DAILY CATHOLIC   FRI-SAT-SUN   November 20-22, 1998   vol. 9, no. 228

CATHOLIC PewPOINT

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Man cannot serve two masters! Nor can the bishops!

          This weekend we celebrate one of the great feasts of the year. It is the crowning feast to a liturgical season that has progressed from preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior in Advent last year to the joyous Christmas season and the time of Epiphany before going into a four to six week period of Ordinary Time before we came upon the solemn season of Lent which featured the life of Our Lord and led up to Holy Week and His Passion and Death. We then celebrated gloriously the Resurrection and the Paschal season up through the Ascension leading to the Feast of Pentecost. We observed three straight Sunday feasts - Pentecost Sunday, Holy Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi Sunday. Then we returned to Ordinary Time until this final weekend before Thanksgiving when we now mark the closing week of the Church liturgical calendar by proclaiming Jesus our King.

          It is fitting as we mark the next-to-last year before the new millennium that we focus our attention on the monarchy of Christ and remember the hierarchy Jesus established, appointing His Vicar on earth - first with Saint Peter and followed by 264 other successors chosen by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to guide and lead His Holy Church through the two millenniums following Our Lord's redemptive suffering, death, rising from the dead and Ascension into Heaven. He also left His authority with the Apostles and their successors - the bishops.

          Today the bishops need to get back to acting like the apostles. They need to once more reassert their authority and stand for all Jesus commanded. They need to disdain this world and, through their example, lead the way for their flocks to gain eternal life by the only way souls can attain the merits of Heaven and residence in the Heavenly Royal Court - through the Cross. This translates to suffering, penance and prayer. It is our ticket to eternal salvation. But too many bishops fail to convey this as wise and responsible shepherds to their flock. Because of this weakness on many appointed episcopals, the Church today, especially in the United States, is left in a state of confusion, doubt and ignorance. Until now too few bishops were strong enough to stand up against Catholic politicians who, despite what they must believe and follow as members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, swerve from their creed and the doctrines of the Church in favor of pleasing their constituents. This is a prime example of "cafeteria Catholicism" wherein one wrongly thinks they can pick and choose the doctrines they want to believe or that are expedient and those they don't like or would hinder their lifestyle, they rationalize they don't have to follow. Sorry, but anyone doing that might as well call themselves "Protestants" because by their protesting, by their rebelling against the Catholic truths, no longer merit being called Catholic. The list of "Catholic" politicians who fall under this category are longer than we all would like. Hopefully, that list will be shortened considerably and we base this hope on a strong pro-life declaration voted on by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops this week in Washington, D.C. in which the bishops overwhelmingly approved a statement that would assure Catholic politicians adhere to Catholic doctrine both in their private lives and public lives as servants of the people. The vote was a lopsided 217 to 30. So who are the thirty who cowardly voted against these strict measures? We don't know all of them yet, but we do know, from the news article by CWN carried in today's NEWS & VIEWS, that the bishop from Albany, New York Bishop Howard Hubbard is one of the "fence-sitters" - the lukewarm which God alludes to in Apocalypse/Revelation 3: 15, "But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to vomit thee out of My mouth."

          It bothers us greatly that Bishop Hubbard would be so concerned that by passing this statement that Catholic flocks and non-Catholic voters will think the Catholic politicians are nothing but puppets of the Church. It reveals a modernist's narrow thinking. Doesn't he realize that the only hope for America today is for the Church to speak out and act as one? After all, for over two millenniums as cultures and societies, empires and kingdoms have risen and fallen, one entity remained constant in this world - the Roman Catholic Church. And why? Not just because Jesus has promised He would be with her until the consummation of the world (cf. Matthew 28: 20), but also because the Church has always strived to swim upstream against the devil's current of convenience and exploitation of others. Holy Mother Church has stood as the beacon of Faith, Hope and Love in a world of darkness and never has the world been darker than today. Yet, when the bishops need to be totally united in upholding Catholic doctrine, dogma and tradition, there are a few who want to paddle their own canoe because they think they can enjoy both sides of the coin. They're going to go bankrupt spiritually if they think that; for the great deposit of Faith will not allow one to serve two masters. By bishops balking at staunchly affirming that great deposit of Faith, then they are not only bankrupting their souls and the souls of their flocks through their actions and inactions, but depleting the Church of her rightful mission on earth. Hubbard, who is supposed to be a wise shepherd, shows his true ignorance when he blurts out "we should just trust people...to cast their vote." Can you believe that?

