Church’s Alliance with Government Comes Crashing Down

Sister Keehan with Vice President Biden On the first Sunday in February, Catholics across the country heard homilies condemning the HHS mandate requiring Catholic institutions to subsidize free contraceptives for their employees. A friend of mine, shaking her head, wondered why the diktat had caught our bishops by surprise.

“How could they not see it coming?”

There are three aspects to the answer: The mandate, the bishops, and the laity.

True to form, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius cynically timed the mandate to coincide with the March For Life. No wonder her bishop barred her from the Eucharist – she could hardly have made the scandal more pointedly public. The mandate was immediately condemned and rejected by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, USCCB President, and my own Ordinary, Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington. Our bishops appear to have suddenly realized that we are at war. Good for them.

But how could they not see it coming?

Three reasons come to mind. The first is a simple question: “Hey, what’s the matter with contraception?” OK, we know, but who else does? Catholics familiar with Humanae Vitae know what happens when mankind defies natural law. Didn’t Pope Paul VI prophetically predict the cultural, human, and spiritual cost of untethered human self-indulgence?  Yes: he saw it coming. But who has preached it since 1968? For forty-four years far too many bishops have treated Humanae Vitae like the skunk at the parish Social Justice Picnic. So faithful Catholics cannot be blamed for being pleasantly surprised that our shepherds have finally drawn the line in the sand on the issue. We’ve been praying for this for years.

The second reason: while they have not been teaching Humanae Vitae, the USCCB and its staff have been adrift in the dark waters of “Social Justice” — browbeating, dividing, and alienating the laity with partisan politics, advocating a raft of personal agendas from amnesty to welfare, even supporting legislation that contains half a billion for contraceptives in “foreign aid.” [This is not to say that they’ve put all this behind them: on the First Friday of February, the USCCB called on Catholics to fast and pray about “food insecurity and climate change.”]

And the third reason: the abuse and cover-up scandals. Enough said.

Pope Benedict, however, did see it coming. When Bishop Loverde joined his brother bishops from our region on their ad limina visit to Rome in January, His Holiness took pains to make it perfectly clear:

At the heart of every culture, whether perceived or not, is a consensus about the nature of reality and the moral good, and thus about the conditions for human flourishing. In America, that consensus, as enshrined in your nation’s founding documents, was grounded in a worldview shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles deriving from nature and nature’s God. Today that consensus has eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such.

Meet the Culture of Death, also known as the animating spirit of today’s Democrat Party. Yes, Dear Reader, that’s the same party that for a hundred years has been the political partner of preference for America’s Catholic bishops.

His Holiness then stressed the need for the laity to act:

Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture ….”

Because Humanae Vitae was seldom well-taught, today’s laity was seldom well-formed. Now that the bishops, pace their earlier bygones, seek to unite the faithful, they’ve got a mountain to climb and fences to mend. But, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you go to war with the laity you have. And on this issue we must unite, because it involves not political agendas and personal opinions, but magisterial truth.

Baggage, Balls, And Chains

To win this war, the Church is going to have to break a lot of bad habits. And old habits die hard. A new generation of bishops now recognize the perils of allying with the American government that Pope Leo XIII warned against a century ago. The dalliance – sometimes romantic, sometimes merely convenient – between the USCCB and the Democrats has brought forth a raft of Church institutions whose bureaucracies mirror those of their government counterparts. Church “charity” has come to rely increasingly on politicians, not the laity.  Thus, as the Democrats have moved left, our bureaucracies have too – whether by choice or by necessity. After all, they count on billions of taxpayer dollars flowing to Church institutions every year.

Well, that is going to end.

Why? Because for years the USCCB has coddled the Democrats who are now our most hostile enemies in this war. Obama, Biden, Pelosi, and company will not care a whit that we cheered them on with partisan pastorals on racism, economic justice, and amnesty, while we pulled our punches on homosexuality, reception of the Eucharist, and ObamaCare. Laymen understand what bishops apparently don’t: politicians have allowed us to play in their taxpayer-funded trough because we have played by their rules. To put it bluntly, politics is tit for tat. Our former pals are not going to continue scratching our back if we punch them in the nose.

And we need to deliver a knockout punch. Like following Canon Law – specifically, applying Canon 915, for starters.

When that happens, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services, even “Catholic” universities and hospitals that receive government funds, will see those funds dry up. The bishops have drawn a line in the sand. Well, as Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker used to say, “That door swings both ways.” The Left knows how to play that game better than we do. One look at the barbaric, even diabolical rage that met the unremarkable decision by “Komen for the Cure” to terminate its funding of Planned Parenthood should be sufficient: they shoot to kill. When that rage swells into a vulgar, violent attack on our Church, her leaders, her members, and her institutions– and it will — let’s not be asking, “How could we not see it coming?” – It’s coming. 

