As we alluded to in our editorial last week, this whole election mess would hinge on the prayers to the Blessed Mother Mary in intercession to her Divine Son Jesus. Along with so many other ministries and apostolates, we urged all to pray. We continue to do so, for our work is far from done. The Lepanto 2000 Crusade, organized at a grass roots level by Toni Whittaker, of Front Royal, Virginia, has already secured pledges for 570,000 Rosaries worldwide. The Whittaker family took these pledges with them as they prayed before the U.S. Supreme Court building last week. As they quietly prayed outside, the nine Justices inside were struggling with a landmark decision that would ultimately decide the fate of our nation. The Whittakers also took with them the Miraculous Image of Our Lady's Tilma. Toni's daughter Bernadette Whittaker boldly held this sacred icon high as she parted the sea of political protesters on both sides. Amidst the cacaphony of angry derisiveness and shouting, detractors and supporters from both parties gathered outside the steps of this massive temple of Justice in Washington, D.C. It wasn't the catcalling God heard nor the demands from either side, who clearly did not practice Christ's call to love one another; no, it was the quiet, humble storming of Heaven by loyal Catholics offering over 30 million spiritual roses - Hail Marys - that reached the ear and heart of the Almighty. Yes, God heard the prayers of His faithful and His ordaining Will was fulfilled.
Thus, it was no coincidence, but rather another Godincidence that the final nail in pro-abort Al Gore's presidential-aspirations coffin was sealed on her Feast of Guadalupe. It was the 469th anniversary of when she asked Blessed Juan Diego in 1531 to spread the message to the New World that human sacrifice must stop. Known today as "Our Lady of the Americas" and "Our Lady of the Unborn" God allowed the ennobler of the culture of death to be defeated on her feast just as the Turkish threat was stopped by the Christian fleet at Lepanto as we prayed would happen in our October editorial Just like Lepanto, the victory can be ours if we want it badly enough!
Now standing tall, yet bruised and bloodied from the long battle, much like Don Juan of Austriawho led the Christian fleet against the infidels against almost unsurmountable odds, stands President-elect George W. Bush who we look to, through his Republican platform and compassionate conservative agenda, to return America to God and restore the culture of life in our society. As both Gore and Bush have graciously said, it is time for healing, it is time to reunite. Truer words were never spoken and we call on all Americans, all Catholics to unite in an effort to return to the good graces of God's loving, tender mercies by acknowledging His supremacy above all else, by acknowledging that He alone is the Creator and man must abide by His laws first and foremost in respecting life in all stages.
Considering the long drawn-out court contests over the five weeks following the election and all the constitutional confusion, we're all in need of a transfusion. But be careful if you are admitted to a hospital or clinic. You could end up being treated by an abortionist. We know, they're still doctors, but the same ol' refrain "they're not doing an abortion on you, so what does it matter if they're taking care of you?" still rings hollow because, in truth, they are doing an abortion on you if you condone their practicing medicine by submitting yourself as a patient to them. Why? Because by agreeing to be treated by someone who has taken the Hippocratic Oath to uphold life you are approving the lie. In truth they live by the Hypocritic Oath! But how are you to know who is who or what? This scenario sounds almost as confusing as how to count hand-ballots, but let us explain, and hopefully we won't have to take it to a higher court of appeals. In fact, it is from the Highest Court of Appeals that we base our argument.
Action or reaction?
