It’s been a tough ten years in many ways for America. Catholic and conservative principles alike have been attacked, ignored, even betrayed. Bewildered conservatives watched a president who had campaigned as a humble born-again Christian blowing out budgets and launching an endless, worldwide war “to put an end to evil.” It was political folly and religious heresy, and it paved the way for a blatantly revolutionary successor. Meanwhile, dismayed Catholics looked on helplessly as dozens of bishops who had enabled abusers stayed in office after the scandals broke, hiding behind bogus “procedures,” blaming parents, ordaining more homosexuals, and insisting all along that the scandals were “behind us.”
And these people were our friends. I haven’t gotten to the enemies yet.
The past decade in America doesn’t yet have a name. Let’s call it “The Zeroes” – there were certainly precious few heroes. The clerical abuse scandals – which occasioned the Rubble’s first ruminations — were dreadful; they harmed all Americans – not only Catholics, but people of all faiths who look to the Catholic Church for moral certitude and clarity. The consequences were dreadful: just after the scandals broke in 2002, Paul Weyrich, the prominent Catholic lay leader, warned that, “if we don’t defeat the gay marriage movement within five years, we will lose.” Well, we’ve seen how that worked out.
The targets abounded, but our quiver was empty. Our shepherds were too busy meeting with their lawyers.
Enter the enemy. Their name is Legion. Our weakness was their strength. Our bishops discovered, too late, that their friends the Democrats had declared war on the Church. Finally, the Catholic Conference’s hundred-year marriage with the DNC is on the rocks. Tears all around. But the bishops are disappointed in the laity, too. Thirty million Catholics have abandoned the Church altogether. Many who remain are dissenters. Even the Holy Father is begging our bishops to restore sound Catholic catechesis among the laity.
Amen, Your Holiness!
There have been consequences. These days, “Catholic” charities get most of their funding from the government, not the people in the pews. Why? Perhaps because pro-abortion nuns trumpet the bishops’ tired old left-wing political agenda on national TV, and insist that it’s Gospel. Frankly, that charade turns a lot of good people off. Then there’s Los Angeles Archbishop Gomez. He’s thrown in the towel. Our “elite culture” condones abortion and “is openly hostile to religious faith” (as well as amnesty), he writes. The “Next America” should be Hispanic; it will far surpass the current one (assuming more Mexican immigration), because Mexicans “share traditional American values of faith, family, and community.” Apparently, “This America” doesn’t.
Put Not Your Faith In Princes
For years, the bishops put their faith in politics. Should we? The deck is certainly stacked against us. Mitt Romney’s “gaffe” (definition: a politician telling the truth) about the “47 percent” merely confirms Al Sharpton’s boast: folks on the dole aren’t going to vote for the guy who wants to cut them off. And Obama is creating more of them every day. Consider California. The “Golden State” houses one third of the nation’s welfare recipients, but they aren’t acting grateful: illegals, crime, gangs, strikes, and fraud abound: so do higher taxes. Is that the “Next America”? But Sharpton is right: the 47 percent won’t vote to cut their benefits. Why not? Consider: In the weeks before his recent “reelection,” Hugo Chavez passed out billions in government funding to poor Venezuelan voters. Illegal? So what! Chavez won big! Conservatives don’t have a prayer in Scotland, either: their leader complains that ninety percent of Scots are living off “the rotten system of state patronage.” You know they’ll vote for more.
All this might impoverish a nation, but it enriches the powerful. “Washington DC area tops list of America’s richest cities,” Washington’s CBS affiliate gloated last week.
And what does Washington produce? Nothing.
Nothing but power, that is. And a President Romney would not change that. But he’s got three tough weeks coming. Sure, Obama is economically ignorant (government is cheaper because it “cuts out the middleman”??), but he can bribe a lot of people. He can forgive “underwater” mortgages – millions of them. He can forgive student loans – millions more. He can “legalize” more Illegals – tens of millions. He can print more money – billions. All of this violates his Oath of Office, of course. But the Republican Congress will do nothing to stop it, and neither will Obama’s corrupt Department of “Justice.”
Finally, no matter how many of George W. Bush’s policies Obama has embraced, a desperate Obama can still run against him. I think he will. The invitation has certainly been extended. National Review, longtime cheerleader for Bush’s wars, now faces the music: “most Americans consider Bush a failure,” write NR’s editors, so “Romney cannot embrace him.” But Romney can’t denounce him either. Watch out: Obama might make him choose.
This dreadful decade has produced a Republican Party that is fractured into factions and sharp little shards. Swaggering party plunderers strut out onto the stage, wrapping themselves in faux conservatism while brazenly refusing to apologize for their high life in the hot tub. And pro-lifers, once more, are taken for granted, and betrayed.
The Church has to wash its hands of party politics. Both parties. Once cleansed, those hands can teach, govern, and guide. Cardinal Dolan has admitted that our beloved bishops have considered Humanae Vitae “too hot to handle” — for 44 years! In the resulting moral and intellectual vacuum, our shepherds mumble: Obama’s Contraceptive Mandate “has nothing to do with contraception.” And “homosexual marriage” has nothing to do with homosexuality.
No wonder we’re confused.
For fifty years, Cardinal Dolan observes, bishops haven’t taught the basic moral truths. Instead, they embraced politics, playing lapdog to conniving baby-killers. Now politics has failed them and their pet pols have turned on them – and us. Have we learned our lesson? May we return now to teaching the basic moral truths of the Faith?
The pope gets it. “Pastors of the Church, therefore, must continually call the faithful to complete fidelity to the Church’s Magisterium,” he told bishops of Scotland in 2010. His Holiness does not designate any part of that teaching as “too hot to handle.” Remember: Pope Paul VI pleaded with our bishops to preach Humanae Vitae “with confidence” and “without ambiguity” (HV, 28) because it constitutes “a promulgation of the law of God Himself” (HV, 20). Cardinal Dolan acknowledges that Humanae Vitae has not been taught for two generations. Well, three strikes and we’re out. Let us pray that its 50th anniversary, in 2018, will mark a celebration, not a funeral.
Pray for our bishops!
Politics always disappoints. Christ never does. “In the world you will have trouble, but be brave: I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)
A Final Footnote
After ten years of appearing in The Wanderer, the Rubble makes its last appearance on those pages today. The column will continue to appear elsewhere, [Ed: such as here at the Bellarmine Forum], under the able guidance of our friend Fran Griffin, Joe Sobran’s longtime publisher. I extend to my readers my heartfelt gratitude for your support, prayers, and patience over these many years.
“Mother of Christ, Star of the Sea, pray for the Wanderer, pray for me.”
© Christopher Manion, 2012. All Rights Reserved