About three years ago I began wearing a crucifix 24/7. It identifies me as a Christian. Among Christians, it identifies me as a Roman Catholic. Atheists who see it may think me an intellectual lightweight who could just as easily believe in the Tooth Fairy, or that the earth was created six thousand years ago.
Back in 2002 when the homosexual priest scandal broke, I almost left the Catholic church. There are still issues the American Conference of Catholic Bishops champion that make me cringe. Some things Pope Francis says make me uncomfortable too. Nonetheless, to follow the Magisterium (official teachings of the Catholic Church) is to believe abortion kills a human being and homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered.” That puts me on a collision course with the progressive Thought Police who would force me to shut up about what I believe.
Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, who I’ve quoted in this space before, died a few weeks ago. Five years ago, he said something prophetic: “I’ll die in my bed. My successor will die in prison. His successor will die a martyr. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.” Two years later in 2012, he said he was being “overly dramatic.” Here in 2015, however, rhetoric coming from Democrat and Republican candidates for president in 2016 indicate he was more right than he knew.
|The late Cardinal Francis George|
He did die in his bed. Will his successor die in prison? That might have been plausible if Pope Francis appointed conservative Cardinal Raymond Burke to take his place after removing him from a key Vatican post. Burke stands his ground, and that’s probably why he didn’t fit in at the Vatican. Instead Pope Francis banished the conservative Burke to Malta and appointed someone more likely to go with the “progressive” flow in Chicago.
Last month, the leading Democrat presidential candidate for 2016 said: “Laws have be backed up with… political will… and deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.” Hillary Clinton was speaking about “reproductive health care,” her favorite euphemism for abortion, but her remarks indicate how far the left may go pushing their social/political agenda. They’re throwing down the gauntlet for conservative Christians — ready to use the power of government to make us change what we believe about the very nature of God and human life. Obamacare mandates to pay for abortion-inducing drugs were only the beginning.
Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio seemed to pick up Hillary’s gauntlet when he said last week that anyone who believes marriage is between one man and one woman is labeled: “a homophobe and a hater. The next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is hate speech…”
Canada’s Supreme Court ruled two years ago that biblical speech opposing homosexual behavior is a “hate crime.” The Province of Alberta passed its Education Act three years ago under which “homeschoolers and faith-based schools will not be permitted to teach that homosexual acts are sinful as part of their academic program.” How long until such rulings are passed down in the USA?
It’s not as if the Catholic Church in America is conservative. With the exception of Cardinal Burke and a few others, it’s not. I attend mass every Sunday in Maine or New Hampshire, and never in the last ten years have I heard a sermon about abortion. Only once was homosexual “marriage” discussed when Maine’s Bishop Malone urged parishioners to vote against a homosexual “marriage” referendum in 2009. Rather, parish priests seem to go out of their way to avoid those subjects. That’s why I was surprised to hear Pope Francis say: “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods… it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
Perhaps it’s different in Rome or in Argentina where Pope Francis comes from, but up here in Maine and New Hampshire, they’re not talked about “all the time.” They’re not discussed at all, and silence implies assent. Prior to Francis, we had two conservative popes in Benedict and John Paul II. Although Francis hasn’t tried to modify the Magisterium, he’s signaling a willingness to bend, even cozying up with President Obama on several issues. Leftists who dominate in our mainstream media are predictably thrilled. Out here in the trenches, however, conservative Catholics are dismayed.Some of us feel we have more in common with conservative protestants than with many of our Catholic leaders in the United State, in Europe, and in the Vatican itself.