Abode of the Superficial

CORNWALL, October 21, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The role of bishops in life issues was the focus of much of the afternoon of the fourth day of the Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB). 

Referring to the recent debate on euthanasia and assisted suicide, as well as other life issues, London Bishop Ronald Fabbro noted the importance of being pro-active in framing the questions. “If Bishops don’t step up,” he said, “others will who may present a distorted view of the Church’s teaching. We need to inform our people on the foundations of our faith.”

Presenting on life issues to the Assembly were two former members of the Board of Directors of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF):  Bishop Fabbro, and retired Archbishop Bertrand Blanchet of Rimouski.

In his presentation, Archbishop Blanchet noted the tensions and difficulties that have emerged among individuals and groups involved in defending the right to life from conception to natural death. He stressed the importance being united in thought and action, and proposed a dialogue involving all parties in the pro-life movement. Such a dialogue, he said, would help lessen difficulties within the movement and also help establish common ground.

I applaud the frank discussions that likely surrounded the call for “stepping up” and “dialoguing with the pro-life movement”.  I think it’s great. Much good may come out of it. But I have my skepticism.  I want to see the beef.  Talk is cheap.

Is it not sad that it has taken 40 years and an abortion scandal of epic proportions by their so-called “Development & Peace” organization to remove the blinders from their eyes?  And frankly, we don’t even know yet if they will allow us to remove their blinders.  Nothing has been admitted by the CCCB yet.  And even if we were to get a grudging admission, how many of you believe it would come with even a hint of repentance?  Millions of unborn lives in the Global South hang in the balance and these “successors to the Apostles” can’t figure out that donating to dozens of pro-abort thug groups, many of whom who openly attack the Catholic Church in these countries, is not such a good idea? 

It’s a pathetic joke.  It really is.

What issue is more important today than the attack on life and the family? And yet what priorities and MONEY have the bishops put to these causes?  Answer:  Little to nothing – at least in comparison to their fraudulent “social justice” causes. 

Every politically correct social erection gets equal or greater play than life issues within Catholic Church in the dying West today.  It’s a disgrace.  Pro-life, Pro-Family issues should dominate their time and their energies and their budgets, and yet these issues are largely given short shrift and even less money.

And by the way, while the bishops are trying to figure out if funding pro-abort groups in the Global South is a good idea, pro-lifers here in Ottawa are getting their teeth kicked in by the hangers-on of the groups their so-called development and aid agency is financing.  Maybe Development & Peace should make a donation to this young man’s dental bill.  After all, it seems fitting to do so since this is the cost of overturning what their partners’ are trying to legislate for in the Global South!

Below is a updated list of 10 Recommendations which I mailed to the bishops of this country over six months ago, along with Socon or Bust’s EYE WITNESS REPORT report WITH PICTURES of a feminist group, funded by Development & Peace, who seeks to loosen Nicaragua’s abortion law.

In addition to these 10 recommendations, I have one more to add.  It’s a general recommendation, but I’ll let this good priest say it:

10 Recommendations to the Bishops on Life & Family Matters

1. Wake Up:  The Development & Peace Abortion Scandal has demonstrated a profound lack of vigilance among the bishops in ensuring that Catholic offerings are directed towards the proper causes.  This cannot be dismissed as an isolated event or pinned solely on the gross negligence or even massive betrayal of church bureaucrats.  The buck stops with the bishops and the bishops must take the responsibility.  This type of activity has been going on for many years, if not decades.  The bishops were well aware of the problems and the twisted philosophy of Development & Peace back in 2000 (if not many years before then) when they were confronted with D&P’s support for the radical feminist March for Women right here in Canada. Did the bishops really believe the philosophy undergirding the motivation for this support did not extend to D&P’s other programs here in Canada or abroad?  Does not a good and vigilant shepherd ask the very basic and obvious question to D&P bureaucrats:  “If you are supporting this pro-abortion, feminist group here in Canada, what other objectionable programs and activities are you funding with the money I am sending you?”  In many respects, this whole scandal is not really about D&P at all, but really about how the bishops are exercising their pastoral ministry with the management of our money and the attention they pay to Life related issues.  Indeed, what good steward sends hundreds of thousands of dollars (and ten million dollars collectively) each year without reading the Annual Reports the bureaucrats prepare for them on where our money is going?   And, if some of them are reading these reports, why are the names of some of these so-called “partners” like The 8th of March Women’s Collective and Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre not being identified as potential problems?  And why are they not paying attention when faithful Catholics, year after year, voice their objections and sound the alarm to what Development & Peace has been doing?

