Catholics Betraying the Faith:
“the Most Unkindest Cut of All”
by Mary Ann Kreitzer
Persecution of Christians is on the rise. States pass hate-speech laws targeting those speaking against homosexual perversion. Gay activists physically block churches and assault Christian demonstrators while police stand by and watch. Pharmacists and other health care workers lose their jobs for refusing to give deadly drugs or participate in abortion. Catholic hospitals face lawsuits for not performing sex-change operations. Schools and teachers ban God from the classroom while promoting sexual deviancy. Christmas is taboo; nativity scenes and crosses stripped from public property and even private property in covenant neighborhoods. Hollywood cranks out anti-Christian films even if they lose money. Pro-life activists are arrested and jailed for violating zoning and picketing laws, bubble zones, and noise ordinances all aimed at limiting free speech rights. Yes, the culture of death is definitely at war against Christians, especially Catholics. But these realities, sobering as they are, can’t match what Shakespeare called “the most unkindest cut of all” – the Judas betrayals from within the Church.
This time of year one assault takes center stage – literally, Eve Ensler’s disgusting play, The Vagina Monologues (VM). It would be bad enough to see this vulgar and degenerate celebration of lesbian sex at secular institutions, but since its beginning ten years ago, the play has been featured at Catholic colleges and universities as well: 32 in 2003, 29 in 2004, 27 in 2005, and 22 in 2006. Twenty-two are again scheduled for 2007. Sadly, many of the participating schools are run by Jesuits, an order founded to defend the faith and serve as the “pope’s men.” One would like to say that the decline in the number of Catholic sites resulted from administrations coming to their senses. A few have, but the main credit goes to the Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) which has waged an on-going battle to convince Catholic schools to withdraw from the VM campaign. The Society’s success is evident from the decline in numbers, but the moral issues, unfortunately, have been less persuasive than the threat of funding boycotts from alumni donors. Money talks.
CNS doesn’t simply protest, however; they offer a real alternative urging Catholic students to “sponsor competing programs including lectures, prayer events, movies and other activities with Saint Valentine’s Day themes that support women’s dignity, chastity and true romance.” This is Catholic action at its best – overcoming evil with good.
Ensler’s play is not the only Judas act at Catholic colleges. CNS also tracks commencement and other speakers who violate the Catholic Conference (USCC) policy that, “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” A policy, however, is only as good as its implementation and many bishops do nothing about speakers who champion evil or spout heresy. Fortunately, some do. Archbishop Raymond Burke and Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz are well-known for protecting the Holy Eucharist from sacrilege by pro-abortion politicians and other dissenters. In 2003 Bishop Thomas Doran established a policy in the Diocese of Rockford banning “individuals who hold any view contrary to the Catholic Magisterium’s moral teaching and practice.” Bishop Jerome Listecki of La Crosse issued a letter outlining his “policy of prudence” in 2005 which requires the bishop’s prior approval for “any person under consideration to lecture, present a workshop, give a retreat or otherwise speak or give an address on faith and morals on diocesan property.” All bishops should establish such a policy and implement it vigorously to protect their flocks from wolves who undermine the faith. That is part of the bishop’s responsibility to teach, govern, and sanctify. Sadly, many bishops prefer silence. Some have such a policy in place but fail to enforce it.
In the diocese of Arlington, Anthony Tambasco was scheduled to speak at Good Shepherd parish on January 22nd as we went to press. A professor at Georgetown, Tambasco calls into questions many doctrines of the faith: the necessity of the resurrection, the perpetual virginity of Mary, the historicity of Jesus’ miracles and prophecies, the fact that Jesus founded a church, etc. He speaks often in Arlington. Despite many contacts with the chancery, the diocese has never intervened to stop the spread of his heresy. As of January 4 Bishop Paul Loverde instituted a speakers policy requiring approval from a Diocesan Theological Commission made up of three priests including the Secretary for Religious Education and Sacred Liturgy. Since Tambasco’s talk was scheduled before implementation of the policy, the diocese will do nothing to stop it. Ironically, in 2000 the bishop cancelled a Women’s Spirituality Series at the Dominican Retreat House saying, "I fully affirm that persons who dissent from the formal and authentic teachings of the church ... cannot be permitted to speak in our Catholic institutions." Apparently, some heretics are more equal than others.
Among the most pernicious betrayals are those of clergy who promote or enable dissent, especially from the Church’s sexual morality. Hundreds of parishes in the U.S. invite gay activists to speak, participate in gay pride parades, and actively dissent from the faith. That their bishops do nothing about these parishes is a grave scandal, but not surprising when one considers that two thirds of the bishops covered up clergy sex abuse in their dioceses.
