Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Founding and Bertie Wooster Versus the US Bishops

 

Here we are again at a moment of clarity and concinnity — or what should be. It may be a happy accident that Hillsdale is presenting its three-week course, A Land of Hope, at the same time the nation is taking part in another great cultural “unsettling,” or it may be intentional. In either case, unless you’re already learned in the American founding, this is an overview worth your “shelter-in-place” time. 

I mention it because I’m feeling small-p protestant sentiments about the American Catholic bishops about now, most eloquently expressed in an article at CRISIS Magazine by Peter Maurice titled, ‘Catholic Democrat’ is an Oxymoron

As he was closing the narthex doors, I asked his take on the corona virus, not yet a “national emergency.” He replied. . . Well, the virus was one thing, but what really worried Father K. were ‘the Democratic Party disease and the Chinese disease.’”

Detractors . . . might misconstrue “Chinese disease” as an ethnic slur. They would err. Father K. has no simple-minded prejudices, but he knows what any adult has no excuse for not knowing. Like all communist states, the Chinese hate and persecute Christianity. The “disease” is godless ideology, not ethnicity.

Just so with the Democratic Party disease: it has its own godless ideology.

Maurice goes on to compare Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo’s (Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences) admiration of China as the nation that best fulfills the Church’s social doctrine to the Catholic diocesan press’s (and, presumably, its bishops) support for the Democratic Party’s social programs. The bishops seem loath to risk the 40 percent of the USCCB’s budget provided by politicians by pointing out that the Party of Death’s social programs immiserate people (see Cuba, Venezuela), steal the dignity of work and family, cause people to live in effluence (East Germany, China) harming the planet, stifle dissenting opinions (“climate deniers”) … not to mention being in conflict with anti-socialist social teachings promulgated by, for instance, Pope Saint John Paul II.

How much safer it is to focus on the party’s concern for the climate and migrants, and not raise a stink about the “preeminent” life issue that is now Trump’s by default. Thus, under the USCCB’s “Do’s and Don’ts Guidelines During Election Season,” we encounter this insufferably high-minded brag: The Church does not and will not engage in partisanship. She will exhibit no bias for or against any party. Thus, even when Agent Orange addresses in person the March for Life, or cuts the allowance of Planned Parenthood, he isn’t accorded the honor of a pun, let alone an approving editorial. This on the one hand/on the other hand balance tips the scales in favor of the party of death.

Maurice shockingly notes that a third of the US Bishops’ conference does not list life as the preeminent issue for Catholics discerning how to vote. One presumes this includes Blase Cardinal Cupich and Bishop Robert McElroy, who “found such language foreign to the ‘magisterium’ of Pope Francis.” They’re wrong about that (Pope Francis says it is the preeminent issue) and they’re wrong to separate Pope Francis’s “magisterium” from continuity with the 2,000-year Magisterium of the Church. Inexcusably, the Faithful Citizenship media doesn’t even mention the Church’s preeminent anti-abortion stance. No wonder about 50 percent of Catholics vote Democrat every election. If “clarity were common, the Catholic vote might be a reality to be feared and courted.”

Maurice finishes:

There are questions that would tax the ability of the subtlest casuist to resolve. This isn’t one of them. Some things are in their nature mutually exclusive. A red card can’t be a king; a vegetarian can’t be a cannibal; oil and water won’t mix. So let’s not complicate it overmuch. You may either describe yourself as a “devout Catholic” or enable the party that promotes abortion, same-sex marriage, gender anarchy, and the descent into paganism of post-Christian America. It’s not a head-scratcher. Only one party has a passion for this degraded ideology. It’s not the stupid party, weak and feckless as it sometimes is.

As Bertie Wooster advised the would-be fascist dictator Sir Roderick Spode, some things remain stubbornly either or. Spode, with his brown shirt and funny mustache, aspires to be a fascist dictator. But his other passion, unbeknownst to his storm troopers, is designing lingerie. No, no, my dear Spode, cautions Bertie every time the strongman snaps his stiff salute, You really must choose. One or the other, not both. We’ve come to a strange pass when we need to look to Bertie rather than our bishops for such clarity.

