We Need the Fire
Pentecost! The breath of God upon us, tongues of fire over the Apostles, filling them with courage to proclaim the Word. At times, I think what is needed nowadays is more like a forest fire.
It was barely a month ago, while scanning headlines, that I gasped and dropped my phone. It was announced that the Bishops of the United States are actually going to discuss whether the Holy Eucharist should be denied to the President of the United States! Not a done deal, but to actually discuss it, talk about the scandal of an alleged good Mass-going public figure promoting the death of unborn innocent children via abortion – unheard of! Talking about environment, yes; talking about social justice, absolutely; but discussing a national occasion of scandal? Never. And folks, I go back a long, long way.
How dare they, some may say. How dare they not, I say. Safeguarding faith and morals is their job and a year without the necessity of Holy Mass has killed off knowledge of the faith in more than a few of the Catholics in the pews, if there are many of those any more.
The call for discussion centers around a document by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, which is supposed to clarify the Church’s stance on the issue of abortion and public office, according to a story by David Crary (AP, reported on ABC News, April 28, 2021). After all, Biden says he is Catholic and he supports abortion rights. That thought alone should make a lot of prelates uneasy.
Such a stance by a public figure is “a grave moral evil,” said Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chair of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities. “It can create confusion….How can he say he’s a devout Catholic and he’s doing these things that are contrary to the church’s teaching?” he asked.
In view of an incoming Catholic President who had stated support of “pro-choice” policies (let’s face it, pro-choice is a euphemism for pro-abortion. The true choice occurs prior to activity that leads to conception), Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles created a committee to review Biden’s policy actions on such issues and other Catholic teachings. That committee went on to propose a document be written by the doctrine committee.
It is right and just to do this since using the descriptive “Catholic” can be as fake as calling the news media “unbiased.”
Consider this Letter to the Editor in our local Catholic newspaper:
Praise the Lord! We have in the White House a man who believes in God, honors his faith not only by attending church but also in his family life and service to his country. Like Pope Francis he is concerned for our planet and cares for refugees. In contrast, some bishops inappropriately focus on one issue only and ignore suppression of voting and failure to provide for the common good by making vaccinations available to all. Let’s stop casting the first stone.
Spiritual life does not revolve around voter suppression claims by propagandists. As I said in an earlier piece, the teaching on life comes from the Apostles from the first century AD:
The Lord’s Teaching to the Heathen by the Twelve Apostles:
1 There are two ways, one of life and one of death; and between the two ways there is a great difference.
2 Now, this is the way of life:…
The second commandment of the Teaching: “Do not murder; do not commit adultery”; do not corrupt boys; do not fornicate; “do not steal”; do not practice magic; do not go in for sorcery; do not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant. “Do not covet your neighbor’s property; do not commit perjury; do not bear false witness”; do not slander; do not bear grudges. Do not be double-minded or double-tongued, for a double tongue is “a deadly snare.” Your words shall not be dishonest or hollow, but substantiated by action. Do not be greedy or extortionate or hypocritical or malicious or arrogant. Do not plot against your neighbor. Do not hate anybody; but reprove some, pray for others, and still others love more than your own life.
These words predate environmentalism, voter issues, and gender identity. It involves care for life in all stages, a mentality that should be honed by the commitment to serve God first and foremost and then His creatures through the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Care for refugees and vaccinations for all – including those ignored citizens with disabilities and in prisons – would fall under these exercises urged on us in 8th grade religion class.
Joseph Biden is out front about his Mass attendance and claims of fidelity to the Faith.
Some have said it is government policy not Biden that has been allowed to shift in an anti-life direction and allowing funds for agencies promoting abortion overseas, allowing funding of abortions to be paid with taxpayer money, Hyde Amendment language noticeably missing from the American Rescue Act. But the buck stops with the guy in whose name the policy is enacted. It is the policy of the Biden Administration, not some flunkie who wrote the orders. Therefore it is the policy of Biden the Catholic.
In the midst of the sex abuse scandals in the not-so-distant past, the individual priests took the hits, but so did the Bishops and rightly so. After all, everything in a diocese is their responsibility before God Almighty. And leaving people with sick or evil hearts in locations where they could prey upon the innocent was just as evil as the sins which were committed. Bottom line, there is always someone in power who gives a nod to the wickedness and snares of the devil.
So back to how dare we. As I said, how dare we not and still call ourselves Catholic?
We need to stand for something or we stand for nothing. The Bishops will meet June 16-18. Some of the illustrious prelates probably have icy feet at the thought of taking a stand in view of the bad press it will generate. Some have suggested it should only be up to the local prelate of the diocese in which the problem occurs – e.g., Washington DC, Wilmington, Delaware and those guys have said they will not refuse Communion to the President – wherever the President finds a Catholic Church to attend. And for some, perhaps it is who cares, other issues are more important in their worldly eyes, back to the planet and voting rights, okay?
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone minces no words. According to National Review’s Brittany Bernstein (May 3, 2021), priests should not give the Eucharist to pro-abortion figure who “are unwilling or unable to abandon” their “advocacy for abortion.” Cordileone’s words came in a letter entitled “Before I Formed You in the Womb I knew You.”
“If their participation in the evil of abortion is not addressed forthrightly by their pastors, this can lead Catholics (and others) to assume that the moral teaching of the Catholic Church on the inviolate sanctity of human life is not seriously held. The constant teaching of the Catholic Church from her very beginning, repeated exhortations of every Pope in recent times up to and including Pope Francis, the frequent statements by the bishops of the United States, all make it clear what the teaching of the Catholic church is in regard to abortion.”Archbishop Cordileone, “Before I Formed You in the Womb I knew You.” (May 1, 2021).
Pastors should call Catholic public figures “to conversion and to warn them that if they do not amend their lives they must answer before the tribunal of God for the innocent blood that has been shed.”
Enter the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, referred to as “the Vatican” in many news stories, but as yet not conferred with infallibility. According to NPR News, Sylvia Poggioli reported that Luis Cardinal Ladaria told Archbishop Gomez that a policy such as this regarding Communion requires first dialogue among the bishops, then between bishops and Catholic politicians who support “pro-choice.” The euphemism again.
Ladaria said it is misleading to present abortion and euthanasia as “the only grave matters of Catholic moral and social teaching that demand the fullest accountability on the part of Catholics.” Not the only grave matters? Perhaps he has forgotten that in actuality, protecting God-given life is the very cornerstone of our actions. He also said the issue is contentious and could become a source of discord.
Was Jesus Christ Himself not a sign of contradiction? Did He not say:
Therefore, everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge Him before My Father in Heaven. But whoever disowns Me before men, I in turn will disown him before My Father in Heaven.
Do not think I have come to send peace upon the earth; I have come to bring a sword, not peace. For I have come to set a man at variance with his father, and a daughter with her mother, and a daughter-in-law with her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me, is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it and he who loses his life for My sake, will find it.Matt.10:32-39
Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi has said she can “use her own judgment” on receiving the Holy Eucharist. Her own judgment? Her own conscience? The words are correctly “informed conscience.” If she knows better but goes her own way, that’s on her, as the saying goes. And remember, at the judgment at our last breath, we cannot mount a defense.
I have a solution. Joseph Biden can go to church, get on his knees and pray just like the rest of us. He just has to be honest before God and man and skip the Communion line. That would be a mark of faith.
As I began this piece, it is Pentecost. Let the breath of God be upon us and if need be the flame of the Holy Spirit to over come us with courage we need to be Catholic not just say we are Catholic.
This article, We Need the Fire is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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