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Archbishop Naumann, Cardinal Cupich, and the mysterious middle finger

While Naumann has shown that he is a warrior and a leader—who can also dialogue when the moment calls for dialogue—it’s not evident at all that Cupich, however much he “champions engagement and dialogue”, would ever really do battle for the prolife cause.

The election of Archbishop Joseph Naumann as chairman of the USCCB’s committee on pro-life activities has caused some ripples, to put it mildly. It has also revealed that some progressive Catholics actually do care deeply about tradition—that is, USCCB tradition, not Church Tradition—as evidenced by this bit of, um, measured, incisive analysis by Michael Sean Winters:

The U.S. bishops broke tradition this morning selecting Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, to serve as chairman of the Pro-Life Activities Committee. He defeated Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago on a vote of 96 to 82. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this amounted to the bishops giving the middle finger to Pope Francis.

Goodness. Bitter much? Not surprisingly, Winters—who brings to Catholic punditry all the gifts and talents that Dan Brown brings to “thrillers” starring symbologists—goes simplistic after going apoplectic:

The contrast between the two candidates for chair of the Pro-Life Activities Committee was the starkest of the choices the bishops faced. Naumann and Cupich are both representative of the two divergent understandings of how the church should interact with the ambient culture. Naumann is a culture warrior. Cupich champions engagement and dialogue.

Naumann, according to Winters, “politicizes” the Faith, as evidenced by the Archbishop letting it be known, in 2008, that then Gov. Kathleen Sebelius should not present herself for Communion because of her proud, unflinching, and unapologetic pro-abort stance. And, “Naumann also ordered his parishes to cease hosting Girl Scout troops over concerns they were somehow involved with Planned Parenthood”—the “somehow involved” referring, apparently, to the Girl Scouts diving deep into the waters of lefty, trendy ideological vapidity. Naumann, sniffs Winters, “is not exactly a poster child for the culture of encounter.” Perhaps because the Archbishop can tell the difference between encounter and capitulation?

• Which brings us to Cardinal Cupich, whose resume consists of an impressive rise up the ranks and, really, little else. “Cupich,” writes Winters, “on the other hand, has openly embraced the consistent ethic of life approach first introduced by his predecessor Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.” In fact, from all accounts, that’s about the only thing Cupich wishes to do; it was addressed two years ago in this CWR piece by Samuel Gregg, who wrote:

Right from the beginning, forceful criticisms were made of the consistent ethic position (often described as the “seamless garment”). One was that it would inadvertently help provide “cover” for Catholic politicians who supported legalized abortion. Cardinal Bernardin himself lamented in a 1988 National Catholic Register interview that “I know that some people on the left, if I may use that term, have used the consistent ethic to give the impression that the abortion issue is not all that important any more, that you should be against abortion in a general way but that there are more important issues, so don’t hold anyone’s feet to the fire just on abortion. That is a misuse of the consistent ethic, and I deplore it.”

Ten years later, the United States Catholic Conference’s document Living the Gospel of Life also criticized those who had used the consistent ethic to relativize the killing of unborn human beings by making it just one of a laundry list of concerns.

In a way, however, the political fallout from the consistent ethic distracted attention from significant ambiguities that characterized important aspects of the seamless garment’s theological and philosophical apparatus. In light of what seem to be efforts to revive this approach as a way for Catholics and, more particularly, Catholic bishops to engage in public policy debates, it’s worth revisiting these problems.

Do read the entire article. My point here is that Bernardin’s approach, however well-intentioned, was a failure in more than one way (mostly, it seems, because it was so easy to misrepresent and misuse).

• Perhaps Winters was upset with this sort of rhetoric:

Not all values, however, are of equal weight. Some are more fundamental than others. … I wish to emphasize that no earthly value is more fundamental than human life itself. Human life is the condition for enjoying freedom and all other values. Consequently, if one must choose between protecting or serving lesser human values that depend upon life for their existence and life itself, human life must take precedence.

Oh, wait: that was an actual quote from Cardinal Bernardin. Go figure.

