Bishops Who Wear Badges… of Courage

One of the most curious things about the constant war of words that the mainstream media wages against Catholic bishops is that it never reports on the other side of a bishop’s actions … the reasons why he acts in a particular way, when a bishop is faithful to Christ and His Church. And there have been several in the news recently who deserve to be admired and emulated, not scorned and rebuked.

One of them is Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Bishop Slattery recently delivered a homily at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. He talked about women who “lost part of their soul” to abortion. As LifeSiteNews reported, the bishop “called attention to the pain of countless post-abortive women who now grieve the loss of their child—pain that is largely ignored or silenced by the pro-abortion lobby and media.”

The focus of his homily, which was about the suffering of Christ and how individuals can use their pain to be “transformed by Christ’s presence,” is a powerful message for mothers who seek peace as they realize that the child they aborted was indeed a real human being whose young life was snuffed out with their own complicity. As Bishop Slattery said, “Because of Christ, suffering no longer has the power to alienate or isolate us. Neither can it dehumanize us nor destroy us. Suffering, however long and terrible it may be has only the power to reveal Christ among us, and He is the mercy and the forgiveness of God.”

His message could have been heard by a much wider audience, had the media not continued its deception when it comes to reporting on what abortion is, why it is a tragedy and why the mothers, whose lives are never the same, hunger for Christ’s healing. Bishop Slattery, in his courageous expression of truth, touched hearts that day, and for this we are grateful.

Much of the news media is not only silent about the Church’s message of love, but cannot wait to pounce on a principled bishop for doing what is best for the souls entrusted to him by God. Such a bishop is Providence, Rhode Island’s Bishop Tomas Tobin. Few can forget his stunning public rebuke of pro-abortion Congressman Patrick Kennedy and the firestorm that it created in the press last year. It seemed the more the media took Kennedy’s side, the stronger Bishop Tobin became. We described him as “a lion of the Lord,” and now he is roaring again.

Bishop Tobin’s relentless defense of genuine Catholic health care became evident to one and all as he focused on the Catholic Health Association’s deceptive tactics. The CHA supported the new health care law signed by President Obama. The Providence Journal reported,

In a letter to Sister Carol Keehan, the association’s president and CEO, the bishop announced he was “very disappointed” with the group’s endorsement of the legislation, and was withdrawing the Diocese of Providence’s two Catholic hospitals from association membership.

Describing the bishop’s principled actions as stirring up a “fracas,” the Providence Journal went on to say,

The bishop, along with the legal advisers to the nation’s Catholic bishops, asserts that the new law may “possibly” open the door to the public funding of abortion, and fails to adequately protect the rights of hospitals and medical personnel who refuse to take part in procedures they deem immoral.

“Your enthusiastic support of the legislation, in contradiction to the position of the bishops of the United States, provided an excuse for members of Congress [to vote for the legislation], misled the public and caused serious scandal for many members of the [C]hurch,” Bishop Tobin wrote in his March 29 letter to Sister Keehan.

As a consequence, he said, he wanted St. Joseph Health Services—the diocesan umbrella agency that runs St. Joseph’s Hospital in Providence and Our Lady of Fatima Hospital in North Providence—removed from the association’s membership list.

The now-infamous CHA had no comment on Bishop Tobin’s actions. But lest we forget, this is the very organization that not only touted the Obama health care bill but worked feverishly to help get it passed, all the while claiming it was doing nothing that was contrary to Catholic teaching! Remarkably arrogant, in my opinion.

It is CHA’s current silence and failure to take corrective action that make Bishop Tobin’s actions all the more stunning. American Life League salutes him, commends him and praises God for him!

Bishop Joseph Adamec, of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania, is another hero who deserves wide-ranging coverage and kudos for his actions in making sure that his diocese no longer provides financial support for the scandal-ridden Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Bishop Adamec’s decision, which we have to point out, was made because he felt his diocese’s Catholic Charities organization needed more funding, according to diocesan spokesman Tony DeGol.

Bishop Kevin Rhoades, who at the time led the diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, worked with his Presbyteral Council to develop a “Matthew 25 collection” instead of supporting the CCHD, according to Peter Biasucci, the diocese’s assistant director for Catholic Charities. Biasucci said that even though Bishop Rhoades has now been transferred to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, the new setup will continue.

Like each of the bishops noted herein, Bishop Rhoades is known for his strong defense of the Catholic faith and his unwavering commitment to truth.

Each of these shepherds deserves a badge of courage, though we are certain the news media will not give them such recognition simply because, these days, many journalists would view their actions as unacceptable behavior. But that inspires us to pray that their love of truth will assure them of eternal badges—recognition that is far more valuable.

It has been said that strong, faithful shepherds can lead the “spiritual paralytic” to an understanding of Christ, His truth and His love for each of us. On the other hand, as St. Augustine wrote in reference to false shepherds,

You have failed to strengthen the weak, says the Lord. He is speaking to wicked shepherds, false shepherds, shepherds who seek their own concerns and not those of Christ. They enjoy the bounty of milk and wool, but they take no care at all of the sheep, and they make no effort to heal those who are ill. I think there is a difference between one who is weak (that is, not strong) and one who is ill, although we often say that the weak are also suffering from illness.

So, as we celebrate the good shepherds who have chosen to follow what is true and good, we salute them as we pray for those shepherds who, for whatever reason, need the audacity of faith to stand in the gap, defending Christ and bearing all manner of insults in His name.

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