Charity: Voluntary? Or Mandatory?

During the twentieth century, charity was transformed from a private, voluntary endeavor to a “sector” that today is dominated by government. The number of “private” charities in the U.S. has mushroomed in recent years, but so has their dependence on government funding. That is also true for the Church. Our charities could not survive today without taxpayer dollars.

Eventually, they’re going to have to. There are two ways in which this will come to pass: either the Church will renounce all government funding – and, eventually, even its tax-exempt status – or a hostile government will revoke them. Either way, it’s going to happen.  For too long the Church’s attitude has been, “Let the government do it.” But as Pope Benedict put it, the enemy that confronts us is driven by “powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such.” Compromise is not possible with the Angel of Death. It never has been. What began as an attack on the principles shaping the placement policies of Catholic adoption agencies will soon target every aspect of truly Catholic charity.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield recently decided to end the “historical partnership” between his diocese and the state child welfare bureaucracy (including state funding, of course), telling the Chicago Tribune that “[t]he silver lining of this decision is that our Catholic Charities going forward will be able to focus on being more Catholic and more charitable, while less dependent on government funding and less encumbered by intrusive state policies.” Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Tulsa has also seen the light. In December it renounced all government funding, for practical as well as principled reasons. The decision “enables the organization to remain true to its Roman Catholic values and to act swiftly to help people in need without wading through a bureaucratic morass,” executive director Deacon Kevin Sartorius told the Tulsa World. Observing that many diocesan Catholic Charities receive as much as 80% of their funding from government, Deacon Sartorius uttered this gem: “It’s natural to want to please the one who is providing the money for your program.”

How can you please a virulently anti-Catholic government? Answer: you can’t.

The Age Of The Laity – Ready Or Not

When the government money goes, that leaves us – the laity. Charity in the twenty-first century will be like that in the nineteenth – when the glorious institutions of Holy Mother Church flourished without government aid. The laity has already taken the lead on several fronts. Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, ardently champions the lay vocation of volunteering – by his knights and by the rest of us. Crisis pregnancy centers like the Women’s Care Center and Expectant Mothers Care, founded and led by lay volunteers and prayerfully supported by many bishops, have multiplied across the country. Soup kitchens, health clinics, and food pantries have sprung up everywhere — most of them funded by the unpaid volunteers who run them, often aided by donations – all of them voluntary – from individuals as well as groups like the Knights of Malta.

We’re going to need more. Yes, the Church’s charitable efforts will be more Catholic without intrusive government, but they will also depend more than ever on a vibrant, faithful, and generous laity. The government’s massive welfare behemoth – including everything from Social Security and housing to Medicare and Food Stamps – is going broke. This generation of laity – our generation — will be challenged to carry out a “New Evangelization” that demands the Corporal Works of Mercy like nothing we have seen in our lifetime. “Giving of our substance, not just our excess,” will become our daily bread.

Only the “well-formed Catholic laity” called for by Pope Benedict can successfully meet this challenge.  But many Catholics today rarely see the inside of a church, don’t know how to say the Rosary, and haven’t been to Confession for years. To confront this crisis of formation, the laity will often have to catechize themselves – the bishops already have their hands full. Lay apostolates can help (my favorites: Crisis, EWTN, Real Catholic TV and The Wanderer). But that won’t stop the secular hostility – in fact, it will soon morph into outright persecution. As night follows day, the secular state that defies the Prince of Peace will turn to war. Solzhenitsyn had it right: falsehood always brings violence in its wake. So we must “put not our faith in princes,” especially when they lie to us – all too often, in bipartisan fashion, alas.

In the midst of the coming hard times, tens of millions of Americans who today rely on government subsidies will be at sea when the money runs out (or is rendered worthless by hyperinflation). They will need our help. We must rise to the occasion and serve our neighbor, responding as never before to the Catechism’s mandate: “And so, worshipping everywhere by their holy actions, the laity consecrate the world itself to God, everywhere offering worship by the holiness of their lives.” (CCC 901)

The Church’s alliance with the government should have ended 100 years ago, with World War One, when Cardinal Gibbons sided with Woodrow Wilson instead of Benedict XV. Or with the New Deal, when the Catholic Conference’s Msgr. Ryan was known as “The Right Reverend New Dealer.” Or with the School Prayer Decision. Or with Roe v. Wade. Admittedly, predicting earthquakes is not a hard science, but we’ve just had one. The alliance is over, and so is the Church’s dependence on government funding. It’s time for a comeback of charity that is “more Catholic and more charitable,” as Bishop Paprocki puts it. And it’s up to the laity to take the lead.

