bishops

Catholic Bishops Gear Up to Beat Trump in 2020

Deal W. Hudson
June 18, 2018

The Catholic bishops met in Fort Lauderdale a few days ago. The dominating topic of discussion was politics, specifically, their official guide to Catholic voters, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.

The Pope Francis faction, led by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, called for a complete rewriting of the document since it no longer represented “the new body of teaching” as taught by the present pontiff, specifically mentioning climate change, poverty, and immigration.

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego went a step further saying the present document doesn’t represent “Catholic teaching as it is now.”

These two are not the only ones who believe that in the space of five years, since Bergoglio’s 2013 election, the moral and social teaching of the Church has been so fundamentally altered Faithful Citizenship no longer speaks with the true voice of the Church. So much for an institution considered slow to change.

Other leading bishops, however, including Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles, opposed writing a new document, arguing what was needed was a more straightforward, significantly redacted version of Faithful Citizenship along with an accompanying video for YouTube, etc.

When the votes were tallied, 77 percent of the bishops voted for the creation of shorter materials — a letter, video, and other “resources” to supplement Faithful Citizenship.

During this discussion there was no mention of Trump being the most pro-life president in our nation’s history. It should not surprise us at that omission since the intent behind the beefing up of Faithful Citizenship is to deny Trump a second term in office.

The bishop’s present silence about the president’s achievement is only another iteration of their attempt during the campaign itself to camouflage Hillary Clinton’s pro-abortion stance by arranging with moral indictments Trump about “The Wall.”

The strategy didn’t work. Faithful Catholics would not be bullied into seeing moral equivalence between killing the unborn and insisting on secure national borders.

Trump/Pence won 52 percent of all Catholic votes and 56 percent of mass-attending Catholics. In the election aftermath, the weeping and wailing at the USCCB must have matched that of Hollywood, the EU, and the mass media.

As it stands, the 2015 version of Faithful Citizenship is a flawed document. A close reading of it offers the Catholic voters several loopholes allowing them to ignore a candidate’s abortion stand if other “morally grave reasons” prevail. It remains to be seen, whether the new supplements will magnify these flaws or keep them buried in theological mumbo-jumbo where they belong.

We can fully expect, however, the redacted version of Faithful Citizenship to put the immigration issue front and center. This placement will create the impression of a de facto moral equivalence with settled life issues such as abortion. The bishops approved language that virtually guaranteed these new shorter materials will “apply the teachings of Pope Francis to our day.”

But just as in 2016 when the bishops pressed the immigration issue, it won’t work in 2020. For one thing, Pope Francis has spent all the capital of good will created by his election and his successful U.S. visit. Pope Francis, as it were, has no ‘coattails.’

If the bishops produce election materials that recast Faithful Citizenship to fit the Pope’s vision, it will only create greater distance between the bishops and their faithful. They will be relegating themselves to becoming just another cadre of grumpy Never-Trumpers.

At the very least, the bishops could have expressed common ground with the Trump administration on his efforts to defuse the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. After all, doesn’t this come under the rubric of “world peace”?

The bishops, instead, focused on the president’s decision to exit the Paris Climate Agreement. The USCCB itself has been asked to sign the Paris declaration by its own Catholic Climate Covenant created in 2006. How much money will it cost Catholics if the bishops decide to play in European politics on that issue?

Meeting in Fort Lauderdale, the bishops ignored the opportunity of voicing solidarity with the president’s pro-life agenda and his the quest for peace between North and South Korea. Instead they prepared to sharpen their knives for the 2020 election. Is this what we now call “evangelization”?

Read Newsmax: Catholic Bishops Gear Up to Beat Trump in 2020 | Newsmax.com
Urgent: Do you approve of Pres. Trump? Vote Here in Poll

Trump, Pope Have Opportunity to Forge Meaningful Alliance

Deal W. Hudson
May 23, 2017

When the pope and the president meet in the Apostolic Palace — the official residence of the pope in Vatican City — this Wednesday, they will be setting a much-needed example for a nation convulsed by post-election tantrums. Conservative speakers are disinvited on college campuses, conservative professors become objects of career-ending derision, the major media is obsessed with destroying the Trump presidency. Meanwhile, the Democratic leadership shouts curse words and raises their middle fingers at the man America sent to the White House.

But these two men, who have exchanged harsh words in the past, and differ on significant public policy issues, are going to meet, converse, while seeking a better relationship — and greater mutual understanding.

Yet, we can be sure that whatever is wise or hopeful coming out of this first meeting will be ignored by the press, which will have already scripted a narrative of disaster and disagreement. On July 23, 2001, President George W. Bush and Pope John Paul II (now St. John Paul II) met for the first time. Their meeting could not have been more amicable. I met with the president at the U.S. Embassy immediately afterwards. Bush was filled with enthusiasm at meeting “that great pope of yours.”

But, press accounts of the encounter focused on the one caution that Pope John Paul II expressed to the president; about his upcoming decision whether to allow federal funding for fetal stem cell research.