Okay, where was I?

• Here’s my main point: both Naumann and Cupich have spoken against abortion. But while Naumann has shown that he is a warrior and a leader—who can also dialogue when the moment calls for dialogue—it’s not evident at all that Cupich, however much he “champions engagement and dialogue”, would ever really do battle for the prolife cause. I do think it’s that simple. Cupich talks a great deal about dialogue. Fine. But he does not have the tried and true record of Naumann when it comes to actively and consistently fighting for life and working against abortion.

• Still, there have been a number of folks “shocked” by Naumann’s election. For instance, Rocco Palmo declared:

The shocker, again, is that the USCCB broke its ancient tradition (of four decades!) of electing a Cardinal to the position.

But, really, this was not a shocker. If there was any sort of surprise, it’s that Cupich garnered 82 votes. But, then, there were 34 bishops who abstained from voting, which means that 130 out of 212 bishops did not vote for Cupich. That can be sliced, diced, and parsed a number of ways; however, anyone who has been paying attention to the American bishops in recent years know that they are going to go with a more proven candidate with a “rubber meets the road” record.

• Theologian Massimo Faggioli‏, who is becoming something of the Richard McBrien of his generation (minus the collar), lamented:

• Meanwhile, Christopher White of Crux also viewed the choice of Naumann as “surprising”, stating:

The results will likely be viewed by many that the “Francis effect” has yet to take hold fully of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a rejection of the “consistent ethic of life” methodology, promoted by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who served as Archbishop of Chicago in the 1980s and ’90s.

(Once again, why so surprised? More on that in a moment.) And The Wall Street Journal also interpreted the results as a push against the Francis effect: “U.S. Catholic Leaders Signal Resistance to Pope’s Agenda”.

• But George Weigel, at National Review Online, is having none of it:

The so-called Francis effect is a media concoction that is difficult to define. But if it means anything, it means a Catholic Church that embraces what Pope Francis calls “collegiality” and “synodality.” In choosing Naumann over Cupich — and in breaking 40 years of precedent by naming someone other than a cardinal to chair the conference’s pro-life committee — the bishops in fact embraced both of those principles, rather than rejecting them. It would be helpful if the herd of independent minds would recognize that, instead of repeating its mistakes ad infinitum (and ad nauseam).

For while it’s not entirely clear what the pope means by “synodality,” he at least means that he wants a Catholicism that trusts local churches to know their own ecclesial experience and to craft approaches to mission, evangelization, and public witness that reflect that knowledge. That is what the U.S. bishops did in choosing as their pro-life committee’s chairman Archbishop Naumann — who displayed great pastoral skill and courage in dealing with the pro-“choice” governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius, prior to her becoming secretary of heath and human services in the Obama administration. Moreover, like his brother bishops, Archbishop Naumann knows that the pro-life cause embraces issues other than abortion, just as he knows that work for legal protection for the unborn must be complemented by effective action on behalf of women caught in the dilemma of unwanted pregnancy.

But Naumann also knows that the current American abortion regime has seriously eroded our national political culture and warped our national politics, and that these facts of public life cannot be ignored in deference to certain partisan sensibilities or other issues. That is something that the majority of the body of bishops also knows, and that helps explain Naumann’s victory. Far from being some sort of act of disrespect to the pope, a vote for Archbishop Naumann was a vote to affirm the bishops’ broad-gauged pro-life position, which has developed “synodally” over time, while privileging several of the life issues — abortion, to be sure, and, increasingly, euthanasia — rather than muting those issues for the sake of others.

And: “Those who insisted that the Cupich–Naumann election was a referendum on the current pontificate were wrong to do so before the vote, and they were wrong to spin the vote’s results in the same direction. If they would bring themselves to recognize that, perhaps they’d see some real synodality and some real collegiality at work among the U.S. bishops. And that might help wean them from promoting simulacra of synodality and collegiality in the name of a very un-Catholic notion of papal autocracy.”

