Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Personal Aside: “We Have a Letter from the Cardinal Today.” Hey, it’s About Me!

             Wednesday in Holy Week.*                   
                           A Letter About Me…but Not To Me.  
         Every Catholic who goes regularly to Sunday Mass knows that every so often after the priest reads the gospel and begins to shuffle through announcements there’ll be a letter from the boss. 
          So the celebrant will say,  
        “Uh, today we have a letter from His Eminence Francis Cardinal George.”  
       It’s usually calling attention to some charity or other worthwhile thing.  Ah but today I have a letter from His Eminence Francis Cardinal George.  I have it but it was not sent to me. But it’s about me. It’s a letter he has taken the time to send to every advisory committee member of Catholic Citizens of Illinois (of which I’m chairman)—but interestingly enough not me…although it’s all about me.  Text of his letter is below. 
          The Cardinal objects to my writing and wants me to either shut up or be forced to shut up. To which I say that’s tough. 
       My writing is done here on this blog, is picked up sometimes in The Chicago Daily Observer and in addition I write a weekly column for The Wanderer, the oldest national Catholic newspaper in the United States and write material that I use on a radio station in this city where I question Republicans and Democrats on current public affairs issues. 
          During my corporate career as a Quaker Oats vice president I had freedom of expression from two CEOs and the board to contribute Op Eds and go on the radio to discuss public issues with the qualification that my corporate identification not be referred to.  The media respected this and for 27 years there was no problem.    
         With this as background, understand: I am not under sanction to Cardinal George and will not be silenced by him.   He’s tried to do this once before—as has the lay chancellor of this archdiocese…and it hasn’t worked.  
        Nor will it in the future. 
       Nothing I write is in the name of Catholic Citizens of Illinois (except a fund-raising letter for it once a year)…and my views do not reflect to the slightest degree that organization. Catholic Citizens, by the way, is not an arm or an adjunct in any sense of the Archdiocese or to him.   Those who founded it with me…and I guess I’m the only original survivor extant now… insisted that it follow strict observance of the magisterium of the Church but in no  way reports to, is funded by, or beholden for its positions to the archdiocese.  
      We structured it that way purposely so it is independent of the archdiocese while being fully authenticist in support of the teachings of the  Church.  Since Cardinal George has been here, our officers were hassled and hauled down to the Chancery…sometimes singly sometimes as a group… purportedly to get rid of me (this while I was hospitalized:nice going).  Nice try; a cowardly try—but it didn’t work.   
          Any hope that I will be intimidated by tactics that involved calling around to my Catholic friends…which happened earlier…to get me to shut up or resign as chairman or get my board to fire me… has been and will be fruitless.   
           I am also, by the way, Chairman of the City Club of Chicago.  In like manner, anything I write here or anywhere else has nothing to do with the City Club of Chicago.  Interestingly enough, I was critical of the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin at times…but we got along.  He could tolerate dissent and the free, robust exchange of ideas.  Those times have passed, unfortunately. 
           Again: I can’t repeat it enough.  
           What the Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago wants to do is to get the board of directors and advisory committee of Catholic Citizens of Illinois to shut me up knowing full well that what I write are my own views solely. Catholic Citizens have nothing to do with it.  It’s my views he doesn’t like and wants to squelch.  Catholic Citizens is only a dodge. 
       This goes by an ugly word—but the only word that fits: censorship, dissent removal, gag action… by one—and/or ones… who don’t understand the 1st amendment,  free speech or dissent. 
           His Eminence’s petulance doesn’t scare me. Frankly, if I were to be scared it would have been 40 years ago when I was then aged 41 and the father of four children…fired as an assistant commerce secretary summarily by Richard Nixon who was displeased when I pointed out that in my view the conferring of subsidies to minority businesses in the way I was directed to do it carried a political quid pro quo which I didn’t want any part of…nor did I intend to become the goat ala John Dean…nor did I want to use public  relations techniques of  dickering with government funds for political purposes.   The man who warned me about the dangers was, coincidentally, Jackie Robinson who was a business executive…a Republican…and sensitive to possible conflict of interest.  
           When you’re a sub-cabinet officer and you’re canned publicly for “insubordination” by a sitting president you endure the social ostracism equivalent of having your epaulets and buttons jerked off by your boss, your sword broken over his knee and tossed onto the parade ground.    
         So after that, merely having a letter circulated about me behind my back with the attempt to be remonstrated, cajoled and socially coerced into shutting up doesn’t cut any ice with me.    That’s an indecorous way of putting it but that’s the way it is. 
          But all the same, I’m appalled that it’s immaterial to him that these tactics are employed since I am and have been a journalist and commentator in one way or another since 1953.  It’s hard to believe that a somewhat sophisticated man, a former university professor, wants me to either shut up, agree to be silenced or by intimidation… be shut up. 
                                        Text of the Letter.  
           Now that I have that off my chest…take a look at his letter to the board and advisory committee of Catholic Citizens of Illinois, a copy of was not sent to me but which was forwarded to me by a recipient: 
