Bp. Finn: “We are at war”

The great Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO, has again struck the nail on the head.

You should read his Keynote Address at the Second Annual Gospel of Life Convention this last weekend.  The Catholic Key has the text.  Here are a couple excerpts with my emphases.

He leads off:

But as I speak a word of encouragement today I also want to tell you soberly, dear friends, “We are at war!”

Harsh as this may sound it is true – but it is not new. This war to which I refer did not begin in just the last several months, although new battles are underway – and they bring an intensity and urgency to our efforts that may rival any time in the past.

But it is correct to acknowledge that you and I are warriors – members of the Church on earth – often called the Church Militant. Those who have gone ahead of us have already completed their earthly battles. Some make up the Church Triumphant – Saints in heaven who surround and support us still – tremendous allies in the battle for our eternal salvation; and the Church Suffering (souls in purgatory who depend on our prayers and meritorious works and suffrages).

But we are the Church on Earth – The Church Militant. We are engaged in a constant warfare with Satan, with the glamour of evil, and the lure of false truths and empty promises. If we fail to realize how constantly these forces work against us, we are more likely to fall, and even chance forfeiting God’s gift of eternal life.

On the Notre Shame scandal:

In my first U.S. Bishops’ Conference meeting – June of 2004 – the bishops passed what seemed to me to be a compromise statement as a result of our lengthy debate on politicians and Communion. There we stated that pro-choice leaders (and specifically, Catholic leaders were mentioned) should not be given public platforms or honors. As we all know the eminent American Catholic University, Notre Dame, is poised to bestow such an opportunity and honor on President Obama, who is, of course, not Catholic. But it doesn’t take another Bishops’ Conference statement to know this is wrong: scandalous, discouraging and confusing to many Catholics.

God knows what all motivates such a decision. I suspect that, since Notre Dame will need a scapegoat for this debacle, and Fr. Jenkins will probably lose his job, at this point perhaps he ought to determine to lose it for doing something right instead of something wrong. He ought to disinvite the President, who I believe would graciously accept the decision. Notre Dame, instead, ought to give the honorary degree to Bishop John D’Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who has supported and tried to guide the University, despite their too frequent waywardness, faithfully for 25 years.

On Political Responsibility:

Occasionally we still hear an elected official speak of his or her personal opposition to abortion, while they support the legal right to an abortion. We should be very clear: Such a person places him or herself completely OUTSIDE the moral framework, the moral imperative of Evangelium Vitae and other Church teaching on these issues. They are NEITHER defending human life against the forces of death, NOR or they taking steps to build a culture of life. They have abandoned their place in the citizenship of the Church. Quite simply they have become warriors for death rather than life.

Such a person who makes a public stand – and acts directly – in defense of the right to kill – endangers their eternal salvation. If you and I support such a person who has so flatly told us of their intentions to protect a fraudulent Right to Death, a Right to an Abortion, we make ourselves participants in their attack on life. We risk our salvation, and we better change. Why? – because Bishop Finn is going to condemn you? No, I must say what the Church says, but I will not finally judge any human soul.

I know Catholics in our country are looking to their bishops for leadership in this. Four out of five letters I receive on these issues urges me to do more, not less. I was not able to attend the installation of Archbishop Timothy Dolan in New York this week, but I watched part of the Mass on EWTN. I heard the homily and saw how well the new Archbishop was received. But there was one place in the homily that was particularly dramatic. When Archbishop Dolan mentioned the defense of human life, all St. Patrick Cathedral thundered with spontaneous applause and rose to its feet. At no other spot in the homily did any such thing happen.

See the whole thing at The Catholic Key Blog.

BTW… that eruption of applause during Archbp. Dolan’s sermon began with the priests who were present.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. TJM says:

    Wow, what a statement, direct, concise, and to the point. I love this guy! Tom

  2. TNCath says:

    Does anybody think Bishop Finn has a chance of going to St. Louis? It doesn’t get any better than this! This guy doesn’t back down.

    This is the first bishop I’ve heard even mentioning that Father Jenkins might “lose his job” over this! I’m sure Bishop Finn wouldn’t have said it if it weren’t being talked about somewhere amongst the hierarchy and the upper echelon of the CSC’s.

    Between the Notre Dame debacle and Archbishop Burke’s latest comments on Catholic politicians and Holy Communion, I’m sure the bishops in attendance at Archbishop Dolan’s installation had plenty to “chew the fat” about.

  3. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    Just read the intro to the complete speech. Was the great bishop channelling Innocent III because his words read like some of the great medieval sermons! We can only respond, as they did back then, Deus vult!