• I’m quite sympathetic to Weigel’s argument here, and he surely has far more direct knowledge of the ins-and-outs, the players, and the dynamics. However, it seems fairly clear, just from the vote alone, that there exists a serious divide among the bishops. That is, arguably, somewhat natural and hardly unique. The entire matter raises some “what if?” questions for me: What if Cupich was a more likable candidate (it’s not much of a secret that he’s not a favorite among many of the bishops)? What if Cupich had accomplished a bit more than rise from Rapid City to Chicago on the basis of, well, what?

• Another question: why did many assume—and they surely assumed, based on what I’ve seen on Twitter and in various reports—that Cupich would win? The answer, apparently, is that Cupich is “America’s Pope Francis” (as he was dubbed by a CBS reporter after being named to Chicago) and that his oft-stated goal of being just like Francis would not only be enough, but would make him the obvious choice. This perspective overlooks a couple of things: first, saying that you want to be like Pope Francis is fine, but it’s not an accomplishment by any means; secondly, as noted, Naumann is a proven prolife leader (and warrior), while Cupich simply isn’t; third, Cupich doesn’t just lack the results, he doesn’t possess the sort of gravitas, charisma, and intangibles that would attract those “on the fence”. And perhaps there was also a bit of “echo chamber” effect in play as well; after all, Cupich gets plenty of media attention, but how much does that matter to the various bishops?

• As a quick aside, it’s still worth pondering what a “Francis bishop” is, especially since the image presented of Cupich and some of the “on the ground” reality do not mix well, as I described in my February 2015 piece on Cupich’s nearly disastrous time in Spokane.

• The Chicago Tribune headline shouts: “Cupich suffers rare political defeat at hands of fellow U.S. bishops”, and the story includes this: “Cardinal Blase Cupich has often been praised for his political savvy since he was installed in Chicago by Pope Francis.” Is that simply the perspective of the secular media? Or is there something to it? A big clue can be found in the Statement released by Cardinal Cupich following the shooting at a church in Sutherland, Texas; it included the following:

We must recognize that the factors that produce these tragedies will not change unless we take direct action to change them.

Comprehensive national gun control policies will not prevent every shooting but it will prevent some.

Access to mental health care — in legislation founded on the principle that health care is a right not a privilege — will not prevent every shooting but it will prevent some and will mean we will have fewer podium speeches about our thoughts and prayers.

Let it be our firm resolve to act and to advocate and to end this hideous blot upon our nation.

The Statement includes no mention of God, Jesus Christ, the reality of evil, salvation, mercy, hope, truth, or anything else; it could have been released by a politician or activist. And that, alas, is par for the course. A few years ago, while in Spokane, I heard Archbishop Cupich being interviewed on a local station about immigration reform. In twenty minutes or so he said nothing that was Catholic or related to anything taught by the Church; it was all political talk.

• So, was the vote a slap at Pope Francis? I think that is a political reading of a vote that was not very political. In other words, folks (such as Winters) who see everything in terms of politics are always ascribing political motivations while insisting they are above politics. It’s not convincing. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

• Besides, as Weigel rightly notes, the U.S. bishops understand the situation here far better than Francis. To think otherwise is laughable.

• Which brings me, in conclusion, to a recent First Things piece—subtitled “Bourgeois Religion”—by R.R. Reno, which includes a startling but on the mark series of observations about Pope Francis the Church today:

Ask Cardinal Blase Cupich if sodomy is a sin, and in all likelihood he will start talking mumbo-jumbo about conscience and then say something about the Church’s emphasis on mercy. The Holy Father himself famously replied to a similar question with the memorable (and misleading) paraphrase of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, “Who am I to judge?” One of Pope Francis’s close associates, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, told a colloquium at Boston College on Catholic teaching regarding marriage, sex, and the family, “It is no longer possible to judge people on the basis of a norm that stands above all.” I could add many more instances, but we know the routine: conscience, accompaniment, the “ladder of love,” etc., etc. That’s Welby’s answer with a more elaborate apparatus—and without his honesty.

