They have laid the groundwork, now it's time for the groundswell. |
Fifth and final installment of a multi-part story of a grass-roots campaign that might well have changed the course of America for the better!
Over the past four installments we have been sharing with you the story of the Whittaker family - a simple family of 13 that said 'Yes' to God. Today, as we conclude this series, we want to focus on where we go from here. They have laid the groundwork, now it's time for the groundswell.
Michael Cain, editor
Keep in mind the Whittakers are only the catalyst, the instrument for Jesus and His Blessed Mother to lay out the tableau that is in harmony with the Divine Will. The Whittakers couldn't have accomplished what they did - raise over three and a half million Rosary pledges - had not people like you and me from all over the world responded in kind. They also are the unsung heroes working in harmony with God's Holy Will. Some were readers of The DAILY CATHOLIC and, for whatever small part we were able to play in helping you become aware of this noble cause, we are grateful to the Holy Spirit for touching your heart. But there are so many Catholics out there who have not only ever heard of this publication, or many other excellent Catholic sites out there on the net, but who really could care less what the Roman Catholic Church says. That is what is so sad. No wonder Our Lady weeps so.
When we asked Toni and Greg Whittaker what kind of support and cooperation they received from the bishops, their reply was a sad commentary on the problem between laity and the ecclesial community today, "There was none," Toni lamented, "Oddly, at a time when the bishops are promoting respect for life, it was hard to understand the complete lack of interest in this theme. It probably seemed too radical to get involved with a spontaneous grass-roots effort." Too radical? The Rosary? Your Eminences and Excellencies, have you forgotten the power of the Rosary? You should be ashamed for not endorsing this effort just because it was a "grass-roots" effort. It was nothing radical, nothing outside what Holy Mother Church encourages. Toni asserted that, "It is truly what this country needs. This is a battle. If only the Church in our country would see the issue of abortion as a battle. The Rosary is a wonderfully powerful weapon. Let's keep praying it."
But so many Catholics consider the Rosary old-fashioned, superstitious and 'old-Church.' That includes, sadly, some bishops who can't for the life of them understand why vocations are down in their dioceses and why there are very few fruits. Yet in those sees where the Rosary is encouraged, where Perpetual Adoration is encouraged, where a respect for God's Laws are strongly promoted, the Church is flourishing. There are so many Catholics out there who haven't got a clue because they have not been given the straight skivvy. When will they realize no program or agenda will work, no matter how noble, without first the support of heartfelt prayer. God needs man to do His work here on earth, but man needs God to carry it through! Yet so many dioceses have programs that lean more toward the humanistic. It's a lot of political correct pablum the faithful are being fed and many bishops are sitting on the fence for fear of losing financial support from influential wealthy 'Catholics.' Because of this, many Catholics are of the mindset that the Church is just a 'paper tiger', growling without bite! And the longer the bishops speak out without taking firm action, the more credence this receives.
It's time to unleash the catechistic 'cats' and the felines of fundamental doctrine; it's time for the bishops to roar from the pulpit with the conviction of their actions by taking action. Sadly, the time has come that the only action that can be taken is the same action Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz took several years ago in purging the Lincoln Diocese of the cancer of call to action and we are church, not to mention 'catholics' for a free choice. Even though, by Canon Law, any politician who has promoted, voted or legislated pro-abortion measures has automatically excommunicated themselves via Can. 1364, "With due regard for can. 194, paragraph 1, n. 2, an apostate from the faith, a heretic or a schismatic incurs automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication..." Canon 1369 begins to better define this: "A person who uses a public show or speech, published writings, or other media of social communications to blaspheme, seriously damage good morals, express wrongs against religion or against the Church or stir up hatred or contempt against religion or the Church is to be punished with a just penalty."
This is followed by Canon 1371 which states that the following are to be punished by a just penalty: 1. besides the situation mentioned in 1364, paragraph 1, a person who teaches a doctrine condemned by the Roman Pontiff or by an ecumenical council or who pertinaciously rejects the doctrine mentioned in can. 752 and who does not make a retraction after having been admonished by the Apostolic See or by the ordinary." Canon 752 states: "A religious respect of intellect and will, even if not the assent of faith, is to be paid to the teaching which the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops enuntiate on faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium even if they do not intend to proclaim it with a definitive act; therefore the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid whatever is not in harmony with that teaching."