  4. ckdexterhaven says:

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said it since Oct/Nov that we’re at war. Of course Bishop Finn says it much more eloquently than I! Gotta keep on praying.

  5. Al says:

    Bishop Finn says in plain speak what others refuse to say. He therefore receives the Saint Thomas Becket award for showing episcopalian backbone in the public square. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym6Qgj55e3Y HUUUZZAAAHHHH

  6. irishgirl says:

    Bishop Finn for St. Louis-and the red hat!

    Spot on! I echo Al’s ‘Huzzah’….no, don’t worry Fr. Z, I won’t shout [heehee]….

  7. Dr. Eric says:

    I for one would not be opposed to Bishop Finn becoming the Cardinal Archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri; not the least bit opposed to it! :-)

  8. Steve Boor says:

    While Bishop Finn’s remarks are spot-on and unwavering, he pretty much tells us that he is being asked to do even MORE:

    “Four out of five letters I receive on these issues urges me to do more, not less.”

    What more can he do? As the old saying goes, ACTIONS speak louder than words!

    When are our Bishops going to get enough backbone to put into action the EXCOMMUNICATION of these nefarious pro-choice politicians? If they did, are the Bishops afraid that those same politicians will then attack the Church and take away its tax-exempt status? If so, then BRING IT ON! JPII himself said “Be not afraid!”. When are the Bishops going to ACT that way???

    Enough of the talk, talk, talk, Bishop Finn, et. al. Let’s see some A-C-T-I-O-N, not just more words!

    Pacis et benedictionis tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum,

  9. Romulus says:

    WRT spiritual warfare: Holy Scripture assures us that grace abounds where sin is rife, but from the lives of many great saints we’ve learned that the converse also is common: the enemy hates holiness and seeks ways to subvert it. At our parish we have two images of St. Michael. One is high in the narthex, above the central doors to the nave (through which the entrance processions pass). The other is in the sacristy. Increasingly I am pointing out to the acolytes I train that our pre-Mass sacristy prayer to the great Archangel is a prayer for protection from distractions and inattention and loss of recollection which would disfigure the Mass. I remind them that those serving at Mass, being in the front lines of the spiritual battle, must resist spiritual assault. The Mass, the priest who celebrates it, and those who serve him, are hated by the enemy, who targets them for sabotage. I am not speaking here of dramatic, violent acts, but of the innumerable subtle and banal ways we can fall short of what the Lord of hosts in his grace has enabled us to do. The liturgy is a battleground. Our Lady, whose Immaculate Conception endowed her with perfect recollection that allowed her to give a whole-hearted “fiat”, is co-patroness of our acolyte guild.

  10. EDG says:

    This is great stuff! Sometimes, paradoxically, I think we will be better off if something happens sooner rather than later to make the situation so acute that the bishops and perhaps even Rome have no choice but to respond. What I think will actually happen, however, is that Obama and the people behind him are beginning to realize that overcoming the Church is not going to be as easy as they thought, and they will back off from any public confrontation right now. They don’t have all their ducks in a row, for one thing; and the other is that the longer this drags on with no decisive action but at the same time no decisive confrontation, the more Catholics will come to tolerate the situation and perhaps even think that AmChurch isn’t that bad an idea after all.

    It was great to see that response to the pro-life mention in Dolan’s homily. I think we’ll see a gradual and unspoken moving away from this subject, however, and the confusing of the faithful by the substitution of things like “environmental justice” for actual moral issues. Heck, my very own Cathedral is co-sponsoring an Earth Day event – with the MCC, of all things (Metropolitan Community Church, a specifically gay Protestant church) – where they will have earth blessings and hymns, “rethink” humanity’s “domination” of nature and go “consecrate a green space” for the MCC. And the bishop is sponsoring an environmental workshop aimed at getting this stuff into catechetics in the diocese. This is the direction I think it will take.

  11. Jackson says:

    Bishop Finn, PLEASE come to Denver.

  12. Bishop Finn to St. Louis sounds like a logical solution to the vacancy following Archbishop Burke’s advancement. But as for a red hat, where is it going to come from? The U.S. got a new red hat in Galveston Houston and only 120 Cardinal electors are allowed. Which traditionally red hat diocese is going to miss out in order to make room. Even New York is going to likely have to miss out at the next consistory because Cardinal Egan will be under 80.

  13. TNCath says:

    David O’Rourke: “Bishop Finn to St. Louis sounds like a logical solution to the vacancy following Archbishop Burke’s advancement. But as for a red hat, where is it going to come from?”