It used to be that you were assured you would receive ethical and caring treatment when you went to a Catholic hospital. For decades Catholic hospitals stood as the icon of the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy, caring for the welfare of both body and soul. Notice we put this in the past tense because what used to be is now, sadly, only a memory. Despite the efforts of the most recent Sovereign Pontiffs of the last fifty years - Pope Pius XII, Blessed Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, John Paul I and, above all, His Holiness Pope John Paul II in upholding the Sanctity of Life throughout their pontificates, Catholic Health Care has slipped badly, very badly. As an example of how Catholic Health Care in America has failed so miserably and caved to government funding and regulations, we point to an article that ran on December 6th in Catholic World News that for the past three years St. Elizabeth Medical Center, run by the Sisters of Divine Providence in Granite City, Illinois in the Diocese of Springfield, has had, as its chief of obstetrics and gynecology, a known abortionist. He is Dr. Yogendra Shah, who has performed over 7,000 abortions a year directly across the street from St. Elizabeth's. It is not as if he has been murdering the unborn secretly. No! In fact his clinic - "Hope [Abortion] Clinic for Women" openly advertises, even having a website that boasts that they offer "abortions even beyond 24 weeks on a case-by-case basis" and try to lure the underage girls to have an abortion by emphasizing that "no parental or spousal consent is required for a patient to have an abortion at our clinic."
As shocking as this is, consider the action when Springfield's Bishop George Lucas saw the story: He took action immediately and the next day effectively had Shah removed as the head he should have and as all bishops should. Unfortunately, because of state and federal laws, he could not fire him from his job with the hospital but did lesson his powers as director. The bishop's action is laudable, but Bishop Lucas and the Bishop-emeritus of the See Bishop Daniel Ryan both had to have known for the past three years of Shah's abominable actions because they often prayed with pro-lifers in front of his abortuary. Please don't tell us they were not aware of the administrators at St. Elizabeth's. What is even sadder is that both prelates were less than a month removed from the NCCB Bi-Annual Plenary Council in Washington, D.C. in which this very point was raised. But it took the laity and Christian media to scare the Bishop into acting - or should we say, in this case, reacting.
It's called obedience!
This is troubling to say the least. What is even more troubling is an earlier news item from Catholic World News on December 1 that truly underlines this problem. It deals with the bishops' stance on holding the line on Health Care as the Holy See has demanded. Rather than being obedient to the Bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Christ as, we might add, the bishops in Germany finally submitted obediently to the Pope over the abortion counseling issue, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops failed miserably during their most recent bi-annual Plenary Council by not strengthening their stance in standing strong against abortion, sterilization and contraception in Catholic medical facilities across this great nation. What, in essence, the article pointed out is that in the discussion of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Services (ERDs) the Bishops "may have weakened the directives rather than strengthened them." What is more alarming is that the radical, excommunicated director of pro-abort "'catholics' for a free choice" Frances Kissling treated the bishops' statement as a victory for her side, summing it up as, "This is a sign that both the Catholic bishops and the Catholic health systems want to negotiate with the Vatican behind the scenes. They are hopeful they can soften the language and get that accepted."
In other words, compromise principles and ethics, morals and values! Kissling went on to reveal what many of the liberal bishops silently conceal, but their actions expose their agenda and strategy: "Unless this Pope dies before this issue is settled, there is very little chance that the Vatican is going to back down. I think we will see as much stalling as the bishops can muster." One of the chief spokesman for this group of liberal bishops is Cincinnati's Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarcyzk who long has tried to steer the NCCB in that direction of stalling the Holy See, of seeking to establish a separate autonomy of the Church in America, citing many times the American mind-set vs. the European thinking. It would seem he is missing the point Christ Himself set down to the First Bishop of Rome and passed on to 264 successors of Peter and that is, as recorded in Matthew 16: 18-19, "Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven." In all due respect to Archbishop Pilarcyzk and many of his modernist-leaning colleagues within the collegiallity of bishops in the United States, Our Lord did not say "and whatever any of your fellow apostles decide to do, the majority rules." The Church is not a democracy, but rather a Monarchy with an established Heirarchy set-up in a chain of command that leads to ultimate obedience to the direct successor of Peter to whom Our Lord said "thou shalt" not "you all." The bishops are successors of the Apostles, the Pope is the successor of Peter. Christ is King of the Kingdom of Heaven and He has appointed an earthly monarch, if you will, which we call the Sovereign Pontiff, Supreme Pontiff, Vicar of Christ. John Paul II is the PAPA, which, as decreed by Pope Saint Siricus in the fourth century, is an anagram for "Petri Apostoli Potestatem Accipiens." All obedience and honesty needs to be afforded him by not only the faithful, but the bishops as well.