It is particularly sad when priests who defend the faith end up being suspended or leaving the priesthood due to persecution from their bishops. A recent troubling episode occurred during Advent in Rockford, IL. Fr. Tom Bartolomeo, a 70-year-old parish priest ordained a year ago, was fired for preaching a homily on contraception. A lesbian in the parish got up during Mass and berated him before walking out with her partner. There were other complaints, not surprising in a contraceptive culture where over 95% of Catholics ignore church teaching. Did Bishop Doran support his courageous priest? No, Fr. Bartolomeo was dismissed. Why? “I’m not being punished,” he said about the incident. "I think the implication was that I was imprudent." He disagrees. "The Church is really under attack, and I think we flinch at the slight objections and I don't think that's the proper way to react to our enemies….Rather than dissuading me, all of this is drawing me more and more into that truth, into the Gospel. I have no idea where this is going to take me." Despite his positive spirit, Fr. Tom must feel the sting of Bishop Doran’s betrayal and the bishop’s action sends a terrible message to parishioners. [See Fr. Tom’s homily at http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2008/jan/080107a.html.]
A number of religious orders have also made betrayal a staple. The Society of Jesus as founded by St. Ignatius no longer exists. As the Jesuits convened in Rome in early January, Phil Lawler of Catholic World News (CWN) wrote, “As recently as the mid-20th century, the Jesuits were known as stalwart defenders of the Pope, who trained loyal young Catholics to defend Church doctrines. Today they are inveterate critics of the Vatican, who train young Catholics to question their faith….Perhaps not coincidentally, as the Jesuits have maneuvered to establish what amounts to a ‘loyal opposition’ within the Catholic Church, the order has suffered heavily from defections and lost its ability to attract young recruits. In 1965 when Father Arrupe became superior general, there were about 36,000 Jesuits in the world. Today that figure has been cut nearly in half, with about 19,000 Jesuits remaining in a rapidly aging society.”
A thirty-something Jesuit graduate student at Fordham, writing at BustedHalo.com, illustrates exactly what’s wrong with the Jesuits today. Fr. James Keane was incensed by a group of Catholic seminarians holding a prayer vigil outside the campus site where VM was being produced. They carried a crucifix and a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Fr. Keane lamented that students attending the vicious play said the protest reminded them of groups outside abortion clinics. This, he said, was, "the most heartbreaking news of all.... In the students’ minds, the protestors (some in Roman collars) had equated a real and menacing evil, the slaughter of unborn children and the mutilation of their mothers, with a student-produced play…to encourage women’s empowerment.” But who really encourages “women’s empowerment” – the audience engaged in the “moaning dialogue” (simulating the groans made during sex) or the seminarians praying the rosary before the model of purity?
Today when one thinks of the Jesuits, their defense of sodomy, euthanasia, and libertinism comes to mind before defense of the faith. Fr. Keane would probably be horrified at the suggestion he join the seminarians and pray in reparation for those celebrating sexual immorality. While abortion is a greater evil, other evils also require contradiction. Let Fr. Keane remember that the Blessed Mother at Fatima called for penance to atone for fashions that would “offend her Son very much.” She surely approved of the young seminarians atoning for the grave violation against purity occurring at Fordham.
In his address to the Jesuits meeting in Rome, Cardinal Franc Rodé, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, addressed some serious concerns. “With sadness and anxiety,” he said, “I also see a growing distancing from the Hierarchy. The Ignatian spirituality of apostolic service ‘under the Roman Pontiff’ does not allow for this separation….Religious obedience can be understood only as obedience in love. The fundamental nucleus of Ignatian spirituality consists in uniting the love for God with love for the hierarchical Church.”
With regard to Jesuit higher education, Cardinal Rodé said, "Regrettably, several of these colleges are scandals to the faithful, endangering the souls of tens of thousands of students." He echoed the Holy Father’s concern over the rise of moral relativism saying, “The Church must today confront new and urgent necessities, I will mention one, which in my judgment is urgent….. It is the need to present to the faithful and to the world the authentic truth revealed in Scripture and Tradition. The doctrinal diversity of those who at all levels, by vocation and mission are called to announce the Kingdom of truth and love, disorients the faithful and leads to a relativism without limits.”
