From Across the Pond...
After a decade of “dialoguing” with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco took the final step in his correction of her bold support of abortion rights, banning her from the reception of Holy Communion. Even in the “notification” of his action, the Archbishop expressed his hope that this action of his would lead to her repentance and public repudiation of her untenable position. Faithful Catholics have been praying for this for years on end. Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa (California), where Pelosi has a summer residence, has indicated that she will be barred there as well. Both bishops have directed their clergy to deny Pelosi the Sacrament, should she have the audacity to approach the altar.
A middle-school teacher in a grammar school in the Diocese of Oakland (California) led his students through the “synodal” process. First of all, how absurd – as though children between the ages of eleven and thirteen would have anything significant to offer! More to the point, why are we not surprised to learn that the first issue they thought needed addressing by the Church was the relationship with the LGBTQ+ “community.” Really? I’ve been in the school business for a long time and have never met a twelve-year-old for whom the LGBTQ+ agenda was even known, let alone a matter of concern. Clearly, we are involved with “coaching” and “grooming,” which is why hiring policies are so important.
“As the only young woman under the age of 35 in this legislature (Nebraska), I am proud to stand in support of women, both born and preborn, by supporting Senator Albright’s pro-life LB 933,” said Julie Slama on April 6. “See, I’m 25. I’m ten years younger than any other woman on the floor, and I’m proud to be pro-life,” the Republican lawmaker said. “My generation, which has suffered the greatest losses from abortion, is the pro-life generation.” Miss Slama is a recent convert to the Faith and counts St. Joan of Arc as her special patron. She has been the victim of threats on her life. However, she knows how to contend with adversity, having been a student at Yale University:
“If you’re a conservative student, you have three options. You can: one, either choose to be indoctrinated and just go along with the crowd; two, sit in the back of the classroom, or three, stand up and defend your beliefs … and understand why you believe in the things that you do.”
During the Easter Octave, two great women who championed the cause of life nationwide went to their eternal reward — Vicki Thorn (72), founder of Project Rachel, and Deirdre McQuade (53), former pro-life spokeswoman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Project Rachel has had an outsized influence in the pro-life movement as it has reached out to a whole spectrum of people suffering the effects of abortion. Requiescant in pace.
Father Philip Bochanski, a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and executive director of Courage International (an organization providing pastoral assistance to Catholics with same-sex attraction and/or those close to them), addressed an open letter to Cardinals Jean-Claude Hollerich and Reinhard Marx, who have publicly challenged Catholic teaching on homosexual activity. Father Bochanski challenged the two prelates to be faithful to the oath of fidelity they have sworn on numerous occasions, most recently upon entry into the College of Cardinals. He asserted that statements like those of the two cardinals make pastoral care of same-sex attracted Catholics all the more difficult, precisely because it causes confusion for those we should be seeking to help.
With the courage of a biblical prophet, Father Bochanski wrote: “To violate your oath would, I fear, also create great harm for you. As a brother priest and collaborator in the sacred ministry, may I be so bold as to remind you, with great respect and fraternal concern, of the solemn significance of the oath we have taken? To break an oath is to commit the sin of perjury, and to deliberately persist in such a grave sin puts one’s eternal salvation in jeopardy.” Having served as Courage chaplain myself, I can only heartily agree with Father Bochanski.
Nativity School of Worcester (Massachusetts), a Jesuit middle school in the Diocese of Worcester risks its Catholic status by refusing to remove gay pride and Black Lives Matter banners from its flagpole, in keeping with the demand of the local Ordinary, Bishop Robert McManus. The Jesuits maintain that the Ordinary has no competence over their institution, however, canon law says something quite otherwise, as does the most recent document from the Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome on the Catholic identity of elementary and secondary schools (about which more momentarily). Rather amusingly, the also-Jesuit-run College of the Holy Cross in Worcester has indicated it may revoke its invitation for the Bishop to attend their commencement exercises. I say it is amusing because he has hasn’t attended for five years, anyway!
St Junipero Serra
In spite of vicious and unfounded attacks on St. Junipero Serra – often referred to as the founder of the State of California and certainly the mind and muscle behind the establishment of the California missions, which dot the Pacific Coast of the State – Pope Francis sent a video message to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles renewing his support and admiration for Father Serra (whom
he canonized during his pastoral visit to the United States in 2015): “This year, you are celebrating a jubilee year in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the 250th anniversary of the Saint Gabriel Mission, the first Church founded by that great Apostle of Mexico and California, St. Junipero Serra.” He went on: “During [Serra’s] canonization, I indicated that ‘he was the embodiment of ‘a Church which goes forth,’ a Church which sets out to bring everywhere the reconciling tenderness of God.’”
The assaults on the character of Serra have descended into vandalism of his statues and shrines, causing Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco even to exorcise sites targeted by blasphemous and sacrilegious acts.
At the end of March, the Congregation for Catholic Education released a document on the Catholic identity of Catholic schools; it is truly a watershed document. I produced a three-part commentary on it for Catholic World Report. While my applications have a particular relevance to Catholic schools in the United States, I trust that enough in my reflections (and in the original text) will be of value to the Church in Great Britain. (www.catholicworldreport.com)
The internecine warfare within Methodism has been brewing in the States for a long time (I imagine it isn’t much different in the UK). Here, Methodism distinguished itself decades ago by providing a prayer to be recited at an abortion! For years now, the battle has revolved around same-sex relations and marriage. The boiling point has finally been reached as 107 congregations (out of 560) have bolted from the “mainline” Methodist conference of Florida, joining the Wesleyan Covenant Association. “We are not leaving The United Methodist Church. The United Methodist Church has left us,” Jay Therrell, President of the WCA – Florida, said in a statement.
The Supreme Court
As readers have undoubtedly heard, someone within the “sacrosanct” chambers of our Supreme Court leaked a February draft opinion of Justice Samuel Alito, in which he devastates every aspect of the 1973 decision of the Court legalizing abortion in all fifty states. His opinion supposedly has/had the support of four or five other justices – all of which attended Catholic schools. The lone outlier in terms of Catholic education gone awry is Sonia Sotomayor, who has consistently betrayed her Catholic schooling. Interestingly, and amazingly, for the first time in history, the Court is populated by six Catholics (one bad), but seven justices who attended Catholic schools! Please bear in mind that Catholics constitute only 27% of the general population in America.
At any rate, the emergence of the document is the most serious breach of confidentiality in the Court’s history; the consensus is that it was leaked by a liberal clerk (or justice), to cause consternation in advance of its formal promulgation, precisely to intimidate the justices into backing off their reversal of Roe v. Wade. Shockingly (but maybe not), protestors have stalked the homes of the conservative justices; this kind of activity is clearly illegal – although Biden’s Attorney General not only has failed to prosecute the protestors but has refused even to condemn their actions. Democrats in the House of Representatives blocked measures to protect the homes of Supreme Court justices from pro-abortion violence.
Biden’s reaction to the “leak” is his most aggressive support for abortion-on-demand yet: “It concerns me a great deal that, after 50 years, we're going to decide that a woman doesn't have the right to choose, But even more equally profound is the rationale used – and it would mean that every other decision relating to the notion of privacy is thrown into question. The idea that we're going to make a judgment that is going to say that no one can make the judgment to choose to abort a child, based on a decision by the Supreme Court, I think goes way overboard.” He did let slip, however, that the potential murder victim is “a child”!
Attacks on churches
As regards the Catholic “angle” to the whole debacle, vicious language and violent attacks on Catholic churches have surfaced – reminiscent of the anti-Catholic actions of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries during which our convents, schools and churches were burned to the ground. It should be noted that pro-abortion and anti-Catholic sentiment have been connected since 1973. Secular pro-abortionist, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, turned Catholic pro-lifer, revealed that the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) settled on a strategy early on to present opposition to abortion as not only uniquely Catholic but preeminently the imposition of male, celibate Catholic bishops. The strategy was quite successful initially but eventually failed as we were able to tap into ever-broader swathes of American society.
