I found this article as I was trying to get a better grasp on the troubling actions of the USCCB of late … most of which coming to a head, I believe, by way of the actions surrounding the presidential election.
While I believe Jim Fritz has done his homework well here, I am going to leave out some of his passionate commentary, and let you come to your own conclusions.
Let me first say that my understanding of ecclesiology is that, as a priest, I am merely the extension of my bishop, and I simply allow him to teach and preach through me. He is to be in line with Peter and his successors. This relatively recent addition of a separate body – a bishop’s conference – which, at times, seems to be believing, teaching and acting contrary to the successor of Peter, seems to demonstrate the problem of deviating from the long-standing hierarchical structure of our Church. It just seems more vulnerable to worldly politics and ideologies. Has such a contrary body even led to many of the rogue “priest associations” we are seeing pop up in different dioceses?
You decide, but let’s all pray.
Actions of the USCCB
The actions we will review are:
- the publication of the purposely defective Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship;
- the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD);
- the rejection of Canon 915;
- publication of Always our Children; and lastly,
- cinema reviews recommending movies with homosexual content.
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship
(Some say) this USCCB document has played a decisive role in empowering Catholic supporters of abortion by providing the escape clauses needed to convince Catholics they could vote for a pro-abortion candidate in good conscience. There are two major loopholes in the document. First, it states that Catholics are allowed to vote for a supporter of abortion rights so long as 1) the voter does not intend to support that position, or 2) there are offsetting “morally grave reasons.” The document never explains what constitutes “morally grave reasons,” leaving it to the reader to make his own determination which can be quite erroneous …
… At a conference at Creighton University in June, John Carr, Executive Director of Social Development and World Peace for the USCCB, “stressed that the bishops’ document does not shut the door on any candidate, not even one who supports abortion rights.” The bishops were told this, and they still left the loophole intact … Although several bishops have spoken out forcefully, saying the document is being abused, it was never changed or clarified by the USCCB.
Bishop Robert Vasa pointed out that voting for a pro-abortion candidate is never justified when the opponent is pro-life. Similarly, Bishops Kevin Vann and Kevin Farrell in a joint letter to their faithful insist there are no “‘truly grave moral’ or ‘proportionate’ reasons, singularly or combined, that could outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion each year.”
Catholic Campaign for Human Development
In 1969, the U.S. bishops established the CCHD to fund low income controlled empowerment projects and to educate Catholics about the root causes of poverty. In 1994, The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly, ran a series of articles by Paul Likoudis shedding light on the activities of the CCHD. Likoudis wrote that the anniversary “brought [many U.S. Catholics] to plead with the… bishops for an investigation of and an audit into what kinds of programs the ecclesiastical apparatus has funded.” Likoudis exposed a broad range of serious problems. They included financing organizations that support abortion and contraception …
Rejection of Canon 915
Church’s Canon Law 915 states: “Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” Debate on the issue was closed several years ago with a letter from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. The then-head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith intervened in a debate between the US Bishops on the issue in 2004. Cardinal Ratzinger said in his letter titled, “Worthiness to receive Holy Communion,” that a Catholic politician who would vote for “permissive abortion and euthanasia laws” after being duly instructed and warned, “must” be denied Communion. Ratzinger’s letter explained that if such a politician “with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it.” Recently Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, confirmed this position. Former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, whom Pope Benedict appointed this year to head the highest judicial court in the Vatican, has remarked on the need for bishops to uphold this canon, since without doing so they undermine belief in the truth of the evil of abortion. “No matter how often a bishop or priest repeats the teaching of the Church regarding procured abortion, if he stands by and does nothing to discipline a Catholic who publicly supports legislation permitting the gravest of injustices and, at the same time, presents himself to receive Holy Communion, then his teaching rings hollow,” wrote Burke. “To remain silent is to permit serious confusion regarding a fundamental truth of the moral law.”