            Dear Mr ______, 
           I write to you because you are a member of the Advisory Board of Catholic Citizens of Illinois whose chairman is Mr. Thomas F. Roeser. 
         Mr. Roeser has taken in recent years to writing essays that are filled with factual errors and misrepresentations about events in the Archdiocese of Chicago.  His writing about both clerical and lay officials of the Archdiocese are also personally insulting and filled with contempt.  At times when the Pope or the bishops’ teachings or activities do not conform in every detail to his political convictions, he descends to hate mongering. I’ve included a recent example for your consideration. 
         Would it be possible for you to use your role as advisor to Catholic Citizens of Illinois to put an end to the hate literature produced by the Chairman?  Thank you. [Emphasis mine]. 
                                                  Sincerely yours in Christ,
                                                 Francis Cardinal George OMI
                                                Archbishop of Chicago. 
           See what I mean?  
           He encloses articles written by me for this blog which have no reference whatsoever to Catholic Citizens of Illinois. To read all my articles, you merely have to scroll down this blog.  
         Hate literature? Give me a break.  Read it for yourself.  
       I have said Benedict XVI is my pope but has some cleaning up to do.  I have not denounced the Cardinal in any theological way but criticized his allowing functionaries…as described in the nonpartisan Internet publication Politico…to virtually guarantee Church support for ObamaCare if the abortion issue is fixed.  I have said he seems politically naïve to imagine that social justice means ever-more accumulation of government control and higher taxes.   I delved into history, describing Msgr. Jack Egan as a close soul-mate of Saul Alinsky.  That’s been proven. I described my own meetings with Jack and Andrew Young a close friend of mine. A toast that Jack made at a Quaker Oats reception that was in error.  I said unfortunately I don’t believe someone who has been cloistered in an religious order since early age is an expert on working people’s problems.  Hate speech, is it? 
         Hate speech?   
         If the Cardinal wants to get rid of hate speech he’d have long ago silenced Rev. Michael Pfleger, a good buddy of Louis Farrakhan who has spoken during Mass at St. Sabina’s and who has called Judaism a “gutter religion.”  Instead the archdiocese will reward Pfleger with a tribute to his work for…ahem…the cause of “social justice.”  This award for one who shouted before a storeowner’s place of business “come out or we’ll drag you out like a rat!”  
          What have I written recently on this blog?  
         The latest has to do with the pedophilia crisis facing the Church and the Pope.  I balanced it as well I could citing the divergent differences between the Pope’s infallibility or faith and morals and his human failings that all of us are heir to—as well as the fact that some people confuse infallibility with impeccability…impeccability which no one has but God.  
         Continue scrolling and you’ll find that I praise the cardinal’s statement as president  of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for opposing the Senate’s failure to include Hyde amendment language in ObamaCare…but…and this is where I evidently anger him…for implying seriously…confirmed by news reports… that ObamaCare could have been supported by the bishops if the Hyde language were included.  His spokesman denied this when the story came out but his official statement all but confirms it.  
           To me, the Catholic bishops of the United States and their hired emissaries had no right…nor have no right… to commit Catholic  support of a monstrosity like ObamaCare even if pro-life safeguards were guaranteed…under the false rubric of “social justice.” Other alternative legislation including bills introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) ignored by him as USCCB president means they have been summarily dismissed from consideration.  
            His statement in the letter that in my writings I indulge in  hate mongering when the Pope and bishops do not support my views is…frankly…a falsehood—and he knows it to be such. If I am blunt…and I am…that’s how I have chosen to live my life.   
            There you have it.  Scroll down and read away.  
          *: Wednesday in Holy Week. Judas goes to the chief priest and says “What will you give to me and I will deliver Him to you?”  Betrayal has been endemic throughout the history of the world but this episode has many ramifications. Judas thought he had the best of both worlds…a supporter of Christ who felt as the Apostles’ treasurer that perfumes and oils poured on His feet would be better served given to the poor.  A true liberal position. Then as a humanitarian Judas would betray One who is not sufficiently filled with concern for the poor.  But it didn’t work and in desperation, consumed with the sin of despair, Judas hanged himself. 
          Compare it to the Judas Goat Bart Stupak who delivered a handful of pro-life Democratic representatives to Pelosi and Emanuel.  Stupak already was certified as a hero of pro-life to have tied up its passage ostensibly for principle. Now he was going to tie up his reelection by joining pro-lifers who would be, he imagined, assuaged by his securing an Executive Order ostensibly to defend life with those pro-aborts and liberals who would cheer him for voting their way.  A brilliant three-cushion shot he thought! Not so. Stupak lost endorsement for his reelection by Right to Lifers who promise a tough Republican pro-life opponent for November.   
        Concurrently, NARAL, Planned Parenthood and NOW have sought a tough Democratic opponent for him in the August 2 Democratic primary. Result: If Stupak isn’t knocked off by his own supposed pro-abort allies whose representatives gave him the equivalent of 30 pieces of silver, he will likely be defeated in the general by a populace sickened with his deceit.


  1. When Cardinal George generalizes your position as "hate speech," he descends into ideological argumentation, much like the LBGT response to Church teaching. I only hope he was having a bad day.

  2. Tom, I was talking with someone who I trust on the inside about WLS-AM, and you came up in the conversation. He told me that they’ve received complaints about your writings and references to individuals of Jewish ancestry in the media and politics.

    The complainants called you anti-Semitic.

    I asked anyone in particular, and was told a certain columnist for the Sun Times. This conversation happened at least 2-4 months ago though, so I doubt it has any relevance to this letter, but who knows.

  3. I think the Cardinal's a Democrat, or if not, he's got a copy of their playbook. The Chicago Archdiocese is too political and seems to look to government to solve the problems of Chicago instead of the Church and its laiety. I hope changes come, but it will take a new generation of priests and nuns who aren't Democrats at heart.

  4. Don't know what it will take. Am trying to digest my new-found contempt for his eminence. Am reminded of his telling reporters at St. Giles to put down their pens, likening news coverage in the U.S. to Soviet persecution. Disgusting.

  5. I will pray for his eminence. Cynically, I suggest that his odd attempts to harass you are meant to silence his critics on the other side as "what do you mean I'm a tool of the Far Right, see what I just did to Roeser?"

    Well, when the hierarchy tries to play political games, things usually end badly.

  6. We're fighting our Archbishop too, but he's been kinder than yours so far. We just can't get the results we want. God Bless you in your fight. Social Justice will be the downfall of the Catholic Church. God Help US All. Jo

  7. Yeah, Tom, continue fighting for the right of sick children to be denied health coverage. That's God's work, all right.

  8. I wonder if you think any American entitlement programs would qualify as social justice as it is understood by the Church. Being 81, I suppose social security and medicare are just fine with you . . .

  9. Cardinal George (and many other US bishops) want to have their authority in doctrine and faith extended to political questions that are prudential matters for lay Catholics to fight for in the public square.

    The Bishops are required to forcefully present moral teachings on life and family questions. They are not competent to enforce policy preferences on political issues that lay Catholics are allowed to differ on.

    If the Bishops had been more successful in catechizing the Laity, their influence would be much greater in the public square than trying to impress the secular media on questions where they are equally liberal.

    My own bishop, Cardinal O'Malley in Boston, embarrassed himself, in a similar way, by attempting to placate the secularist Kennedy junta at Ted Kennedy's funeral.

    Keep up the good work, Tom.

  10. Correct me if I'm wrong here but isn't God's work what the church is supposed to be doing, rather than depending on the government for that? Are there laws in place I didn't know about that prevent individuals and charity organizations from helping out people who can't afford health care?

  11. Thank you for your honest work & opinion. When did socialism become cool? When did the church look to create heaven on Earth? These goats seem to push more and more people to traditional options...

  12. It is people like Cardinal George and Rev. Pfleger that make me stay away from the church. They remind me of race-baiting gutter snipes like Al Sharpton. They are a corrosive force. Please know that many people support strong, true voices like yours. We need to hear people like you more.

  13. Mr. Roeser;

    You are a heroic Catholic! Please continue your crusade to separate the Church in the United States from the socialism already condemned by the Magisterium.

    Bill L