 

 

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  • voice

    A good article.   I am concerned, however, that Catholic teaching on “Social Justice” (i.e., pro-life at all stages, charity for the poor, works of mercy, proper care of the environment, etc.) has become a pejorative term in the battles between “right and left” in the Church.  Most Catholics have not studied social justice teaching, and now many have come to reject or despise the term because of its misuse in articles such as this one.  STOP IT!   The fact that the term is misused by folks on both the right and left does not negate the teaching.    It has been a sorrowful and dangerous trend in recent years, which has the effect of some people refusing to even read the proper teaching since it assume bias or agenda.   What a mess division causes and both sides of the isle are guilty.   Be careful with your use of terminology and more charitable in describing  it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_F6EKE5GFTVEDH3O4WWNP3SHSL4 Chris

    The Church is addicted to taxpayer money, no doubt about it.  But that money comes with strings attached.  One thing the Church can do is sell off these hospitals and replace them with privately-funded charity clinics that offer primary care.

  • Cass

    Mr. Manion you have written things that should’ve been written long ago and been widely disseminated. I have long been disappointed in the NCCB’s leftward leaning. Many bishops were initially enthusiastic about Obamacare; now suddenly they are aghast at one of its provisions. If this legislation stands in law our liberty (not only regarding contraceptives) will be severely curtailed. The bishops, with the best of intentions, have not recognize that.
    I don’t propose to get into an argument with “voice” but I have studied the issue of social justice. I have even written an essay on the subject. Most people who cringe at the term do so because for them it implies coercive government intervention into what should be voluntary acts of charity.
    I believe the federal government’s transfer of wealth (and I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt and assume the intentions are well-meaning) is both immoral and unconstitutional. No matter the good intentions, such a transfer is coercive; where is the grace in that for either the giver or the recipient?

  • Buckaroo

    Our primary responsibility as a Church is to assist the faithful in having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Our ‘Sacramental” encounters need to have a preperation that leads to a deep bond with Christ so that the teachings of the faith will be rooted in the heart of each individual.  Why would ordinary Catholics follow the Church’s teachings on contraception (or anything else for that matter) if they don’t see that teaching as part of their personal relationship with the Lord?  We need to recover this essential understanding of the relationship between our sacramental encounters with Christ and our daily, lived out practice of the faith.  Perhaps this is the challenge of the ‘new evangelization’. Our understanding of and response to the issues of social justice flow from this fundemental experience of Christ.  They are not in opposition but our response to these issues (of social justice)  should stem from the primary relationship with Christ.

  • Mamk0908

    Great article, Chris.   As far as the issue of social justice, the growing hostility toward the left’s focus on social justice doesn’t stem from articles like yours.  It stems from a deep frustration that we keep focusing on rescuing people from poverty, while completely ignoring the underlying cause - the unprecedented breakdown of marriage and family in our country.  Premature and premarital sex, a natural outcome of our contraceptive mentality that separates procreation from sex, has caused out of wedlock pregnancies to spiral out of control.  When Lyndon Johnson launced the War on Poverty in 1964, 93% of children were born to married parents, as compared to 59% today. 

    Out of wedlock pregnancies are not only preventing many from establishing good marriages and family life, but is having a devastating effect on children.  This is the REAL issue of social justice.  To make matters worse, today’s “social justice” efforts almost always call for an aggressive push of “family planning” services to reduce unwanted pregnancies, which only inflames the situation further, since the aggressive promotion of the pill and “family planning” is what has spurred the rapid transformation in sexual behavior in the first place. 

  • JXB

    Bishop Paprocki puts it, “And it’s up to the laity to take the lead”.  My personal opinion is, “It’s time for the Bishops and priest of the Catholic Church to wake up and take the lead.”  Example, I’m in the Beaumont Diocese.  For the last three weeks I haven’t heard a word or a peep about the church being mandated to supply contraceptives.  What I have heard about was the Bishop’s annual collection to support various charities and our spititual commitment of time, talent and TREASURE.  We even had a movie regarding the same.  I was under the impression that the church was the shepard and lead the sheep.  In fear of loosing a tax exemption, our diocese’s  silence is deafening.  If the church “leaders” want the laity to lead, I guess it time to listen to our Senator from California.or maybe the Kennedys.  You can’t have it both ways.  The church fell asleep during WW II, and desipte the direct volley on the church, most Bishop fell silent and Bishop Paprocki says it’s time for the laity to lead.  Give me a break.  It’s time for the leaders of the church to speak out so loudly that the earth will tremble all the way to Washington.  This was drilled into my head as a youngster in reagard to sin, “Silence is consent.”  I guess, for some Bishops, that only applies to the sheep.  Keep in mind, if Washington has it way on this issue, the worst is yet to come.