“The Democrat disease is godless ideology,” or as Klavan describes, the idolatry of “isms,” such as progressivism. It should go without saying that abortion is a graver immoral than restrictive immigration policy or “climate change” concerns. It is self-evident, to quote Thomas Jefferson, that free societies such as the US dramatically improve the environmental conditions under which people live. Compare East and West Germany before unification. Compare China and its unbreathable air and disease breeding wet markets to any city in the US — even LA! Market economies serve the common good. Conflicting ideas can be harnessed to that purpose under our American system of separated, limited powers and enshrined sovereignty of the people in a system of self-rule of, by, and for the people

Yes, many of the founding ideals are universal to humankind, which is what makes the American experiment so profound and exceptional. But, the government instituted to protect our natural and civil rights must be held accountable to the people of this great land — not the entire world. It must serve our interests and protect our rights first and in common with our fellow citizens, not by picking winners and losers — not by favoring some victim group or another. This is the social compact we’ve agreed to.

When Fr. K speaks of the Democrat illness, this is what he means. The sickness that has afflicted the Democrat Party that pits it in a battle to the death with these founding principles. 

I can count the number of times I’ve heard the pro-life message from the pulpit on half of one hand. But, the USCCB and Pope Francis constantly natter on about the need to welcome the stranger and steward the planet. About how “we” (by which they mean free and prosperous peoples) have neglected the poor. 

Well, your excellencies, if we are to believe every person is created by God in His image and likeness, is intended for heaven, and has a role to play in the salvation of the world, it would seem not killing inconvenient, unwanted people would come first. When “climate change” (sneer quotes warranted) and immigration policy have equal moral weight to God-created people — and, honestly, we all know these other concerns are vastly greater to Democrats — how are we to distinguish the bishops from garden variety progressives?

The American founding had a Protestant flavor because it was skeptical of the inherited wisdom of the (primarily Anglo) culture from which it emanated. If Catholics are “protesting” the confused moral message coming from the USCCB, it is because of these chestless and, frankly, brainless bishops who refuse to see the lies told by Democrat ideology and the truth that it was for freedom that Christ set us free.

God bless America, God save the Church from confused and confusing shepherds, and God bless us everyone.

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  1. Vectorman Thatcher

    Western Chauvinist: The bishops seem loathe to risk the 40% of the USCCB’s budget provided by politicians by pointing out that the Party of Death’s social programs immiserate people (see Cuba and, Venezuela), steal the dignity of work and family, cause people to live in effluence (East Germany and China) harming the planet, stifle dissenting opinions (“climate deniers”). . . not to mention being in conflict with anti-socialist social teachings promulgated by, for instance, Pope Saint John Paul II.

    I miss John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

    Great post, thanks!

    • #1
    • March 28, 2020, at 10:02 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  2. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Subsidiarity is the term our bishops frequently need be reminded of. Preference for local management has been an official Catholic teaching for generations, yet few pay it any mind.

    I cringed when Pope Francis mentioned the environment in yesterday’s Urbi at Orbi (City and World) devotion. But I appreciate his prayers. If one believes the misinformation about anthropogenic global warming — ultimately that the lives of millions are imminently threatened — then one can believe that the Democrat party’s submission to evil in various social policies is offset by real protections.

    Many reasonable Christians object to the Left-Right designation being applied to the faith because they perceive that division is purely political, and therefore downstream of religion. But it is not. The Left-Right divide is philosophical and theological. It concerns premises regarding human nature, purpose, and moral priorities.

    That doesn’t make Republicans or conservatives the arbiters of truth and goodness. But it does recognize that the Left generally is in the grip of evil. They are blind instruments in the demonic destruction of Christian civilization.

    • #2
    • March 28, 2020, at 10:22 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  3. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    Vectorman (View Comment):
    I miss John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

    At times like this, leadership reveals itself. I am not getting the leadership on C19, that I want from Francis. He is weak or wrong on most issues. Contrast with Gregory the Great. I do think the USCCB has some good resources on their website. I give them a ‘D’ on C19, which is better than their ‘F’ on politics in general.