Finally, in Title VI, Offenses Against Human Life and Freedom, in Canon 1397 we have "One who commits homicide or who fraudulently or forcibly kidnaps, detains, mutilates or seriously wounds a person is to be punished with the deprivations and prohibitions mentioned in can. 1336 in accord with the seriousness of the offense; however, homicide against persons mentioned in can. 1370 is punished by the penalties specified there. These latter two canons refer to acts against clerics. But 1398, nails it: "A person who procures a successful abortion incurs an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication."
Since the Church teaches that being an accomplice in a sin is a sin as well, then not only those who perform an abortion or have one are guilty in the eyes of God and the Church, but those who condone it through either their promotion, vote or legislation that continues this vile sin are guilty. In the same syllogism, those who are silent, who do not speak out and do not do all in their power to right the wrongs are also guilty of sin and, in accordance with Sacred Scripture, Canon Law and Church Doctrine not in harmony with God's Laws of Love and Life. Jesus says very clearly in Matthew 12: 30, "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me, scatters."
It is time for the bishops to gather with Him and to take action. That first action should be a substantial warning to all Catholic politicians in the same manner Bishop Bruskewitz extended to those adhering to the heresies of call to action, we are church, etc. If they have not repented of their ways in a reasonable amount of time - say three months - then they have incurred automatic excommunication latae sententiae and it should be thus pronounced as official to them and to all Catholics. They will have justly been given the bell, book and candle because they refused to follow Christ's teachings carried out by His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
This may seem severe, but what is more severe? Taking a stand for Our Lord's Word and His Church, or allowing this abomination to go unchecked while we keep crying foul? It is akin to a mother continually telling her child "don't do that" while she fails to do anything physically about it while he or she continue right on disobeying. Only when the child is rebuked by physical action such as a spanking - which we like to call 'a pat on the back below the belt' - or reoriented towards doing something else constructively or punished for his actions and given limits, then the child falls in line with his parent's directives. So also with the bishops. When the flock realizes our Catholic Bishops in America truly mean business you're going to have a lot more Catholics, as well as non-Catholics, sitting up and taking notice.
Right now, what the bishops are saying is still falling on deaf ears; it sounds like a broken record to so many. But if they use their episcopal powers and duties as called for in the Code of Canon Law and begin meting out just punishments for aiding the perpetuation of the Holocaust of the Womb, believe me more than a few Catholics are going to take notice and realize the error of their ways. It's time to crack the whip. If it means losing some Catholics who will opt for their own stubborn agenda over God's Will, so be it. Remember, Christ didn't beg those who had walked away from Him to come back, He didn't try to re-explain His words. Neither should the bishops. They're in the right only if they take the right action and begin wielding the clout they have. It will be interesting to see the reaction. How many politicians will repent and swing over to the Pro Life side, not for political expediency but for the sake of their soul? Maybe they've been rotting in their rut because the bishops have not been forceful enough. There will be those politicians who will stubbornly refuse and will ignore what the bishops mandate anyway, but at least they won't be able to call themselves Catholic anymore and that, in itself, will greatly reduce scandal that has 'Catholic' senators and 'Catholic' members of the House promoting murder and further confusing the faithful. It's time to drop the shades of gray and put things in black and white, draw the line in the sand, and all those other cliches which don't mean a hill of beans. What counts is saving lives and this is the only way we're going to do it action-wise.
Of course, none of this can be effective without prayer. That is why the Lepanto Rosary Campaign was so important. It is a start, but the race is not over. We need to supplement those 3, 552,326 Rosaries with more Rosaries. Toni suggested that perhaps it would be wonderful if a large organization, perhaps the Knights of Columbus, would take it over on a grand scale to collect 40 million [Rosaries] to overturn Roe vs. Wade. This goal would represent the 40 million lives of the unborn children who have been murdered by surgical abortions in this country alone. I'm sure it will take that much commitment. But who will do it? All during the campaign, I would think how easy it would be if a big organization would take it over, but that didn't happen."
And yet, God was with the Whittakers in accomplishing the impossible thanks to Perpetual Adoration groups, prayer groups, home school groups, devoted families, schools and concerned, committed individuals. However, by Toni's own admission, "We saw very little from priest, religious and seminarians. There were exceptions. One seminary in India pledged 1000 Rosaries to be said in the first five days. Some organizations posted the campaign on their website" These were EWTN, HLI, The DAILY CATHOLIC, and a few others. Drew Mariani of Marian Communications interviewed the Whittakers in the first week and the National Catholic Register mentioned it in an article, but other than that, there was very little publicity for such an important movement. Giving the bishops the benefit of the doubt that they did not know, we're going to help inform them more in the future.