  • D Minarik

     My dear Cass — You are willing to give the benefit of the doubt and assume the intentions are well-meaning?! The intentions are clearly NOT well-meaning. The practitioners of this action know full well that once enough people are dependent on the fed for subsistence, they will be indebted to them and will repay with their votes, resulting in perpetual power and ever more dictatorial rules. Their goal is total control, and they’re going after it very methodically. This current breed has stepped up the pace enough that more folks recognize it, but it may be too late. Consider Obama’s approval ratings during one of the deepest economic downturns in most folks’ lifetimes — never below 40%. What were Bush’s ratings with a much milder downturn? — In the 20s and 30s. Who orchestrates this kind of disparity? The entire left community: politicians, media, academia. We are truly at war, and only the left is fighting to win.

  • Terrygeorge

    BRAVO!!!

  • John McCarthy

    very good.

  • chaco

    How about a step back to look at an even “Bigger Picture” ?; If God necessarily needs to bring Glory to himself (because there is no other ULTIMATE Good), the anti-God (Christ) needs to counter that aim. Buckaroo is right; the “Fuel” for helping God’s aim is our personal experience of the Risen Savior which must be visible & contagious. ["The War" is already won(Jn 12: 31). All that"s left is to put out the remaining "Brush Fires".]  A “Peek” at the future can add “Octane” (assurance) to our Fuel;  A devoutly solid elderly Catholic  lady once shared her forseeing a persecution of Catholics in the same way the Jews were persecuted. But reason would lead to the conclusion; If Jesus was the fulfillment of Revelation, and “The Gates of Hell(anti-Church) can’t prevail…”, then God must necessarily bring Glory to himself from such a persecution ie; After 911, it was reported that many divorce proceedings were delayed & even stopped due to reconsiderations. Perhaps this outlook can help us  apply Buckaroo’s advise to our strategies. ["You will have trouble in the World - but take Heart, I have overcome the World." (Jn 16: 33)]

  • Editor

    Thanks for your comment, Chaco. I would like to reply to the first part of your comment: “If God necessarily needs to bring Glory to himself (because there is no other ULTIMATE Good), the anti-God (Christ) needs to counter that aim.” 
    God doesn’t need to bring glory to Himself; the Catholic Church has always taught that God is completely self-sufficient. He doesn’t lack anything. His Incarnation as Christ was all for us, and because Christ is God, he cannot be anti-God in any way.
    Maybe I misunderstood you, but for the sake of any readers who misunderstood you as well I thought I should chime in. God bless. 

  • Bernie

    Thanks for writing this article.  This should be a huge wake up call for Catholics and the all out assault on Religious Freedom on America and the Catholic Church by the Obama Administration.  Sadly, our Catholic Bishops in America remained silent for the most part during the last election.  They fell short as spiritual leaders and did not teach the Faith.  We have generations of Catholics not catechized and we wonder why were in this boat? 

    I ponder often what if our Bishops taught that voting pro-life is paramount in our decision in chosing candidates running for office.  I think we may not even be discussing this.  Why were the Bishops afraid to speak the truth? 

    Can you imagine, if they taught the faithful the beauty of Humanae Vitae?  Imagine if our Pastors taught the beauty of Humanae Vitae?  Is it money they are worried about?  People want the truth and know when they are lied to.  For instance, the well meaning priest who says “use your conscience” about contraception instead of speaking the truth about the Church’s teaching.   Such Bishops and Priests do a huge diservice to the faithful.

    Personally, I am grateful for the courageous priests who taught the beauty of the Catholic Church’s teaching against the use of contraception. I am constantly told “you’re too old fashioned” and “not progressive”, etc. in regards to the church’s teaching on birth control and “98% of Catholics are contracepting.  Get with it!  I am reminded as a kid, my parent’s would say, “if so and so jumps off a bridge…are you going to?”  What I am trying to say, is “let’s do what we know God wants us to do.  We need to pray, pray the rosary and speak the truth always and at all cost.

  • chaco

    Dear Editor,  I see the confusion; The (Christ) in parenthesis after Anti-God referred to only God not the anti. I should have just used Anti-Christ or satan/devil. Yes, of course Christ can’t be the anti-God. As for God not needing anything; Ok, but he did create us and out of love for us, he brings Glory to himself out of world events so that we can witness it and respond by directing our Love toward him.   My main point was to amplify Buckaroo’s stressing how our Trust in God’s presence & providence needs to be visible & contagious in order to bring about The Kingdom.