Recommendation: The bishops need to wake up.  They also need to become acquainted BY NAME with the international groups and movements who are viciously attacking not only the sanctity of human life but the Church itself in the developing world (Exhibit A and B) so that, when they come across the groups’ names in a report, the bells start to go off.  They also need a language course in the euphemisms which the pro-abortion forces employ to push their agenda, so they can take action to counter their efforts when they see the “buzz words” of these programs. 

2.  Take Control:   The Development & Peace scandal has highlighted a grave weakness in how the bishops are managing the funds entrusted to them.  Much of this is rooted in the otherwise noble Catholic principle of assuming the good intentions of other people.  In this day and age, however, this principle has to be applied much more conservatively and judiciously, considering the culture of death we live in and the influences that culture has on professing Catholics. In other words, trust has to be earned and not presumed.  Indeed, the bishops should not automatically trust anyone (not even fellow bishops, if the truth be told) without first confirming the facts from third party sources. 

Recommendation:  The bishops need to take control over their own dioceses and stop delegating matters of enormous consequence to large, unaccountable structures or to people they do not know or should not trust.

3.  Pro-Life Funding:  Over the past 40 years, the bishops of Canada have done very little to oppose abortion. The efforts that have been undertaken have been rather negligible in proportion to the gravity of the issue.  With the Development & Peace fiasco and other embarrassing episodes in the Canadian Church’s history like the Winnipeg Statement, one can honestly say that, far from being the stumbling block for the culture of death, the Canadian episcopacy has been its enabler.  This must stop immediately.   Furthermore, there is a severe imbalance in the importance the bishops place on certain secondary issues at the expense of the most critical issues of our time concerning the sanctity of human life.  We see issues like the political causes D&P advances, the environment, the war in Afghanistan, and other issues being given equal or even more prominence than issues surrounding the dignity of the human person.  D&P receives close to $10 million from Canadian Catholics every year for very questionable causes, and those are causes even beyond the condom distribution centres in Togo,  Nigerian education centres on condom application, and abortion-totting propaganda in Brazil that D&P enables.  How many millions do the Canadian Bishops set aside annually for fighting abortion in this country or internationally?   $530 Million dollars since 1967 would have gone along way to undermining the abortion juggernaut in Canada and around the world.  Your heart is where your sacrifice is.  And money is sacrifice. 

Recommendation:  Development & Peace should be reconstituted to commit funds to authentic poverty and disaster relief, as well as to launch initiatives to strengthen the family and vigorously oppose abortion.

4. Pro-Life Education:  The D&P fiasco has revealed a huge gap in the coordination and communication between the bishops and pro-life activists “on the ground”.  The pro-abortion forces are very well organized, use carefully crafted language, have a coordinated and well-oiled propaganda machine, and are very well financed. There can be no effective mobilization or success against them unless the bishops become well acquainted with the latest news on the abortion front and the tactics of our opponents.  Information is power in the 21st century, and without it, the war is already lost.

Recommendation:  The Canadian Bishops should establish a method of ongoing communication with pro-life organizations in order to be informed and to coordinate strategies for mobilization when the need arises.  At the very least, pro-life organizations should make a presentation at the bishop’s conference every year.  If this line of communication existed, the Development & Peace fiasco would have been averted.

5. Pro-Life Activism:  Every year the bishops of Canada are invited to the annual National March for Life in Ottawa, and every year, unlike the American bishops, few of them show up – either at Parliament Hill in Ottawa or the regional rallies established for that purpose. This demonstrates a lack of leadership and concern for the plight of the unborn in this country.  Where the bishops should be leading us as our fathers in faith, they are missing in action.  It only further solidifies the opinion of many Catholics in Canada that the bishops’ priorities are not ordered properly, and they are not treating the issue of abortion seriously enough.  Like any human rights movement, the leaders need to be present as a sign of unity and resolve for the movement to expand and gain momentum. The bishops are supposed to be our leaders.  They are supposed to be our fathers.  Do not fathers lead their families?  Is it acceptable for any father to miss a birth date of his child? Or to “delegate” someone else to attend?  No. That’s not acceptable and neither is it acceptable for the bishops to shirk this responsibility.  It is critical that we see them in the flesh, leading us in these marches.

