Today I read at Crisis a smart piece by Eric Sammons which argued that, because of the unaddressed, indeed covered up scandal of McCarrick … and others, just wait!… Catholics should address the problem of feckless bishops by withholding money: “So perhaps it’s time to dry up those donations. If bishops begin losing money, perhaps they will hear the cries of the laity to clean up their act. ”
Today I read at Regina Magazine a blistering piece from Beverly Stevens in which she calls for all the money to dry up: “[T]he vast majority of Catholics are smart enough to simply divert their donations to the authentic Church, once they get the lowdown on what you and your minions are up to. Tomorrow, I will outline our ‘Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval’ list of seminaries, charities and apostolates that teach the authentic Faith and which can be trusted with our money.”
Today I read, and heard, at Church Militant the new “Vortex” offering from Michael Voris. He, too, is fuming mad. His recommendation? “Time’s up for the bishops in the United States as a collective body. They need to be cut off from your financial support.”
Are you sensing a theme?
Yesterday I made the same point HERE after suggesting that talking about hanging bishops on do it yourself gallows isn’t a very good approach to the problems we face. I was obtusely mocked for that at Canon212.
I wonder now if that same site will mock Michael Voris and Beverly Stevens for making the same suggestion. Or are they interested more in style than in substance? [UPDATE: Their response made my rhetorical question clear: probably neither. It isn’t clear that they read very carefully, given their response to this post. They seem to have missed the point that I agree with those who are calling for action. Too long, perhaps?]
Michael Voris’ “Vortex” piece deserves a little more examination. He makes his dramatic case for withholding financial support from bishops. For example, he says:
Sell off your [bishops] assets, your land, your buildings. Some of these dioceses have enormous sums of money in various holdings. [many don’t] Stop asking the laity to keep supporting your garbage with their money. Use your own money for once, and stop debasing the Faith even further with your money campaigns dressed up in religious or spiritual sounding sappy names — stop it, it’s disgusting.
No Catholic who believes the Faith should hand you guys one more dime — not one more penny. We have to support our parishes, but that’s it. You spend those special collections and extra income on sending dissidents to Rome for further study so they can come back with a degree in hand and spread error even further.
Now, just hang on a second. Let’s deal with the campaign and the seminarian issue.
Where I am, in Madison, The Extraordinary Ordinary, Bp. Morlino, started out with 6 seminarians when he arrived, after the reign of a super-lib. After a decade of hard work, there are some 30 seminarians. They are great guys, prayerful, devout, smart, dedicated. Two of the three men just ordained said TLMs as their First Mass. The Diocese of Madison was, when Morlino came, not financially ready to support more than 6 seminarians, and at $50K per man, 30 seminarians adds up! So, rather than raise money to build a cathedral, which had burned due to arson, The EO started a, yes, campaign to raise, yes, money to create a foundation that would generate funds to pay for the formation of priests. It had a sappy name, too: Priests For The Future. No, wait: that’s descriptive, not sappy. The campaign was a success. As far as “sending dissidents to Rome” is concerned, the Diocese has what I think might the largest contingent at the North American College with some 8 men. First, this shows the bishop’s desire that a) our guys can be Roman, b) they can support each other while being abroad and c) the money is being tended well. There are some okay seminaries in the states, but Rome has advantages, one being that it is less costly to send men there than most US seminaries. Moreover, our priests getting advance degrees are not wasting their time. One of our guys came back, overhauled the Tribunal and made it one of the most faithful anywhere, and now has been called to Rome to work in the CDF’s canonical section, which means that he is handling cases of sexual abuse. There couldn’t be a better priest in that section. There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to what is done with money and whom one sends to Rome.
Here is another thing that Voris wants to happen:
Most of the bishops in the United States need to resign their posts immediately. If any board of directors of any company in America would have engaged in the systematic practice and cover-up of sexual harassment of adults under their authority, they wouldn’t have just been fired, they’d be behind bars, which many of these “leaders” deserve. [..] Resign. Resign, now.
Let’s think about this for a moment.
What would be the result of the mass resignation of bishops in these USA?
First, those bishops will have to be replaced. How will they be replaced? They will replaced at the suggestions of the “kingmakers”. Hint: McCarrick was a kingmaker. Today, Card. Cupich – who I suspect won’t resign – is a “kingmaker”. The kingmakers will make suggestions through the Nuncio to the Congregation for Bishops, which in turn will make suggestions to Pope Francis. Some kingmakers go directly to the Pope, which is what happened in the case of McCarrick, thus resulting in several, at least three, really important appointments in these USA as well as their subsequent additional elevation in ecclesial dignity. So, after these resignations, Pope Francis will replace those bishops with new bishops according to the vision he prefers.
Scenario: In the well-balanced Diocese of Black Duck, hard-working, faithful, tradition-supporting, doctrine-preaching, socially outspoken Bishop Nobel knew about the dealings of “uncle Ted”. After all, everybody knew for years. Say that, because he now feels badly that he didn’t do anything about a Cardinal – Cardinals, by the way, as the proverb goes, are “weak friends but powerful enemies” – tenders his resignation. They get a new bishop to replace him. The Holy Father moves our old friend Bp. Fatty McButterpants from nearby Libville over to Black Duck, and the merciful accompaniment begins.
