Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dolan, Chamberlain, & Churchill

I interrupt this column to bring you a special column. I had planned to print my small treatise “Y I am Catholic” in an uninterrupted series of columns but some breaking news must be dealt with.

On January 21, as if to celebrate its own version of the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Obama Administration announced that there will be no expansion of the narrow religious exemption to the mandate requiring all employers to cover contraceptive services, some of which induce abortions, as part of their employee health plans. The only “bone” thrown by Obama to religious institutions is an extra year to comply.

Catholic leaders, particularly Archbishop and Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, are predictably incensed and are speaking out strongly against the decision. But I can’t help but shake my head. And I will tell you why. However, I would like to first preface my remarks with the following consideration:

It is with great hesitation that I call into question the leadership of any pastor and most of a all a bishop and particularly the president of the USCCB. But while Catholics may not question the teaching of their pastors on defined matters of faith and morals, we are free to question them on certain matters of church governance. (Cann. 1732 - 1739)

And here I call into question matters of church governance by Archbishop Dolan during a time when the Church in America has never been in more danger. I don’t do so in order to impugn or disrespect him, but to call the attention of ordinary Catholics to the gravity of the battle that is upon us - and to the realization that the front lines have already been breached.

The war wages on two major fronts: same-sex marriage and abortion. And on both fronts, the leader of the U.S. Catholic Church, by his own admission, has been duped by the enemy.

Before you call me harsh, allow me to quote directly from an EWTN interview with Archbishop Dolan following the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York: “It sort of taught us that it’s not all that good to trust politicians sometimes. And I think some of us bishops think we were being deceived. And I think that could be, shame on us for believing them.”

Dolan was responding to an inquiry into why the New York bishops had done almost nothing to oppose the bill. Of New York’s 21 bishops, only two had publicly opposed it, with Dolan being one of them. But even Dolan’s opposition was muted and generic. In fact, the lack of opposition from Dolan and the rest of the bishops was so obvious that gay activist, Terence Weldon, wrote after the vote: “the really interesting thing about the Catholic bishops and NY gay marriage is not how vigorously they fought against it... but how lukewarm this opposition was overall, and how calm they have been in response.”

Dolan claimed that he had assurances from New York’s politicians that the same-sex marriage bill wasn’t going anywhere so he and the others decided to keep their “ammo dry”. While it might be tempting to cut Dolan a bit of slack since he admits his failure and does on obligatory “mea culpa”  (i.e. “shame on us”), his next “Neville Chamberlain moment”, only a few months later, proves that Dolan is either not up to the job or values appeasement more than truth. (Stay with me.)

I refer to the meeting he had with Obama on 11/15/11 at which the contraceptive mandate, under the broader title of “religious liberty”, was discussed. Dolan is quoted after the meeting as saying that he was “a bit more at peace than when I entered” and that he believed the president to be “very open to the sensitivities” of Catholics about religious liberty.

There is not the room here to explain “Neville Chamberlain” (google it), but that is the name that came to mind the minute I read the report of the meeting. Dolan had just admitted to being deceived by New York’s politicians and he was now feeling a “bit more at peace” after a meeting with the man who had openly sworn to erase every pro-life law on the books?! (See FOCA)

Personally, to see our leader all smiles after the meeting, was a crushing moment. First, Dolan had given into the terms of the “enemy” who agreed to meet with him on the condition that no details of the meeting would be released. Second, because he gave into Obama’s reported cordiality and his own feeling of “peace” (a la N. Chamberlain), official USCCB opposition to the contraceptive mandate fell silent after the meeting.

And then surprise, surprise, Hitler marches on Poland (see Neville Chamberlain), i.e. Obama gives Dolan a Roe v Wade anniversary present by giving no quarter to religious liberty other than more time to fall in line, shut up, and sit down. The Catholic Church will pay for sterilizations, contraceptives, and abortifacients, like it or not, by order of the Supreme Commander of the United States of America. Obama must have laughed as Dolan left the meeting.

Apologies for the longer than usual column, but unfortunately there is more. To repeat, the U.S. Catholic Church has never been more in harm’s way. Obama has made no secret that Christianity in general and Catholics in particular are in his cross-hairs. The fact that the USCCB has hastily assembled an ad-hoc committee to do battle against the Obama administration’s attacks on religious liberty is a move reminiscent of a wartime emergency, and leaves no doubt that the bishops now understand the true objectives of the man they have been trying to appease.

But under our current episcopal leadership there is reason to fear we will lose. That fear stems not from Dolan’s follies as regards our losses on the war fronts of same-sex marriage and the abortifacient mandate, but stem from two other actions that bode more ominously: 1) the rerelease of a very dangerous USCCB document, and 2) something Dolan himself said on national television about God.

The document to which I refer is the USCCB voter guide titled “Faithful Citizenship”. The document is dangerous because of its shocking disregard for moral prioritization of social issues. Though it gives special mention to abortion, its moral gravity is completely diluted by its being lumped together with other social ills such as war, hunger, and poverty, allowing Catholics to see abortion as just one issue among many and paving the way for Catholics to disregard the massive attack on unborn life carried out by this President.