The Catholic Church’s retreat from anything resembling clarity about sexual morality does not surprise me. It’s been a long time coming. Catholicism and other forms of establishment Christianity in the West tend to take the form of bourgeois religion. That term denotes the fusion of church culture with the moral consensus held by the good, respectable people who set the tone for society as a whole. In the aftermath of the sexual revolution, that consensus shifted. …

Given the inconvenience of the Catholic commitment to moral truth, the approach has been to remain silent. Insofar as bishops and cardinals have spoken about sex, it has almost always been to qualify and soften the Church’s moral voice. The strategy was one of careful retreat. The enduring hope has been to find a way to moderate the obvious clash between what the Church teaches and the bourgeois consensus about sex.

It has become apparent that Pope Francis wants to make this retreat more explicit. For this reason, I have given up trying to keep track of controversies surrounding Amoris Laetitia. The details don’t matter. Pope Francis and his closest associates have no interest in the sacramental coherence of their positions on matters such as divorce and remarriage, nor do they care one whit about defending the logic of the arguments they put forward. I admire those who have explained the limits that the rich tradition of Catholic sacramental and moral teaching places on our interpretation of Amoris Laetitia. This is important work. But it has little bearing on the near-term outcome of this controversy. Pope Francis and his associates want to sign a peace treaty with the sexual revolution. They will use whatever arguments and rhetoric are necessary to achieve this goal. …

This papacy’s goal of aligning the Catholic Church with the bourgeois consensus has other dimensions that show how unprincipled this process will be. Euthanasia is not something our bourgeois consensus wishes to endorse, at least not enthusiastically. Most good and responsible people have misgivings. They recognize the dangers it poses to the weak and vulnerable. But they believe that intelligent, self-possessed people like them ought to have the option of doctor-assisted suicide, at least in some cases. The general tone of the Francis papacy thus encourages bishops to mirror this position. Doctor-assisted suicide is not OK, exactly, but it is OK-ish. It falls under the rubric of “accompaniment,” which means saying “no” without saying “no,” which is a way of saying “yes” without saying “yes.”

 

And:

This papacy is not hard to figure out. Pope Francis and his associates echo the pieties and self-complimenting utopianism of progressives. That’s not surprising. The Jesuit charism is multifaceted and powerful. I count myself among those profoundly influenced by the spiritual genius of St. Ignatius. Yet there’s no disputing that for centuries Jesuits have shown great talent in adjusting the gospel to suit the powerful. And so, I think the European establishment can count on the Vatican to denounce the populism currently threatening its hold on power. I predict that this papacy will be a great defender of migrants and refugees—until political pressures on the European ruling class become so great that it shifts and becomes more “realistic,” at which point the Vatican will shift as well. What is presently denounced will be permitted; what is presently permitted will be denounced.

Adjustment, trimming of sails, and accommodation are inevitable. The Catholic Church is not set up to be countercultural. Catholicism, at least in the West, has establishment in its DNA. But this papacy is uniquely invertebrate. I can identify no consistent theological structure other than a vague Rahnerianism and post–Vatican II sign-of-the-times temporizing. This makes Francis a purely political pope, or at least very nearly so. No doubt he has an evangelical heart. But ever the Jesuit, he seems to regard every aspect of the Church’s tradition as a plastic instrument to be stiffened here or relaxed there in accord with ever-changing pastoral judgments.

Harsh? Yes. Unfair? I don’t think so. And it helps explain a few things about the Naumann-Cupich election. And, in doing so, I suggest what transpired today was a step in the right direction.

About Carl E. Olson 1055 Articles

Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be “Left Behind”, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the “Catholicism” and “Priest Prophet King” Study Guides for Word on Fire. He is also a contributor to “Our Sunday Visitor” newspaper, “The Catholic Answer” magazine, “The Catholic Herald”, “National Catholic Register”, “Chronicles”, and other publications.

39 Comments

  1. Wow!

    The last paragraphs are searing in describing the Church. It is what many Catholics feel…is a rudderless ship.

    One wonders how much of the Church will be compromised at the Gates of Hell…

    • Yes, I agree, it’s a splendid article…

      I had given up on First Things after Jody Bottom made radical changes to Fr Neuhaus’ way of doing things. Reno was slightly better but not enough to keep me paying for a subscription (under Fr Neuhaus editorship I was paying for 3 gift subscriptions).

      But if what Carl has quoted here is typical of where Reno stands now, then perhaps it’d be worth subscribing again…

    • Well, in the case of Archbishop Chaput, it’s understandable, because he is in Rome, attending to preparations for next year’s Synod on Youth.

  2. Bravo! Since I’m from Brooklyn the middle finger is common place but in this context a hopeful sign. Rebellion? As noted in the article the US Bishops Conference is morally subdued under this Papacy. Let me put it this way. I was recently asked why I don’t repudiate the person of the Pontiff. You deserved a Bravo for apparent agreement with, “Pope Francis and his associates want to sign a peace treaty with the sexual revolution. They will use whatever arguments and rhetoric are necessary to achieve this goal” (R R Reno). As priest I’m compelled to practice the virtue of Hope, and express faith in the power of God’s grace to work, as from experience I’m convinced He can do all things. As a man like yourself and R R Reno with personal views I’m quite skeptical, for example that Pope Francis will respond positively to Cardinal Burke’s expected correction. That is why Reno is correct that AL has become a moot issue. I base that on the Pontiff’s track record of ignoring previous requests and his determined efforts to implement radical change within the Church. So entirely radical that it is a paradigm shift from obedience to revelation and the Gospels to an Anthropocentric kind of religiosity. I say religiosity because God as revealed thru Christ falls under this radical revision to the extent that the God I know becomes indistinguishable from the person who pretends to be His Vicar on earth. The latter is my fearful inner sense as to what’s transpiring. The best I can do now is judge his works, if until the moment arrives that I must contend with him personally.

    • “…the God I know becomes indistinguishable from the person who pretends to be His Vicar on earth.”
      Spot on.
      The episcopate has metamorphosized, on a grand scale, into a confederacy of narcissists mistaking their own notions for Divine Revelation, and themselves the genesis of same.
      It is nothing more or less than secular materialism.
      In a nutshell, atheism.

      • “The episcopate has metamorphosized, on a grand scale, into a confederacy of narcissists mistaking their own notions for Divine Revelation”… I’ve had that same thought for sometime now. Well said.

  3. Yes, the election result was a surprisingly strong step in the right direction.
    If that makes the bishop of Rome uncomfortable…well, so be it.
    The Cardinal/Archbishop of Chicago is a political man and an ecclesiastical empty suit.
    The Church needs men like him like it needs a hole in the head.

  4. I am not sure I agree with your assessment about Pope Francis or the way he is being pope for the simple reason it is too soon to make any meaningful assessements while it is ongoing. As a long time student of modernism, there is no doubt that some of the people he has appointed express modernist views in matters of faith and morals that are certainly inconsistent with the teachings of the Church. I think it is actually a good thing, because it brings out into the open those modernist influences that have been undermining confidence in Church teachings. Pope Francis, in keeping with the teachings of the modern popes since Blessed Pius IX has not been remiss in warning the Church about Satanic influences in our “culture of death.” Radical secularism is has effectively established an anti-Christ moral order centered in the western world and the “smoke of Satan” has certainly entered into the temple. This is what Pope Francis faces in his papacy. Until we walk in his shoes, which thank God, we don’t, I think we should avoid second guessing his words and actions.

  5. Thank you for this. But the vote was too close for comfort. I hope that those who abstained will consider that the scourge of abortion not only kills babies but is wrenching our society apart. Fr. Pavone is right. The tensions in our society caused by abortion will tear the union apart and sooner than we think. Those of us in the trenches, defending the unborn, need much more support from all Bishops, priests and the Catholic people. Just maybe we can help avert the danger.

