A recent article of mine praised Sacramento Bishop William Weigand for warning the pro-abortion Governor of California, Gray Davis, that he was placing his soul in jeopardy for his support of the destruction of innocent human beings in their mothers' wombs by means of abortion. Bishop Weigand's warning came in a homily delivered on the thirtieth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, January 22, and was in response to Monsignor Edward Kavanagh's refusal to let Davis distribute gifts to children at a Catholic orphanage in Sacaramento. Bishop Weigand noted that it was not right to let a pro-abortion Catholic have a forum of any sort in any Catholic institution.
Bishop Weigand stands relatively alone, however, among his brother bishops in the American hierarchy. Take, for example, Francis Cardinal George's refusal to block the appearance of the pro-abortion Reverend Alton "Al" Sharpton as the homilist during Holy Mass at St. Sabina Church in Chicago on Sunday, February 9, 2003. A spokesman for Cardinal George issued the following statement on February 7, 2003:
"Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., learned from the news media that the Rev. Al Sharpton has been invited to speak at St. Sabina's on February 9 in the course of celebrating Black History Month. The Cardinal supports the celebration but does not approve of the invitation because of the Rev. Sharpton's present political candidacy and his pro-abortion stance.
"Since the homily at Mass is a liturgical action, the homilist is to be a bishop, priest or deacon. This is the normal sacramental discipline of the Catholic Church. Archdiocesan policy also respects the civil internal revenue laws prohibiting direct political campaigning during a worship service.
"The Cardinal believes, however, that making a case of this invitation at this time would be a futile gesture and a waste of effort."
One must be quite blunt about what is going on here. Cardinal George has full plenipotentiary powers as the Archbishop of Chicago. He has complete and unquestioned power over his parishes. While many instances of liturgical abuse, including "homilies" given by laymen or even non-Catholics, come to the attention of a diocesan ordinary ex post facto, Cardinal George received knowledge in advance of Mr. Sharpton's scheduled "homily" at St. Sabina Church. He is not lacking in any ecclesiastical power whatsoever to stop this egregious pro-abort from taking the pulpit in one of his own churches. He lacks the will to do so.
Cardinal George is refusing to exercise his episcopal powers, thereby giving great scandal to the faithful and emboldening an obviously renegade pastor with an affinity for leftist activists to invite more and more such people to use a Catholic Church as a forum to promote themselves as representatives of peace and justice. This leads an uninformed Catholic to think that someone who supports the mystical destruction of Jesus Christ in the person of preborn children can help to foster peace and justice on earth without regard for the binding, immutable precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law. Providing such a forum to a pro-abort reaffirms the belief of many malformed Catholics that abortion is simply "one" issue among many, one that is unrelated to poverty, true social justice or even international peace.
Cardinal George's refusal to exercise his episcopal power only emboldens the enemies of the Church. Indeed, Pope Pius XI noted in Quas Primas in 1925 that the failure of Catholics to take strong stands in defense of truth only emboldens the wicked. All of Cardinal George's wonderful pro-life rhetoric in Washington prior to the March for Life recently is undermined by his refusal to take action against an outrage he has the power and the duty to prevent. One does not serve the cause of fundamental justice founded in the splendor of Truth Incarnate by shrinking from the responsibility to defend life by refusing a forum to anyone who supports even one abortion under cover of law as legitimate and just.
A "futile gesture" and "waste of effort"? Cardinal George is saying that opposing Sharpton's appearance at St. Sabina Church is futile because he, Cardinal George, has made it so by his refusal to exercise his authority when has a duty to do so. And, let's be blunt once more, Cardinal George has made it so apparently because he does not want to run the risk of offending parishioners in a largely black parish in "Black History" month by overriding their pastor's choice of a pro-abortion black speaker to give a homily during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In short, Cardinal George apparently believes it is futile to oppose Sharpton's appearance out of fear that he and the Catholic Church might be called racist by Sharpton.
So what? Al Sharpton is a demagogue who uses the "race card" as a handy device to bully and bluster his way onto the public stage. It doesn't matter what color a person's skin is if he or she supports the destruction of innocent human beings in their mothers' wombs. It doesn't matter what political party a person belongs to if he or she believes it is possible to promote justice and peace while the innocent preborn are slaughtered systematically under cover of law. It doesn't matter whether a person is a man or woman if he or she does not understand that the God-Man spent nine months in His Blessed Mother's virginal and immaculate womb to place Himself in solidarity with every child in every mothers' womb for all eternity. Pro-aborts of any description are at war with the God-Man Himself and by that very fact have no right to appear in any Catholic forum at any time. And a diocesan ordinary has to have the courage to run the risk of being called all kinds of names for sending a clear signal in this regard. Period. End of argument.
I am sure the pastor at St. Sabina would never invite someone who is a racist to speak in his parish. As evil as racism is, however, it is less of an evil than the killing of the innocent preborn, which is one of the four crimes that call out to Heaven for vengeance. If a racist would be denied, quite rightly, a forum in a Catholic Church, then why in the world does a Catholic pastor extend an invitation to a speaker who believes that mothers have a "right" to subject their preborn children to unspeakably cruel deaths at the hands of a baby-killer? One has to ignore the plain words of Our Lord ("Whatsoever you do to the least of My brethren, that you do unto Me") to provide a forum to a person who supports the American Holocaust.
Following the descent of the Holy Ghost upon them on Pentecost Sunday, the Apostles did not live in fear as they proclaimed the Cross of the Divine Redeemer. Indeed, they rejoiced because they were deemed worthy of ill-treatment for the sake of the Name, as the Acts of the Apostles records. They were willing to be beaten and imprisoned and martyred for their fidelity to the Gospel of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Why is Cardinal George so unwilling to run the risk of unpopularity by putting a stop to outrages such as the run taking place at St. Sabina on February 9 (and that have taken place in that same parish - and in other parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago - far too frequently)?
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, loaded down with our sins, have mercy on us.
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.