          Isn't that how this country and the Church in America has gotten itself into this mess in the first place? By trusting in the finite being and forgetting the Infinite? Exactly! They failed to understand what Our Lord meant when He says in Matthew 22: 21, "Render, therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." The Sanctity of life is not Caesar's but God's. Too many bishops allowed their flocks to forget this fact and many other truths of the Church. Sadly too few bishops exerted their pastoral powers immediately following Vatican II and allowed the people to turn their local parishes into democracies. They evidently trusted the people, and forgot to truly study the Vatican II documents. They got caught up in the "spirit of Vatican II" and failed to realize that the "spirit of Vatican II" had nothing to do with the Holy Spirit; Vatican II itself did, but the "spirit" in "spirit of Vatican II" was from that other other-world destination. "Satan," as Pope Paul VI said himself, "has infiltrated the Church and is now in the sanctuary." Why? Could it be because too few bishops endeavored to uphold the teachings and ensure that all the faithful received the proper education of the faith? Could it be that too few bishops placed spirituality as paramount in their diocese despite the lure for materialism and monies to fill the coffers of their diocese? Could it be that too few bishops ignored the voices of those with money in favor of professing the truth no matter the financial outcome? Could it be that too few bishops emphasized confessions and would not allow laxity to set in? Could it be that too few bishops preached the Gospel and truly lived it? Could it be that too few bishops remained loyal to liturgical directives from Rome? Could it be that too few bishops refused to be swayed by modernists and liberals that had infiltrated parishes, schools and chanceries? Could it be that too few bishops practiced humility and disdained the trappings of pride and power? Could it be that too few bishops remembered that they are successors of the Apostles?

          The answer is "Yes" to all those questions and the fact bishops are still concerned with what others think and forgetting what Christ demands verifies that we're still in trouble today. For every great bishop like Cardinal John O'Connor of the Archdiocese of New York City who is not afraid to speak out for the Church no matter the consequences, there is a Bishop Hubbard from upstate who cowers and cringes when asked to assert the Faith. This is a sad commentary on our shepherds today and the main reason the Church is in such disarray. Bishop Anthony Pilla of Cleveland, in his closing remarks as he turned over the gavel to the new president of the NCCB this past week, asked all factions within the Church to be considerate of each other and work together. That's a compromise we can't abide by, your excellency! By that we mean if someone is spewing heresy and viewpoints that go against Church teaching, there is no room for debate. The Holy Father has made that very clear regarding abortion, homosexuality, women priests, etc. Yet there are bishops like Archbishop Rembert Weakland, OSB of Milwaukee who still tries to forge these issues on the Church despite the Pope's decrees. We must pray for these weak and lukewarm bishops and their flocks for they are being mislead. We must pray that the Holy Father will continue to appoint good, loyal and committed bishops to dioceses where fence-sitting prelates take up space and contribute to satan's schemes. We must all remember Christ's words in Matthew 6:24, "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will stand by the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." We must pray that the people will come to the realization that Holy Mother Church is not a democracy. Think about it as we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King this weekend and consider the liberal Catholic demands to have as much say as the Pope, Christ's appointed Vicar on earth in their quest for democracy in the Church. We ask one final question: How can you have a King in a democracy? Man cannot serve two masters! Nor can the bishops!

Michael Cain, editor