Beginning within the next week or so we will begin running a daily series in these pages called "Herod's Heroes" in which, working with Dr. Frank Joseph - the dedicated Pro Life physician and author of his weekly "Pro Life Prescriptions" column - we are going to reveal who these 'Catholic' senators and members of the House are that are helping to promote abortion through their legislation and votes. In addition, we are going to match them up with the bishop of their residence diocese in hoping that shepherd will take action and let readers know who is responsible for the offending politician. We are calling the series "Herod's Heroes" because it is the young innocents who are being slaughtered just as King Herod slaughtered, through his orders, all first borns below the age of two in his attempts to kill the Christ Child. The so-called 'heroes' are those who carry out the execution orders and that would be politicians who promote abortion. If a bishop is not willing to put it on the line, then, sadly, he too would have to be included in that list as will anyone who knowingly votes for a pro-abort candidate or belongs to any organization that promotes the killing of the unborn.
William Cotter, who operates the excellent www.excommunication.net for the Saint Stanislaus Council in Massachusetts, puts it very succintly, "The excommunication of notorious abortion advocates would be directed to the end of reconciling these sinners with the Church, and for sake of the purity of the Church. We do not advocate that excommunication be conditioned upon a political calculus of whether or not a particular politician will change his voting habits as a result; or whether constituents will vote him out of office. Rather, the penalty should be imposed because it is right to do so.
"Bishops, in imitation of Christ, are called to teach, to sanctify, and to govern the Church. It is not consistent to demand of Catholic politicians that they govern in accord with Church teaching if the hierarchy does not itself govern by this standard. If promotion of the greatest holocaust of all time does not warrant the penalty of excommunication, then what does?"
Finally, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, Archbishop of Mexico City, has unequivocably said it best and we urge his confreres in the United States to follow suit: "Anyone who promotes or practices abortion, including legislators and governors, will be excommunicated by the Church."
Pope John Paul II has called for the Laity to evangelize and the Rosary is an excellent vehicle. Toni confirmed this, "We had Protestants and non-Christians watching the campaign. It was a great way to spread devotion to the Rosary." Though their campaign is over, we can only hope and pray that it has only begun. We strongly feel that the word needs to spread across this land, to every diocese, to every rooftop. We have endeavored, over these past five installments to tell the Whittakers' story not to extoll the messenger, but the message they so valiantly and persistently conveyed night and day. Toni points to Mother Angelica as an inspiration to continue their "Lepanto Rosary Campaign" when many discouraged the family that they had bitten off more than they could chew.
While we can't speak for Mother or the good folks at EWTN, we do know it would greatly behoove Mother to acknowledge this unsolicited "plug," this heartfelt endorsement of her spiritual pull, and share their story on her show. As we have said, this is a story that needs to be told, and told often to inspire others to respond the way the Whittakers have done. It is an inspiration that should forever impress minds and hearts. To help this along, we are sending this series of stories to EWTN, as well as Cardinal James Francis Stafford, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in Rome. If any family represents what the Curia is asking, it is the Whittakers. We also intend to send this to various other publications as well as Archbishop John Foley, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. He has long encouraged the media to promote and publicize the good that people do instead of the sensational and prurient. I can't think of a better feel-good story than this. If there are any Hollywood producers out there, let us know, for we have a story for you that will tug at hearts and empower spirits, for it is the story of the American know-how and determination.
More importantly, this story cries out for a sequel, one which will star the bishops and their necessary role in waking more Catholics up to what the Church truly stands for. We need more Whittakers in this world. Are they out there? Only time and prayer will tell. As we said at the beginning of this column, they have laid the groundwork, now it's time for the groundswell.
For the First Part of this series, see Changing the world - one Hail Mary at a time!
For the Second Part of this series, see Like Lepanto, the Battle for Life is worth it!
For the Third Part of this series, see "Grace was on the move!"
For the Fourth Part of this series, see A goal so near and yet so far!
For past editorials, see CATHOLIC PewPOINT Archives
February 21, 2001
volume 12, no. 52
CATHOLIC PewPOINT commentary