    • I do not think it was a ‘middle finger’ at all. At least some 90 of the bishops still recognize the great evil of abortion. But that may well change as the present pontiff appoints more bishops of the cloth of a Cupich. So many of the faithful no longer trust their shepherds and with good reason.

      • Indeed. Take a look at the number of U.S. bishops over, at, or near the mandatory retirement age of 75.

        http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/country/bus75.html

        If Pope Francis’s term as Supreme Pontiff lasts another 2 or 3 years, he (and those within USCCB who have his ear) could inflict GREAT damage on the Catholic Church hierarchy in the United States – just as great damage as that inflicted during the terms of Cardinal Luigi Raimondi and especially of Archbishop Jean Jadot as Papal Nuncio to the United States.

  6. I have a notion that our Pope is making these changes so as to get the practices of the Latin Church closer to the Orthodox Church. Gonna be tuff but it will happen. Maybe in my 20 year old daughter’s lifetime. It is just a notion.

  7. When Cardinal Cupich states that mental health care is a right, he doesn’t mean that the government or others must never infringe upon that right. Rather, Cardinal Cupich actually means that he thinks the government must pay for your mental health care.

    This mistaken view of what a right is clearly demonstrates that the Cardinal lacks the philosophical gravitas to be the head of any USCCB committee that deals with rights, including the Right to Life.

  8. I really do not think that a close vote of 96-82 is either a middle finger to our Holy Father Francis or Cupich…nor an overwhelming support of Naumann. I think it shows what everyone already should know: that our USCCB is heavily pro-life and there are various valid ways to seek the same end without having to delacre winners and losers, right ways and wrong ways to be pro-life.

  9. As someone who used to work for a pro-life organization, I can tell you that most pro-life leaders in the United States are (to put it mildly) very unhappy with Cardinal Cupich. It would have been crazy for the bishops to have elected someone that most pro-life leaders (the majority of whom are Catholic and many of whom are generous donors to the Church as well as to a wide array of pro-life charities) can’t work with — not to mention the legions of pro-life Catholics in the pew, most of whom know very well which of the bishops really support them and their work. Why this is not getting any attention, I don’t know. But I do know that a lot of pro-life leaders were aghast at the idea of Cardinal Cupich being elected to that position. Surely the bishops all know this and took it into account.

    • And they have every reason to be VERY, VERY unhappy with Cardinal Cupich, given his embrace of and strong support for the long-since-discredited “seamless garment” falsehoods spouted by his predecessor once-removed as Archbishop of Chicago, the late, unlamented Cardinal Joseph Bernardin (whose legacy the “Chicago Catholic” (Archdiocesan newspaper) celebrated last November, on the 20th anniversary of Bernardin’s death (of cancer)), and given his gutting of Catholic participation in 40 Days for Life in the Archdiocese of Chicago in the last couple of years. (The only difference between what he did here and what he did in Spokane is that, in Chicago, he did not issue a PUBLIC edict to his priests not to participate in 40 Days for Life; but he most certainly did issue that edict to all the Archdiocesan priests privately, and not for publication.)

    • One of the biggest errors of faithful and traditional Catholics is that they still give money to their Church, while they can know that this money will be used for liberal causes. We and a number of other families have stopped doing that. We don’t give them a penny anymore and we encourage others to follow the same line of conduct. We use this money now to support traditional(ist) organizations and pro-life and other charities which are completely and unambiguously Catholic. We have come to realize that the only real influence of faithful laity in the Church is by means of the “power of the purse” so to say. The only thing which can force the hierarchs to change course is money. They always follow the money! Therefore we consider it to be our responsibility to point out to them what the conditions are if they want to receive our dollars. And I can tell you, it helps!

    • Let’s not forget about Archbishop Gomez from Los Angeles. He started a Pro-Life march in La about 3 years ago as a “seamless garment” march.

  10. Excellent article by Carl Olson. Very well-written and dead-bang accurate.”

    I do disagree on just one statement, though:

    “My point here is that Bernardin’s approach, however well-intentioned, was a failure in more than one way (mostly, it seems, because it was so easy to misrepresent and misuse).”

