By Charlie Johnston
Despite efforts to get the Vatican to shut it down – and then efforts to allow unlimited discussion to filibuster the idea, the American Catholic Bishops voted overwhelmingly last week to go forward preparing a document on Eucharistic coherence. The issue now goes to committee to be drafted for full consideration by all the Bishops at their annual conference this November. It will have plenty of hurdles. The final product will have to be voted on by all the Bishops. But going forward passed by a vote of 168-55, a 75% landslide.
This is a huge deal. No, it doesn’t mean that all is smooth sailing from here on out or that the orthodox position will regularly prevail. What it DOES mean is that the orthodox Bishops in America have found their voice and confidence. The heterodox caucus, led by Chicago’s Cdl. Blase Cupich, did everything in their power to strangle this in the cradle. This is after years of Cupich helpfully bullying and telling America’s Bishops that he speaks for the Pope. The Bishops of the USCCB have clearly decided that if the Pope wants to take a heterodox position, he can speak for himself. Mistakes may come, but no one with a mitre is going to be browbeaten into quietly keeping their head down when they get the bum’s rush, anymore. The magnificent Dr. Robert Royal, editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, rightly calls this an American Catholic Rubicon. His beautiful final paragraph almost brings me to tears:
“Our American bishops have done something brave, even beautiful. And they will face turbulent and ugly days because of it. They didn’t start this fight, and some – who were not responsible for the poor catechesis we’ve suffered with for decades – will pay the price for others who were lax or reluctant to speak out. But they’ve faced a defining moment square on. Win or lose in the political arena, they deserve our respect and gratitude.”
I am deeply heartened and unabashedly proud of our American Bishops in this glorious moment. May they ever recall the Lorica of St. Patrick as they remain focused on what they truly are called to be: Apostles of the Living Christ.
With their usual ignorance, officials on the left and the idiot media are trying to explain Catholicism to the Bishops without benefit of any knowledge of Catholic doctrine. The last movie I can recall seeing that had images of active Mass that did not get big things wrong was 1973’s The Exorcist. I know the left hates us, but one would think they would at least try to get some idea of what they are talking about when they attack us.
These anti-God leftist clowns have two contradictory stereotypes of what Catholics must do – whose use they vary depending on which is most convenient to their narrative. In the first errant belief, they attribute unlimited authority to the Pope and Bishops over all aspects of our lives. Wrong. No matter what the Pope or my Bishop think about what kind of car I must get, it is none of their business (even though the Pope seems quite enthused about coal-powered cars, otherwise known as electric cars). Simultaneously the leftists think Catholics reserve the right to disagree publicly with the Church on fundamental, defined doctrine and still remain Catholic. Wrong again. Catholics can, with deep respect, giving full weight to what is taught after STUDYING it and the logic behind it, dissent from even some Magisterial teaching that is not defined. However, no Catholic can publicly attack fundamental defined teaching and remain Catholic. To do so is to publicly excommunicate oneself, regardless of how many Rosaries one carries for photo ops. Daniel J. Bonagura, Jr. has a nice piece at the Catholic Thing that is a basic primer on the extent of – and limitations – of the Church’s authority over Catholic’s lives. It won’t make one an expert, but if leftists would read it before launching their bromides, at least they would not make such obvious mistakes, working from ludicrously false premises.
The media and leftist officials are trying to make this a dispute over whether Joe Biden and other Catholic officials who publicly attack defined doctrinal issues can be denied communion. There are so many things wrong with this framing, it is hard to know where to start.
First, it is not the duty of a Priest or Bishop to determine worthiness to receive, except where there is public scandal attached. It is the duty of the would-be communicant to refrain from receiving if he is in a state of mortal sin. Despite the vast, accumulated knowledge of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nancy Pelosi, St. Paul knows a bit more about the subject than they do. And St. Paul says that anyone who knowingly receives while in a state of mortal sin profanes the body of the Lord and condemns himself. The charitable thing for a Priest who knew of an unconfessed mortal sin of someone who sought to receive would be to get him aside later and explain that if he continues to do this, he condemns himself to hell.
When someone publicly attacks fundamental defined Catholic doctrine, they are functionally excommunicant…and if the Priest or Bishop knows about it and allows them to receive anyway, then the cleric is also guilty of the blood of the Lord, while openly encouraging public scandal and diluting the doctrinal foundation of the Church. Catholics believe that, at the moment of consecration, the host becomes the true Body and Blood of the Lord, while retaining the species of bread and wine. To intentionally profane Him is to be damned. The very reason for the Hierarchy is to guide people away from such a horrible end, not to assure them they are okay just as they are, even as they are plunging into the inferno.
The frantic efforts of those who think they are preserving unity by denying the truths of the faith are damning those caught in their snares – and themselves – to hell if they do not repent. Of course, if you don’t really believe in God or hell and think receiving is a useful way of conning the folksies, you don’t much care anyway. But it has stunned me these last few decades to see so many prelates willing to sacrifice their own eternal lives to avoid any blowback in this world.
What serious Christian can fail to be inspired by the example of Canadian Pastor Artur Pawlowski, who defied authorities’ commands that he shut down Christian worship? Now he faces four years in prison and millions in fines for the crime of holding Easter worship services in Calgary, Canada.
Pawlowski was born in Poland. He knows about Communism and authoritarianism – and he is not about to buckle down to it in North America. May God be with him and with all of us as he tours the United States while out on bail, awaiting his trial.
At the beginning of the month, I had to be in Texas, and joined Jim and Elizabeth Graham for dinner at Bishop Rene Gracida’s home on the occasion of his 98th birthday. The Grahams, of course, are the guiding lights of Texas Right to Life, the strongest most effective pro-life organization in the world. I love Bishop Gracida’s home, in part, because the knocker on his front door is a metal squirrel. Gotta love it!
He began the evening with a half-hour exorcism prayer in his chapel by Pope Leo XIII that is reserved to Bishops. CORAC was included by me in the intentions for this one. One of the things that has struck me over the years is that, though he often writes in thundering tones, Bishop Gracida has a tender, servant’s heart that he wears on his sleeve in private. He spends a long time pondering how best to draw people back to the safety that is in Christ. Yes, we disagree on a few things here and there, but I am so glad he is my brother in Christ – and my friend. I was delighted when I saw that The Catholic Monitor awarded Gracida this year’s Winston Churchill Award.
I got to wondering this last week whether Bp. Gracida might be the oldest living Bishop in the world – and did some checking. He is currently the ninth oldest Bishop in the world, but the oldest living Bishop in the United States. Boy, are we going to have a blowout celebration when he hits the top of the charts!
This weekend we will celebrate together at our first annual CORAC Conference in the Black Hills of South Dakota. All are welcome! There’s still time to make a last-minute reservation if you have not signed up yet – and find you will have the weekend open. We have one heck of a line-up of speakers and events, as you can see from the link. One last-minute change is that David Daleiden will speak at 7 p.m. on Friday and Desmond Birch will speak at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Daleiden will be there all day Friday (and he is looking forward to networking with our CORAC crowd), but he will have to go back to California on Saturday morning. I hope to see you there, where we will break bread and reason together.