    While the Holy Father can certainly do whatever he wishes, keep in mind that St. Louis hasn’t had a cardinal since Cardinal Carberry died, and he was retired at the time. I don’t think that St. Louis is considered a cardinalatial see anymore, and I do think that Houston-Galveston has lessened the chances of St. Louis getting a cardinal even more. The U.S. already has more cardinals than anywhere else other than Italy, so I don’t foresee any Stateside cardinals being made at the next consistory other than dear Archbishop Burke. Nonetheless, there is still time for Bishop Finn to go to St. Louis and then to another position which will give him the red hat as did Cardinal Rigali.

  14. LouisianaCatholic says:


    I assume you want Bishop Finn to come to Denver to
    perhaps speak to your local parish, etc. From my view,
    you all are in excellent hands with Abp. Chaput. I think
    Bishop Finn going to St. Louis would be great and he along
    with Abp. Burke getting together to give a list of names
    to replace Bishop Finn in Kansas City. In other words,
    orthodox Bishops keep replenishing the dioceses that
    they vacated with more orthodox Bishops, which in turn
    changes the entire make-up of the Catholic hierarchy in
    the United States.


  15. craigk says:

    umm, can we please stop talking about transfering Bishop Finn elsewhere please. those of us in Kansas City spent many many years under less courageous Bishops, we really need to keep bishop Finn for a little while to help reorientate us. I for one, would like to see many of changes come to fruition while he is still able to guide them.

  16. Gail F says:

    Wow! Now THAT’s a bishop!

  17. It’s great when a Bishop actually behaves like a successor to the Apostles.

  18. I think that Bishop Finn hits the nail on the head.
    As Catholics, we have always been at war and now
    the war is intensifying by the day.

    His call to action is as rousing as anything
    I have heard. It reminds me of St. Dominic
    and St. Francis. When Holy Mother Church
    was assaulted by heretics left and right,
    they were raised by the Church to defend
    her rights and to rebuild her. They did not
    merely preach the Gospel; they acted on it
    and those actions converted thousands
    upon thousands.

    As St. Francis himself once said, “Preach
    the Gospel always if necessary use words.”
    Now is the time for action. We cannot delay

  19. Gary says:

    Well I think the only logical solution to the problem of a red hat for Bishop Finn is to send him to Los Angeles to replace Cardinal Mahony in 2011. That way Kansas City gets to keep him for another couple years….well, I can dream, can’t I?

  20. tertullian says:

    “…Fr. Jenkins will probably lose his job”

    This is the only point by Bishop Finn I disagree with. I expect the Obama affair to be carefully controlled (access restricted), scripted and treated with exultation by those who are responsible for it.

  21. elmo says:

    Bishop Finn, PLEASE come to Denver.

    No, please don’t. Abp Chaput is doing a great job. Stay where you are needed.

  22. joe says:

    We need a LOT more bishops who can/will bish the way Bp. Finn bishes.

  23. TNCath: I’m not quite sure I get your point. I said that it was unlikely that St. Louis would get a red hagt as there aren’t enough to go around. Your tone is of one who is correcting me and yet you seem to be saying the same thing I said. Or are you?

  24. TNCath says:

    David O’Rourke wrote: “TNCath: I’m not quite sure I get your point. I said that it was unlikely that St. Louis would get a red hagt as there aren’t enough to go around. Your tone is of one who is correcting me and yet you seem to be saying the same thing I said. Or are you?”

    Actually, I was agreeing with you and was adding to what you said and stipulating that St. Louis was not perceived as being a place where a cardinal would be appointed. However, were Archbishop Finn to go to St. Louis, he might still be able to become a cardinal were he later transferred to a position where a red hat would be fortcoming. Sorry if it sounded like I was correcting you.

  25. irene says:

    It is not likely Finn will go to St. Louis as he is from there. You know, the whole “prophet in his own land” thing. If you look at some good Bishops around the country, you will see lots from St. Louis (Stika, Dolan, Finn, Rigali came through Stl, Hermann (still in St. Louis))

    As for the cardinal thing, St. Louis use to have one… not long ago. Never replaced do to death and transitions, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen again!

  26. ED says:

    I can’t believe a man who gave up his life to GOD (Father Jenkins) would allow someone like Barack Obama to recieve an honorary degree, a tongue lashing yes not a degree. Also what kind of priests at Georgetown would allow the IHS to be covered up for this Barack Obama and company gang, who feign being Christian/Muslim but are atheistic communists!!!

  27. Michael says:

    Bishop Finn, PLEASE don’t leave Kansas City.