    I believe that I made this comment before, on Samuel Gregg’s CWR article a couple of years ago: I don’t think that Cardinal Joseph Bernardin’s “seamless garment” approach to pro-life issues was well-intentioned at all. I think that it was calculated and deliberate – and, for all of his protestations to the contrary in the 1988 National Catholic Register interview cited by Dr. Gregg in his article, I think that he knew EXACTLY what the ramifications and results of that approach would be when he promulgated “seamless garment,” and that he intended those results and ramifications, particularly in giving cover to his pro-abortion, pro-contraception friends and supporters and fellow-travelers who wished to continue to call themselves “Catholic in good standing” and to continue to receive Holy Communion at Mass.

    • A fair point, and one I don’t really disagree with much at all, which is why I offer the broad qualifier “however well-intentioned”. My point, in this essay, is that even if the seamless garment approach was made with the most holy and charitable of intentions, it’s a mess and it won’t be effective.

      • Sometimes I wonder… shouldn’t it be Christian Charity to enlighten those who do not know? As they said, learning about history so we won’t repeat it? Maybe Carl should write about those times of our history. It is dangerous not to know the truth.

  11. ” Radical secularism is has effectively established an anti-Christ moral order centered in the western world and the “smoke of Satan” has certainly entered into the temple. This is what Pope Francis faces in his papacy. ”

    The secularized elites are in control. And yet Latin bishops think they have the authority or influence to persuade them to follow Roman Catholic Social Doctrine (TM).

    Pope Francis won’t be able to do what his predecessors were unable to do, which is to reform the office of the pope.

    So for those in the know: with American civil law and RC canon law as they currently stand, can a bishop be safely excommunicated without the Church losing the property that is under his oversight?

  12. An outstanding article! The comparison of Winters with Dan Brown is a bullseye, and thanks for putting Cardinal Bernardin into proper perspective. This entire article ought to be referenced by many.

  13. One thing to remember is that the of the 232 bishops, at least 9/10 of them are very left-leaning about several things, (immigration being one of the most the obvious), and hardly a single one of them would have been called a “conservative” in 1965 or even 1980. Given that, the choice between Cupich and Naumann was NOT a choice between a conservative and a liberal. It was between a wildly left-fringe radical and a relative moderate.

    And for any bishop with a mind left in his brain pan, the choice should have been obvious: Cupich simply is not pro-life. And he is not an accomplished anything. All he is, really, is a mouthpiece for fringe-leftism in the Church. Why elect a noise-maker, when you can elect someone who might actually DO something? (Keep in mind that the chairman of the pro-life Committee’s main effect is to be a spokesman for media to ask about pro-life issues. He himself doesn’t actually run any programs that amount to anything essential to the pro-life movement. He does sit as chair if they have any real policy decisions to be made, but frankly there isn’t any new policy to decide and hasn’t been since Obamacare was being voted on (which they muffed terribly). The only thing he can really affect is the hiring of new personnel in the secretariat.)

  14. I thought Reno was a Catholic. If he thinks Catholicism is a “bourgeois religion” he should look for a better religion. He is completely wrong, of course; that bishops and priests here and there may have adopted bourgeois attitudes and values is undeniable. But that doesn’t make the Church bourgeois. What a sloppy argument.

  15. Folks having a problem with “bourgeois religion” in this fine piece might remember the recent big church small church exchange between the two Popes. Perhaps the average person of faith can be forgiven such problem hangups, since there is this vast disconnect between Church reality as nicely presented here, and what we see and hear in our churches, diocesan papers bulletins etc. They surely could be more honest.

  16. All truth be told, the middle finger has been in common use in ecclesiastical circles since October 13, 1962 — and then it appeared to have papal approbation.
    It appears to have that weight behind it once again.
    Sean Michael Winters and Massimo Faggioli will have their satisfaction. Just put your self-gratification on hold a year. Fourteen votes are sure to be conjured up before the long awaited end of the Bergoglian debacle.

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