Catholic writer Sandro Magister called Cardinal Rodé’s address “the last call for the Jesuits – to obedience.” Writing at www.chiesa he said, “It is no mystery that of the last seven theologians scrutinized by the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, four belong to the Society of Jesus: Jon Sobrino, Roger Haight, Jacques Dupuis, and Anthony De Mello.” It’s a sad legacy and only time will tell whether the Vatican’s call to account will influence the Jesuits to return to the charism of their founder whose love for the Church was synonymous with respect for papal authority. Pray for the intercession of Fr. John Hardon, S.J., champion of orthodoxy, that his brothers will listen, repent, and respond in faith.
The Jesuits are not alone in their scandalous attacks on Catholic truth. Maryknoll, the Paulists, the Sisters of Loretto, the Sisters of Mercy, The Benedictine Sisters of Erie, and many others are well known for dissent. “Catholic” publishers like Orbis, Paulist Press, and St. Anthony Messenger sprinkle their booklists liberally with feminism, liberation theology, and modernism. They publish dissenters like Richard Rohr, Charlie Curran, Sandra Schneiders, Monika Hellwig, Anthony Tambasco, Thomas Groome and many others, as well as dissent-programs like RENEW. The Church bleeds from a thousand stab wounds inflicted by those called to be Christ’s closest friends.
On the other hand, the news isn’t all bad. In the Garden of Olives Jesus saw not only the burden of evil that would nail Him to the cross, but also the prayers, works, and sufferings of those who would dedicate themselves to the restoration of Holy Mother Church. The signs of a new springtime are subtle, like tiny winter buds on the trees, but those buds may ultimately swell, pop open, and provide fresh greenery and blossoms. There are two options for the 21st century as Pope John Paul II often said. It will be either a springtime of evangelization or it will not be at all. Right now it’s hard to see the springtime, but in many places the buds are swelling, a promise of its coming.
As the unfaithful religious orders sink into oblivion, new orders thrive. The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, dedicated to the Tridentine Mass, has many young men in formation. The Institute of Christ the King, founded in 1990, has grown in fewer than twenty years to 35 houses in ten countries with 50 priests and 65 men in formation. Known for their faithfulness to the Roman pontiff, these orders may replace the Jesuits as the pope’s troops. Orthodox dioceses have the highest percentages of vocations to the priesthood while unfaithful bishops attract few. In Wyoming a new order of Carmelite monks has seven men living a life of poverty and silence in the wilderness. Many exciting things are happening in the Church; it brings to mind the prophecy of Revelation, “See, I make all things new.”
Will the real nun please stand up? Who brings hope to the Church? Grizzled dissenter Sr. Joan Chittister on the right or the fresh-faced young sisters of the Nashville Dominicans?
As for women religious, in 1992 a group of religious orders withdrew from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) because of its dissent. They founded the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR) approved by the Vatican in 1995. While LCWR represents 292 communities to CMSWR’s 90, many of the member of the latter are bulging with new vocations while the LCWR orders are dying out. It’s easy to distinguish between the two groups. LCWR members are typically in perms and pantsuits while the CMSWR members wear full habits. Age is another significant difference. CMSWR sports young, fresh faces. The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia have an average age of 36. The Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist, founded only ten years ago, have grown from four sisters to 78 with an average age of 28. Compare that to the wrinkled old women in the LCWR, like Sr. Joan Chittister whose old, gray head is filled with dissent and muddled old ideas. What attracts followers Sr. Joan’s disobedience or Mother Angelica and Mother Assumpta Long’s fidelity? The Benedictine Sisters of Erie have two middle-aged women in formation; the Dominicans of Mary Mother of the Eucharist have nine postulants and twenty-five novices, young women eager to give their lives as brides of Christ.
New Catholic colleges are springing up all over the country as well. Christendom in Front Royal, VA, the elder sister of these institutions, is thriving. One of the newest kids on the block is Wyoming Catholic College which offers an exciting blend of great books and wilderness adventure. It is included in The Cardinal Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College which features entries on twenty orthodox institutions forming young minds for the 21st century. While these colleges represent a drop in the bucket against a pailful of slop offered at colleges like Georgetown, they may act as purification tablets making the waters of Catholic education drinkable again. May they continue to multiply.
In summary, Jesus experienced the “most unkindest” cut on Good Friday when his closest friends betrayed Him. He promised his servants they would receive the same treatment as their Master, so no Catholic should be surprised, discouraged, or disillusioned at betrayal, even when it comes from within the Church herself. Betrayal unites the faithful with the persecuted Lord. Good Friday had to occur before Easter Sunday and the explosion of missionary labor at Pentecost. The “most unkindest cut” of betrayal is healed by fidelity. Jesus asks, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find any faith on the earth?” The Catholic servant replies, “Here I am, Lord.”