     

    Image

    • #3
    • March 28, 2020, at 10:36 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. Rodin Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    That doesn’t make Republicans or conservatives the arbiters of truth and goodness. But it does recognize that the Left generally is in the grip of evil. They are blind instruments in the demonic destruction of Christian civilization.

    You don’t restrain evil by giving it more power. It’s a simple formulation for the ballot box. But nonetheless true.

    • #4
    • March 28, 2020, at 10:37 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  5. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    I cringed when Pope Francis mentioned the environment in yesterday’s Urbi at Orbi (City and World) devotion.

    Yes, I forgot to mention that in my post. I had originally tuned into the Vatican feed (the atmosphere with twilight and rain and emptiness was very evocative!) and by the time I made it over to EWTN to hear the English translation, Francis had made it to the part where he expressed how we thought we could just carry on ruining the planet (paraphrased). Ugh. I tuned out.

    It’s we traditional, orthodox Catholics who take the tragic view. It’s progressives who have utopian visions and believe they’re the ones to immanentize the eschaton.

    • #5
    • March 28, 2020, at 11:02 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  6. Unsk Member

    Good Post Western Chav.

    Might the “Chinese Disease” be the disastrous capitulation of the Church Hierarchy under Commie Pope Francis to Chairman XI’s leadership and Xi’s insistence on appointing Bishops in China and the ability to enforce other issues of doctrine on Catholics in China?

     

    From the Guardian of all Places:

    “The Catholic church risks damaging its moral authority and plunging its followers into confusion if the Vatican presses ahead with an imminent deal with the Chinese government, a group of influential Catholics has warned.

    Fifteen lawyers, academics and human rights activists, most based in Hong Kong, have signed an open letter to bishops across the world expressing dismay at an agreement which would involve the Vatican recognising seven bishops appointed by China’s Communist party.

    The deal is aimed at restoring relations between China and the Vatican, which were cut almost 70 years ago. But the group of leading Catholics say it could create a schism in the church in China.”

    “Last year the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, told the Communist party congress that religions in China “must be Chinese in orientation”, and the government must “provide active guidance to religions so that they can adapt themselves to socialist society”.

    “We are worried that the agreement would not only fail to guarantee the limited freedom desired by the church, but also … deal a blow to the church’s moral power,” the letter says. “Please rethink the current agreement, and stop making an irreversible and regrettable mistake.”

    “The issue of bishop appointments is at the centre of efforts to restore Vatican-Chinese relations, which were officially severed after the foundation of the Communist state in 1949.

    There are an estimated 10 to 12 million Catholics in China, with about half worshipping in underground churches, and half in government-managed churches.

    The Chinese government has appointed seven bishops, who are not recognised by Rome. Up to 40 Rome-backed underground bishops operate without Chinese government approval.”

    “New regulations came into force on 1 February specifying the types of religious organisations that can exist, where they can exist and the activities they can organize.”

    “There has been a crackdown on burgeoning evangelical Protestant churches, with many being forced to remove crosses and ordered to disband.”

    “According to the Catholic leaders’ open letter, “the Communist party in China, under the leadership of Xi Jinping, has repeatedly destroyed crosses and churches, and the [state-controlled China Catholic Patriotic Association] maintains its heavy-handed control over the church.”

    • #6
    • March 28, 2020, at 4:33 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Unsk (View Comment):
    Might the “Chinese Disease” be the disastrous capitulation of the Church Hierarchy under Commie Pope Francis to Chairman XI’s leadership and Xi’s insistence on appointing Bishops in China and the ability to enforce other issues of doctrine on Catholics in China?

    The betrayal of Chinese Catholics is unspeakable. It has the characteristic conceit of progressives who capitulate to tyrannical regimes, like Obama ignoring the Green Revolution in Iran to make nice with the Mullahs and get his “historic” deal. These men (in the Church and in government) are out of their (moral and intellectual) depth. 

    But, the “Chinese disease” is the same as the Democrat one — it’s godless ideology. The hubristic, self-deifying belief that some elite leaders can organize the collective to create utopia. And they’re just the ones to do it.

    • #7
    • March 28, 2020, at 5:58 PM PDT
    • 7 likes