Recommendation:  May 14, 2010 represents the 41st year that abortion was legalized in Canada to the day.  Faithful Catholics are again asking the bishops to reflect on their commitment and responsibility to the cause of protecting the unborn, and to join us at the March for Life.  Whatever they are doing that day, they should cancel it, show up, and prove to us that they aim to put their priorities straight. 

6. Catholic Action:  We live in a society that has had no law regulating abortion for over 20 years and we’ve endured legalized abortion for 40 years.  There are over 100,000 conventional abortions in this country every year, not counting the chemical ones procured through the abortion pill or the birth control pill. Our birthrate is plummeting. Divorce is commonplace. Sodomy is given official sanction.  The family is besieged on all sides. Every social indicator points to a dying culture and a crumbling civilization.  For the past 40 years, the Church in Canada has done little, if anything, to stem the tide.  Every action is a reaction to the next attack, and the reaction is invariably too little, too late.  We are always on the defensive and never on the offensive.  We are like the proverbial sitting duck just waiting to be picked off by the next anti-Catholic bigot. In a short time, the conscience rights of Catholic medical professionals will be overridden to serve the dominant pro-abortion ideology. After that, more pronounced persecution against Catholics will follow, including frontal attacks on religious liberty.

Recommendation:  The bishops should establish a council of Catholics from diverse backgrounds and experiences to develop strategic means to combat this attack.  The bishops should also be prepared to put some real money in fostering Catholic activism in protecting our civil and religious rights, instead of funding our enemies in different parts of the world who seek to weaken and even destroy the Church.

7. 40 Days for Life:  For the past 2 years, Canada has participated in the international 40 Days for Life Campaign.  The mission of the 40 Days for Life campaign is to bring together the body of Christ in a spirit of unity during a focused 40 day campaign of prayer, fasting, and peaceful witness in front of the abortion mills, with the purpose of repentance, to seek God’s favor to turn hearts and minds from a culture of death to a culture of life, thus bringing an end to abortion in North America and around the world.  The results are very encouraging and remarkable with an average of over 500 babies being saved across North America during each campaign which is held during Spring (Lent) and Fall every year.  This past Lent, five Canadian cities participated.  Unfortunately, only Ottawa and Toronto had the endorsement of the local bishop. 

Recommendation:  The bishops of Canada should reflect on their passivity and apathy towards their opposition towards abortion and reflect carefully on what Scripture teaches about Christians who are “lukewarm” in seeking after justice for the “least of these”.

8. Catholic Politicians:  For 40 years Catholic politicians have been thumbing their noses at Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life and their own responsibilities as Catholics to stand for the truth in their public as well as private lives.  Just how long will this scandal continue before the Bishops of Canada enforce the Church’s own canon law (Canon 915)?  And just how long does a dialogue on abortion with a politician have to last before a bishop finally asks him not to present himself for Communion? 1 month, 6 months, 1 year?  His whole 25 year political career?

Recommendation: The bishops of Canada should do what Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas did when he directed Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius to refrain from presenting herself for Holy Communion until she takes “the necessary steps for amendment of her life which would include a public repudiation of her previous efforts and actions in support of laws and policies sanctioning abortion.” 

9. Catechesis on Contraception:  Pro-life activists have long recognized that abortion is a symptom of a much more fundamental problem.  Abortion is a symptom of a crisis of meaning in life, but more proximately, it demonstrates the lack of understanding of the purpose of sexual intimacy.  Abortion is a sign that the Church has not adequately catechized her children or the culture at large about the noble and sublime purpose of the natural sexual act or its cheap counterfeit of contraception.  Wherever contraception is introduced, abortion follows. That reason alone should give us reason to pause. Contraception allows the mentality of “no to life” to eat away at couples like a spiritual cancer. When they engage in contraception, the sexual act is saying “no to life”. Therefore, if the woman gets pregnant, the very act which was saying “no” is now faced with the biological reality of “yes”. And so there is disunity and strife between the act and will of the couple during sex on the one hand and the result on the other. There is no unity between the act (contra-life) and the fruit of that act (life). Creation is superseded and the results are usually disastrous. While not always true, abortion is the logical answer to failed contraception. The “no” in sex does not usually give way nine months later to the “yes” in birth. Within the contraceptive act, the couple is lying to one another about who they are. Instead of communicating themselves to one another as they were created, they are communicating to each other in a way they are NOT. In other words, the man is not giving himself over to his wife the way God had intended. He is giving himself over to his wife the way he wants to i.e. without his fertility. And just as few marriages can survive with one spouse continually telling the other spouse lies, neither can a man continually lie about who he is within the sexual act with no adverse consequences resulting within the relationship with his wife. Is it any wonder that divorce rates in Canada ballooned shortly after contraception was legalized? That is no mere coincidence, but rather an acknowledgement that few relationships can survive without respecting the truth of the human body as God has created it. As St. Paul reveals, sex can be a form of worship because we are participating in God’s creative power through the mutual sacrifice of one spouse to the other, and therefore giving glory to our Creator in our bodies. A partial gift to God was found unacceptable to God when Ananias and Sapphira withheld part of their gift to the Christian community (Cf. Acts 5:1-11). Conversely, contraception is a false worship since it does not respect God or His creation or involve a complete and total self giving from one spouse to another. The object of worship is no longer God but oneself. Because the sex act is no longer respectful of the natural order, it cannot be said to be a legitimate form of worship and witness to God’s creation. Therefore it is idolatrous in nature.  It is sexual idolatry.

