Promoted from the diaries
Most of my writing is on foreign policy. There are few other topic areas other than the law on which I’m comfortable writing. However, as streiff notes, I, like most other Catholics, got to hear a heartfelt letter from my Bishop — a living examplar of St. John Chrysostom’s famous (possibly apocryphal) maxim — explaining that clear out of nowhere, somehow, the Obama Administration decided to make Catholic institutions pay for abortifacents, birth control, and sterilization procedures, all of which are actually explicitly mortal sins in my faith, which is to say, one can be in danger of Hell merely for helping to provide them.
As Sts. Nicholas and Chrysostom would not, in their unenlightened days, have likely had warm feelings for His Excellency, it is perhaps incumbent upon me to note that my Bishop neglected a few details in the sermon he had our deacon read aloud. His Excellency was absolutely silent on the possible election of a man who actively defended the post-uterine execution of neonatal infants, which I ascribe to moral laziness and cowardice, though it may have been instead interest in funding a short lived billboard campaign in Atlanta extolling Catholics who believe him and the Pope evil to come on back for a quick round of communion. The Secretary of Health and Human Services is a self-professing Catholic who is one of the most ardent defenders of the abortion license in our country. Obamacare was passed through the good offices of numerous nominally-Catholic Senators and Representatives, despite warnings from Catholic groups (such as the Knights of Columbus, who fought tooth and nail) and without so much as a peep of the same from our esteemed Bishops, that maybe, just maybe, the Obama Administration might be vaguely interested in making free abortion on demand and contraceptives available to all, conscience exceptions be damned.
Instead, in that pastoral letter, there was a general note that this was bad, and we should all be aware of it. In the background, I believe I heard someone dropping bread into a bowl of milk. I may have also heard someone washing his hands before a condemned man, but I’m not sure about that.
Back when there was a New Ledger, I wrote a now long-forgotten piece excoriating the Bishops in this country for complicity in its passage, for not speaking up, for not excommunicating the public officials who actively fight for the abortion license despite the infallible teachings of our Church — and by extension, for enabling a culture of license that enables the Culture of Death. (Piece stolen here; TNL no longer publishes essays.)
I stand by every word, and would like to add a few things. Let me start with the most basic one.
You can all, each of you, and I say this after a week of prayerful meditation and with all of the respect I can give, go straight to the darkest pit in the lowest valley of the Ninth Layer of Hell and burn there.
It was easy to sell out the unborn, wasn’t it? To just wish away an infallible teaching that — let’s be honest — has been such a headache since a Catholic Supreme Court Justice helped its mass breaking, and Catholic Democrats abandoned everything else to protect that breach, right? To let others commit a sin that our Church treats as so grave that it incurs the automatic sanction of excommunication? All in return for a goal you’ve shared with your Democrat masters since the 1940s — a chance to drive healthcare costs through the roof with the fig leaf of social caring. All so you could work with the sorts of people who are elected to office by publicly calling you theocrats and misogynists for more-or-less upholding the two-thousand-year-old Tradition of our Church.
Thirty pieces of silver must buy one Hell of a lot more for you than it does for me.
Who among you has stepped forward to say, Whoops! Or, We are infallible on matters of faith expressed through the Tradition or through an ecumenical Council, but we can err on policy, and hoo-boy, did we blow this one. Who among you spoke out last week and said, Attention my flock: I must now inform you that the Democratic Party has proven once and for all that if you vote for a Democrat in this country, you engage in material cooperation with evil. We will now be holding weekly mass Confession to handle the backlog until it clears.
Because that is truth. In 2009 and 2010, nominally faithful Catholics who value all of the policy choices you do — labor unions, forced charity, high rates of taxation, urban ghettoes, and of course, universal “health care” — and who claimed to be ardent defenders of the unborn sold out to a one, sacrificed millions of babies and betrayed the infallible teaching of their faith so they could get one gigantic step closer to the social justice you so crave.
And for that, for that moment when they put aside their baptismal and confirmation vows, repeated every Easter, and their recitation of whatever version of the Nicene Creed you’ve settled on this week, your response was … applause. Silence. Satisfaction. A professed willingness to work with the Administration.
You made all of this possible. For almost my entire life, you have given my fellow Catholics every reason to believe they can freely sin, and hey, no problem, so long as they favor higher taxation and government spending. They can murder the unborn, and I have had all of two homilies, two, in my entire time as a Catholic, which is to say from birth and for the thirty-five years after, in parishes and dioceses across the country, in which a priest has said, If you have had, caused, or aided in obtaining an abortion, and you take communion today, you will go to Hell. You look out into your emptying pews, terrified of the wood you see and the flesh you don’t, through families of one, two, or sometimes amazingly three children, and think, Well, at least they’re still coming, as if you do not understand the connection between these things.
In the wake of the sex abuse scandal, I got to hear read to me and my wife and small baby a heartfelt letter from a bishop not even in office when the terrible events at issue took place, making a sincere apology. In 2006, I got to get lectured at Easter about the importance of having lots of illegal immigrants in our country, from the same Bishop who told me last week he’s kinda confused about what happened with this whole Obama thing. As a child, the only time I read of the bishops taking a unified stand was on the evil of Ronald Reagan attempting to dismantle the greatest threat Christianity has known since the height of the Ottoman Empire.
While I’m to the left of many of the readers and writers here on the issue of illegal immigration and how to resolve it, I’m struck by the fact that my Church seems to care more about defending the right to stay here of people whose first act on entering this country is to break its laws — a right not dogmatically defined by my faith — and on the evil of producing nuclear weapons than what it by its very teaching describes as the slaughter of one million innocent babies year in and year out. I am utterly appalled to realize that they are either too gullible, too cowardly, too stupid, or too dishonest with themselves and others to realize that if they tell Catholics that abortion can be traded off for more social welfare, a significant number of Catholics will make that trade, today, now, this instant.
You have materially cooperated with evil, and I have yet to hear mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. (Try the older Confiteor if you prefer: I confess to Almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault. In my thoughts, and in my words; in what I have done, and what I have failed to do.)
You are abetting scandal. You are aiding in the all-but-literal poisoning of political discourse in this country.
And you are lying. You are lying by your words, by your acts, by your omissions. Whatever your rationales, you hide from the truth of what has been before you for forty years, and you aid in that deception to your flock.
And the net result is that you now need to either (1) give in; (2) dump all of your employees into public healthcare (a double win, right?); or (3) disband. Given how you acted when Mitt Romney’s reign in Massachusetts forced you into the same corner, I fully expect (1). Heck, if you can provide abortifacents and prophylactics in New England, why not in Arizona?
In a purer time, you would have been haled before an Ecumenical Council and been required to give an account of yourself, or been summarily excommunicated on the spot. In an emergency, the Pope would do this thing.
I was born into the Faith. I was confirmed before my twelfth birthday. I nearly applied to seminary twice. I married in the Church. I am raising my many-more-than-two-children in the Faith. And every time I see something like this come down the pike, complete with passive-voice verbs and hand washing everywhere, the only things keeping me from joining one of the Orthodox Churches are my dislike of incense, my desire to avoid being as dim as poor Donatist Rod Dreher, and my firm belief that the Church teaches Truth, even though its princes are men by genetics only.
But as you now reap what you have sown for twice my lifetime, I say, with all the charity I can muster, that you can rot.