From Across the Pond
Fr Peter Stravinskas reports from the USA
Biden Policies and the Church’s Interests and Positions
Biden’s Administration just gave $5 million taxpayer dollars to a United Nations program that provides deadly abortion drugs and devices to women across the world. The Department of State announced the new funding for the United Nations Population Fund Supplies program. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman praised the program for “empowering women and girls, including by promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights, [as it] advances human rights, gender equality and global health.”
Yet again, the U.S. Catholic bishops’ pro-life chairman has expressed disappointment with Biden as his Administration reversed a Trump-era rule that restricted funding over abortion. Archbishop Naumann observed: “He likes to call himself a devout Catholic. I would urge him to begin to act like one, especially on the life issues. And to let his faith really inform his conscience and the decisions that he’s making, not the platform of his party.”
Catholic education advocates say a change to the federal government’s existing childcare program in the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better Act will have deleterious effects for our schools, if passed. Current legislation is the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which, since 1990, private and faith-based providers have had protections that allow them to operate in accordance with their mission. The Build Back Better Act would change the language of the CCDBG so that vouchers tendered heretofore would be considered federal financial assistance to the childcare provider. “That is problematic, because once you’re a recipient of federal funds you then are subjected to all of the provisions of Title IX, which would then put our schools in a position of having to abide by executive orders regarding sexual orientation, gender identity and all of that would have to be observed, which we’re not accepting,” commented Sister Dale McDonald, the National Catholic Educational Association vice president of public policy.
An Orthodox Prelate Weighs in on Biden’s Catholicism
In a recent interview, the Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations, was asked what he thought about the “Catholic Biden.” His response: “When they talk about the Catholic Biden, I always want to ask the question: ‘What, in fact, is Biden’s Catholicism?’ The Catholic Church is against abortion, and Mr. Biden is for it. Does he do it as a Catholic or as the President of the United States? Does he do this proceeding from the dictates of his conscience or proceeding from the political situation? A person cannot call himself a Catholic and at the same time violate and call for violation of the fundamental norms of Christian morality.”
It seems that a non-Catholic hierarch has a better idea of what constitutes a Catholic than some Catholic prelates.
Metropolitan Hilarion is one of the most intelligent and articulate bishops in all of Orthodoxy. He is also an accomplished musician and composer.
And the “Catholic” Pelosi
Catholics delivered 1,000 roses to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s California office in efforts to move the Democrat’s heart on abortion. Over 3,550 people signed up to pray and fast for Pelosi through the Benedict XVI Institute’s “Rose and Rosary for Nancy” campaign in the first 24 hours after it was announced. San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone called on Catholics and others of goodwill to join the campaign a few days after the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021 passed in the House, 218 to 211. Were the bill to pass the Senate, the legislation would codify Roe v. Wade and significantly expand the practice of abortions in the country.
The first batch of roses was delivered on the feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who promised that she would “let fall a shower of roses” on her death and spend her time in “Heaven doing good upon earth.” The Benedict XVI Institute pre-ordered 1,000 roses, hoping that they would receive at least 500 responses. But the response “blew up the rose market in San Francisco,” said the organization’s director.
Pelosi also lashed out at her Archbishop after he described a pro-abortion bill that she supports as “legislation one would expect from a devout Satanist, not a devout Catholic.” Archbishop Cordileone, referred to the legislation as “child sacrifice.” Asked about the Archbishop’s comments at a press conference, Pelosi laughed, responding, “The Archbishop of the city, that area, of San Francisco and I have a disagreement about who should decide this. I believe that God has given us a free will to honor our responsibilities.”
Sister of American Community Named to High Vatican Post
On November 3, Pope Francis appointed Sister Raffaella Petrini to the second-ranking position in the government of the Vatican City State. Sister Raffaella belongs to the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, based in Meriden, Connecticut. The Community is one of those thriving reform congregations, established in the wake of the disastrous falling away from the true Faith and perennial notions of religious life.
Planned Parenthood Fund-raiser Hosted by a “Catholic” University
Loyola Marymount University refused to block a student club (Women in Politics) from hosting a fund-raiser for the nation’s and world’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, despite a petition drive saying that it is an “egregious violation” to hold the event on the Catholic institution’s Los Angeles campus.
The University administration distanced itself from the event by saying that it did not endorse the gathering, and, went on to make the absurd claim that it “remains committed to its Catholic, Jesuit, and Marymount heritage, values, and intellectual traditions”! This is typical of the tripe spewed out by 95% of the Catholic-in-name-only institutions of higher learning in the country. As faithful as most of our Catholic elementary and secondary schools are, the colleges and universities are almost uniformly a disgrace and, if necessary, could not provide any significant evidence of their Catholicity. And the 20+ Jesuit institutions are in the vanguard of the worst.
