Having confessed this, that does not mean that I have not prayed for those involved in such a sordid affair, that I have not sought God's help in understanding what He, the Almighty, wishes of us, His children, in light of these events and the ramifications to life in the American society (note: I did not say the political arena where most of this has been and will be played out).
God is our Father. Every person's father, regardless of race, religion, politics, or the like. The sublime dignity of being a child of God is one we need to take seriously, for it is an integral part of our Symphony of Suffering while we sojourn on earth. I was struck with last Sunday's Gospel about the prodigal son. In my younger years, I struggled with this passage, as perhaps most of us did. As I've grown older, God has been merciful to enlighten me with a bit of understanding (and being a parent has helped, too!).
To some degree we are all prodigal sons while we are struggling to return to our Father in Heaven, via the way Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, showed to us during His earthly life. We squander our Father's riches (His graces and His mercies), and we are stubborn and obstinate in doing His Will, rather than seeking our own will in the way of the world, the flesh, and the devil. So, it stands to reason that if we, individually, can pardon our own waywardness during the course of our lives, should we not then pardon just as profusely, the waywardness of someone like Bill Clinton, and Monica Lewinsky, and the others who covered up the deceit, the lies, the abuse of power, etc.? It would seem, from what I have heard on the TV news, that the poll takers are at it again, and the consensus is that the majority of Americans would just as soon the man resigned, so that the American People wouldn't have to go through the rigors of an impeachment proceeding, or a censure of the president by Congress. It's called saving face, or a bunch of other idiomatic phrases that come to mind. It's called salving our conscience. If we are going to be able to look God in the face and tell Him why we did certain things in our live, then we find it much easier to just have Clinton fade from the scene, taking with him the scarring memories of his own debacles.
Nonetheless, the truth of the situation is far greater than we wish to realize, and if we are able to realize the truth of the Clinton scandal, then we are in better shape of honing our conscience individually to accept the truth of our own failings, and setting them straight while we have time.
It's not enough to seek impeachment or censure. It's not enough to simply wish the man and his crimes would retire from office, so we could get on with the business of keeping the American economy and presence as a world power strong. It's not enough to say, "It's private", and we have no part of it with Bill Clinton. On the contrary, it's not private, but public, as he is an elected official who owes his job, and therefore his actions while on the job, to the American people. He has lied, he has cheated, he has committed adultery, he has abused his office and the power of that office to keep the American people in the dark, believing in his two-faced lies, which are apparently swallowed whole and intact by a gullible public who can't see any further than their bank account, the fine home they own, the new school their kids go to, the fancy car in the driveway, the big-screen TV, the vacations that are taken, the credit cards that revolve so nicely, etc.
This, my dear friends, affects you and I. It affects us profoundly in two ways: First, we are affected by the sins, for all sin has a domino effect on the world at large. Taking this a bit further, when you and I sin, when we remain unrepentant and do not amend our ways, then we are dragging the world down with us. On the reverse side, when we are in harmony with God's Will, when we are flowing with grace and mercy, then we are elevating the world to God, to whom all the world belongs first and always. Secondly, when someone sins (in this case, we are speaking of Bill Clinton), and we choose to ignore the sin, choose to ignore the consequences that stop the graces from flowing to him, to us, to the world, to his own family, we are reprehensible for this attitude of laxness before God. Not to speak up, not to seek the right thing for Clinton and his family, and for the country and the world, is to play the selfish role, thinking that a change in administration might weaken our position in the world economy, thus rendering our pocketbook a bit short of cash over the next few years.
Pitiful, but true! We do this. We don't want to rock a boat that we think is bringing the money into the economic realms where we believe we live, move, and have our being. What nonsense! Clinton is not god. We are not gods. God is God. He is our Father, and He is most certainly not pleased by this scandal. Did not Our Lord tell us in Sacred Scripture that "Woe to he who brings harm to the child. Better that a millstone be hung around his neck and he be cast into the sea."? Well, Clinton's behavior is a millstone around the collective neck of the innocence of the youth of the world, and upon the collective moral conscience of the world as a whole. It is nothing less, because he happens to hold one of the most powerful offices created by man in the world. To abuse the power, the office, to abuse the conscience of the American people, to thrust onto the forefront of the American papers, the TV sets, and now the internet, the details of his sordid, sad affair, is to jeopardize not only the senses of our children, but our own senses as well. Don't delude yourself into thinking that just because you're an adult you can handle these types of perversion without letting it affect you. That's nonsense, too. Oh, we're supposed to be adults but we're supposed to also be a "child" of God, and to behave in a "childlike" manner with God at all times. Think about that, and then ask yourself if all of this play-by-play coverage of the moral ineptness of Bill Clinton's administration hasn't weakened your conscience a bit? Is it not that all of us are now becoming more and more immune to this kind of immorality, and that we brush it off as inconsequential, provided that we didn't do it, and that we take extra steps to keep the words, the images out of the minds of our children? Are we being responsible adults when we do that?
