Silence of the Shepherds

Undoubtedly, you have heard the latest horror from America’s national butcher: Planned Parenthood sells aborted children’s body parts.  That’s the edited video.  Here’s the full nearly three hours of footage.  The original article from the Center for Medical Progress.  If you don’t want to watch the video, here’s the tone of it:

“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part.”

“I’d say a lot of people want liver.”

Gruesome as it is, murderers selling their victims’ organs is hardly surprising.  As Michael Brendan Dougherty says, “There is no one part of abortion that is more horrifying than abortion itself.”

The scandal draws attention once again to the impotence of the American Church’s hierarchy, and the unwillingness of American bishops to prevent the deliberate flaunting of Church teaching by prominent “catholic” politicians and public figures.

For the past several decades, American bishops have been unwilling to do the necessary and valuable work of educating their flocks, especially publicly combating scandal on the part of Catholic public figures.  Think Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry, who manage to be two of the most prominent “Catholic” politicians while simultaneously being two of the most ardent advocates for Planned Parenthood’s horror shop.

This trend has its modern roots in the hierarchy’s treatment of John F. Kennedy, when Catholic bishops worked both privately and publicly to protect the interests of a political candidate despite clear statements that his faith came second to political office.  Even then-auxiliary bishop of Washington, D.C. and Kennedy confidant Philip Hannan admitted, “Kennedy went overboard in emphasizing his independence from the Catholic Church.”  But Catholic bishops said nothing publicly.

For years the proper response to politicians’ abortion advocacy was a clear statement that supporting abortion through a political position separates a person from the Church’s teaching.  Instead, many bishops treated abortion advocates much the same as they treated priests who molested children – ignoring them and covering it up when they could, admonishing them when they couldn’t, rarely strenuously objecting, and at all times trying to change the subject.  To be sure, some bishops have made an issue of it, but these instances have been few and far between over the past 40 years.

Where has this silence left American Catholicism?  In 2013, a majority of white Catholics believed abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and a near majority of Hispanic Catholics said the same.  At least a third of American Catholics believe that having an abortion is morally acceptable.  50 million babies have been killed in a few decades, but how often have you heard an abortion homily on Sunday, much less a comment from the local bishop?  Remember, the majority of self-identified Catholics voted for a president who said, “God bless you” to Planned Parenthood.

This is why the Benedict Option’s refocusing is necessary.  Bishops have, by their own silence, cover up, and complicity, allowed Catholicism to be diluted in the public mind on issues from the sex abuse scandal to abortion.  If we can’t teach Catholics themselves what the Church teaches, how can we expect to explain it to non-Catholics?  If we can’t prevent or denounce scandal from Catholic politicians, how can we effectively convert people to the Church and keep them in the fold?

But the failure to instruct Catholics about the faith pales in comparison to the half-hearted or non-existent efforts on the part of many bishops to pressure abortion mills in their dioceses to close.  If Auschwitzian merchants of death and body parts were within your diocesan borders, what would you do?  Pray frequently outside of the abortion mills yourself?  Instruct the faithful at each Mass to pray and protest?  “Remind every person and organization involved” that they are “cooperating with the evil that will take place there”?  At the very least.

When Pope Francis speaks before Congress, in front of the very lawmakers who have decried lifesaving legislation and championed death dealers, will he denounce their complicity with evil?  Will he recognize America’s legacy of mass murder?  Will he condemn those who seek to drape themselves in the flag of Catholicism yet support the worst attacks on human life in opposition to Catholic teaching?  We know he will talk about the poor.  But as Flannery O’Connor put it, you can’t be any poorer than dead.

More on Planned Parenthood: It’s tough to tell Planned Parenthood apart from the Nazis.  Eichmann, Nucatola, and the banality of evil.  By any standard, Planned Parenthood is evil.  This is the reality of abortion.  More videos to come.  Congress will investigate them, as will many states.  Brendan Foht: reform the law.  More lies, more violations, more disrespect of women.  You can add human flesh to your online shopping cart; Planned Parenthood is the Amazon of fetal parts.  You know it’s bad when satire accurately describes reality.

The condescending signaling of a certain kind of Catholic: “Father Sawyer actually called the video “deeply unfair” and seemed sympathetic to Nucatola’s “moving explanation of how she ended up focusing her practice as a physician on abortion.” I forget: Does the catechism on life require that the abortionist’s motives should be considered before condemnation of the act?”

John Kass: “what if evil eats a salad at lunch and is polite, speaking rationally with nice table manners? . . . The powerful have always legalized their subjugation of the less powerful. And in the modern world, there is nothing less powerful than life in the womb.”