  • markeyjoe

    Hey, why doesn’t the Gov’t just mandate that the Prescription Drug
    Manufacturers give birth control pills, other BC devices and
    abortifacient (morning after) pills for free, then everyone will be
    happy, right? then the doctors that perform surgical sterilization can be
    mandated to do it for free and then abortionists can be mandated to abort
    the babies for free

  • Cass

    I fully agree with you. By saying I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt, I was trying to be charitable. Some who want to use the government for social ends are truly well intentioned (though misguided). Others have a distorted view of rights (e.g., FDR’s “rights, UN “rights”) and duties. In their view, those who have, have a duty through government intervention, to provide for those who have not – whatever government decides is a right and by whatever means government decides. Thus we hear the incessant call by liberals for the “wealthy” to contribute their “fair share.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=530891020 Erika Higgins

    What a wonderfully refreshing article. It is good to know it is not just me who has felt confused/disapointed with how the leadership our Church has been involved in the political world. We have a great NEED to be part of the world but the hard part is making sure we do not become consumed by the world in our efforts to bring the world to Christ. It will be interesting to see where the Church in the United States goes from here (after the HHS mandate etc) and to where the majority of the Catholic vote goes to in the upcoming elections.

  • Jane

    Mr. Manion, You are SO on point.  This is one of the first and best written articles of this kind I’ve seen in the past few months and boy oh boy are you on point~!  Excellent sir, absolutely excellent!

  • Pingback: Rick Santorum and the Kingship of Christ, Part Three — Crisis Magazine()

  • By What Manner Ye Judge

    Illumanati. We know who you are. Project MK-Ultra anyone? I won’t take the charity of the whore that sits on “SEVEN MOUNTAINS” when the reserve act comes to an end Dec 21, 2012 around the time of the winter solstice at 11:11 am. Halios worship? Hmmm. As above, so below. To understand the serpent climbing a pole $, sometimes you have to march into the synagogues. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all catholics are deceived, or evil: most have good hearts.

    There are a group of us that know that there really is no such thing as Judeo-Christianity.

    Rev.2:9
    I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the “synagogue” of Satan.

    Many of us are willing to give our very lives for the testimony of Jesus Christ who is come in the flesh. Many of us are willing to March right into the synagogues and to expose those who seek to save their lives through money worship. Thankfully, there are those of us who will take in neighbors and friends and relatives when the global currency is instituted. Money should never have been invented in the first place. Now, money is nothing more than a means to an end.

    We are the Christian researchers who looking past the contradictions found in the most stolen and sold book in the world. We want to know the truth. We don’t worship King James. WE DEMAND THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPTS OR ELSE. Even the very book from which we have learned speaks about studying to show thyself approved. Well, that’s what many of us are doing constantly now. We don’t see God as a burden giver or one that seeks to destroy his children. We see God as love. Only satan seeks to give guilt trips, lies and confusion. We are tired of what has been hidden from us for centuries: The true untouched and untampered with WORD OF GOD. 

     

  • Luke

    Illumanati. We know who you are. Project MK-Ultra anyone? I won’t take the charity of the whore that sits on “SEVEN MOUNTAINS” when the reserve act comes to an end Dec 21, 2012 around the time of the winter solstice at 11:11 am. Halios worship? Hmmm. As above, so below. To understand the serpent climbing a pole $, sometimes you have to march into the synagogues. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all catholics are deceived, or evil: most have good hearts.

    There are a group of us that know that there really is no such thing as Judeo-Christianity.

    Rev.2:9
    I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the “synagogue” of Satan.

    Many of us are willing to give our very lives for the testimony of Jesus Christ who is come in the flesh. Many of us are willing to March right into the synagogues and to expose those who seek to save their lives through money worship. Thankfully, there are those of us who will take in neighbors and friends and relatives when the global currency is instituted. Money should never have been invented in the first place. Now, money is nothing more than a means to an end.

    We are the Christian researchers who looking past the contradictions found in the most stolen and sold book in the world. We want to know the truth. We don’t worship King James. WE DEMAND THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPTS OR ELSE. Even the very book from which we have learned speaks about studying to show thyself approved. Well, that’s what many of us are doing constantly now. We don’t see God as a burden giver or one that seeks to destroy his children. We see God as love. Only satan seeks to give guilt trips, lies and confusion. We are tired of what has been hidden from us for centuries: The true untouched and untampered with WORD OF GOD. 

     

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