Friday, September 4, 2009

Shaking the Tree

Over the past several months, there have been a lot of Catholics in the news. And these particular Catholics give bad witness to the Church to which they claim they are faithful.

The most recent, of course, is Senator Edward Kennedy whose letter to Pope Benedict sounds more like a bragging list than a real letter. Kennedy's lavish and very public funeral has brought yet more scandal to the Church, with many Catholics asking why he was granted such honours, why the church hierarchy could justify giving him such a send-off when he defied Catholic teaching on major issues (abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, and same-sex marriage).

Before Kennedy, we had Nancy Pelosi who has supported abortion throughout her political career and fully expected to be received warmly by Pope Benedict when she had an audience with him in February /09.

Then there was Kathleen Sebelius , former governor of Kansas, and now Secretary of Health in Obama's administration. She is another pro-abort Catholic who helped keep George Tiller and his late-term abortion clinic in business for years, despite the fact that he had violated the law many times.

And, of course, Joe Biden - Obama's pick for Vice-President, another pro-abort Catholic who has worked out his own rationale for being pro-abort in public and Catholic in private.

Across the ocean, we have the team of Tony and Cherie Blair who seem to be campaigning to form a new European Union Catholic Church - perhaps they are hoping to be made the next Pope and Popess?

The list of Catholic public figures who proclaim to be Catholic, on the one hand, and who are defying the Church on crucial matters of faith, seems to grow longer by day. What is the average Catholic to think of all this? Turn to the words of Christ himself:

Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn." Matthew 13:30

And now we have divisions amongst those who should be united as Father Tom Rosica of Salt and Light Television in Canada has lashed out at those pro-lifers who criticized the Kennedy funeral, especially Raymond Arroyo of EWTN.

It seems that the thing that has upset Father Rosica the most is that lay persons have criticized the clergy. Perhaps he is correct in stating that some of those criticisms have been vitriolic, but if he is saying that the laity should not criticize the clergy, then he is truly wrong. When the clergy let the laity down by not adhering to the tenets of the Catholic faith and do not proclaim those publicly, the laity have not only a right, but a duty, to criticize them. And that is exactly what has happened in the past few months: the clergy have totally let down the laity of the Church and they should heed the words of the prophet Ezekiel, which ring true today, just as they did 3000 years ago:

Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.
Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, therefore, O shepherds, heard the word of the Lord: This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them. - Ezekiel 34:1-10

I am wondering whom Father Rosica has in mind when he calls pro-life people bullies: is it Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, or Father Tom Euteneuer of Human Life International, or Judie Brown of American Life League, or Jill Stanek pro-life activist? I dont' think anyone who has watched Raymond Arroyo on EWTN would call him a bully. Or what about Jesus when he said "Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces" or when he called them "a brood of vipers"? I guess at times Jesus was a bully, not often, but remember that the truth is supposed to cut like a knife. It seems that the church is in need of that cutting truth at the moment. That knife was precisely what was missing in the case of Ted Kennedy; instead of correcting this man with the truth, he was permitted to carry on with his anti-Catholic views while he lived and then he was honoured by that same Church when he died. If that is not hypocrisy, then show me what is.

As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) said in his 1997 book Salt of the Earth: Christianity and the Catholic Church at the End of the Millennium as he was describing the state of the Church:

The words of the Bible and of the Church fathers rang in my ears, those sharp condemnations of shepherds who are like mute dogs; in order to avoid conflicts, that let the poison spread. Peace is not the first civic duty, and a bishop whose only concern is not to have any problems and to gloss over as many conflicts as possible is an image I find repulsive.

Read Raymond Arroyo's full blog post here

Read Father Tom Rosica's full blog post here


dimico said...

Reading Fr Thomas' original blog post gives no suggestion at all that he supports the views of Joe Biden, Kathleen Sebelius and the rest of the "pro-choice catholic" ilk. It rather shows a pastor concerned with imparting the mercy of the Church to her broken members. In fact, the entire second half of the blog is all about mercy. Neither does he create a "laity vs clergy" debate. He does however have harsh words for "pro-life" people who express pro-life views with vitriol and hatred, and as Fr says, this can only cause division and harm to the pro-life effort.

Julie C said...

So who has been vitriolic or filled with hate? who exactly is Father Rosica accusing of having those attitudes? if he is going to make accusations, let him name names and call them to account.

What I get from his article is a sense that here is another Catholic clergy "blessing" the ongoing scandal of public figures who claim to be faithful to the Church, when they are not. And they are leading so many others astray. Just read Father Raymond deSouza's assessment of what Kennedy has done for the Democratic party in the US in the National Post. He could have been so much more, but he wasn't. And to give him the Church's blessing with the funeral that they did, does more to damage the Church. Once again, she is seen to be hypocritical, saying one thing and doing another.

Elena said...

I don't think that Jesus was ever a bully as the definition of a bully is someone who is habitually cruel to others and imposing themselves as superior to those that they bully. I don't agree with Fr. Rosica but I can see where he is coming from. I think that we often use Jesus's scene in the temple as an excuse to get angry. There is a place for holy anger but I wonder how many of us truly know how to express it. Do we pray for Senator Kennedy's soul or do we hope that he gets what we think he deserves? On another note, I would like to ask Fr. Rosica how he knows that Ted has now joined his siblings. Where exactly has he met up with them and how did he get there so quickly? Maybe I'll ask him.

Elena said...

One more point: the mercy of God is a scandal. Fr. Pat McNulty once wrote that he had a dream in which he stood at the pearly gates. Ahead of him was a man who was being admitted into heaven. Fr. Pat saw that it was Hitler and Fr. Pat then refused to go in. The mercy of God is beyond our understanding - the parable of the workers in the vineyard. I do realise that Sen. Kennedy didn't recant publicly (or at all) and therein lies the scandal. However, maybe this should give us all pause to consider what mercy really is.