For those of you who don’t know, the American bishops got together last week in St. Louis for their Bishops’ Spring General Assembly. Not too many news stories came out of it, but they provided a nice little hashtag where you can see what some of them have to say on Twitter: #usccb15. As I read through some of the stuff that’s come out of it, I have to think that most of them, not all, are trying to put the cart before the horse.
In the meeting, they discussed things like racism a la Ferguson. They discussed immigration reform. They discussed protecting victims of clergy abuse. They discussed making the poor their top priority. They discussed the Pope’s environmental encyclical (although I can’t for the life of me figure out why Catholics can’t just wait for it to come out before there’s a discussion). All the while the voice screaming in the back of my head is saying, “YOU JUST DON’T GET IT!!!“
How do you guys think you’re going to make headway in any of these areas when you can’t even get a good portion of your flocks to understand that Catholicism is not a nationality? Your flocks like the nostalgia, but they simply don’t believe in it anymore! The pews are empty! You can’t even get them for an hour on Sunday to fulfill their Sunday obligation much less to follow other teachings of the Church. When they do occasionally attend, you’re not even teaching them what a sacrilege it is to receive Our Lord without confession. There’s no belief in the Real Presence. Their whole focus in life is what makes them happy here and now, and they don’t give a thought to eternity. Take a look around! This is where you need to start, gentlemen! Of course, nobody is going to care about the poor, respect life, or respect their fellow human beings when they don’t even attend your churches except on Christmas and Easter. As an organization, this is kind of your fault!
Rather than focusing on the goal of saving the world, you, first and foremost, need to start by saving the souls in the churches of your dioceses. That’s really the only way you’re going to save the rest of the world. If you think the 250 of you can achieve anything without way more of your flock than you have now, good luck. You need to stop talking about all these noble causes (and they are noble) because the reality is, they don’t care beyond their narcissistic selves. They need to first understand that there is a God and an afterlife and it’s going to last a long time, along with about a thousand other things. This is the only way we’re going to revive the army to really make a difference in the world.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. There are some parishes, dioceses, cardinals, bishops, priests, etc. that are Catholic bastions – not nearly enough but it’s looking brighter every day. Some of the members of the USCCB are positively wonderful, and we’re starting to see more and more every week who are stepping up to explain what the heck Catholicism is. They are explaining to their priests, their seminarians, and their flocks that eternal salvation depends on them actually being Catholic with a capital “C”. They are no longer letting cafeteria Catholicism fly.
The latest joining in the chorus was Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, OK. His decision to disassociate from the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice for sponsoring a “gay pride” parade was right on the money, but what he said about it was so simple and yet oh so important! What did he say that was so poignant? He said, “I’m the bishop, and I have to be the bishop.” I’m not entirely sure how that got missed for 30 years by, conservatively, at least half of our bishops, but I’m thrilled that this foreign logic seems to be catching on amongst our spiritual leaders – cardinals on down to priests. It’s about time! Maybe they missed it because they’ve spent so much time trying to accomplish what seems to be the loftier goals. We need the basics now. We need our bishops to be bishops, not superheroes.
This brings me around to my favorite – Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. While there seems to be a lot of platitudes and lofty goals coming out of the USCCB, Archbishop Cordileone is addressing a very real situation. Who knows what the Supreme Court will do regarding marriage? Regardless of their decision, we must make the Catholic decision, despite the fact that it’s going to come at some cost. The USCCB really needs to bring us around to authentic Catholicism and make us understand that there will be a price to pay for it. We’ve been promised no less, right? The Archbishop is a living example of what we have to look forward to when we choose Christ. We’re going to be the targets of lies. We’re going to be threatened. We’re going to suffer verbal abuse. It’s far less epic than hiding in the catacombs, but very painful nonetheless, especially because, in many cases, it’s going to come from some modern-day Judases who claim to be our Catholic brethren, and even our some of our bishops.
While some are petitioning the Holy Father for the removal of Archbishop Cordileone, I’d like to use this humble forum to ask that the Holy Father make Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone the first Cardinal of San Francisco! Make no mistake, I do not wish Archbishop Cordileone to be whisked off to some lofty job in the Holy See. The United States needs him right where he is to bolster his fellow cardinals and bishops for the long road ahead. We’re being persecuted big-time here, dear Holy Father, and we need a man of courage to be elevated for his leadership and convictions, and all need to understand he is espousing the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church. The Archbishop has done nothing more than to echo you. Despite the spin, he has done it in a most humble and loving way. While I might be inclined to say, “Off with their heads,” he has repeatedly gone back to his wayward flock and lovingly taught, taught, and taught some more. Whenever I mention my wish for a Cardinal Cordileone, I am often told, “That will never happen.” Well, Holy Father, you have made your pontificate about doing things out of the norm and a Cardinal Cordileone would be in keeping with your bold pontificate. Please consider my humble request (yes I do realize I just asked the Holy Father to do something but you can’t get if you don’t ask) which I believe could save the Church in the United States from the wasteland of “Catholics in name only” that we’ve become I know I’m not even close to being alone in this request. The faithful want, no, we NEED, that extra validation of someone so visibly willing to be crucified for Christ’s Church. The rest of the laity could use that too.