This Enquiring Catholic Wants to Know.
There are many reasons to abolish the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) which is the legatee of the man who strove to one day become America’s Pope, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. But news accounts that the organization which represents all the Catholic bishops in the U.S. has been lobbying strenuously for passage of ObamaCare justifies a rephrase of this question.
Understand we all agreed when the USCCB fought the pro-abortion provision in the original bill pushed by Mme. Pelosi. But now news comes out…as if we hadn’t suspected it all along…that the concerted bishops’ push was a carrot not a stick. Pelosi was told that unless the offending provision were to be dropped, the bishops would turn thumbs down on ObamaCare. Inferentially: if the provision were to be dropped…as it was…the bishops would push ObamaCare as part of its “social justice” mission.
Several authentic news sources tell the story: Accuracy in Media…The Christian Science Monitor…The Hill, the newspaper of Capitol Hill…NBC News…and Politico the objective Internet feed that disseminates stories on U. S. politics. Politico writes that last Saturday after Catholic lobbyists had completed a deal with Pelosi…purportedly to kill the pro-abortion provision…the USCCB “delivered a critical endorsement” to Pelosi “by signing off on late-night agreement to grant a vote on an amendment barring insurance companies that participate in the exchange from covering abortions.”
I checked yesterday with a number of lawmakers on the Hill including some Democratic House members close to Pelosi-including some pro-life Democrats-and find a good number who told me there was an agreement…passed to them by Pelosi…that the USCCB would cover them if they voted for ObamaCare by publicizing the fact that they were in synch with Catholic social teaching.
Other clues: The Hill newspaper reports that none other than Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) blurted this out which uncovered the USCCB’s intent: “I would like the [Catholic] bishops who as I understand it WANT A BILL, to help us work out a plan where we don’t have winners and losers. Because the losers will make us lose the bill and the winners won’t have won anything.” [Capitalization supplied].
NBC’s Doug Adams has reported substantially the same thing, adding the Catholic bishops were “lobbying hard.” The lobbying wasn’t just to ditch the abortion provision but was conducted with a wink and a nod that if the abortion provision were to be dumped, the Catholic bishops would give thumbs-up on Obama’s plan to encase 1/6th of the economy in a statist straitjacket…with penalties meted out for those who refuse to obey including possibly…as a last resort…being arrested if they didn’t sign up with the bill and bought private insurance.
Don’t expect the USCCB to come forth and say their staffers cooked up the deal while they cast their eyes heavenward in pseudo prayer. . But that’s the way it was. Candor is not how politics works-and remember, politics as we know it was invented almost 2000 years ago by ecclesiastically garbed wily church operatives including some wheeler-dealers who would make Rahm Emanuel look like Francis of Assisi. In fact a study of unvarnished Catholic church history convinced Bob Novak to convert, saying that he now had proof the Church founded by Jesus Christ is divine since it survived a long line of willful skullduggers down through the centuries…that and at the same time produced magisterial thinkers such as Ambrose, Aquinas and Augustine.
St. Joseph Bernardin: Patron of Liberal Pols, RIP.
Of my time here on earth, I count the most Machievellian political strategist, ace wheeler-dealer, master manipulator of all to be Cardinal Joseph Bernardin…,intellectual legatee of Thomas Cardinal Wolsey… who was gifted with the Italianate skills plus charm and who was not burdened by undue concern with theology or philosophy since he had been relatively free of both, having been educated largely in public schools until he stepped into the seminary. Bernardin as junior auxiliary bishop got himself appointed executive director of what was then the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. The group then was a sleepy, indolent, lethargic repository of wrist-slashingly turgid tracts which the young Bernardin was supposed to preside like a librarian. He took the group and transformed it into a powerhouse, got himself familiarized with various papal nuncios and soon became the clearinghouse for approval of men who would be nominated for ordination as bishops by the Vatican. He became the go-to guy-for Rome which wanted to test the pulse of Catholic U. S. and for the U. S. bishops…too busy to worry about politics… who wanted to test the pulse of Rome. Joe was the guy.
Bernardin ran it efficiently much as a Democratic Chicago ward-committeeman does his office. He would politic around clergy who wanted to ascend upward and made sure those who were promoted recognized that they got where they wanted to go due to Bernardin’s imprimatur. Then he would use them as endorsers of his own future ascent to the topmost tower-becoming a Prince of the Church. While he was climbing, to Rome, the sagacious Bernardin maintained eyes-cast-heavenward as an authenticist. To the U. S. Bernardin chafed at Rome and built a coterie of palsy liberals. By the time his tenure was up with the Bishops, Joe Bernardin had ingratiated himself to Rome as a definite comer and had built an organization of those bishops indebted to him. By the time he was named archbishop of Chicago and then festooned with the red hat, he had greased the way for countless surrogates-not all in the sublime state of grace.
