On the Field of Battle: Guard Dogs vs Hirelings
by Mary Ann Kreitzer
When I consider the dismal state of the Church in the U.S., I long to hear a rallying cry. “What do we need? Guard dogs! When do we need them? Now!” Indeed, the Church today resembles a battlefield where opposing “armies” face off. Only it’s no war game;it’s deadly serious: the hirelings vs. the watchdogs! Will the outcome bring revival of orthodoxy and hope to the hearts of the faithful? Or will we see the race to embrace the world’s values continue to barrel down on us like an unstoppable blitzkrieg with Pope Francis as its commander-in-chief?
The bishops’ recent fall meeting in Baltimore showed both sides locked in an exchange exposing the deep divide in the Church and among the bishops. It began with a distraught Cardinal Joseph DiNardo announcing that the pope instructed the bishops not to vote on measures relating to the sex abuse scandals. By lobbing that grenade, Francis neutered the bishops’ agenda and put to the lie his stated desire for collegiality and transparency. Sadly, he once again showed himself to be the “dictator pope” using homosexual-promoting cardinals Cupich and Wuerl as his field commanders.
Cupich certainly complied, leaping to his feet before DiNardo finished speaking to declare his support for the pope’s veto and assure his brother bishops that it proved the pope takes sex abuse seriously. That sophistry was too much for many of the bishops (or the faithful) to swallow. The Catholic Register’s Fr. Raymond de Souza wrote:
Laity attending the Silence Stops Now Rally at the outdoor theater pavilion adjacent to the bishops’ hotel were not happy about the pope’s intervention. Over and over, the crowd interrupted speakers chanting, “Vigano – Vigano – Vigano” alluding to former papal nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, whose letters accuse the bishops and the Holy Father himself of aiding and abetting Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s abuse of both minors and young adult seminarians.
Vigano sparked a firestorm in August by releasing an 11-page letter alleging that McCarrick’s misdeeds were known at the Vatican “for years” and that Pope Francis not only “did not take into account the sanctions …imposed on him” by Pope Benedict, but he also restored McCarrick to public ministry and made him “his trusted counselor… [and] a kingmaker for appointments in the Curia and the United States.” Those include gay-promoting Cardinals Blase Cupich of Chicago and Joseph Tobin of Newark. Note that Cupich is one of those planning the Vatican meeting in February on protecting minors from sex abuse. Wolves “guarding” the sheepfold seems to be the pope’s M.O. Among those Vigano accused in the cover-up besides Pope Francis were Vatican power brokers Cardinals Parolin, Bertone and Sodano as well as D.C.’s archbishop, Donald Wuerl, who despite resigning his bishopric over cover-up accusations remains D.C.’s administrator and continues to serve on the Congregation for Bishops, which recommends nominees for clerical advancement. Is it any wonder a meme circulating on Facebook reads, “Signs that our Church is sick: Holiness gets you exiled. Gay advocacy gets you promoted.” In a statement to journalist Aldo Maria Valli, Vigano said, “I spoke out because corruption has reached the top levels of Church hierarchy,” He also told LifeSiteNews, “The main reason why I am revealing this news now is because of the tragic situation of the Church, which can be repaired only by the full truth….I do this to stop the suffering of the victims and to prevent new victims, and to protect the Church: only the truth can make her free.” Vigano also said he wanted, “to discharge my conscience before God of my responsibilities as bishop of the universal Church. I am an old man and I want to present myself to God with clean conscience.” Since his original letter, Vigano has continued to press for change and call for release of documents. To date, Vatican stonewalling continues, but faithful laity are having none of it. And some of the bishops are listening to the sheep. A number publicly support Vigano and join his call for transparency and investigation. You can read their statements at FaithfulShepherds.com.
While most of the senior prelates, the big guns so to speak, remained silent in Baltimore, some of the bishops of smaller dioceses spoke prophetically including Tyler, TX bishop, Joseph Strickland. He was the lone bishop praying the rosary and greeting those going into the rally. He told me and Defend Life’s Jack Ames that his people wanted him there. Later that evening and the next night too, he attended the Catholic Media Coalition’s networking events (Les Femmes is a founding member) where he spoke to us candidly about the bishops’ meeting and his own concerns. He said he couldn’t sleep Monday night because he knew he had to challenge his brothers the next day.
