Thursday, November 2, 2006

Personal Asides: Having Solved the Archdiocese’s Credibility Problems, Cardinal George Knows Why the World Doesn’t Trust the U. S.

It’s always refreshing to hear Catholic bishops pronounce their solutions to the world’s…and this nation’s…problems. The Bishops constructed the “seamless garment” theory during the days of the Cold War and struck hard at Ronald Reagan, using their miters and staffs, to instruct him that nuclear freeze and reconciliation can end the threat of nuclear holocaust. Reagan pursued his own course which was the more prudent one. The bishops then instructed us on how to alleviate poverty through distribution of wealth. Since Republicans have been in control nationally, they followed the more prudent course of tax cuts and reduced regulation which the result that this nation is in the strongest economic position in its history.

I would really think that with the Catholic church in dire straits, with some dioceses going bankrupt because of the inability of bishops to control their errant priests…because of the inability of lack of foresight of bishops to reform their seminaries…they would spare giving us lectures on how the U. S. should be perceived by the world—as none other than Francis Cardinal George did to an admiring audience at the Chicago Catholic Theological Seminary. For one who is either unable to achieve reform…who has confessed inability to keep the archdiocese’s word to curb those priests who are menaces to children…a bishop must be brimming with what could be called manic exhilaration in order to give the nation instructions on how to deal with other nations. This writer has just finished a series of articles for the nation’s oldest national Catholic weekly on the disgraceful conduct going on in two of our largest so-called Catholic universities—involving fiestas of homosexuality and abortion…all the while not a word of disapproval from cowardly and over-timid ecclesial leaders.

The retention and indeed extension of the service of Jimmy Lago as chancellor in the face of widespread criticism about how he mishandled the clerical abuse problem is inexplicable. A layman can only wonder what’s going on—and perhaps should not murmur disapproval. But when at the same time we get political derogation in the mask of theology, it is quite another. And quite enough. The test of whether one can reshape the world order should come at home first of all—as how one reshapes corruption, venality and perversion in the Church.

Failure of nerve sufficient to run an archdiocese is one thing. It can be said that things are slightly better—at least with more authentic theology—than occurred earlier. But when in the face of continued dereliction and evasion we have to hear advice on how the United States of America—which has been the most generous nation in the history of the world—is failing the people of the world—it’s too much.

Too much for me, anyhow.


  1. To paraphrase what I have written on another site regarding the Cardinal's address:

    Societies don’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven, individual people do. We are judged as persons not as conglomerate wholes. This alleged “cultural proclivity” that the Cardinal describes is an a stereotypical invention not a factual representation of the American people, any more than the obnoxious behavior of any representative of a society holds true for all its members.

    Otherwise we would be fair in criticizing all of the obnoxious, self-promoting immigrants, especially those here illegally, who thumb their noses at us with the connivance of the American Catholic bishops.

    His Eminence would do better weeding out the heterodox clergy and university administrators in Chicago who have a “cultural proclivity” towards apostasy and heresy rather than throwing stones at Americans in general. Especially when speaking at the Catholic Theological Union which slouches a bit heavily towards the Thames rather than the Tiber.

    After all, if Cardinal George is not in charge of the faith and morals of the Chicago Archdiocese, who is?

  2. Tom, the status of your local church leaders does not preclude them from speculating on the relationship of our or any other nation with others. Most GOP supporters don't get worked up when conservative evangelicals do the same.

    As for your comment that our nation is in the strongest economic position in its history, it's unlikely that foreign investors will indefinitely seek dollars to finance American consumption of the products that their own societies currently produce. Do you believe foreign production costs will surpass those in the US by growing at rates exponentially greater than our own?

  3. Excellent assessment Tom. Shall we have no more public demonstrations of manifestly undeserved support for the Cardinal emmanating from St. John Cantius please? I shall speak no more of this...maybe. Methinks that the Cardinal is tired of being ill treated by the Chicago media and like Cdl. Bernardin before him and that born again wild eyed liberal George Ryan, who when visited by the Ghost of Slammer Time to Come suddenly awoke one fine Kankakee morning to find himself a crusader for abortion and against the death penalty, he wants to make them go to sleep by singing them liberal lullabys. It worked for Bernardin, failed for Ryan and will probably not do Cdl. George much good because he is not a "movement" liberal as was Bernardin the Crafty and the media know it. Many bishops, as we know, quite literally fear a bad press more than they fear the wrath of God. These days its just about impossible for a Catholic prelate to please both. It would seem that Cdl. George has made his choice.

  4. Tom, exactly what standing do you have to be lecturing His Eminence--hectoring might be a better way to put it. I'm sorry to say it, but I think this was uncalled for.

  5. Cardinal Francis George says [Oct. 31, SunTimes], "The world ... distrusts [Americans] because we are deaf and blind .... We have this cultural proclivity that says, 'We know what is best and ... no one has the right to tell us no.'" Is the Cardinal too deaf and blind to understand that the Catholic Church has the same proclivity? Our American "proclivity" for freedom follows the proclivity of Catholic missionaries who know Christianity is best, and will die rather than deny Christ. That essential American freedom mission is embedded into our national character: "As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free." [Julia Ward Howe].

    In our Declaration of Independence we held that freedom is not for us alone; it is the God-given right and capacity of all mankind. Both Reagan and Bush 43 linked their policies to Wilson's Fourteen Points and to FDR's Four Freedoms, as well as to our Founding Fathers' dream of God-given liberty sweeping over the entire civilized world like a prairie fire. This is essential American stuff.

    The Cardinal should resolve to correct his proclivity for cultural condescension of Americans by adopting the courageous and optimistic predispositions of John Paul II and Ronald Reagan. "The Author of freedom is not indifferent to the fate of freedom." [Bush 43 on 11/6/3].

  6. I, too, disagree with the Cardinal's views on foreign policy and with the bishops' handling of clerical abuse cases. However, I do not see why the latter should prevent the Cardinal from expressing an opinion on the former, any more than it should prevent him from commenting on issues like stem-cell research or the legal definition of marriage.

    This sort of red-herring is more commonly used by liberals against conservatives on moral and cultural issues. It is a tactic aimed at silencing critics instead of answering them.

    The Cardial's analysis of America's role in world affairs must stand or fall on its own merits, and an argument against it will be stronger if it is based on events in world affairs rather than on events in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

  7. One of these days we might notice that Chicago is a world leader, and realize that events in the Archdiocese of Chicago are key in world affairs.

    Cardinal has his work cut out for him. But by no means should we slack off just because we are in Chicago. Chicago has been leading the world since 1872 and should not let up.


  8. Paul, Just This Guy, You Know?November 5, 2006 at 12:27 PM

    Tom, the heretical actions of some of our Catholic prelates, and the ongoing tolerance by the hierarchy of heresy and the public embrace of sin in our Catholic institutions is serving to undermine my faith.

    I keep asking, what kind of God is this? Is this the Good Shepherd who gives us shepherds such as this to watch over us? It makes me want to abandon Christianity altogether and go pick up a degree in Queer Studies at DePaul.