Yet another example of unhinged reaction to the potential decision of the Supreme Court came from the Democrat mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, living in a same-sex marriage: “To my friends in the LGBTQ+ community—the Supreme Court is coming for us next. This moment has to be a call to arms. We will not surrender our rights without a fight—a fight to victory!” Of course, she is used to violence as mayor of a city with the highest murder rate in the country. Ironically, she has not been called out by anyone in law enforcement for this incitement.
We are often pilloried for being “extremists” in our pro-life advocacy. Dr. Robert Royal at The Catholic Thing suggests otherwise: “So who are the real ‘extremists’ in all this? Those who, however imperfectly, try to follow the words of their Lord to love their enemies – who often know not what they do? Or those who throw public tantrums and, in order to get their way, try to intimidate those legitimately appointed by legal means to positions of authority? We should resist their intimidation, with all our strength. But also pray for them – and for our dear, ailing America.”
In response to the violence and vitriol, the nation’s Catholic bishops have urged the faithful to prayer and fasting.
Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, weighed in on the abortion issue, leading people to ask what that issue had to do with her job description. She asserted that curtailing abortion access would hurt the economy since it would force women out of the workplace! She was strongly rebuked by Senator Tim Scott of Florida, who said that such an equation was harsh and inappropriate. “I think people can disagree on the issue of being pro-life or pro abortion. But in the end, I think framing it in the context of labor force participation, it just feels callous to me,” said Scott, adding that he was raised by a Black single mother in poverty.
The Court again
Justice Stephen Breyer is due to step down from the Supreme Court at the end of this term. Biden, true to his promise, nominated a black female – Ketanji Brown Jackson. She is arguably the least qualified justice to sit on the high court to date. Beyond that, in her judicial career, she regularly let off child pornographers with the lightest sentences possible. During her confirmation hearing before the Senate, she testified that she did not know when human life began and could not define the word “woman.” A key opponent of her candidacy was Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri; although not Catholic, he did attend Catholic schools.
Unfortunately, she passed muster with the Senate.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida proposed legislation to overturn Biden’s provision of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood. Rubio, a serious Catholic, declared: “The Biden Administration’s rule is an assault on the most sacred and fundamental human right, the right to life. I will continue to protect the sanctity of life and do everything I can to make sure taxpayer dollars are
not used for or promote abortions.”
Governor DeSantis of Florida signed legislation banning any discussion of sexuality in the State’s schools from kindergarten through third grade. The bill was lampooned as a “Don’t Say Gay” piece of legislation. The word “gay” never appears in the text; the ban is on any discussion of any form of sexuality. However, that did not stop Disney World from piling onto the Woke-Wagon by condemning the Governor’s action. DeSantis has responded by initiating a process to strip Disney of its little-known special legal and financial status. Disney’s strident promotion of the LGBTQ agenda is hurting their pockets as families are turning away from the legendary amusement park. Old Walt Disney must be spinning in his grave. Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona has signed legislation declaring churches “essential services”; the law is designed to obviate the repeat of the debacle of church lock-downs that occurred during the “pandemic.” Ducey is a practicing Catholic and Catholic school graduate.
As the indomitable Catholic governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, signed legislation banning abortion after fifteen weeks, he decried the situation in Washington, D.C., where 115 aborted babies’ bodies were discovered en route to a medical waste facility.
The Dillsburg (Pennsylvania) school board voted down a parent’s request to establish an after-school “Satan Club.” While sanity prevailed there, there are numerous school districts around the country where Satan has been given a platform.
Comedian Chris Rock mocked the notion of “safe” abortions, suggesting that the definition of a “safe” abortion is one in which only one person is killed.
Readers of Faith will recall that some months back, I responded to readers’ inquiries about American attitudes toward “the royal couple” who have been gracing our shores. At the time, I opined that most people on this side of The Pond were simply fed up with them. Confirmation of that assessment comes now with the “quiet” cancellation by Netflix of Meghan’s proposed children’s series, which had been contracted for $100 million. Surely, they have outworn their welcome mat here.