In a previous column, I pointed out that the document had been roundly criticized by certain Catholic analysts for handing Obama the election in 2008. Despite Obama’s open promise to destroy every pro-life law on the books including the ban against partial-birth abortion and laws which mandate medical care for children who survive failed abortions, more Catholics voted for Obama, percentage-wise, than did the rest of the nation. Talk about “shame on us!”

Chief among the critics of Faithful Citizenship was Archbishop Raymond Burke, the highest ranking prelate in the Vatican, who roundly scolded the U.S. bishops for meekly paving the way to an anti-life Obama presidency. Burke, perhaps a Churchillian figure (as long as we are using the Chamberlain analogy), foresaw exactly what would happen to the U.S. Catholic Church under an Obama presidency and was aghast that Catholic leaders would invite the destruction upon themselves. But despite the scolding, Dolan and the U.S. bishops, with very few changes, have rereleased Faithful Citizenship to help “prepare” Catholics to vote in the 2012 election! Goodness!

But onto a much more serious matter - as if it could get any more serious. Archbishop Dolan, while appearing on Fox and Friends on 11/24/10, said something on national television that should be disturbing to every Catholic. The context of the show was the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and when asked for his thoughts on Thanksgiving, Archbishop Dolan replied:

“It's a time of the year when people are open to the Lord and we don't think about ourselves. We're grateful to God. We're conscious that somebody, some call him or her, whatever you want, somebody beyond us is in charge and we are immensely grateful that it's not about us.”

Does this need any comment from me? “Somebody...”? “Him or her...”? “ “Call (God) whatever you want..”??? And this from our Five-Star General? I of course do not believe that Dolan himself believes that God is a “him or her” or a “whatever you want”. But such squishy-ness about our Supreme God on national television from a national religious leader of Dolan’s stature?? No wonder Obama believes he can have his way with the Catholic Church. Is there a Churchill out there?

Now, one last thing. Before you call for my deposition as a weekly columnist, refer to the disclaimer that I personally place at the bottom of every column, but also go to the website, find this article, click on the links, and read the evidence for yourself.

I am often criticized for being “too negative”. I guess the thought is we only want “happy thoughts” in our paper. Folks, the fact that the bishops are now assembling for war with the Obama Administration demonstrates that we are on the brink. There is no time for “happy thoughts”. The actions of the USCCB in response to the attack on religious freedom are unprecedented. And I will pray that this will be Archbishop Dolan’s finest hour. I hope you will too. Should he become a saint, he wouldn’t be the first to have been forged into sainthood on the anvil of the times.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Text of Pope Benedict's speech to the Neocatechumenal Way - 1/20/2012

Following is the text of the speech given by Pope Benedict XVI to the Neocatechumenal Way on January 20, 2012, approving its form of celebrating the Eucharist. The highlights are mine. It will be evident to those who know, why I highlighted the particular passages.
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 20, 2012 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today to members of the Neocatechumenal Way.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This year I have the joy to meet you and share with you this moment of sending out for the mission. A special greeting to Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernández and Father Mario Pezzi, and an affectionate greeting to you all: priests, seminarians, families, formators and members of the Neocatechumenal Way. Your presence today is a visible testimony of your joyful commitment to living the faith, in communion with the whole Church and with the Successor of Peter, and to be courageous heralds of the Gospel.

In the passage we heard from St. Matthew, the apostles received a clear mandate from Jesus: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Mt 28:19). At first they doubted, in their hearts there was still uncertainty, wonder before the event of the Resurrection. And it is Jesus himself, the Risen one -- the Evangelist underlines -- who draws close to them, makes his presence felt, sends them to teach all that he has communicated to them, giving a certainty that accompanies every preacher of Christ: "And behold I am with you always, until the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20). They are words that resonate strongly in your hearts. You have sung Resurrexit, expressing faith in the Living One, the One who, in a supreme act of love has conquered sin and death and gives to man, to us, the warmth of the love of God, the hope of being saved, a future of eternity.

In these decades of life of the Way, one of your strong commitments has been to proclaim the Risen Christ, responding with generosity to his words, often abandoning personal and material safety, even leaving your own countries, facing new and not always easy situations. Bringing Christ to the people and bringing people to Christ: this is what breathes life into each work of evangelization. You do it in a way that helps those who have already received the baptism of faith discover the beauty of the life of faith, the joy of being Christians. The "following of Christ" requires the personal adventure of looking for him, of going with him, and always involves going out of the closed-ness of one's ego, breaking down the individualism that often characterizes the society of our time, to replace selfishness with the community of the new man in Jesus Christ. And this happens in a deep personal relationship with him, in listening to his word, in walking the path that he has shown us, but it also happens inseparably with believing with his Church, with the saints, in whom one always discovers again and again the true face of the Bride of Christ.

It is a commitment -- we know -- that is not always easy. Sometimes you are present in places where there is need for a first proclamation of the Gospel, the mission ad gentes; often, however, in areas that, despite having known Christ, have become indifferent to faith: secularism has eclipsed the sense of God there, and eclipsed Christian values. Here, your commitment and your testimony is like yeast that, with patience, in time, with sensus Ecclesiae, causes the dough to rise.