I don't think so. If we were responsible adults, we would have never elected Bill Clinton to begin with. However, having elected him, we would have collectively thrown him out of office almost immediately when it started to come to light that scandal was his middle name. We didn't do that, either. No, we've glossed over one sordid mess after another, we've bought the man's lies, and we've polarized ourselves into the left-wing and right-wing movement. And in doing so it has become a Babel of many shouting, screaming voices of mere rhetoric without meaning.
We are in our Symphony of Suffering, and we are not listening to the sounds we are making, the sounds that God hears and responds to. We are deaf to the horrible sounds of this scandal, and we are trying to drown it out with Babel of sounds louder and more discordant as we argue the pros and cons of impeachment versus resignation, versus censure.
Enough with the noise bombardment! Enough with the rhetoric. Truth is truth, lies are lies, and there is no gray area, or middle ground here. We must do the right thing, and the more swiftly we do it, then the more swiftly do we make our symphony to God one of pleasing, melodic, Heavenly notes that cause Him to shower us with His Mercy. To do nothing is perhaps the most noxious of all activities, but we must not let ourselves be swept up into doing nothing on the pretext that "Clinton did nothing impeachable!"
If you believe he did nothing impeachable, then perhaps you need to reflect on the fact that the prodigal son returned home (to God) and amended his ways, which was the very reason his Father celebrated his return home. Clinton says "sorry" and only God knows if he truly is, or if he's spouting words at us again. Let's leave that to God, and let Clinton hear our collective voice raised in Love (Divine Love) to him as we say, "Enough of the lies and scandal, for you are injuring yourself, your family, and you injure us. We want you out of office, we want you to go into private life and heal yourself, heal your family, and allow us to be healed as well, for we placed our trust in you and you have failed us and you have failed God. Yes, we forgive you. Nevertheless, we cannot forget what you have done, and so we shall pray for you, and ask God to help you, for you are his child, Bill Clinton, and He loves you so much that His Son died for you, too. So, Bill, say good-bye and go elsewhere, but leave some integrity intact on your way out the door of the White House, because with God's grace, we shall elect a man to that office who possesses integrity, and we shall thank God for such a singular grace and virtue."
Aside from the political and legal issues there are serious moral matters. The fact that the moral dimension of the President’s conduct has been so obscured in the frantic effort to defend him calls for some clarification, especially for our young people who look to public figures for an example of how one is to live.
In writing this letter to the youth of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, I call upon all of our faith family, the members of the Catholic Church, to affirm once again some very basic truths so that our young are not left bewildered by all of the politically correct double talk, the made-for-TV morality and the talk show deluge of opinions justifying just about anything in the name of personal freedom.
Each one of us is free to make choices. Our decisions are important because they shape our life. Good choices take us in one direction; bad choices have devastating results. When we make choices we enter the world of morality. Some things cry out to be done and often we know we can and should do them. But there are also things we know we should not do.
We live responsibly when we care about what is truly good and when we acknowledge the authority of God to direct our choices. Morality is another word for living a good, full, decent life according to right choices.
We live a moral life when we try to follow God’s plan and Jesus’ way for us. The voice of God speaks to us in our conscience. The challenge of every follower of Jesus is to listen to that voice and respond to it. When one enters his or her own heart, sincerely seeking the truth, God waits there.
Do not be deceived by the recent polls that show a general complacency of a large segment of the population with so called “inappropriate” sexual activity. Sex is much more than a form of personal recreation. Even in the White House wrong sex is immoral. Calling it by any other name just compounds the sin.
The sixth commandment calls every married person to remain faithful to his or her spouse. “You shall not commit adultery.” Sex brings with it great responsibility because it calls for full commitment to your future together. Sexual activity’s rightful place is only in the committed love of marriage.
When you read or hear that some people view infidelity, adultery, and fornication as personal choices that are no one else’s business, remember, those actions are wrong no matter who does them. “Recreational” sex is immoral and destructive. It is not a private personal activity that affects only two people; it is one that impacts all of us.
What has gotten lost by some in the sad White House affair is that even if a President is unfaithful it is wrong. It is immoral. When you are tempted to ask “If it is all right for the president, why isn’t it all right for me?”, remember that it is not all right for the President. It is wrong.
The whole White House scandal is as much about falsehood and deception as it is about sex. What has been communicated is a terrible yet clear message: Truth is only what you are clever enough to convince people to believe.
What is particularly disturbing in this whole sorry mess is the message that you can win in politics by manipulating the truth, by lying. The truth about life is that you win in what really counts by personal integrity – by telling the truth.