He told them he would like to see the bishops “really develop” the idea of “fraternal correction” and go back to “those basic gospel values we’re called to live.” He raised a question many laity are asking. “Do we believe the doctrine of the Church [on homosexuality] or not? Then, without naming names, he chided the bishops who promote Fr. James Martin saying, “There’s a priest that travels around now basically saying that he doesn’t [believe the doctrine on homosexuality]. And he seems to be very well promoted in various places. Brothers, I think part of the fraternal correction…we offer each other is to say, ‘Can that be presented in our diocese: that same sex marriage is just fine, that the Church will one day grow to understand that.’ That’s not what we teach.”
Everyone knew whom Bishop Strickland meant — Fr. James Martin. Martin later wrote that he began getting messages and emails as the bishop spoke. Clearly stung, but an expert showman, Martin kept his cool. He penned a “friendly response” which included the absurd claim that he doesn’t challenge Church doctrine. Who can take the man seriously? Martin is on record telling Catholics to “reverence” same sex marriage, says gays aren’t bound to chastity, supports numerous dissenters who directly DO challenge Church teaching including one who proclaimed that “Jesus is queer,” gets awards from gay groups at odds with the Church, and labels Catholics who defend the faith as haters and homophobes. He is the kind of man Shakespeare meant when Hamlet said, “O villain, villain, smiling, damnèd villain!...I set it down That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain.” That describes Martin to a T.Now that the bishops’ pre-show is over, the main event is scheduled for February at the Vatican where hierarchs from around the world will discuss the response to the sex abuse crisis. Like other Vatican meetings we can expect ambiguity and verbal gymnastics. Will there be any substantive change? Not for the good, certainly, if the past is any indication. The two synods on the family and the youth synod showed how the Vatican uses these events to undermine the faith and advance a liberal agenda. The fact that Cardinal Blase Cupich, a major supporter of Fr. Martin, is one of the meeting organizers is particularly troublesome and does little to inspire confidence.
According to the Catholic Register, “In the collective assessment of informed commentators who spoke with the Register…the planned meeting will be effective only if its mandate includes the drafting of norms to hold bishops accountable and a discussion of how central homosexuality has been to the problem of clergy sexual abuse…Veteran Church commentator Russell Shaw is skeptical the February conference will serve ‘any useful purpose.’ He believes it may have been called to ‘give the appearance of doing something.’ Still, he believes it could be significant if it leads to a drafting of norms on handling the accountability of bishops.”
However, Cupich made it clear in Baltimore that the bishops should monitor themselves with the “metropolitan archbishops” in charge. Remember that McCarrick was one of those! Sounds like a great idea, right? Considering the bishops’ history of feeding the flock to the wolves, the laity might not feel too confident. And doesn’t it smack of “clericalism?” Has Cupich already forgotten his own words, “I really believe that the issue here is more about a culture of clericalism in which some who are ordained feel they are privileged and therefore protected so that they can do what they want….I’ve always trusted the laity to do the right thing. Their expertise and their knowledge far exceeds many of us who are ordained. . .We need to pay attention to that.” Except not when it comes to oversight of Cupich and his brothers. Then the laity need to step aside and let their elite betters in the hierarchy take charge.
I doubt that message resonates with the faithful in the pews, especially when bishops like Cupich continue to paper over the elephant in the room – homosexual priests. To date, the USCCB refuses to address that issue, pretending, like Cupich, that the crisis is primarily “clericalism.” Theologian Fr. Thomas Weinandy, who was thrown under the bus by the USCCB after releasing his letter to the pope with his concerns over Amoris Laetitia, also spoke to the Register saying the fact that many bishops will not address homosexuality is shown by use of terms like “vulnerable adults.” He went on to say that unless the hierarchy deals with homosexuality “in a thorough manner, the laity will rightly perceive the meeting as merely a sham.” Bingo!The bishops’ meeting, however, gave some signs that the good ole boys’ club is in trouble. Several dozen bishops joined Vigano’s demand for investigation and release of documents. Who knew about McCarrick and when? Some bishops are calling for lay involvement in oversight of sex abuse. Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, WI, who died suddenly November 24th, made one of the strongest statements to date in a letter to his diocese on August 18th. “For too long,” he wrote, “we have diminished the reality of sin — we have refused to call a sin a sin — and we have excused sin in the name of a mistaken notion of mercy ….There has been a great deal of effort to keep separate acts which fall under the category of now-culturally-acceptable acts of homosexuality from the publically-deplorable acts of pedophilia. That is to say, until recently the problems of the Church have been painted purely as problems of pedophilia — this despite clear evidence to the contrary. It is time to be honest….to admit that there is a homosexual subculture within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that is wreaking great devastation in the vineyard of the Lord. The Church’s teaching is clear that the homosexual inclination is not in itself sinful, but it is intrinsically disordered in a way that renders any man stably afflicted by it unfit to be a priest. And the decision to act upon this disordered inclination is a sin so grave that it cries out to heaven for vengeance, especially when it involves preying upon the young or the vulnerable. Such wickedness should be hated with a perfect hatred. Christian charity itself demands that we should hate wickedness just as we love goodness. But while hating the sin, we must never hate the sinner, who is called to conversion, penance, and renewed communion with Christ and His Church, through His inexhaustible mercy.”