The Church has recognized in the Way a special gift that the Holy Spirit has given our time, and the approval of the Statutes and of the "Catechetical Directory" are a sign of this. I encourage you to offer your original contribution to the cause of the Gospel. In your valuable work, seek always a deep communion with the Apostolic See and with the Pastors of particular Churches, to which you belong: the unity and harmony of the body of the Church are an important witness to Christ and his Gospel in the world we live in.

Dear families, the Church thanks you; it needs you for the new evangelization. The family is an important cell for the ecclesial community, where one is formed in human and Christian life. With great joy I see your children, many children who look to you, dear parents, to your example. One hundred families are leaving for 12 missions ad gentes. I invite you not to be afraid: he who carries the Gospel is never alone. I greet with affection the priests and seminarians: love Christ and the Church, communicate the joy of having met him and the beauty of having given Him everything. I also greet the itinerants, directors and all the communities of the Way. Continue to be generous with the Lord: He will sustain you with his consolation!

A while ago I was reading the decree with which the celebrations which are in the "Catechetical Directory of the Neocatechumenal Way" are approved; celebrations which are not strictly liturgical, but are part of the itinerary of growth in faith. It is another element that shows you how the Church accompanies you with a patient discernment that includes your richness, but also looks to the communion and harmony of the whole Corpus Ecclesiae.

This gives me the opportunity to offer a brief thought on the value of the liturgy. The Second Vatican Council defines it as the work of Christ the Priest and of His Body the Church (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7). At first glance this might seem strange, because it seems that the work of Christ refers to the historical redemptive action of Jesus, his Passion, Death and Resurrection. In what sense, then, is the liturgy the work of Christ? The Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus are not only historical events; they reach into and penetrate history, but also transcend it and are always present in the heart of Christ. In the liturgical action of the Church there is the active presence of the Risen Christ who makes present and effective for us today the same Paschal Mystery; it draws us into this act of gift of Self that in his heart is always present, and causes us to participate in this presence of the Paschal Mystery. This work of the Lord Jesus, who is the real content of the Liturgy, the entering into the presence of the Paschal Mystery, is also the work of the Church, which, as his body, is a single entity with Christ -- Totus Christus caput et corpus -- says St. Augustine. In the celebration of the sacraments, Christ immerses us in the Paschal Mystery for us to pass from death to life, from sin to new life in Christ.

This applies most especially for the celebration of the Eucharist, which, being the summit of Christian life, is also the cornerstone of its rediscovery, to which the Neocatechumenate tends. As your Statutes read, "The Eucharist is essential to the Neocatechumenate, as a post-baptismal catechumenate, lived in small communities" (art. 13 §1). Precisely in order to promote the rapprochement to the wealth of the sacramental life by people who have strayed from the Church, or have not received adequate training, the Neocatechumenals may celebrate the Eucharist in small communities, after the first Vespers of Sunday, according to the provisions of the diocesan bishop (cf. Statutes, art. 13 §2). But every Eucharistic celebration is an action of the one Christ together with his one Church and therefore essentially open to all those who belong to this Church. This public character of the Holy Eucharist is expressed in the fact that every celebration of Holy Mass is ultimately directed by the Bishop as a member of the Episcopal College, responsible for a particular local church (cf. Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen Gentium, 26). The celebration in small communities, regulated by the liturgical books, which should be followed faithfully, and with the particular features approved in the Statutes of the Way, has the task of helping those who are undergoing the Neocatechumenal itinerary to receive the grace of being inserted into the saving mystery of Christ, which makes possible a Christian witness capable of assuming the traits of radicality. At the same time, the gradual growth in faith of the individual and of the small communities should promote their integration into the life of the larger ecclesial community, that finds in the liturgical celebration of the parish, in which and for which the Neocatechumenate is implemented (cf. Statutes, art. 6), its ordinary form. But even during the way it is important not to separate from the parish community, right in the celebration of the Eucharist which is the true place of the unity of all, where the Lord embraces us in the various states of our spiritual maturity and unites us in the one bread that makes us one body (cf. 1 Corinthian 10:16f).

Courage! The Lord does not fail to accompany you and I assure you of my prayers and I thank you for the many signs of closeness. I also ask you to remember me, too, in your prayers. May the Holy Virgin Mary with her maternal gaze assist you and may my Apostolic Blessing sustain you, which I extend to all the members of the Way. Thank you!

Here is a copy of the actual decree:

"By a decree of 11 May 2008 the Pontifical Council for the Laity gave definitive approval to the Statutes of the Neo-Catechumenal Way. Subsequently, following due consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, by a decree of 26 December 2010, the council gave approval to the publication of the Catechetical Directory as a valid and binding instrument for the catechesis of the Neo-Catechumenal Way.

"Now, pursuant to articles 131 and 133 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Apostolic Constitution 'Pastor Bonus' on the Roman Curia, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, having received the 'nulla osta' of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, grants approval to those celebrations contained in the Catechetical Directory of the Neo-Catechumenal Way which are not, by their nature, already regulated by the liturgical books of the Church".
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...