Recommendation:  Every person seeking to enter the Catholic Church or be married within in it should be required to complete a six month course on the Theology of the Body.  In addition, each bishop should heavily promote parish “missions” and teaching programs within their dioceses on this subject. The bishop should visit many parishes in his diocese and teach the course IN PERSON in order to attract interest.  If an Orthodox bishop in Georgia can promise to personally baptize any baby born to parents who already have two or more children to encourage parents to have more children, the Catholic bishops in Canada should take his lead with teaching the theology of the body personally.  The bishops should pay attention and ”Go and do likewise.”  

10. Winnipeg Statement:  The disastrous legacy of the Winnipeg Statement and the rebellion of the Canadian bishops against Humanae Vitae at that time continues to ruin our culture.  Despite repeated attempts and pleas for the bishops to repent and retract the document, the bishops continue to ignore the role their predecessors played in spreading the contraceptive cancer not only in Canada but throughout the English speaking world, and have, by their silence and negligence, been complicit in the dissent from Humanae Vitae.  One Australian bishop, Bishop Peter J Elliott, recently lamented how the Winnipeg Statement was “the worst” response of all of the national bishop conferences’ responses at the time.  If Pope John Paul II can apologize for 2000 years of misdeeds on the part of the Church’s ministers and lay people, cannot the Canadian bishops do the same for 40 years of dissent and silence on this issue and the specific role they played in it?  2000 years of the misdeeds of the Church’s children are but a grain of sand when compared to what the Winnipeg Statement has wrought.

Until now, there has been little admission by the Church’s bishops, but that has now changed and we are finally getting some straight talk from a high ranking Cardinal no less.  In an article which is reproduced below from The Record and Inside the Vatican, Cardinal Archbishop Christoph Schonborn is perhaps the first high ranking prelate in the Catholic Church to identify the elephant in the room that has been standing there for the past 40 years.  It is a refreshing and frank admission of the truth.  Pay particular attention to the highlighted text.