Capitalism and the Pope

Patrick Buchanan has a question: “What is the superior system the pope believes we should adopt?”

“The pontiff says the capitalist ‘idolatry of money’ creates ‘the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose.’  But it is egalitarianism that has proven to be the road to dictatorship, dictatorships run by egalitarians in the name of the ‘proletariat.’”

Samuel Gregg on the problem of the Pope’s economic populism: “[O]ne wonders whether Pope Francis and his advisors have ever studied the respective merits of free trade versus protectionism.  My suspicion is they haven’t, since tariffs and subsidies are precisely what allow already-wealthy countries to limit developing countries’ access to global markets.  By definition, it’s protectionism that is an economy of exclusion — not free trade….

“Incidentally, Francis’s address contained not a word about the contributions of populist Latin American regimes to the region’s problems.  Here his remarks reflected a common Latin American blind-spot: a reluctance to concede that many of Latin America’s difficulties are self-inflicted, and often by governments elected by a majority of voters.

“When asked about the pope’s address, the Holy See’s spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi SJ, described it as part of a “dialogue.” Meaningful dialogue, however, involves an exchange of views in the pursuit of truth. Alas, there’s no evidence that Francis is listening, for example, to Christians who respect his authority as Peter’s Successor, who don’t think he’s a socialist, who share his commitment to reducing economic exclusion, but who respectfully suggest that some of his economic commentary is incoherent and inattentive to evidence.  The pope’s avoidance of other views on these issues is odd, since he acknowledges that faithful Catholics can disagree about how to address contemporary economic challenges.”

Carl Olson: “[T]here are plenty of times, in reading his many addresses and texts, that I’ve thought, ‘Has he never thought about this? Or been told about that?’ In other words, Francis often gives the impression that he hasn’t contemplated perspectives or sides of issues that really should be considered.”

George Weigel has more on the issue: “[T]he Vatican’s institutional memory seems to retain little from either the teaching or the accomplishment of John Paul II.”

Francis did admit he doesn’t understand financial matters well and needs to study American criticisms: ‘I heard that there were some criticisms from the United States. I must begin studying these criticisms, no?’ he said. ‘Then we shall dialogue about them.’

“Interestingly for a pontiff who has made economic justice a central theme, Francis said he’s generally ‘allergic’ to financial matters. Of accounting, he said: ‘I don’t understand it very well.’”

An inside look at Francis’s papacy from the Papal Master of Ceremonies: The Pope may “elaborate new concepts,” changing his focus to the middle class of North America.

Three things I wish Pope Francis knew about a free economy.  Francis denounces free economies, but has never experienced one.

Though John Allen tries to spin Francis’s admissions of fallibility as a new approach, Benedict made similar comments as well.  In other news, water is wet and the pope is human.

Here’s the collection of Pope Francis’s 23 talks in Latin America.  And here’s the full text of the Pope’s in-flight interview from Paraguay to Rome.

Thoughts on the theology of the papacy and the calling popes have to suffer.

Living the Benedict Option

Pia de Solenni: “[P]arishes frequently invite me to speak about the difficult teachings of the Catholic Church, particularly when there’s an election or proposed legislation that contradicts a core teaching of the Church.

“Here’s the thing.  It doesn’t work very well.  The problem lies in the fact that, by and large, we are evangelizing through the legislature, the ballots, and the courts.  An issue comes up and a small, convicted group will support local Church leadership.  Maybe the initiative gets stopped, but it’s only for a while.  If we are to have a vibrant future, to be more than a cultural relic, we have to find a way to evangelize that is not issue driven, but Christ centered.  Someone who has been evangelized likely will take appropriate civic action.  Instead, we often wait until the political issue comes up and then we try to teach what the Church proposes.

“It’s backwards.  The catechesis and evangelization needed to happen a long time before the ballot initiative, or whatever current catalyst.”

English and Welsh bishops are hoping to establish “evangelization teams” to create “missionary parishes.”  This is precisely the kind of venture that has no hope of working unless the parish community itself is already an attractive place to worship.  The problem with trying to develop and maintain relationships with people outside the parish community is that if your parish community appears to have nothing of substance to offer, no one will want to maintain a relationship with it.  Without first strengthening our own communities, we cannot expect others to want to join them and remain in them.

Matthew Schmitz on Catholicism’s future in America: “American Catholicism will have to become more Catholic and less American…. Christians need to reclaim their church calendar — including Friday fasting, real Sabbath observance, and the many feast days.”

Tuesday was the 445th anniversary of the promulgation of Quo Primum which ushered in the age of the Tridentine Mass.

Truth is real.  Facts are true.  Denying the truth is not love.  Separating facts from truth out of sensitivity is causing American schools to become bastions of anti-intellectualism.

What does the prayer really say: Father Z on the grace to live properly.

Catholic Navel-Gazing

Jessica Kidwell claims that modern America treats Catholics like Stuart England did: “Does this sound at all familiar? In our time, the Oath of Allegiance is mandatory for public Catholics, clergy included.  They are all expected to profess that our godless government with all its overreaches is the rightful one, and that the teachings of the Catholic Church cannot have a say in what that godless government does.  This is exactly what is happening now.  You have to check your Catholicism at the door if you want to have a seat at the table.”

Cardinal Pell pushed back against some of the scientific proclamations of Laudato Si.

George Weigel on the enduring problem of progressive Catholic authoritarianism.

Liberal Catholicism: really no different from the mindset of the secular world.

Rationalism, romanticism, and the traditional bent of young Catholics.

Church, state, and religious freedom: Ottaviani and Vatican II.

The German Church continues to crater, though this hasn’t stopped German cardinals from thinking the global Church should adopt their ideas.

Relics reiterate the Incarnation.

Remembering the Smiling Pope, John Paul I.

The imaginary Becket Fund conspiracy.

Culturally Catholic

Michael Rennier has a beautiful essay touching on the themes of The Little Prince: “If we care for one another, we deny ourselves for their sake, even if this means we sometimes get hurt. It is worth the risk because the only other alternative, as Pope St. John Paul II argues again and again, is to treat every other person as an object. The cost of not daring to love is to miss the point of our existence entirely.”

Books for cultivating honorable boys.

Catholic comedian Jim Gaffigan’s show premiered this week and Kate O’Hare has two pieces on it: one on Gaffigan’s journey to become faithful and one on his relationship with his priest, real and fictional.

Book review: The Noonday Devil.

Exploring the spiritual roots and literary lives of the Inklings.  J.R.R. Tolkien’s letter to his son about soul-mates and marriage.

Former MLB All-Star on his Catholic faith.

Father Schall on Pascal, seriousness, humor, truth, and wine.

Pope Benedict had three wonderful general audience talks on St. Bonaventure, whose feast we celebrated this past week.  Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.  Feast for this week: St. James the Greater.

Growing in the faith through farming and self-sufficiency.


The Tenth Circuit, in violation of Supreme Court jurisprudence, ruled that the Little Sisters of the Poor must comply with the Obamacare contraceptive mandate.  Here’s the full decision.  The Little Sisters reiterated their commitment to their faith.  Phil Lawler: can you explain this to the Tenth Circuit?

Vatican supports U.S.-Iran nuclear agreement because it ended in an agreement, not because of what that agreement entailed.

Vatican postpones sex abuse trial of ex-nuncio due to unexpected illness.

Marriage and Obergefell

The coming attacks on religious schools and charities post-Obergefell.

Untethering sacramental marriage from civil marriage by Luma Simms: “Much has been smuggled into Christian culture under the guise of cultural engagement—much of this in direct opposition to Christ and the sacred Scriptures.  The untethering of sacramental marriage from the long arm of the state, the ceasing of priests and pastors to act in persona state, is not disengagement and isolationist.  To the contrary, it is the Church being salt and light—it will be the lighthouse which will weather the chaotic storms of a debauched culture—a post-Obergefell culture—a beacon for man after he tires of his prodigal ways.”

Jeff Mirus on the religious liberty defense: “The danger, then, of over-emphasizing religious liberty is that to do so undervalues the truth…Sadly, when facing a government which has no basis for its moral enactments, we may be tempted to stress religious liberty too much because we think it will play well among our neighbors, and so win a respite from persecution. But if we do this, we are very likely to obscure a more important personal, social and political principle: Our claims can be honored only so far because we believe them, but they must be honored completely if they are true.

Ryan Anderson: Marriage and heresy.  George Weigel: A taste of what awaits the Church.


Shop peddling “dung of the devil” sees huge spike in sales after Pope Francis’s visit.

Cardinal Biffi, former Archbishop of Bologna, dead at 87.  Edward Pentin: remembering Cardinal Biffi.  Humor, realism, and culture characterized his life.

Not that it needed this confirmation, but UNESCO named the Jordan riverbank where it is believed that John baptized Jesus a world heritage site.

Benedict XVI returns to Rome after two-week vacation.

Francis accepts the resignation of two more bishops.

The Vatican bank scandal no one is talking about.  More information on the Vatican’s financials, including an operations surplus.

Eight causes for beatification advance.

Just for Fun

Donald Trump no longer considering Pope Francis as his running mate.

Thank You

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