Abortion – Dogs That Do Not Bark
By Richard Giesman
So who is really steering the ship of Catholic faithfulness in the United States ? Not an unreasonable question considering that some cardinals, archbishops and bishops, against their own teaching, allow pro-abortion speakers a platform within “Catholic” universities, allow “Catholic” hospitals to violate church teachings on abortions, tubal ligations, et cetera; allow and possibly even promote favoring homosexual over heterosexual candidates in “Catholic” seminaries; and they allow their priests to be silent concerning the underground war on the unborn. Have most of them abandoned ship?
In Living the Gospel of Life : A Challenge to American Catholics, the U.S. bishops make a firm and serious commitment. They say, “As bishops, we reflect particularly on the words of the Office of Readings (their daily office): “ Let us be neither dogs that do not bark nor silent onlookers nor paid servants who run away before the wolf. Instead, let us be careful shepherds watching over Christ's flock. Let us preach the whole of God's plan to the powerful and the humble, to rich and poor, to men of every rank and age, as far as God gives us the strength, in season and out of season … ” ( Section 29). From my vantage point, based on the U.S. bishops' 34 years of inaction regarding abortion, their commitment is nothing but ink on paper!
In a Church whose highest chair, the Chair of Peter, proclaims unequivocal dignity and justice for life, especially for those in the earliest and latest stages, we find sharp division and mixed levels of support from lower chairs, some within reach of the papacy. Those who adhere to various degrees of silence give lip service to the sanctity of life by agreeing to watered-down and rarely preached pro-life documents, but their predominantly silent posture reveals the reality that their hearts are focused on other treasures (Luke 12:34) . If there was ever a reason for Christians to bond together in a common effort, it is against the killing of God's innocent children. But there is little chance of Christian unity regarding abortion when Catholic leadership is so disjointed – even while they claim that fighting abortion is a “foundational” issue. How could this be happening in the so-called Universal Church ? Are some who sit in a chair in schism?
When we look down our collective Christian noses at Judas or other heretics of the past, how is it that we don't see our silent clergy in the same dark shadows? How is it that we feel compelled to look up to our silent clergy while the execution of 40 plus million unborn babies takes place? What power is it that compels us to overlook this disgraceful behavior? Are we in denial? Are we under an illusion or a myth? Isn't the consistent behavior which we observe actually the unfaithful masquerading as representatives of Christ on earth?
We seem to be intoxicated by a miter, a crosier, a Roman collar and apparent clergy stature in Christ's Kingdom. In reality, we are like the Aztec populace, intoxicated with drugs as they climbed the steps to their death on pagan altars in Mexico . They were oblivious to their impending physical demise at the hands of the witch doctors, just as we are oblivious to our spiritual demise following blind and silent clergy. The Aztecs sacrificed one in five of their children on the altars of their pagan gods, many fewer than the one in three children sacrificed today on the pagan altars of “choice,” “silence” and “political correctness.” Looking back, we deplore the human sacrifice of the Aztecs, while at the same time, far too many Catholics give silent approval as our nation's children unwillingly sacrifice their blood in small, private killing rooms across the country. Why is our sense of guilt inconsistent? Because the Aztecs spilled blood in plain view of their people, while we kill children behind the “clinic” doors . How civilized we have become!
In reality, silent clergy have no power over us while they remain silent except the power that we wrongly give them. Certainly God does not endorse their silence. No man who avoids speaking up for his own condemned children deserves respect or a title of honor. No man shall be called “Your Eminence,” “Your Excellency,” or “Father,” who turns his back on his children as they are killed. No! We are the ones allowing ourselves to be deceived by wolves in sheep's clothing, and we need to wise up NOW!
We must not accept authority without accountability! Accepting clergy silence regarding abortion is a compromise with Satan.
During a meeting of American archbishops called by John Paul II on March 8 th , 1989 , Archbishop John May explained to the Curia the so-called difficulty the U.S. bishops have in being authoritarian with their flock. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith, responded, “It is the hallmark of the truth to be worth suffering for. In the deepest sense of the word, the evangelist must also be a martyr. If he is unwilling to be so, he should not lay his hand to the plow .” Based on years of trivial responses, the U.S. archbishops didn't understand a word he said. Gen. George S. Patton's words relate more to the laity, “Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.”
