It is sometimes difficult to explain things Catholic to the general public. The vast majority of Americans, of course, are not Catholic, but most of them expect Catholics, especially our bishops – Catholic leaders – to act like… well, to act like Catholics.
Now there are specific Catholic teachings which are quite unpopular in our own age. Take abortion. Folks who support abortion “rights” accuse pro-lifers of forcing their religious – and that means Catholic – moral views on the public. The same goes for contraception. Pollsters would have us believe that nobody, even devout Catholics, really opposes the Pill – in fact, our modern age has welcomed the Pill as a liberator. Indeed, it has been the engine of the sexual revolution.
And yet, Catholic teaching tells us that natural law, as well as the moral law, forbids artificial contraception. Why it even forbids homosexual relations! Unpopular? Sure. Against the grain? Absolutely. In every age, good Catholics should expect that teachings like these will be unpopular. But they should also expect that however, unpopular these teachings are, Catholic bishops, as their spiritual leaders, would teach them, explain them, and defend them publicly and faithfully, in the face of whatever opposition might arise. Isn’t that their job?
Alas, with few precious exceptions, they don’t. And that lapse mystifies many Americans of good will and not only Catholics.
In fact, while Catholic bishops rarely defend those unpopular teachings in public, they make up for it with their resounding advocacy of the welfare state and the amoral “Social Justice” agenda of the American Left.
Some recent particulars come to mind. Last year, Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis became a media champion when he publicly defied Indiana Governor Mike Pence and had his welfare agency sponsor a Syrian Muslim refugee family at federal taxpayer expense.
After meeting with the Archbishop, Governor Pence told the media that, “I disagree with the Church.” Apparently, Archbishop Tobin had failed to tell the governor that the Catholic teaching actually supports the governor’s position, not the archbishop’s. [see Catholic Catechism, par. 2241.2] In fact, Pence disagreed with Tobin, not the Church.
Another anomaly arises in this curious exchange. Governor Pence, now an Evangelical, was baptized a Catholic. Did the Archbishop dedicate a moment of their meeting to his spiritual responsibilities and invite the governor to return to the fold?
Unlikely. In fact, at a public appearance at Notre Dame this past fall, the Archbishop mocked the governor’s suggestion that they both consider the question prayerfully (his “joke” was met with appreciative laughter from the attendees, of course). [Abp. Tobin writes that he “is afraid I can’t respond” to my letter requesting his views on the issue.]
None of this posed a problem for Pope Francis, an adamant supporter of unlimited immigration worldwide. This past October he gave Tobin’s advocacy his seal of approval when he named the archbishop a cardinal.
The Pew Trust tells us that there are some thirty million who identify themselves as “ex-Catholics.” Perhaps this unseemly episode might explain why one of them left.
And Tobin is not alone.
But that’s not all. Meanwhile, countless Catholic bishops have vilified Trump and his supporters for their “nativism,” “bigotry,” and “racism.” Even Pope Francis has denounced Trump’s plans to enforce existing U.S. immigration law, perhaps imagining that those thirty million departed faithful can be replaced by millions of illegals who might prove to be more congenial to the bishops’ leftist agenda than Governor Pence has proven to be.
And what about abortion, and religious liberty, and marriage, and other moral teachings of the Church? Right now, bishops aren’t emphasizing those issues. Ironically, that might well be due to the possibility that they are taking for granted – without a hint of gratitude, of course – that President Trump will indeed appoint “more Scalias” to the Supreme Court, thus reversing Obama’s anti-Catholic agenda propounded by his pro-abortion, pro-LGBT radicals at the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, and several other radicalized federal agencies.
And no doubt the bishops are praying overtime that Trump will not impede the flow of billions of federal taxpayer dollars that Catholic welfare agencies, hospitals and schools receive every year.
But wait – perhaps the bishops have made a New Year’s Resolution to return to the core moral teachings of the Church that have been shelved for decades!
Not likely. Instead, they’ll be spending their time pushing amnesty during their “National Migration Week, January 8-15, a full-fledged political campaign that will “focus on welcome, compassion, and solidarity with migrants and refugees.” (It is uncertain whether taxpayer dollars or voluntary contributions will fund the expensive nationwide campaign).
Curiously, the bishops’ avid support of amnesty makes them allies of the corporate capitalist elites, on whom they and Pope Francis usually heap scorn and contempt.
In the meantime, how can a curious non-Catholic find out about the Catholic faith without getting a political harangue? It might be best to ask a lay Catholic who attends Mass regularly and who is clearly happy in his faithfulness to Church teaching – all of it.
[This is the third of a series on the role of the Catholic Church in the decline and fall of the Republic].