Reporters only recently noticed a remarkably tough address delivered by Austria’s most Senior Catholic prelate, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, last year in Jerusalem on the lack of leadership in the Church in 1968, and since, on the immorality of birth control….The blistering attack, in which Vienna’s Cardinal Archbishop Christoph Schonborn accuses a number of his predecessors of lacking the courage to speak out against birth control and blames them in part for the declining birth rate in Europe, was delivered to a Neocatechumenate meeting in Jerusalem on March 27, but only appeared late in 2008 on the website of the Viennese archdiocese. From there, journalist Christa Pongratz-Lippitt picked up the story, reporting on it on November 8 in The Tablet of London. Schonborn said that, after the publication of the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae which reiterated traditional Church teaching condemning as immoral the use of birth control, many bishops’ conferences around the world – including those of Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the US and later Australia – issued statements assuring the faithfully that the issue was a matter of conscience. These bishops, Schonborn said, “frightened of the press and of being misunderstood by the faithful,” distanced themselves from the Church’s teaching. Now, Europe is “about to die out,” and part of the reason is the lack of commitment by the bishops to the Church’s true, fruitful, loving and beautiful pro-life teaching, Schonborn said.  Schonborn has told Inside the Vatican in the past that he is “very worried” about the plummeting population in Austria.  I think that it is also our sin as bishops, even if none of us were bishops in 1968,” he said in the talk. Bishops have not had, or did not have, the courage to ‘swim against the tide’ and say yes to Humanae Vitae, he said. The Cardinal, who is close to Pope Benedict XVI, particularly criticised two of the many 1968 bishops’ conference declaration on Humanae Vitae, which all stressed the importance of the individual conscience. He singled out the Maria Trost Declaration, whose signatories included Cardinal Franz Koenig, the late archbishop of Vienna, president of the Austrian bishops’ conference and a Father of the Second Vatican Council, and Konigstein Declaration, whose signatories included Cardinal Julius Doepfner, the late archbishop of Munich, president of the German bishops’ conference and another Council Father. Cardinal Schonborn accused the signatories of “weakening the People of God’s sense for life” so that when “the wave of abortions” and increasing acceptance of homosexuality followed, the Church lacked the courage to oppose them. There were a few memorable exceptions in 1968, the cardinal said, one of which was Krakow, where a group of theologians led by the archbishop and cardinal of Krakow, the future Pope John Paul II, drew up a memorandum which was sent to Pope Paul VI, urging him to write Humanae Vitae. “I think this witness by a martyr-bishop of the so-called Silent Church carried more weight than all the expertise Pope Paul VI had drawn up on this subject,” Cardinal Schonborn said.  “It led him to make this courageous decision. I am convinced in my inner being, even if I have no historical evidence, that this text from Krakow helped to give Pope Paul VI the courage to write Humanae Vitae.” Schonborn thanked the Neocatechumenate families for having large families which produce many vocations, and he thanked Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI for discerning between the different charisms and, following the example of St Paul in 1 Corinthians 14, saying which are of God. He asked God to forgive all bishops and give them courage to say “yes” to life. Speaking from Melbourne, Bishop Peter Elliott told The Record Cardinal Schonborn’s comments were correct. “What Cardinal Schonborn said is true – and it’s time it was stated openly 40 years down the track,” Bishop Elliott of Melbourne said. Bishop Elliott, a former official with the Pontifical Council for the Family in Rome for ten years has also just written an article for the Council’s journal setting out the widespread pattern of rejection and undermining of Humanae Vitae that took place in the Church up to and including the level of national bishops’ conferences around the world. Bishop Elliott says that he was effectively excluded from membership of the Australian Catholic Theological Association for many years because of his support for Humanae Vitae. In the article he also recounts the experience of meeting with Bishop Bernard Stewart of the Diocese of Sandhurst in the 1970s and watching as the bishop cried and apologised to him while recounting how the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference had voted to adopt a weaker stance on Humanae Vitae. Part of the damage caused by such weakness led many Catholics into believing the Church’s teaching was not binding, on birth control and sterilisation, he writes. The international trend for bishops’ conferences to back-pedal on support for Humanae Vitae was the most tragic episode in the saga of the encyclical, he recalls in the article. Bishop Elliott says that 40 years after Pope Paul VI’s courageous and prophetic encyclical, which also made him something of a martyr for promulgating it, he detects a mood of indifference within the Catholic community in Australia. In many parishes, teaching on birth control is a “non-issue”. “No-one speaks about it. Rarely do articles appear in Catholic journals on this controversial topic. It is not included in homilies, even if prudence would require a certain reserve and delicacy when preaching at Sunday Mass because children are present,” he writes. And yet, he says, “In spite of some problems it is easy to explain the core message of Humanae Vitae and to promote natural spacing of childbirth.  From Inside the Vatican Magazine with additional reporting from The Record. (Source)

Recommendation:  To date, The Rosarium of the Blessed Virgin Mary has collected 1761 signatures (960 online and 801 on paper) to have the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops retract the Winnipeg Statement.  The on-line petition is still active.  We are also calling on each bishop individually and IN THEIR OWN NAME and on behalf of their own diocese to repudiate the Winnipeg Statement BY NAME and to apologize for the massive betrayal of selling us, their children, into sexual slavery these past 40 years.  The scheduled Pro-Life Mass on May 14th at 10AM at Notre Dame Cathedral in Ottawa is a good time and place for this retraction.  Many of us will be in attendance waiting for those courageous bishops to utter those words:  ”We repent of the Winnipeg Statement”.  The crucifixion of our Lord and his innocent unborn children must end now, but it won’t end until there is repentance among the fathers. For as the fathers lead, the children will follow.


 

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