Say this about Joe, he could run things. A helluva manager. A helluva politician who could get every secular pol on the phone who mattered. His main goal was to invest liberalism as a handmaiden of the Church. A sample of his brilliant ingenuity: right-to-life. Here Democratic Catholic candidates were running on a pro-abort platform and running into trouble with some authenticist priests and the mewing sheep in the pews. Good ol’ Joe had the answer. He got himself “elected” chair of the outfit he used to serve as a staffer-chair of the USCCB. Then he concocted a phony theology of “life” which linked abortion with nuclear freeze (then it was popular with the Left) and opposition to the death penalty. He called it the “seamless garment.” One of his close assistants had thought of the name since Joe in his youth was not overly-stressed with biblical theology. They said, “You know, Joe: John 19-23, the part where after Christ’s crucifixion the soldiers cast lots for his garment that had no seams. What’s better than this for all the issues the Dems need to show they’re `pro life’?”
The beauty of it is that it can be everlastingly adapted in the future to catch even more liberals. Suppose you want to add…oh let us say…PETA (People Favoring the Ethical Treatment of Animals”…or Vegetarianism. All fit smoothly. Also various legislative enactments-expanded welfare to benefit life, world government to benefit peace which benefits life. Get it? All under the rubric of life. A genius thought. it early in 1984 when Fritz Mondale, the pro-abort, was running against Ronald Reagan and Reagan was clobbering him to death with Catholics for being pro-life when Mondale was not. Along comes Joe and unveils his plan and lo! Mondale tops Reagan 2 to 1 on pro-life issues. Good old Joe. No wonder he got the Presidential Medal of Freedom conferred from the hands of Bill Clinton himself. Enough Catholic votes were corralled with Joe’s device to put Slick Willie in the White House.
You get the idea. By the time he received another call…which he couldn’t defer…Joe had built an impeccable temple for the Bishops as custodians of liberalism who can use the seamless garment as a mantle to embrace the entire library of liberalism.
Not all bishops are liberal-but the good ones are so busy running their dioceses that they’ve delegated their role to the USCCB. Now we have a Chicago successor to Joe Bernardin who runs it…or has been elected to run it and for whom numberless liberals run it for him and who when they’re questioned are quick to parse-parse-parse-parse: huh? What do you mean liberal? What do you mean “Democratic”? The social teachings of the Church necessitate that…
Legendary Fr. Ernie Returns!
Stow it. For a review of the social teachings of the church I turned back to my shorthand notes from 1946 and dear old Fr. Ernie (Fr. Ernest Kilzer, OSB, Ph.D) and his philosophy-theology classes.
MAY 4, 1946 and we go to Ernie:
“Now we come to the matter of social justice. As a human right, property is the moral power that a man has to dispose of a thing and its utility according to that man’s will, independently of others but there is a qualification. And what is it…let me call on one who has a great deal of property, standing in line to receive the ownership someday of the Matthew Hall Lumber Company of St. Cloud, Minnesota-Mr. Bede Hall. Mr. Hall, what moral power constrains you from utilizing your potential ownership of your father’s lumber yard? Huh? You say what sir? You don’t know? Well, sir, that would be bad news indeed for your employees, would it not?
“You will be constrained, Mr. Hall with ownership provided…and take it down sir…provided there is no infringement on the coorrelative rights of others! It is well to understand, gentlemen, that our right to acquire and possess permanent property is DIVINELY APPROVED. Get that? Divinely approved…since the contrary theory is Marxism which denies that people have a right to private ownership of everything.
“Let me ask Mr. Roeser: How does the Decalogue defend the holding of private property? Think, Mr. Roeser, THINK! I know it’s early in the morning but THINK! You say you cannot think or that you cannot deduce the answer? I repeat the question to this class-the question: How does the Decalogue written by God Himself sanction the holding of private property? Anyone? Well here is the answer.
” The Decalogue FORBIDS THEFT! Without private property theft is meaningless, is it not? Let me say that down through the ages, our Church has defended the right to property and ownership as a kind of two-edged sword. It obligates others to respect the property of an individual. And it condemns anyone who does what does not belong to him. Pushed on both sides…between those who say that private property ownership can lead to abuses…and those who say that to counter this ownership is sinful…the Church steers between those two extremes. Remember this, Mr. Hall when you run your family’s lumber mill and I come to you as a customer.”
How would Ernie, in his grave for two decades, feel that the Conference of bishops of his Church are lobbying for ObamaCare?
Better still, YOU TELL ME at firstname.lastname@example.org
And say a Pater and Ave to Fr, Ernie to safeguard us from the USCCB. Better still-when the basket comes `round to support this liberal claptrap masquerading as social justice, clasp your hands together in prayer and look up at a distance. Some day…some day…we will muster the guts to demand the cynical manipulation known as USCCB be disbanded along with the misnamed Catholic Campaign for “Human Development.”