The reason we bring this up from that article is that Pilarczyk made a point that cries out for challenge and we can see His Eminence Cardinal John O'Connor rolling over in his grave. The Archbishop said, "New situations have arisen, in the already complex world of health care, to which earlier expressions of traditional moral principles seem no longer wholly adequate." Say what? Then he added, possibly to couch his words, "Catholic health care organizations are not permitted to engage in immediate material cooperation in wrongdoing," and that is to be subject to] "pastoral judgment." That should scare the most loyal Catholic because when challenged on this about the possibility of scandal because different dioceses were holding different standards on 'seemingly similar circumstances,' Pilarczyk responded, "Prudential judgment by definition cannot be standardized. Circumstances vary because no two Catholic-secular health care alliances are the same...We cannot guarantee virtue." No, your Excellency, you cannot guarantee virtue, but, by the power and responsibility entrusted in you as a priest and episcopal member of the Magisterium, you can and must guarantee that virtue will be applied to eradicate the vice! Cardinal O'Connor said he would shut down the Catholic institutions rather than compromise the Doctrine of the Church. As much as it pained him to even consider such a drastic action, it showed his conviction and obedience to Christ's Laws and His Holy Church.
Reading between the lines of the Writing on the wall
The sad thing in all this, just as is going on with this whole presidential election mess in Florida, the media seeks out the most liberal voices to speak for the people. In this case, Pilarczyk was only too willing to speak for his agenda, the same way he waivered on "Ecclesia Corde" by backing down from insisting on the Bishops' power to assure theologians adhere to Church teaching in colleges and institutions of higher learning. It should be known that he speaks not for the majority, but for the desperate block of liberal bishops clinging with hope that they can "outlast this Pope." What does that tell you? With the passing a few years ago of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, Archbishop Pilarczyk took up the torch, but rather than gaining more support on the left, there are defections within the ranks. Even Cardinal Roger Mahony has toned down his liberal leanings considerably and fallen more in line with the rest of the United States cardinalate. Could one reason for this be that His Eminence in Los Angeles can see the writing on the wall?
What do we mean by that? The great hope here, as we near the end of the great Jubilee Year, is that the Pope will bestow even more conservative, loyal bishops in America with the red hat early next year during his 8th Consistory. It's almost a given that Archbishop Edward Egan of New York and Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, newly appointed in Washington, D.C., will be elevated to the College of Cardinals for those Sees traditionally are granted cardinalships. Then you have the Archdiocese of St. Louis in Missouri where, standing as the "gateway to the west," it has been established that it is worthy of having a cardinal, already having had three in the past - Cardinals John Glennon, Joseph Ritter and John Joseph Carberry. His Holiness even considered the late Archbishop John L. May of St. Louis for a red biretta before his 5th Consistory of June 28, 1991. However, because of May's ill health, the Holy Father selected Cardinal Mahony. Archbishop May resigned a year and a half later and passed to his Heavenly reward on March 24, 1994. Just over a week before his death the Holy Father had his own hand-picked conservative prelate from Italy Archbishop Justin F. Rigali installed. It would seem quite likely that he will be appointed cardinal as well. That's three new ones for the United States.
Rocky Mountain Reverberations in Rome?
Now let's look at the "wild card," if you will. Assuming three Archbishops will be appointed, there is a possibility a fourth archbishop could be selected. Because of the changing demographics, population and influence within the United States, and depending on the number the Holy Father has determined to appoint in his upcoming Consistory, could it not be possible he might expand the sees within the US who are granted cardinals? That is very possible and one See that stands out is the growing Archdiocese of Denver. Remember, it was Denver which hosted the very, very successful World Youth Days in 1993. The shepherd of that see was Cardinal James Francis Stafford, who, three years later, was hand-picked by John Paul II to head up the Pontifical Council for the Laity in Rome and, two years after that, was named in the Holy Father's most recent Consistory of February 1, 1998. At the same time John Paul the Great appointed Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap. from the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota to head the See of Denver where he was installed on April 7, 1997.
