womb do these well-educated, adult Senators not understand, Your Excellency?
On the flip side of the coin one finds the U. S. Bishops in a near frenzy to find ways to eliminate capital punishment. Nearly one-third of their time in Washington was spent on this all-consuming issue. Following their deliberations they issued an eleven page statement calling for a campaign to eliminate the death penalty (once and for all) in the United States.
In a November 18th article, News from the U. S. Bishops – Whoever they are, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus, founder and president of CatholicCulture.org, calls the bishops’ position and the launching of their campaign “a usurpation of a role proper to the laity.” Agreeing or disagreeing on capital punishment is a prudential judgment, not a tenet of the Church. Regarding issues, Mirus writes, “Yet the bishops clearly have no clue how to handle any of them, apparently because they don’t understand their own identity. Who are the bishops, anyway?”
Most right-thinking Catholics simply can’t understand the bishops’ fixation with the lives of perhaps two hundred persons on death row (worthy of consideration as they are), and the near total unconcern for the four thousand lives of the unborn snuffed out in the womb each day. There is something intrinsically wrong here and it is not just the numbers.
Back in 2002 when the sexual abuse crisis erupted, even Catholics who were knowledgeable regarding the troubles in the Church were blindsided. Subsequent reports informed Catholics of the influx of homosexuals into seminaries to replace the huge number of priests who left the priesthood to marry. Some of these homosexual men became bishops. In the last several years, no fewer than six bishops resigned their posts when their homosexual activity became public knowledge. Today, it would be hopelessly naïve and irresponsible not to recognize that some U.S. bishops are homosexual/gay persons; that the priesthood contains many men who share a similar inclination. Laying aside these men’s celibate conduct (whether observed or ignored), Dr. Mirus may have hit on just the right word; identity. He suggests the bishops perhaps see themselves as laymen.
Is there is a different understanding of identity for the gay priest or gay bishop? As human beings we resonate psychologically with what we know, feel, and understand, that to which we relate. Are homosexual/gay priests unable to connect emotionally with the reproductive act that produces a child who may become an abortion statistic? By the same token would a gay man more readily relate to a convicted criminal since they too suffered isolation, ostracism, denigration and guilt in their lifetimes?
In other words is there a connection between the bishops and priests’ apathy for the pro-life cause and their passion to end capital punishment tied up in their perceived identity?
Far-fetched? Maybe not. A sentence in the Vatican document barring gays from the seminary reads: “The above persons find themselves, in fact, in a situation that gravely obstructs a right way of relating with men and women.” Could the absence of a “right way of relating” be the reason bishops give pro-life concerns lip service, work eagerly for prisoners and adopt sexually explicit child protection programs administered by staffers with pro-abortion connections such as Teresa Kettlecamp, Head of the Office of Child and Youth at the USCCB? Answers to the puzzle may be emerging after all.