And how does the clergy's silent posture affect the laity? Like the Pied Piper, the silent clergy play an enticing tune of a cotton-candy Jesus while they avoid mention of sin, justice, abortion, obedience and sacrifice. How often at Easter Mass, the most attended Sunday of the year, do fellow Catholics raise their voices in unison to renew their baptismal vows to God? Yet a recent James Carville poll shows that 66 percent of Catholics support keeping abortion – the killing of innocent children – legal. Is that what a vow “renouncing Satan and his works” means? Thorough and frequent instruction from the pulpit would provide proper formation in the Catholic faith and easily cut Carville's poll numbers in half. Calling Catholics who maintain religious opinions contrary to those of their Church “cafeteria Catholics” is much too kind. My dictionary calls them heretics, whether clergy, politician, or layman. “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness into light, and light into darkness, who change bitter into sweet, and sweet into bitter” ( Isa. 5:20 ).
In 1545, Cardinal Reginald Pole, a man who later missed being elected pope by one vote, was asked to provide opening comments at the Council of Trent. As described in De concilio, “ The church leaders, expecting a conventional opening speech full of inoffensive piety , were shocked with Pole's remarks, in which he lambasted the Church for its avarice, abuse of office, and ‘spiritual wickedness in high places.' In his speech, he said, among other things, ‘It is we bishops who are most responsible for all the evils now burdening the flock of Christ. We cannot even name any other cause than ourselves. If God punished us as we deserve, we should have been long since as Sodom and Gomorrah .' And after ticking off the abuses of greed, luxurious living, wild lustful sexuality, injustice, superstition, but greed most of all, he said, ‘Why dwell on this shameful subject? Because unless we place our own sinful responsibility in front of our minds, it is useless to call upon the Holy Spirit for help.'”
Cardinal Pole's words should ring loud and clear in the ears of today's silent bishops and priests every moment of the day and night. At Trent , the corrupt bishops heeded Pole's words and pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. Do today's bishops have the courage to do the same? Or does the old adage, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still,” fit them better?
Pole isn't alone in recognizing serious failings in the Church. John Paul II issued a moving and provocative statement concerning Christian participation in the Holocaust as he reminded a group of theologians assembled in Rome in 1997, “This is an act of repentance (teshuvah), since as members of the Church, we are linked to the sins as well as the merits of all her children.” “It is not a matter of mere words, but of binding commitment ... Humanity cannot permit all that [the Shoah] to happen again.”
Even as John Paul II spoke, our silent bishops and priests continued to permit death to seven times as many innocent victims as died in the Jewish Holocaust – the massacre of the innocent unborn – making the Holy Father's penitential words little more than ink on paper .
I see no binding commitment from our bishops and priests; I see mere words on paper . And because of their lack of commitment, the Catholic Church will again one day sit in sackcloth and ashes, a much too frequent posture, apologizing for turning its back on the countless unborn killed in these United States . And what will these same silent bishops do when an endless line of post-abortive mothers stand outside their chancery asking why truth and guidance were not provided from Catholic pulpits? Only then will the clergy know what scandal really means. Again, Cardinal Pole's words come to mind.
In a recent movie, a general of the Confederate army was informed that a few of his soldiers had deserted their war-time battlefield assignments. The reporting junior officer petitioned the general to be merciful in light of the horrors of battle. The junior officer, understanding mercy, but lacking any understanding of the importance of discipline, justice and obedience, was admonished by the general and told to prepare the men for court martial, that if the men were found guilty, they would be executed.
The general explained, “Desertion is not a solitary crime against their general alone, but it is a crime against their peers who do stand firm against the enemy, a crime against the innocent women and children who they have pledged to protect, and a crime against all the courageous soldiers who preceded them and who shed their blood fighting to save their lives.” “No,” said the general, “those who do not stand up for the lives of others do not deserve to live themselves.” The General: Stonewall Jackson. The movie: Gods and Generals .
When Catholic Christians are baptized and confirmed, they become soldiers in the army of our Lord, Jesus Christ. At this current time in history, the Church Militant is engaged in a gigantic yet underground war, and every Christian soldier is needed to rout the enemy. As soldiers in that army of Christ, we are to serve our Lord and King by living out the commitment to bark loud and clear for justice for the unborn and by standing tall, in unbroken ranks, shoulder-to-shoulder against the wolf pack of anti-life proponents. What will our Lord, the King and General, say to those who desert this battle? “The princes of Judah have become like those that move a boundary line; Upon them I will pour out my wrath like water” (Hos. 5:10).
Our Church leaders, for 34 years, have deflected their responsibility as they pointed at the Supreme Court and politicians to solve the abortion problem, while at the same time, with their hands in their pockets, they watched from the sidelines, occasionally publishing pastoral letters rarely read or communicated from the pulpits. The unborn deserve a level of verbal support from the pulpit commensurate with their most crucial need – staying alive . “ Children, let us not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth ” (John 3:18 ).