I am not saying that Voris is wrong, but be careful what you wish for.
Next, as far as “sell off assets” is concerned, it seems to me that one day Holy Church will experience an upturn. To my mind, selling off, for example, churches, which are on coveted property, may result in us not having any church in places where populations return. For example, in Chicago, St. John Cantius and Queen of Angels were dead. Bernardin wanted to monetize the properties. The faithful held on. Near St. John’s the infamous Cabrini Green was shut down and the whole area got a face-lift as people started moving back. There are churches there. It would have been impossible to build those places today, given where they are. Building the beautiful Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the middle of nowhere in Wisconsin is one thing, and building in Near North Chicago, or in Manhattan, etc. is another. How about selling off the other properties, like buildings or land being leased out, etc? Okay, those properties generate income that can help to keep parishes open when their congregations don’t pay the bills.
I am not saying that Michael is entirely wrong on this point. The axe could go to some chancery offices, especially in certain dioceses, and his point about the USCCB was dead on. I am saying, however, be careful what you wish for.
Everything that I read and hear from outraged laypeople these days has a strong ring of truth and justice. That’s from laypeople. From my perspective as a priest, given what has been done to me over the decades… let’s just say that I work really hard to manage my urge to rampage. We all have serious concerns and we all want something to happen that makes a real difference.
But everything that we come up with has implications and consequences. There is a saying that more tears are shed over answered prayers than over the unanswered.
Lastly, say that all these things come to pass. Keeping in mind that Devil is really good at strategery, and will not be at rest. Whole swaths of bishops are forced through financial and other pressure to resign and dioceses and parish – yes, parishes will be hit – are, therefore, choked down into the dust. Churches are sold off, schools closed, the number of seminarians plummets. Pension plans of elderly priests are gutted. Large numbers of priests leave active ministry for various reasons, many because they shouldn’t have been ordained in the first place, and some because they finally burn out, exhausted and demoralized from the additional work, stress and isolation. No one is sent to Rome to study, so the dioceses become more “parochial”, which in more rural dioceses will have a huge impact on Catholic culture because it will affect the culture of the dioceses priests. Pope Francis listens to his advisers and replaces the bishops who resigned. The faithful priests who are left will more than likely be marginalized. Seminaries will probably start to shut down, because there won’t be candidates and dioceses won’t have the money to keep them open, because their income is gone.
Some may say,
“But Father! But Father! Wait a second! Isn’t that what we had to deal with back in the missionary days? Think of Fr. Baraga! Think of Fr. Mazzuchelli! Think of Fr. Marquette! Think of Fr. Junipero Serra! These were great men and they built the Church in really inhospitable places! Think of the North American Martyrs. Think of the early Church of the Apostolic era and the time of martyrs. Didn’t Tertullian say that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church? Okay, so he was a heretic and a schismatic. But he was right! If they, why not us? Furthermore, YOU HATE …. ummm… you hate… &^*@^!… YOU HATE THE COUNCIL OF JERUSALEM!”
It may be that the harsh scenario I sketched is exactly what we need.
This is God’s Church. He didn’t promise to Peter that the Church would withstand the attacks of Hell in these USA.
We should beg from God what is truly for our spiritual good. Be advised that, if He grants it, we will have a lot of tears to shed in this… what is it called again? …. this “vale of tears”. Yes, I knew I had heard that somewhere before.
This coming Sunday in the Ordinary Form, this Collect will ring in people’s ears that which in the TLM we heard, similarly, on the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost:
Protector in te sperantium, Deus, sine quo nihil est validum, nihil sanctum, multiplica super nos misericordiam tuam, ut, te rectore, te duce, sic bonis transeuntibus nunc utamur, ut iam possimus inhaerere mansuris.
This is military imagery. Rector and dux can be “guide” and “ruler”, but given the feel within the oration and given the content of the traditional readings for 3rd after Pentecost, namely 1 Peter 5 about the Enemy Lion, stronger stuff is needed. Rector is “commander of the army”. Dux is a “general”. Literally,
O God, protector of those believing in You, without whom nothing is efficacious, nothing holy, multiply Your mercy upon us, so that, You being our commander, our general, we may so use things that pass away as to be able to cleave to those that endure.
The Devil is roaming and roaring. In writing about this Collect in the past, I’ve said that we pray for sin-Teflon and demon-Kevlar.
I suspect that the Enemy will savagely attack those who are making open announcements and calls to action.
This is WAR.
At the same time, the Enemy might even help to bring about what is being called for. The Enemy always gets it wrong, but not before devastation causes great loss of souls.
Souls will be lost if what some call for comes to pass. Souls will be gained. But when you are in the grinder, grinding it out, it’s pretty awful. I hope we all have the nerve and stomach for it and the will to pray from our knees and hearts for great graces.
If we really clean house – really work to clean the demonic out of the house – then we had better be super committed to what will result. Otherwise, as Our Lord warned with this menacing, warning parable:
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest, but he finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes he finds it empty (Greek scholázonta), swept, and put in order. Then he goes and brings with him seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. So shall it be also with this evil generation.” Matthew 12:43-45 RSV