The eighth commandment forbids misrepresenting the truth in our relations with others. “You shall not bear false witness…” Offenses against the truth express by word or deed a refusal to commit oneself to moral uprightness.
Do not be taken in by the idea that it is all right to lie if you want to protect your career. The end never justifies the means. Or as Jesus put it: “What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul” (Mk. 8.36)
Your personal integrity is your most precious possession. No one can take it from you. If we learn anything from the White House scandal it is that personal character does count. Integrity is important. No matter what else you hear from the spin doctors who are paid to twist the truth and make a lie seem credible, the truth is important. It is so important that Jesus calls himself the Truth.
Jesus also told us “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’” (Matt. 5.37). Language was meant to communicate. Only in communicating the truth can we ever expect to build a good and just society. Nothing so hurts a family, a friendship or a nation as the knowledge that the person who is speaking to you is not telling the truth.
We often hear about “teachable moments.” This is certainly one of them. And I am convinced that you are not only capable of understanding what is right but that you are also able to make responsible decisions. Your lives, as the future of our nation and our Church, are too important to be influenced and even directed by the “anything goes” mentality.
Anyone can fall. We are all weak. Jesus knows that. So do we. In this, as in so many matters, his teaching was both sublime and practical. His Church today continues to call us to “hate the sin and love the sinner.”
In the power of the Holy Spirit, and in the joy of faith, Jesus’ followers learned to live as he taught, and then to teach what he commanded. Today the Church must continue to proclaim Christ’s teaching about truth, integrity and morality. We do this to keep faith with our Lord.
The most precious gift we have to pass on to you is God’s word and the wisdom of two thousand years of human and Christian experience, alive in the Holy Spirit. The message is a clear one. There is right and wrong. God’s law is our norm. Morality and integrity are very important in our personal lives and the life of this nation. This way of life with all its challenges and proven values is what the Church shares with you so that our lives and yours will grow into the fullness that Jesus promises.
May you know the strength of God’s Holy Spirit and the love of Jesus every day of your life.
Faithfully in Christ,
Treaty of Crepy in which the German Holy Emperor Charles V and the king of France Francois I signed a peace treaty which enables the Church to proceed with the much needed Council of Trent which would follow soon after through the cooperation and urging of Pope Paul III.
Death of Saint Joseph of Cupertino, a Franciscan Tertiary of the Conventual Franciscans who was a mystic receiving messages and purported to have levitations whose ecstacies during this time were a great embarassment to scholars in the Church who could not explain the phenomena. He was canonized by Pope Clement XIII in 1767. Today St. Joseph of Cupertino is the patron saint of air travelers and pilots.
Pope Gregory XVI issues his seventh encyclical Probe nostis on the Propagation of the Faith.
Pope Leo XIII releases his 68th encyclical, this one on the education of the Clergy entitled Paternae.
The interment of Pope Saint Agapitus in Rome. Though he died on April 22 in Constantinople, his body was sealed in a leaden coffin and preserved until it could be brought back for proper burial in the eternal city.
Death of the antipope Paschal III who had been promoted by Frederick I Barbarossa against the legitimate Pope Alexander III.
Election of Cardinal Orlando Bandinelli as the 170th successor of Peter, taking the name Pope Alexander III. He was embroiled in a battle with antipopes during this time in the tug of war between Frederick I of Barbarossa and the Holy See. Alexander excommunicated Barbarossa and defeated him at the Battle of Legnano with the help of the Lombard League. He also convened the 11th Ecumenical Council.
The Portuguese-born Cardinal Pedro Juliao of Spain is elected Pope John XXI, becoming the 187th successor of Peter. From Alphonsus of Portugal he obtained the promise that the churches and their income would be respected in that kingdom. John died in the collapse of the residential palace in Viterbo while it was being hastily constructed for him.
Ferdinand Magellan embarks on his voyage that would circumnavigate the world, carrying with him missionaries who would touch souls during the journey.
Death of Saint John Masias, Dominican lay brother from Lima, Peru who had the gift of reading hearts.
Death of Saint Andrew Kim, Saint Paul Chong and companion Korean martyrs. For more on their story, click on THIS WEEKEND'S LITURGY
Pope Pius IX is forced to surrender to King Victor Emmanuel opting for that rather than bloodshed. From that point on the Pope was denied from governing the Papal States, thus officially eliminating them, but he was allowed to retain the Holy See and the Vatican grounds which would become Vatican City and a country unto itself. It would not be until 1929 that a Treaty of Peace would be signed between Italy and the Vatican.
Pope Leo XIII issues his 22nd encyclical Vi e bn noto on the Rosary and public life.
Pope Leo XIII releases his 60th encyclical , also on the Rosary entitled Fidentem piumque animum.