It seems unlikely the status quo can continue with such strong words coming from good bishops who also call for “fraternal correction” of their brethren. But, no doubt, those enabling homosexuality like Cupich, Tobin, Farrell, McElroy, Wuerl, and many others hope, if they keep delaying, the fatigue factor will kick in and people will give up. It’s important that the laity NOT let that happen.
So what do we do? First of all, recognize that none of this is a surprise, so discouragement is out of the question! Our Lady often warned in apparitions of disasters coming on mankind if we do not repent. In 1610 in Quito, Ecuador under the title of Our Lady of Good Success, she said, “Shortly after the middle of the 20th century the Catholic spirit will rapidly decay…The Sacrament of Matrimony …will be attacked and deeply profaned … depraved priests will scandalize the Christian people …priests will become careless in their sacred duties. Innocence will almost no longer be found in children, nor modesty in women.” She predicted evil secular education and assaults on the family. Many, she said, would die without the sacraments and families would neglect Baptism and Confirmation as well as the Eucharist and Penance.
We see those predictions fulfilled today on a daily basis, especially this one: “The devil will work to persecute the ministers of the Lord in every way, working with baneful cunning to destroy the spirit of their vocation and corrupting many. Those who will thus scandalize the Christian flock will bring upon all priests the hatred of bad Christians and the enemies of the…Church. This apparent triumph of Satan will cause enormous suffering to the good pastors…and to the Supreme Pastor and Vicar of Christ on earth who, a prisoner in the Vatican, will shed secret and bitter tears in the presence of God Our Lord, asking for light, sanctity, and perfection for all the clergy of the world, to whom he is King and Father.”
Another confirmation of Quito’s predictions came in the U.S. when Jesus and Mary appeared to a humble nun in Indiana (later Ohio), Sr. Mary Ephrem. Their warnings began to take on a particular urgency after 1950, the “middle of the 20th century.” The Cold War was in full tilt with air raid drills in schools and fallout shelters being designated in communities all over the country. Jesus spoke to Sr. Mary at the time saying, “They fear man-made destroyers of life, yet destruction is in themselves…. Implements of war kill only that which is without. Man kills that within himself which none but he can kill….”
In the apparitions of July 1954, Jesus pronounced both warnings and blessings for parents. “Woe to parents who set a bad example to their children! Terrible will be their judgment. I will demand a strict account of every soul entrusted to their care….Blessed are the homes that honor My Name and the Name of My Father….Blessed are the homes where I am loved, for there the Holy Trinity dwells….Blessed are the parents and children who have made a home for God in their hearts.”
Mary spoke particularly about her “children in America” saying, “I am pleased…with the love and honor [they] give to me, especially through my glorious and unique privilege of the Immaculate Conception….I am Our Lady of America. I desire that my children honor me, especially by the purity of their lives….I desire that they be the children of my Pure Heart. I desire, through my children of America, to further the cause of faith and purity among peoples and nations.”
Mary asked that her image of Our Lady of America be carried in procession by the U.S. bishops to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. and given a place of honor. To date the bishops have ignored her request, but in 2006 the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate carried her in procession to a place of honor at Our Lady of the Angels Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, AL, the home of Mother Angelica’s order. One thing all Catholics can do to bring about the renewal of our Church is to live Mary’s message of purity and urge our bishops to fulfill her wishes by enthroning her image of Our Lady of America at the shrine in D.C.
One other action you might consider. Fr. Mark Goring, a priest in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, is urging Catholics to join his little band of warriors to follow the “cloud” in 2019 like the Israelites did in the desert with Moses. His first “order” as a field marshal instructs us to kneel three times a day to praise and thank God in order to protect ourselves from the “lions” as Daniel did. Like Fulton Sheen, Fr. Mark offers a holy hour every day and strongly witnesses on his YouTube channel. He is a priest of God worth listening to.
We are, indeed, in a battle with the hirelings who are in league with the wolves. Sadly, they often seem more aggressive than the good shepherds who whimper when they need to growl. It’s time for the laity to join the pack and follow the good shepherds nipping at their heels.