Elevated to the episcopate on July 26, 1988, this forthright, virtuous prelate and fast-rising loyal prelate has spoken out strongly to and for his flock ever since. His words and actions have echoed across the country with what the Church in America should do. The way he governs in a loving, pastoral manner and the way his See is organized is a model for all other dioceses. He leads by example - the example of Christ. At 56, this dedicated prelate represents what this Pope is looking for in leadership of the Church - youth, enthusiasm and a strong allegiance to the Doctrines and Traditions of the Church with no compromise on what Rome has spoken. He is, along with the high profile US cardinals, one of the most staunch pro-life prelates in America today. Denver has been at the forefront of upholding the culture of life in all its stages and Archbishop Chaput, an excellent ecumenist as well, has been able to bring all sides together in this cause. Because Denver is so pivotal in the growing region of the Rocky Mountains, and because there is a void of "cardinalate representation" between the Mississippi and the Pacific Ocean, it would seem a natural that Archbishop Chaput could easily be a darkhorse, so to speak, and, in so doing, become the first Native American cardinal in history...an honor long overdue and a fitting tribute to our heritage in these United States.
Were these appointments to occur, and mind you, we are merely speculating here considering that the Holy Father is guided not only by the Holy Spirit but many, many advisors, including the ear of Cardinal Stafford, then the Church in America would be in much greater stead and lean more to full agreement and compliance with Rome. This action would also go a long way in shrinking the voices of the modernist movement among the bishops for, as we said earlier, Archbishop Chaput is an uniter but not a compromiser. His appointment would lend strong credibility and endorsement to his pastoral method and influence many who are now on the fence "politically" where, in truth the latter should be committed to Christ in every way in the same manner His Excellency in Denver has manifested.
Those bishops on the fence could take a lesson from the editor of The Catholic World Report and Catholic World News service Philip Lawler. Phil just returned from a leave of absence. The reason he was gone for over half a year? He was running for senate against strong pro-abort Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts. Sadly, he lost, gaining only 3% of the total vote, even though Massachusetts is heavily Catholic, even though he ran on a strong Pro-Life platform. Yet, because his coffers were meager - $75,000. for the entire campaign compared to six million dollars for Kennedy - and because the false prophets of the secular media wouldn't give him the time of the day - much in the same manner they treated Alan Keyes - Phil's plunge into politics is over. That's sad for the Senate, sad for the state, but we're delighted to have him return as editor of that excellent publication overseen by Father Joseph Fessio, S.J. of Ignatius Press. Their loss is loyal Catholics' gain. Phil learned many lessons during his sojourn into the political arena, but the greatest lesson he learned in deciphering the Catholic vote in the state and nationwide is the following as he writes, "Are most American Catholics actively opposed to the Church's teaching on the dignity of human life, are they indifferent, or are they simply not paying attention? In any case, the Catholic Church has failed to sway the political opinions of her own faithful. My excursion into secular politics leaves me more convinced than ever that we cannot expect reform in society at large until we achieve reform within our Church."
We agree wholeheartedly with Phil's assessment and argue that this is another reason that this reform will only happen through the prayers of grass roots apostolates like Lepanto 2000 Rosary Crusade and other like ministries in unison with the faithful. It will only happen with the recognition and emergence of true leaders of Archbishop Chaput's calibre and holy humility. Prayer and appointments are the only way the liberal voices will shrink to merely being a necessary evil. It is the only way the Catholic Church in America and the NCCB can reright the ship and set its rudder firmly in the same direction as the Barque of Peter. Knowing the Holy Father's intentions and actions throughout the past twenty-two years, it's a very possible and plausible supposition that he could appoint three or four new American cardinals. With the recent evading of the issues during the NCCB Plenary Council and the obvious failure of many bishops to carry out their responsibilities and Apostolic duties, the laity's increased evangelization and Archbishop Chaput's elevation would also send a very strong message to America that it's time for our Bishops to be Shepherds, not Shirkers!