  28. Petros. says:

    Correct me if I,m wrong,but I think UNINVITE is the correct word,as in, an uninvited guest.

  29. Dr. Eric says:

    Actually, there are many Cardinals in St. Louis! ;-p

  30. Timothy says:

    Bishop Finn does not have an earned doctorate. I understand that is preferred, although not required, to be elevated to an Archbishop. But perhaps my understanding is mistaken.

  31. Don says:

    I attended the ordination of three Holy Cross priests at Sacred Heart Basilica
    on ND’s campus this past Saturday. While a beautiful ceremony, Bishop D’Arcy was
    not there (nor was Fr. Jenkins). Archbishop John Vlazny of the Archdioces of Portland (OR)
    was brought in to preside. He provided a moving homily. He evoked a few chuckles, and
    briefly stunned me, when he stated in his remarks that “you should try to get along with
    your bishop”–not you should be obedient to your bishop. I’m sure that he would justifiably
    state that obedience to one’s ordinary was an express vow and that he was simply offering
    counsel; under the circumstances, however, it was awkward at best.

  32. joshua says:

    Timothy, Can. 378 §1. In regard to the suitability of a candidate for the episcopacy, it is required that he is:

    5/ in possession of a doctorate or at least a licentiate in sacred scripture, theology, or canon law from an institute of higher studies approved by the Apostolic See, or at least truly expert in the same disciplines.

    So the requirement is in general for bishops. I found nothing pertaining to archbishops

  33. Faithful one says:

    Good guidance from an authentic Catholic Bishop. I pray that the Holy Father’s Staff in charge of assigning Bishops realize the cry of the poor catholics who desperately need good, true,authentic Catholic Bishops who are TRUE Shepherds, defenders of our Catholic Faith and Moral Teachings and are OBEDIENT to the Holy Father. We need to respond to the project of the Congregation of the Clergy for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Moms to Priest and also the new project of the Holy FAther for the Year of the Priests, June 19, 2008-2009 with St John Vianney, Curs de Ars, as the Patron saint. Let us continue praying to the Clergy and for more authentic vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life. God bless.

  34. John says:

    Bishop Robert Finn is a great man. I have been a fan of his since I learned of him a few years ago. I hope that he is the next archbishop of Los Angeles. It did not take him long to put Kansas City St. Joseph in order. He named himself pastor of the TLM and provided the TLM with old St. Patrick’s Church. He entrusted the parish to the Institute of Christ the King.

  35. Johnnyjoe says:

    You can’t have our Bishop!
    Praise God I have had the privilege of coming to know Bishop Finn, and can say in confidence these words come from the heart of a joyful, prayerful, and humble man of great faith.
    He was in the confessional at my home parish, Our Lady of Good Counsel – Diocesan Shrine of the Divine Mercy, for 1 1/2 hours before celebrating the Feast of Divine Mercy at 3:00 pm. He puts his mouth where his faith is – and does not shy away from the difficult.
    He is capable of great preaching because he is attentive to the Holy Sprit!
    God Keep and Protect Our Shepherd – and may we have him many years yet!

  36. LouisianaCatholic says:

    To all posters in this thread:

    It has been reported over on other solid Catholic blogs that
    Bishop Carlson of Saginaw Michigan is going to
    St. Louis. Remember, he called out Senator Tom Daschle
    for his unwavering support of Abortion. So, St. Louis,
    gets another orthodox Bishop, the last two of which
    are either Cardinals (Rigali) and will be a Cardinal
    (Burke). My guess is that Bishop Carlson will have
    input into who goes to Saginaw, which is another way
    of having orthodox Bishops being appointed to more and
    more Dioceses. I think we are witnessing the last vestiges
    of the “nebulous spirit of Vatican II” being gradually
    replaced by Bishops who are in line with Pope Benedict
    and his call for interpreting the Second Vatican Council
    with a “hermaneutic of continuity”.

    Man how I love Pope Benededict and may God grant him many
    more years.

  37. BRK says:

    Congratulations to St. Louis. Perhaps now the repitious talk of Bishop Finn leaving KC-SJ can stop[for now at laeast]. He has done more for the Catholics of the diocese than can be said and we still very much need him here. He has brought pride in being a Catholic back to western Missouri.

  38. Patrick says:

    Maybe Bishop Finn to Milwaukee???

    I mean, KC can’t have him forever, he’s only 56!

  39. John 6:54 says:

    We need Bishop Finn’s in places like Wash DC & SF. But we also need him here in KC. He still has a lot of work to do here. NCR is based here and needs removed.

Comments are closed.