Cardinal Arinze in 2004 said a pro-abortion politician “is not fit” to receive Communion. “If they should not receive, then they should not be given,” he added. In November 2007 during a video interview, Cardinal Arinze was asked again if a person who votes for abortion can receive Holy Communion. He replied, “Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that? Get the children for first Communion and say to them, ‘Somebody votes for the killing of unborn babies, and says, I voted for that, I will vote for that every time.’ And these babies are killed not one or two, but in millions, and that person says, ‘I’m a practicing Catholic,’ should that person receive Communion next Sunday? The children will answer that at the drop of a hat. You don’t need a cardinal to answer that.” Excommunication is allowed by Canon law which says the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with receiving communion, which is receiving the body of Christ. Yet the USCCB refuses to enforce this law.
Publication of Always our Children
In October 1997, a document entitled Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children was published by the Committee on Marriage and the Family of the USCCB. To be fair it should be made clear the document was composed without any input from the majority of the American Catholic bishops, who were given no opportunity whatsoever to comment on its pastoral usefulness or on its contents. The illusion is given, perhaps deliberately, and carried forth by the media to the effect that this is something the U.S. bishops have published. However, to this date the USCCB has not denounced this very flawed and defective document, and it is still being promulgated by the homosexual movement.
Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz, who has been one of the most vocal opponents to Always Our Children, had the following to say:
“The document, in a view which is shared by many, is founded on bad advice, mistaken theology, erroneous science and skewed sociology. It is pastorally helpful in no perceptible way. Does this committee intend to issue documents to parents of drug addicts, promiscuous teenagers, adult children involved in canonically invalid marriages, and the like? These are far more numerous than parents of homosexuals. The occasion and the motivation for this document’s birth remain hidden in the murky arrangements which brought it forth.
Not only does this document fail to take into account the latest revision in the authentic Latin version of The Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding homosexuality, but it juxtaposes several quotes from the Catechism in order to pretend falsely and preposterously that the Catechism says homosexuality is a gift from God and should be accepted as a fixed and permanent identity.
Harry Forbes, who heads the USCCB’s Office for Film and Broadcasting, in his latest review, praises the movie, Milk, which exalts the first openly homosexual man elected to public office in U.S. history. According to Forbes, Milk contains scenes of “male kissing and non-graphic encounters, rear male nudity, murder, suicide, and some rough language, crude expressions and profanity.”
Despite such material, and despite the movie’s blatant glorification of the homosexual rights agenda, it is not rated “Morally Offensive” (O), but only receives a rating of “L,” for “Limited Adult Audience.” Furthermore, in his review Forbes in no way objects to or cautions viewers about the content of the film, instead offering nothing but words of praise.
Forbes calls the movie “a solid biographical drama about San Francisco Supervisor and gay rights activist Harvey Milk.” Forbes also speaks approvingly of the movie’s strong emphasis on the Catholic faith of Milk’s assassin, Dan White.
Forbes has written other reviews praising films that promote and glorify homosexual behavior and attack the Catholic faith, including “Brokeback Mountain,” which is about a sodomite relationship between two cowboys, and “The Golden Compass,” which is atheistic and vilifies Christianity.
Despite repeated protests from priests and Catholic laity, the USCCB continues to allow Forbes to write reviews on the organization’s behalf.
Human Life International President Fr. Thomas Euteneuer angrily denounced Forbes’ latest pro-homosexualist review. “Moral outrage is the only response to someone like Harry Forbes who consistently trashes Catholic values in his movie reviews and gets away with it,” wrote Euteneuer. “We are accustomed to pagans celebrating their values and letting lots of immorality slide with a wink and a nod, but when the official movie reviewer for the USCCB does it time and time again with no consequences, we have no credible moral compass with which to evaluate the content of movies any more.”
We offer no solution other than prayers, plus verbal and written comments to your bishops. We believe there are many saintly bishops who are as embarrassed as we are about the USCCB. Give them your support. Be active in your protection of the unborn, the handicapped and the elderly. Be active in your protection of the Faith.
“Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops, like bishops, and your religious act like religious.” (Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen)