30th Sunday of Ordinary Time

What I’m going to say today may make some of you mad. If so, I’m sorry. But the word “Gospel” means truth and my job is to tell you the truth, so that’s what I’m going to do.

 

In just over a week and a half, we’ll be asked to vote in an historic election. For several weeks Father and I have been receiving letters and emails from the Church telling us what we can and can’t do or say before we all go to the polls. We recently got a 2-page document called “Is It Legal? What Churches Can and Cannot Do During Elections.”

 

The gist of the thing is that a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization (that’s us) can’t support or oppose a candidate for public office under the threat of losing our tax-exempt status. Some of the things we can’t do are to give a homily urging you to vote for or against a particular candidate or label a candidate in the bulletin as pro or anti-abortion (I’ll come back to that one in a minute) We also can’t distribute materials or allow others to distribute pamphlets on church property. There are some other things, but I think you get the point.

 

Not to be outdone, the US Conference of Bishops, who never use a single word when a paragraph will say the same thing, has issued their own 42 page document called “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” which says exactly the same thing, “don’t tell ‘em who to vote for”.

 

But, here’s the thing. There is a way around this, and I quote: “It should be noted that the Internal Revenue Code applies to tax-exempt corporations and not to individuals. Individuals are free to participate in the political process, to endorse and support candidates.   Individuals who are officials of a tax-exempt organization, however, should make it clear when speaking publically that their endorsement and support is being made in their individual capacity, not on behalf of the tax-exempt organization.”

 

So, let me be clear. What you’re hearing today is me, not Saint John Nepomuk Chapel.

 

Normally I wouldn’t wade into such deep water but several things are different about this election cycle and I think they’re worth talking about. One is that a lot of prominent Catholic clergy have spoken out about our choice next month. Among them are Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, RI Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Archbishop Kurtz of Louisville who is President of the US Conference of Bishops and local boy made good, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York.

 

As you probably know, Wikileaks has released a batch of emails from Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. Among them are several from Clinton campaign operatives bashing the Catholic Church. Here’s what Cardinal Dolan had to say: “The remarks attributed to John Podesta, who is Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff, are just extraordinarily patronizing and insulting to Catholics. What he would say is offensive. And if it had been said about the Jewish community, if it had been said about the Islamic community, within 10 minutes there would have been an apology.” As of today, there has been no apology. In fact, Tim Kaine, Clinton’s running mate, who claims to be a devout Catholic said on FOX News, “I don’t think an apology is necessary because what they were essentially getting at here was just a difference in opinion with the Catholic hierarchy.” 

 

That “difference of opinion” includes calling the Church medieval and sexist. It also calls for a “Catholic spring”, a revolution within the Church to change its views. This is an obvious reference to the Arab Spring.  The Arab Spring was a revolutionary wave of both violent and non-violent demonstrations, protests, riots, coups and civil wars.

 

So, speaking for myself, and not as Saint John Nepomuk Chapel, I think that if (1) the Clinton campaign has attacked our Church and (2) if Bishops, Archbishops, and even a Cardinal have spoken out, then the IRS probably isn’t going to come after a lowly deacon. Besides, since this church has been operating in the red for years, there’s nothing for them to tax.

 

Mrs. Clinton, herself, in a speech to a women’s group said that we (Catholics and Evangelical Christians) were just going to have to change our religious views. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.” Seriously, that’s what she said. And here I thought our Constitution guaranteed religious freedom. Silly me.

 

Of course, all this controversy involves abortion. Mrs. Clinton has pledged to uphold and even increase the availability of abortion throughout the entire nine months of pregnancy. She has also promised to overturn the Hyde Amendment which means our tax dollars would be used to pay for all those abortions. Mr. Kaine, her allegedly Catholic running mate has used the tired liberal cliché, “I’m personally opposed to abortion, but I don’t feel like I can impose my views on others.” Maybe somebody should send this guy a copy of the Catechism. Here’s what it says, “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.” And, “Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense.”

 

The Church tells us that “formal cooperation” includes passing laws that legalize abortion and voting for so-called “pro-choice” candidates.

 

Granted, neither major party candidate is perfect. Donald Trump’s stand on immigration and keeping certain immigrants out of the country based on their religious beliefs is contrary to Church teaching. But he’s never attacked our Church and, while he’s not said a lot about abortion one way or the other, he’s not promised to make abortion easier to get, or to make you and me pay for it.

 

And, it’s important for all of us to remember that in four or even eight years, our next president will make appointments that will shape the Supreme Court, and all courts, for decades. As Catholic Christians we need to step up and defend our rights or we may wake up one day and find we don’t have any rights.

 

I don’t expect anyone to vote one way or the other because I said so. In fact, your vote is between you and God. All I’m asking you to do is pray about this before you vote. Ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit. And do your homework. Go online and Google “Clinton and abortion” or “Clinton and Catholic”. You’ll be amazed at what you find. This election will shape our country for decades. Please take it seriously and don’t sit it out.

 

 

 

Obama Administration Steps up its War Against the Catholic Church

The latest salvo in the war between the current administration and the Church has been fired.  Priests are being threatened with arrest if they celebrate mass on military bases.  Catholic chaplains have been furloughed due to the current government shut-down.  OK, that’s not OK but it’s understandable.  What is outrageous is the government’s threat to jail Catholic priests who VOLUNTEER to celebrate mass for Catholic troops.

In a story from Fox News, Todd Starnes outlines the current state of affairs.  “At least one chaplain was told that if he engaged in any ministry activity, he would be subjected to disciplinary action.”    Catholic baptisms and weddings have also been banned.

This is a blatant effort on the part of the administration to discriminate against Catholics who have volunteered to serve their country.  I wonder if the same ban is in effect for Muslim clergy?  What do you think?

Please read this op-ed piece by John Schlageter, General Council for the Archdiocese of the Military Services of the United States.

 

40 Myths About the Catholic Church–“The Jesus Cookie”

“Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.

For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”  John 6:53-56

Isn’t it ironic that so many protestants who insist that everything in the Bible be taken literally write this passage off as being only symbolic?  They believe that God could part the Red Sea, that Jonah could escape from the belly of the giant fish, and that Jesus could walk on water, but somehow they can’t imagine that Jesus could make His Body and Blood present in bread and wine.  Let’s read on:

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you?What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?  It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him.cAnd he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”

As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.

OK.  Jesus has been sent by His Heavenly Father to proclaim the good news and to create a Church, gathering as many disciples as possible.  He’s doing pretty well, then He makes this statement.  “Eat my Body and drink My Blood.” and people start to walk away.  They left.  Shouldn’t Jesus have stopped them?  Shouldn’t He have said, “Wait!  I was only speaking symbolically!  Don’t leave.”

But He didn’t.  He knew what He was saying was true and He knew how He was going to make it happen.  Tomorrow we will celebrate Holy Thursday.  It’s the day we celebrate Jesus’ last meal with His disciples and His creation of the Eucharist.  It was at this Passover meal that He said,

“Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body, which will be given up for you.”

Then, when supper was ended he held up the cup and said,

“Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood, the Blood of the new and everlasting covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Do this in memory of Me.”

This is what the late Paul Harvey would have called “the rest of the story”.  Taken along with the quote from John’s Gospel, this explains what is happening.  He told them to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood, and now He’s explaining how they can do that.  He commands us to do this in memory of Him.  It’s almost an insult to Jesus to think that He couldn’t do this.  He’s God.  He can do whatever He wants.

Sure, there’s some mystery attached to the Eucharist, just like there’s some mystery to everything else He does.  We’re called to have faith.  If everything were crystal clear, if the bread and wine changed their appearance and texture at the Consecration, then faith wouldn’t be necessary.  We sing at the Benediction of Holy Hour, “Faith will tell us God is present, when our human senses fail.”  The bread and wine change to the Body and Blood of Christ but our “human senses” just aren’t sharp enough to see it.  Again, our belief is based on faith.

So, what’s the deal with anti-Catholics who take such vile offense in our belief in the Eucharist?  What’s their problem?  The phrase “Jesus Cookie” is one that anti-Catholic Jack Chick uses in many of his works.  It’s a phrase that’s designed to get a response from Catholics.  It’s about as offensive a statement as someone can make about our beliefs.  We must realize that when someone has no logic or facts to support their position, they often resort to name- calling and abusive language hoping to get a rise out of their opponent.

Some haters refer to Catholics as “cannibals” because we eat Jesus.  Former Catholic Jim Walker writes,

“Not only did I drink blood and eat flesh, but they made me do it in front of a statue of a bloody corpse hanging by nails on two pieces of lumber, a representation of the human whom I had just eaten. (Imagine eating a hamburger in front of an image of a freshly slain cow.)”

Obviously that’s a ridiculous statement.  The appearance of the bread and wine doesn’t change.  It tastes like bread and wine.  It looks like bread and wine.  But the essence of Jesus Christ is contained in both substances.  When we consume the Eucharist we aren’t taking a bite out of Jesus or just drinking a sip of His blood.  His entire Body and Blood are contained in each particle of bread and each drop of wine.

I think the real issue is this.  It takes a heap 0f faith to believe that Jesus can change bread and wine into His Body and Blood.  It’s so hard to believe that only true believers can accept it.  If a person refuses to accept this teaching the problem isn’t with the teaching or with the teacher, the problem is with that person’s lack of faith.  Rather than admit their weakness they choose to ridicule those of us who do have faith.

How sad it must be to be a nonbeliever.

 

40 Myths About the Catholic Church–The Jesuits were responsible for the Civil War

This one is just weird.   I have to admit that I’d never heard it before today.  I stumbled onto it while researching for another post.  It’s just so bizarre that I had to share it with you.

Yes, there actually are people who think it was the Jesuits who convinced Confederacy to go to war.  Here’s an alleged Lincoln quote:

“This war would never have been possible without the sinister influence of the Jesuits. We owe it to Popery that we now see our land reddened with the blood of her noblest sons. Though there were great differences of opinion between the South and North, on the question of slavery, neither Jeff Davis nor any one of the leading men of the Confederacy would have dared to attack the North, had they not relied on the promise of the Jesuits, that, under the mask of Democracy, the money and the arms of the Roman Catholics, even the arms of France, were at their disposal if they would attack us.”

I actually found this quote on more than one web site.  The problem is that Lincoln never said it.  This made-up statement from Honest Abe was actually created many years after his death by the Know-Nothings, an anti-Catholic group active in the 19th century, and spread by the anti-Catholic media.

Here’s an actual quote from Lincoln on August 24, 1855:

I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes.” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy.

So the Great Emancipator would rather live in Russia than in a country that discriminates against Catholics.  His real words definitely don’t reflect the attitudes of the Know-Nothings.

The Know-Nothing party did its thing back in the 1800s.  “That’s history”, you say.    Why worry about it in the 21st Century?  Because some of this nonsense persists, even today.  There’s an outfit called Remnant of God who blame the Jesuits for “civil wars, world wars, revolutions, rebellions, terrorism, assassinations, political, social and all kinds of turmoils or chaos.”

They claim that the Jesuits detonated the Atomic bomb over Hiroshima and sunk the Titanic.  According to these geniuses, “The Roman Catholic Church is a mere continuation of the Roman Empire…..and the Jesuit Order is the old Roman Empire Pretorian guard” which was the pattern for the Nazi SS.   They go on to explain how the Jesuits started World Wars I and II.

There are a lot of fringe groups out there who blame the Catholic Church for everything from acne to athlete’s foot.  Most normal people, Catholic or not, don’t take these people seriously but there are just enough of them to give you pause.  Clearly the Remnants of God are just haters.  Their web site is primitive and poorly put together.  Their sources are very questionable.  But there are still some people who are going to take them seriously.  (Honey Boo Boo, anyone?)

On the other hand, the so-called Lincoln quote sounds good.  It does sound like something Abe would have said, especially to a casual observer.  It was supposedly said by someone who’s been dead for a long time and it’s difficult to prove that something wasn’t said.  All we can do is look at his other words and conclude that this just isn’t something he would have said.

It’s the real loonies who say things like “the Jesuits bombed Hiroshima” that make you realize just how twisted these things really are.  The good news is that we have the facts on our side.  When someone repeats something as stupid as Catholics are responsible for World War II, all we can do is laugh.

The Supreme Court—Seriously?

Today the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of ObamaCare.  Many of us, Catholics and nonCatholics alike, have been praying that the court would strike down the law which threatens to undermine our religious freedom.  Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.  But, there is a bright side here.  While it looks like we’re going to be stuck with the legislation, at least for the time being, we can’t give up the fight to remove the provision that mandates the violation of our First Amendment rights.

What can we do?  Well, for one thing, we must continue to pray.  Bombard heaven with prayers that our elected employees in Washington DC will do the right thing.  If they don’t, then come November, vote to fire them and replace them with men and women who will do the will of the people.  In addition to prayers, let your employees know what you think.  Email them.  Call them.  Confront them in person this summer as they campaign in your area.

This isn’t about health insurance.  It isn’t about “women’s rights”.  Cheap and even free birth control is readily available.  If our employees feel the need to play God using chemicals to play havoc with His plan, fine.  We’d rather they didn’t, but we can’t stop them.  However, we are not going to be forced to pay for something that is so radically against what we believe.  If we do, we will be opening the door to all kinds of religious discrimination, not just against Catholics, but against all people of faith.

We’re being discriminated against because of our good works, which are not limited to just our fellow Catholics.  If our hospitals were to fire all their non-Catholic employees and turn away non-Catholic patients, there would be no problem.  There are other medical procedures that are rejected by some other faith traditions .  For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t allow blood transfusions.  No one is suggesting that they pay for transfusions either for members of nonmembers.  Could it be because there are no JW institutions that employ non-members.  I’m pretty sure they don’t have any hospitals.

Today is a dark day, but it’s just one day.  What we do in the days and weeks ahead will pay a big part in our future, and in our children’s and grandchildren’s futures.  Don’t take this lying down.

 

Catholics and the Constitution

Here in Saint Louis, our leftist daily newspaper, the Saint Louis Post Dispatch, weighed in today on the Bishops’ letter, Our First, Most Cherished Liberty.

Not surprisingly, the editorial writer takes a dim view of the Bishops’ stand.

This editorial page has profound respect for the work of the Catholic Church and its individual members in health care, education and social justice. We do not take issue with church beliefs or internal operations, regardless of the church, as long as they do not enter the public square. The U.S. bishops, in their call for civil disobedience, have entered the square.

“What we ask is nothing more than that our God-given right to religious liberty be respected,” the bishops state.

That is entirely appropriate. So, too, is that bishops should respect the rights of those who do not share their beliefs. Some of them may work for church-affiliated institutions and may want access to the contraceptive services to which civil law says they are entitled.

The last two sentences are typical of the anti-Catholic view of this situation.  The Church is not disrespecting anyone’s rights.  Whatever evil non-Catholics choose to do with their own bodies, the Church is not trying to stop them.  What the Church is saying is that she has the right to refuse to pay for it.  Cheap and even free birth control is available from any number of sources.  Nothing the Catholic Church does is going to prevent anyone, even Catholics, from obtaining the pill, if they choose to do so.

It’s not easy to come up with an analogy that doesn’t trivialize this issue, but I’ll give it a shot.  Many of our non-Christian brethren have strict dietary laws.  For example, Jews and Muslims aren’t supposed to eat pork.  I’m no expert on this, but I don’t believe they have an objection to me eating pork.  But it would be a gross violation of the First Amendment if the government decided to mandate that all Jewish and Muslim institutions must serve bacon in their lunch rooms.  An even graver violation of their rights would be to demand that they provide BLTs at no charge.

The Post editorial also quotes a questionable study that declared that 98% of Catholic women have used artificial birth control.  Well guess what?  I’ve known a lot of Jewish people who have eaten pork.  I can’t quote statistics, but I know from personal observation that Jewish dietary laws are not followed 100%.  Does that mean that the government has a right to impose restrictions on an institution’s right to support those laws?  Of course not!

It’s remarkable that any member of the media, who will gladly go to jail rather than reveal a source, claiming the protection of the Constitution, would come out against another institution who is advocating its members do exactly the same thing.  You’d think the media would be falling all over itself to stand with us.

Over the centuries, Catholic men and women have made great sacrifices to retain their religious freedom.  From the very beginning of the Church there have been martyrs who went to their death rather than surrender their religious freedom.  No one is suggesting that we die over this.  (Although the Bishops’ document does contain the word “martyr”.)  The Bishops are asking us to take a stand.  Even if you are one of the alleged 98%, you still must respect your Church’s position on religious freedom.

There is much more at stake here than free birth control pills.

Our “Catholic” Senator

I received the following email today from Claire McCaskill, our soon-to-be-ex senator from Missouri.  It was in response to a letter I sent her several weeks ago concerning the HHS health care mandate.  Note that Ms. McCaskill claims to be a faithful Catholic.  (Emphasis is mine.  Comments to follow)
March 12, 2012

Dear Mr. Buckley,

Thank you for contacting me regarding birth control and women’s health.  I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to respond.

I believe we should all work to prevent and reduce the number of abortions in this country.  I support access to birth control, which will help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and ultimately reduce abortions.  This is an emotional, difficult subject.  But if you really believe that reducing abortions is important in this country, which I do, then it doesn’t work to keep putting up barriers to women getting birth control.  For this reason, I voted against the amendment offered by my colleague, Senator Roy Blunt (Senate Amendment 1520), which would have allowed any employer, health plan sponsor, or insurance company to refuse coverage for their employees for any type of essential health care services — including birth control, maternity care, prenatal testing, and HIV/AIDS screening — based solely on an undefined “moral objection.”

As you may know, following considerable debate, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reached a compromise so that religiously-affiliated employers will not have to provide birth control if it violates that employer’s religious beliefs.  This compromise, which I support, ensures that all women with employer-sponsored health plans will have access to free preventive health services, while protecting the religious freedom of religiously-affiliated employers.  If a church or religious employer determines that covering birth control would be inconsistent with their organization’s beliefs, the insurance company rather than the employer will be required to offer these services directly to women.

Groups on both sides of the debate, including the Catholic Health Association and Planned Parenthood, have expressed their support of this compromise.  Under the new HHS guidelines, no one will be required to use birth control or other preventive care services under any plan.  each woman, pursuant to her own beliefs, will access the services she deems appropriate.  However, a woman will not be denied access to health services, like birth control, based on the decision of her employer, instead of retaining for herself the right to choose whether to use birth control or not.  The new guidelines also do not eliminate or change existing conscience protections, which I support, that allow doctors and individual healthcare providers to choose whether or not to prescribe or administer birth control in accordance with their own beliefs.

It should be noted that 28 states already require health insurance plans to cover contraceptive services.  The compromise guidelines follow in the steps of most states, including Missouri, which have already found a reasonable way to ensure access to preventive health services while also respecting employers’ First Amendment right to religious freedom, a fundamental principle on which our nation was founded.

Again, thank you for contacting me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance to you on this or any other issue.

Sincerely,

Claire McCaskill
United States Senator

Let’s take a look at the points I highlighted.
I support access to birth control.”  No surprise here.  My only issue here is her claim to be a practicing Catholic.  Maybe she need more practice?
“essential health care services”  How in the world does artificial birth control qualify as an essential health care service.  Later in the letter she refers to “preventive health services.”  This well-worn liberal phrase is right in line with the idea that pregnancy is some sort of disease.  Our president was widely quoted as saying, in support of birth control and abortion, that he “didn’t want (his) daughters punished with a child”.
“Undefined ‘moral objection'”.  Of course the undefined moral objection is the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church which has been very clearly defined; much more clearly defined than Ms. McCaskill’s version of Catholicism.
” following considerable debate, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reached a compromise so that religiously-affiliated employers will not have to provide birth control if it violates that employer’s religious beliefs.  This is an untrue statement.  There was no debate and there has been no compromise.  Catholic employers will be forced to include artificial birth control in its employee health plans.  The fantasy that insurance companies will provide this coverage out of the goodness of their hearts is nonsense.  There may be no line-item charge for this coverage but you can bet your last dollar that the cost of some other service will be raised accordingly.  For the many Catholic employers who are self-insured, they will have to pay.
“free preventive health services.”  There it is again.  Birth control prevents the “disease” of pregnancy.
Groups on both sides of the debate, including the Catholic Health Association and Planned Parenthood, have expressed their support of this compromise”  Again, there was no compromise which would explain why Planned Parenthood would support it.  Catholic Health Association is Catholic in name only.
“No one will be required to use birth control or other preventive care services under any plan.” At least not yet, and
 “retaining for herself the right to choose whether to use birth control or not.”  The Church opposes artificial birth control.  We consider it a sin.  Having said that, the Church has no way of keeping any individual, Catholic or otherwise, from using the pill.  We do have a right, and that’s what this debate is all about, to not pay for it!  Our not paying for birth control does not interfere with any woman’s right to choose.
And, finally, “employers’ First Amendment right to religious freedom, a fundamental principle on which our nation was founded.”  She almost got this one right.  But, notice that she doesn’t endorse this freedom herself.  She just points out that others might endorse those rights.
The Senator’s letter is a perfect example of how those in power can twist words and give the impression to some voters that they are interested in our rights.  This is nonsense.  She’s shilling for the current administration and masquerading as a Catholic to do so.

So-called “public servants” like McCaskill have to go.


free: Not under the control or in the power of another; able to act or be done as one wishes