DAILY CATHOLIC     TUESDAY     July 21, 1998     vol. 9, no. 141


Just a lot of bull with no substance!

          Today is the 137th anniversary of the Battle of Bull Run which was, as historians know, the first major battle of the Civil War, fought in Massassas Junction, Virginia. It is renowned because, despite 30,000 Union troops, General Robert E. Lee was able to turn back the northerners. For that feat of standing solid like a stone wall, he was forever nicknamed "Stonewall." We have a pseudo civil war going on within the Church today. On one hand you have those who are loyal to the union of Holy Mother Church as directed by the supreme pontiff Pope John Paul II, and in the other camp you have those who take their pot shots from the bunkers of modern thought, rebels launching their own agendas in the name of the Church. Such an example was the Bishops' Letter last year - "All our children" - on parents accepting their children as homosexual - which was railroaded through without approval of the full body of bishops or Rome, for that matter. It's interesting to note how much play this received, in comparison to the Vatican release in November on abuses within the liturgy which has gone relatively unnoticed. Many of the bishops are stonewalling the efforts of the Holy Father because they don't want to hear the truths...they don't want to acclimate their comfort zone. Yet many continue to feed us a lot of bull about their programs, with little on striving for holiness.

          But this is nothing new. This coming Saturday we commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the release of an important encyclical by Pope Paul VI. It was his last, and the most controversial of all. We're talking, of course, of Humanae Vitae on the regulation of birth control and it was largely ignored and disdained by the bishops, not to mention the populace - especially in America. Because of our hard-heartedness we have suffered with abortion and every kind of sexual disease since. Is God trying to tell us something? One of the brightest lights within the American episcopacy is trying to tell us something. That would be Archbishop Charles Chaput the young Capuchin Native American who replaced Cardinal James Francis Stafford as Archbishop of Denver. Archbishop Chaput's meteoric rise within the Church is turning heads...and many souls. After thirty years of stonewalling Paul VI's encyclical, Archbishop Chaput is reminding all of the true essence of Humanae Vitae. It is so pertinent that we are running it in three installments under Bishopspeak in MITERS THAT MATTER, concluding on Thursday. The Denver Archbishop, along with such luminaries as Bishop John Myers and Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz (to mention just a few), represent a new movement within the Church, especially in the United States in stressing prayer, holiness and common sense loyalty. And, believe it or not, they are winning this "civil war" with a civil love that is winning hearts, not by stonewalling.

          The Holy Father is doing all he can to stop the stonewalling, to outflank the liberals with recent letters such as Ad Tuendam which tightens the parameters on theological dissent. Many feel it was the controversy over the excommunication and subsequent return of Oblate theololgian Father Tissa Balasuriya that prompted this Apostolic Letter, but we strongly suspect that is just the tip of the iceberg. What the Pope is really aiming at is to stop the plethora of university professors who have used the pulpit of public opinion to further their own thoughts at the expense of the Church - such men as James McBrien, Andrew Greeley and that ilk, plus numerous Jesuit and former priest and nun professors who pride themselves in being modernists. Less than two weeks ago the Vicar of Christ issued Dies Domini, which we are running in its entirety over the next several weeks. It is a reaffirmation of the sacredness of Sunday as the Lord's day, something that has been lost on society today and, sadly, within the Church. This fall the Holy Father will release another important encyclical on faith and reason, and on Thursday the Vatican will release another Apostolic Letter Apostolos Suos dealing with the theological and canonical status of episcopal conferences. In other words, the Pope is cleverly bringing the bishops back into line by assuring they don't go off on a tangent but remain devoted to their calling as shepherds of their flocks.

          The sheep are confused and baaing at the most recent announcement of another landmark settlement in yet another pedophile case that brings shame to Holy Mother Church. Sadly, the media has made it seem as if this is solely a Catholic problem. The truth is there are more Protestant ministers guilty of this vile sin than ordained priests, but we don't hear about that because it is not sensational enough. As we have mentioned many, many times in these columns - this is the age of Catholic bashing and they do a pretty good job of painting Catholics as perverted. Let's face it, everyone is a sinner and there are those out there who, for some reason or another, fall prey to the perversion that turns one's stomach. But the percentages bear out that it is minute, but to read media reports one wouldn't think so. Consider there are nearly a billion Catholics in this world. We know of seven known pedophile cases that have been reported over the past few years. Seven is still seven too many, but think about it: Seven out of millions and millions? A drop in the ocean. But that one drop can cause the offender to be plunged into the sea as Jesus says in Matthew 18: 6, "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it were better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. It is a sad commentary when reparation is made up in dollars rather than good works. Sorry, but can't see where a psyche is healed or justified by the dollar sign - no matter how many zeroes may come after it. That only contributes to the Catholic bashing as attorneys, in the fashion of their ambulance-chasing image, will take the slightest hint of pedophile and run with it, playing on the lurid details and public abhorence of these crimes and make the Church the culprit - because she has money that can be milked by these high-priced shysters who masquerade for the sake of justice. Not that the bishops are totally innocent. Too many have been in their "ivory towers" so long they have lost touch with the pulse of their diocese. That is how the former vicar general of Dallas covered up Rudy Kos's abnormal behavior. The bishop trusted the wrong people. Now the bishop of Stockton, California is faced with the fallout from the abnormal behavior of a Fr. Oliver O'Grady, who is currently serving time in Mule Creek State Prison, having been convicted in 1993. Like Bishop Charles Grahmann in Dallas, Bishop Donald Montrose in Stockton inherited this mess from past bishops - Bishop Thomas Tschoepe in Dallas and in Stockton - Bishop Merlin Guilfoyle and, before him - Cardinal Roger Mahony. Unlike Dallas, the Stockton diocese will get none of the 30 million from insurance. Also, contrary to the Kos situation, the Stockton case was documented in police files including a 1976 secret letter of admittal by O'Grady in Mahony's file that the cardinal totally denies knowing anything about. Folks, there's something rotten in Denmark and until our bishops start taking hold we're in for a fetid time. Too many of the bishops are more concerned with the administrative and financial aspects of their regimes and forget the real purpose of their mission - to bring people closer to God through example. That's exactly what Bishop Chaput said to hundreds of bishops at the American Synod in Rome and how right he is. It's a sad commentary when the bishop of Stockton laments the case not for what shame it has caused the Roman Catholic Church, but for the loss of funds that greatly endanger the "programs" within his diocese, thus depriving the people. We don't think it is so much the programs - which in too many dioceses have proved a failure as Archbishop Chaput has verified - rather than the calibre of leadership and holiness exhibited by the shepherds that will produce fruits and bring people closer to God. Archbishop Chaput has the right idea and it's about time the majority of the bishops fall in line. The Holy Father's decrees on Thursday will be a step in the right direction. Anything short of compliance will just continue the not-so-civil war within the Church and the bishops' battle of Bull Run - just a lot of bull with no substance!

Michael Cain, editor