This situation exists because the vast majority of the hierarchy have failed even to attempt to implement Pope John Paul II’s 1990 apostolic constitution, Ex Corde Ecclesiae.
Under the rubric of “You can’t make it up!”
“Recently, the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance was made aware of instances where it had been discovered that a woman living under a transgendered identity had been unknowingly admitted to the seminary or to a house of formation of an institute of consecrated life,” said a memo to U.S. bishops from Archbishop Jerome Listecki, chairman of that committee. In one instance, “the individual’s sacramental records had been fraudulently obtained to reflect her new identity… In all instances, nothing in these individuals’ medical or psychological reports had signaled past treatments or pertinent surgeries,” he added. None of the biologically female seminarians received Holy Orders.
As a result of this bizarre occurrence, Archbishop Listecki encouraged bishops to require DNA tests as part of the application process for seminarians.
Teacher Fired for Entering into a Same-sex Marriage
On October 13, Matthew LaBanca was fired from his positions in the Diocese of Brooklyn as parish music director at Corpus Christi Church and as music teacher at St. Joseph Catholic Academy. He had worked as an organist and choir leader for some 16 years at Corpus Christi, and had taught music since 2015.
A statement from the Diocese explained: “His contract has been terminated based on the expectations that all Catholic school and academy personnel, and ministers of the Church, comply with Church teachings, as they share in the responsibility of ministering the faith to students. . . . Despite changes to New York State law in 2011 legalizing same-sex marriage, Church law is clear. We wish Mr. LaBanca only the best in his future endeavors.”
As I have noted many times here, having a “morals” clause in contracts for Catholic institutions is essential, as those have been upheld repeatedly in the courts.
Archbishop Gomez on the “Elites”
Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in an address to a conference in Madrid, offered some trenchant remarks about the socio-political-cultural reality of the moment. To wit:
In the United States and Europe there are “elitist leaders” in “corporations, governments, universities, [and] the media,” who have little interest in religion and who seek “to establish what we might call a global civilization, built on a consumer economy and guided by science, technology, humanitarian values, and technocratic ideas about organizing society. In this elite worldview, there is no need for old-fashioned belief systems and religions. In fact, as they see it, religion, especially Christianity, only gets in the way of the society they hope to build… often what is being canceled and corrected are perspectives rooted in Christian beliefs – about human life and the human person, about marriage, the family, and more. In your society and mine, the ‘space’ that the Church and believing Christians are permitted to occupy is shrinking… Church institutions and Christian-owned businesses are increasingly challenged and harassed… I believe the best way for the Church to understand the new social justice movements is to understand them as pseudo-religions, and even replacements and rivals to traditional Christian beliefs.”
He observed that the new “critical theories and ideologies of today… are fundamentally atheistic. … In denying God, these new movements have lost the truth about the human person. This explains their extremism, and their harsh, uncompromising, and unforgiving approach to politics…We need to proclaim Jesus Christ. Boldly, creatively. We need to tell our story of salvation in a new way. With charity and confidence, without fear. This is the Church’s mission in every age and every cultural moment. The Gospel remains the most powerful force for social change that the world has ever seen. And the Church has been ‘anti-racist’ from the beginning. All are included in her message of salvation.”
Apology Demanded for Evangelization of “New World”
Mexico’s Socialist President Andrés Manuel López Óbrador is at it again, in the context of the bicentennial of Mexican independence. As for the past three years, he continues to demand an apology from Spain and the Catholic Church for the conquest and colonization of the Americas, once more calling for them “to give an account of offenses and to ask the indigenous peoples for forgiveness for violations of what today are known as human rights… There were massacres, impositions. The so-called conquest was carried out with the sword and the cross.” His accusations have consistently met with firm rebuttals, including from the indigenous peoples he claims to be defending.
To be sure, there were crimes committed by some of the colonizers, however, as many of the indigenous point out, the greatest blessing that the Spaniards brought was the Gospel of Christ. One-sided accusations also fail to take into account the inter-tribal warfare that was common prior to the arrival of the Europeans, as well as ghastly practices like human sacrifice.
Governor Gavin Newsom of California (another bad Catholic and nephew of Nancy Pelosi) signed Assembly Bill 338 on September 24, replacing a law requiring a statue of St. Junipero Serra at the state capitol with one requiring a statue to honor local indigenous populations. The bill text claims that Serra and his missions were responsible for a host of atrocities against native peoples, which drew strong objections from Catholics who said it was inaccurate and misrepresented Serra.
In response, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said: “This new law does not change the facts: Junípero Serra spent his life caring for and defending the indigenous people of California to the point of heroic virtue. Indian and Spaniard alike mourned when he died. We would do well to imitate his virtues. We ignore history to our peril.”
