With so many items of Catholic interest in the news these days, why focus on just one? Here are three that caught my eye.
Hope and Changing Scripture
When Barack Obama ran his presidential campaign on “Hope and Change,” most thinking Americans saw it for what it was – a bumper sticker slogan purposely devoid of all substance.
The rest voted for him.
Now, after President Obama’s shameless performance at last week’s National Prayer Breakfast, one wonders if twisting the meaning of Sacred Scripture to suit his political agenda wasn’t one of the changes he had in mind.
Just in case you missed it, the president attempted to co-opt the words of Jesus, “And unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required,” (Lk 12:48) in order to justify the Democrats’ never-ending quest to incite class warfare.
Needless to say, people of faith notwithstanding Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden (devout Catholics, don’t you know) found Obama’s sermon less than convincing. Personally, he lost me at “as a Christian … ”
Memo to President Obama: “Add not any thing to His words, lest thou be reproved and found a liar.” (Prov 30:6)
The Komen Odyssey
I am truly perplexed by the analysis offered by some in the pro-life community with regard to the recent series of events surrounding the Susan B. Komen Foundation’s relationship with Planned Parenthood.
Here’s a review of the pertinent facts:
On Jan. 31, 2012, news broke that Komen had deemed Planned Parenthood (which has received millions of dollars in grants from the breast cancer awareness giant over the years) ineligible to apply for future funding due to a policy that excludes from consideration groups under government investigation.
Komen indicated, however, that it would continue to fund its current grant obligations until such time as they expire.
Even though it was abundantly clear that the Komen decision wasn’t based upon a newfound willingness to acknowledge the link between abortion and breast cancer, much less any kind of moral awakening, the pro-life community stopped just short of throwing a ticker tape victory parade. All over the pro-life blogosphere Komen was congratulated for its courage as calls went out for pro-lifers to demonstrate their gratitude. Several sources reported that an influx of donations ensued and Komen’s coffers swelled.
As expected, the Planned Parenthood death machine and its army of dedicated foot soldiers wasted little time in launching a campaign vilifying Komen and threatening the organization with Hellfire for having the audacity to even suggest that the free money pipeline might one day trickle to a stop.
On Feb. 3, Komen summarily caved under the pressure; rehabilitating Planned Parenthood’s eligibility status by changing its policy to exclude only those under “criminal” investigation.
The executioners of “women’s health” who treat the womb as a fetal death row reveled in the power of extortion while many in the pro-life community expressed shock and dismay; wondering aloud, “What the Hell just happened?” as they stood doe-eyed like a humiliated bride left abandoned at the altar in a brand new pink wedding gown.
Now, this is where things get really crazy.
It seems that some in the pro-life community were finding it difficult to admit that the victory celebration was premature as a number of well-respected commentators began suggesting that Komen only appears to have caved-in.
Parsing Komen’s official statements and reading between the lines of comments offered by Komen board members, some otherwise level-headed pro-life leaders are still trying to make the case that we need to support Komen now more than ever. One well-meaning individual who I truly respect even went so far as to suggest that pro-lifers send an email to Komen saying, “Thank You for Defunding Planned Parenthood” (even though they didn’t) along with a “promise to buy products bearing the pink ribbon.”
Apparently it’s necessary to recap recent events, only this time I’ll whittle it down to the bare essentials:
Prior to Jan. 31, 2012, pro-lifers plainly recognized that Susan B. Komen as unworthy of our support thanks to the fact that it funnels over $500K per year to Planned Parenthood. During a recent 72 hour period of time it appeared as though Komen was about to change course, but alas, that did not happen. As of this writing, Komen is still handing gobs of money over to Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood is still exterminating human beings.
In other words, nothing has changed. When it does, I’ll let you know.
The HHS mandate: Be careful what you ask for
Think about it: If the Obama Administration changes course and decides to grant Catholic institutions precisely the conscience clause that the USCCB is demanding, how should the bishops respond?
It seems to me that many Catholics (including, at least as far as I can tell, pretty much every single bishop in the United States) have gotten so caught up in decrying “violations of conscience” and claiming recourse to the Constitution that precious little effort is being made to point out the fact that the HHS mandate is an affront not just to Catholics but to Almighty God Himself as a violation of Divine Law.
So, back to the original question, how should the bishops respond if they get their way?
Should they thank President Obama for “doing the right thing,” as though this objectively evil mandate is just fine for everyone else as long as we Catholics get a pass? Sadly, it isn’t difficult to imagine exactly this, but the answer is no, of course we cannot express any such gratitude!
This, however, is precisely the box in which we now find ourselves, and it’s nothing more than the logical consequence of the newfangled approach to “religious liberty” articulated in the Vatican II document, Dignitatis Humanae.
In a nutshell, beginning in 1965 with the Declaration on Religious Liberty, the Church began the practice of insisting upon a broad-based “freedom of religion” that essentially tells the world that the truth as the Catholic Church knows it and teaches it (i.e., the truth which comes to mankind from Jesus Christ through His Church), deserves no more consideration or status in matters of governance than the lies and the falsehoods of the heathens and the heretics.
As such, the vast majority of churchmen, who in good faith adopted the post-conciliar approach, simply ceased speaking of the Catholic Church as the unique custodian of religious and moral truth; the universal sacrament of salvation founded by Christ the King who is Sovereign over all creation, as though doing so in polite circles was far too gauche for men of proper breeding.
In the process, objective truth is often presented by our leaders as though it is just one opinion among many; e.g., the HHS mandate is frequently painted in terms of things unacceptable to “Catholics” with precious little mention of the fact that it is repugnant to God.
Perhaps it is hindsight at this point, but who can be surprised that we now find ourselves seeking refuge in a Catholic ghetto as opposed to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a world in desperate need of conversion? Isn’t this precisely what we should have expected the moment we began insisting that the State must afford the very same privileges to the madness of Muhammad as to the Eternal Word of God in Christ?
It’s time to for all Catholics, but especially our shepherds, to start thinking and preaching outside of the post-conciliar “religious liberty” sandbox in which we seek nothing more than to get along, otherwise, rest assured; this HHS mandate is just the tip of iceberg.
Sure, practically speaking, pursuing a constitutional remedy in the present case makes sense, but we best not stop there as this battle is clearly a matter of good versus evil; a spiritual conflict in which the Holy Ghost, not the ghost of Thomas Jefferson, is our only hope of victory.
So by all means, dear shepherds, let the lawyers cite our First Amendment rights, but please do not fail to boldly invoke the rights of Christ the King and His Divine Law first and foremost. If salvation history teaches us anything it is that those who do can be certain that the Lord’s own hand will defeat the enemies of truth, but those who relegate His law to second place will pay a heavy and well-deserved price.
Author and speaker Louie Verrecchio has been a columnist for Catholic News Agency since April 2009. His work, which includes Year of Faith resources like the Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II Faith Formation Series, has been endorsed by Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia; Bishop Emeritus Patrick O’Donoghue of Lancaster, England; Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, IA, USA and others. For more information please visit: www.harvestingthefruit.com