A Surprise for Sanity
A relatively unknown player entered the lists for governor in the Commonwealth of Virginia against the establishment Democrat (and bad Catholic) Terry McAuliffe – Glenn Youngkin. Running on policies distinctly pro-life, pro-family, pro-parents’ rights, the “upstart” trounced McAuliffe. Most importantly, his victory sent liberals in the country into a tailspin since, even Vice President Kamala Harris (whom McAuliffe brought in to support him, along with Barack Obama and Joe Biden) warned that a Youngkin victory would have a deleterious effect on Democrat fortunes in 2022 and 2024. Her prognostication has been seconded by all pundits and is a clear signal that “normal” Americans don’t buy the left-wing agenda.
Exodus from Government Schools
For more than a century, it has been considered tantamount to sedition to question the “public” schools (that is, government or state schools). In point of fact, one of the consistent critiques of Catholicism in our nation was that, by establishing our independent school system, we were “less” American, indeed, unpatriotic.
In the past two years, thousands of American parents have awakened to the inadequacy of the government schools. More than inadequate, they promote objective evils. A teacher in the Loudon County (Virginia) school system addressed the school board before her resignation, condemning the transgender and equity policies she was forced to advance – “political ideologies that do not square with who I am as a believer in Christ.” The school board silenced her microphone after she urged “all parents and staff in this county to flood the private schools.”
Mary Rice Hasson and Theresa Farnan have written that the Church must do three things at once:
– educate parents about the ideological capture of public education and the very real threats that gender ideology and “wokeness” pose to their children’s faith and psychological stability;
– convey the vision of Catholic education (broadly speaking), which offers unparalleled benefits for faith, character-building and educational excellence; and
– work alongside parents and the larger Catholic community to ensure that financial costs will never prevent a Catholic child from receiving a Catholic education, not only by reducing costs in parochial schools but also by promoting less costly options.
Aztec Prayers in State Schools
As part of a cultural diversity program, students in the state schools of California are being encouraged to engage in pagan Indian rituals and prayers. The program is being challenged in the courts by the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation due to the “affirmations, chants and energizers,” but also due to the violent nature of Aztec religion. Aztec gods were worshiped with brutal human sacrifice, including ripping the beating heart out of a victim. Aztec worship is associated with black magic, cannibalism, bloodletting and the flaying of victims’ bodies to provide a skin suit worn as “golden clothes” by Aztec priests, the suit says. Victim’s hearts were often burned in offering and the dead bodies then fed to animals or eaten by the people. Other victims were fastened to frames and shot full of arrows, with their blood dripping down like the “fertile spring rains.”
The inclusion of the Aztec and Yoruba prayers “clearly constitutes an unlawful government preference toward a particular religious practice,” said Frank Xu, president of the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation.
Ironically, prayer in government schools has been banned since the Supreme Court 1962 decision, Engel vs. Vitale; Bible reading was outlawed in Abington School Board vs. Schempp
David vs. Goliath
Ed Durr, a 58-year-old truck driver, trounced a 30-year veteran for the presidency of the Senate of New Jersey. Durr spent $153 for his primary campaign and $2200 in the general election. He bills himself as a constitutional conservative and has said, “Abortion is wrong and should be stopped.”
In the gubernatorial race of New Jersey (the most densely populated state, and 34% Catholic), fake Catholic Phil Murphy was up for re-election and was opposed by good Catholic Jack Ciatarelli (a double alumnus and one-time professor at Seton Hall University – my own alma mater and likewise where I taught for a decade). Ciatarelli is pro-life, pro-family, pro-educational choice; he was vastly outspent in the campaign, and no one thought he had a snowball’s chance in hell. However, he came within 2% of Murphy; as I pen this column, a re-count is underway.
These were but two of many conservative Republican wins across the country.
“Yank” Reaction to the Royal Couple in Our Midst
Americans are mesmerized by the British royal scene, between the accent and pageantry. That said, most don’t understand why England maintains a monarchy – and Catholics are generally even more befuddled by that.
When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex landed on our shores, the media couldn’t give them enough air time. Their performance on “Oprah,” however, caused a lot of fair-minded people to consider them ingrates and ungracious (Why bite the hand that feeds you?). Since then, hardly anyone has paid them any mind – until the Duchess started to insert herself into our political scene.
In burning up the telephone wires to lobby members of Congress for her left-wing agenda, she has had the temerity to introduce herself as “The Duchess of Sussex.” The first question asked was how she got access to the private numbers of these politicians; secondly, most have found her use of her royal title both disingenuous (If you hate the royal schtick so much, why claim it now?) and possibly illegal (Is it a violation of our laws for a foreign agent to interpose herself in our affairs?).
Simply put, I think it fair to say they have worn out their welcome mat.