In his speech at Castle Gandolfo — just southeast of Rome — the Pope decalred, “In defending the right to life . . . America can show the world . . . (that) man remains the master not the product of his technology.” The BBC headline read, “Pope warns Bush on stem cells.” While The New York Times headline told the same story,”Pope Urges Bush to Reject Embryo Research.”

On Aug. 9, 2001 President Bush went on television for the first time, announcing his decision not to fund research on new lines but allow research on lines already in use to continue. His speech to the American people did not entirely conform to the wish of the pope, but President Bush made the basis of his decision loud and clear, “I also believe human life is a sacred gift from our Creator. I worry about a culture that devalues life, and believe as your president I have an important obligation to foster and encourage respect for life in America and throughout the world.”

When President Trump arrives at the Vatican he faces a more complex scenario, but one not without parallels to Bush’s 2001 visit. The president has made his pro-life convictions extremely clear in campaigning, in his inaugural address, and with his executive orders.

In fact, President Trump has been noticeably more open about anti-abortion issues than the 43rd president. Pope Francis will find common ground with Trump on the defense of innocent life and some related issues — though not on immigration.

Unlike 2001, when both the pope and the president shared opening remarks with journalists present, this meeting will take place almost entirely in private with journalists having very limited access. Two journalists and five photographers will be permitted to witness them shaking hands in the antechamber to the Papal Library, and sitting at the opposite sides of a table in the library itself. After less than a minute, everyone will leave except for the pope, the president, and a translator.

Journalists will clock the length of the meeting, comparing it to the 50 minutes Obama spent with Pope Francis in March 2011, though visits normally run 20 to 30 minutes.

The press will then be allowed back in the library to watch the traditional exchange of gifts along with whatever words are used to explain the significance of the gifts. This will be, in my opinion, the most vulnerable media moment for President Trump since the Pope usually gives visiting dignitaries copies of his encyclicals, “Evangelii Gaudium, Laudato Si’,” and “Amoris Laetitia,” which contain any number of themes that could be used as headline fodder.

Even if the official statement from the Vatican press office contains nothing but a record of cordial conversation and exchange of ideas, the mainstream media will be scrutinizing every detail of the meeting for a hook upon which to hang their agreed-upon headlines about; perhaps headlines that would read, “Pope Francis Reminds Trump Not to Build Walls” or “Pope Francis Calls Upon Trump to Sign the Paris Agreement.” In other words, no mention of shared purpose or common ground will allowed into the reporting narrative.

Regardless of the subsequent headlines, I believe the meeting will be fruitful on many levels. Both President Trump and Pope Francis have outgoing, warm personalities which will immediately remove whatever tensions might be present at the beginning.

And the president has already shown a willingness (distressing to some) to reconsider strongly-articulated policy positions. Donald Trump is not afraid to compromise, for the sake of building a relationship important for the future of his administration.

Pope Francis knows that, in November of 2016, more than half of Catholic U.S. voters supported Trump over his liberal rival Hillary Clinton. He also knows those same voters ignored both the pope’s and U.S. bishops’ attempts to make the presidential election about immigration.

Catholic voters simply didn’t care that Trump was at odds with church hierarchy on immigration. Both Pope Francis and the bishops should know well by now, that last year they didn’t fully comprehend how Americans really felt about the challenges facing America.

Pope Francis has some fence-mending of his own to do, and, I believe, he will.

Read Newsmax: Trump, Pope Have Opportunity to Forge Meaningful Alliance | Newsmax.com
Urgent: Do you approve of Pres. Trump? Vote Here in Poll

Catholic Bishops Caught in Conflict of Interest Over Immigration

Deal W. Hudson
March 30, 2017

Since Donald Trump became president, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has released ten statements regarding immigration. Each of these statements oppose the policies of the new administration regarding travel restrictions, building a security barrier, immigration resettlement, deportation, and sanctuary cities.

However, what none of these statements disclose is this: The USASpending.gov website reveals that the USCCB received more than $91 million for resettlement programs for Syrian refugees. The average Catholic who reads about the bishops’ ardent opposition to President Trump on immigration issues is not aware of this startling conflict of interest. It’s fair to assume, also, that when the USCCB claims to help resettle “approximately 30 percent of all refugees entering the U.S. each year,” American Catholics assume their donations are funding this effort.

It might fairly be asked, does it matter whether or not the USCCB’s resettlement program is funded in part, or in full, by the federal government? Assuming the program is fully in line with the Church’s teaching on immigration, what does it matter where the money comes from as long as the job gets done? How else would over 100 Catholic dioceses in the U.S., Guam, and Puerto Rico have refugee resettlement offices?

Doesn’t the Church compromise its prophetic voice when she becomes dependent on the state for not only programs but also maintaining infrastructure? And what becomes of bold proclamations by the bishops for or against immigration and resettlement policy, when they have a vested interested in keeping those monies flowing. Finally, why aren’t Catholics made aware that when the plate is passed annually for donations to the USCCB, Catholic Charities, and CRS, they are being asked to pay a second time, assuming they are taxpayers?

Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services received $202,000,000 and $426,943,000 respectively in 2016. For CRS, federal monies accounted for 64.70 percent of its total annual budget, for Catholic Charities, 11 percent. In total, Catholic institutions in the United States received over $500,000,000 in federal funding in 2016. (It’s interesting to note that Planned Parenthood received nearly the same amount of government funding in 2016.)

With these amounts of money flowing through Church budgets, it’s hard to know where the Church ends and the State begins. The Obama years, by the way, added to the largess: there was a $120,000,000 increase in CRS funding during Obama’s first year in office, and the $91,000,000 paid directly to the USCCB was unprecedented.

The Catholic bishops’ latest release from March 22 is a “pastoral reflection” from the Administrative Committee of the USCCB calling upon Catholics to, “Call, write or visit your elected representative and ask them to fix our broken immigration system in a way that safeguards both our security and our humanity through a generous opportunity for legal immigration.”

But to tell the truth, the bishops have shown little or no concern for border security, which is one of the reasons Catholic voters supported Trump/Pence 52 percent to 45 percent. A common argument being used against border security is that the “first duty” of the government is not to protect its citizens but, “to welcome the foreigner out of charity and respect for the human person. Persons have the right to immigrate and thus government must accommodate this right to the greatest extent possible, especially financially blessed nation.”

This explanation of immigration policy from the Office of Migration and Public Affairs of the USCCB, to my mind and many other Catholics, describes exactly how the United States has been trying to accommodate immigrants and refugees for many years. America has been generous with its bounty, not out of duty but out of its identity as a nation of immigrants.

What the bishops fail to realize is that what they call the “second duty is to secure one’s border and enforce the law for the sake of the common good” has been ignored for too long. That’s why there are both duties, to make sure that generosity does not become a danger, or that national security does not close our open arms. It was Donald Trump, not the bishops, who recognized this imbalance and is seeking to correct it. And it was voters, especially Catholic voters, gave President Trump the mandate to “enforce the law for the sake of the common good.”

After the election, instead of reaching out to the new administration, the bishops began their barrage of press releases, but even worse, this past February twenty-four bishops signed what was called the “Message from Modesto.” This statement was nothing less than a declaration of activist war on the Trump administration. It quotes Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego at length, calling for a grassroots strategy of “disruption” against those, “who would seek to send troops into our communities to deport the undocumented, to destroy our families.”

The Catholic Bishops should stop for a moment and reevaluate whether this is the posture they want to take against a president who doing precisely what they describe as the “second duty” of government. They also need to ask themselves whether after the $91,000,000 from the Obama administration in 2016 they retain the high moral ground to address the immigration issue.

Read Newsmax: Catholic Bishops Caught in Conflict of Interest Over Immigration | Newsmax.com
Urgent: Do you approve of Pres. Trump? Vote Here in Poll

San Diego Bishop Tells Catholics to ‘All Become Disrupters’

Deal W. Hudson
February 20, 2017

Both the Catholic bishops of the United States and the Vatican have now virtually endorsed the strategy of “disruption” being used across the nation to oppose the new administration of President Trump. Held in Modesto, California, the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements (WMPM), was sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Vatican’s Department of Integral Human Development to address issues of “land, labor, and lodging,” as well as racism and immigration.

The 700 attendees applauded and cheered as Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego told them, “President Trump was the candidate of disruption. . . . Well now, we must all become disrupters.” Bishop McElroy, along with Chicago Archbishop Cardinal Blaise Cupich, has emerged as a leading voice among “social justice” Catholics determined to rally the Catholic Church to reject President Trump’s leadership and policy agenda.

Bishop McElroy specifically cited the deportation of the illegal immigrants, the “undocumented,” the plan to dismantle Obamacare, and “those who train us to see Muslim men and women and children as sources of fear rather than as children of God.” McElroy decried the use of “alternate facts” and the “industries [that] have arisen to shape public opinion in destructively isolated and dishonest patterns.” Finally, the bishop urged attendees to, “Let all the world know that this economy kills.”

The message delivered by the Bishop of San Diego would not be so notable were it not for the context and its sponsorship. Vatican sponsorship came from the newly-created Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (IHD), headed by Cardinal Peter Turkson, one of the closest advisors to Pope Francis. Cardinal Turkson was the primary author of the papal encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si. It was Turkson who delivered the keynote address in Modesto. Under Turkson’s leadership similar conferences of “Popular Movements” have been held in the Vatican and other regions around the world.

Not only was the Modesto Conference co-sponsored by the Vatican and the USCCB but also by groups such as the PICO National Network. The PICO logo is displayed on the conference website alongside that of the Vatican, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and Terra Domus Labor. In addition to PICO — People Improving Communities through Organizing Service Employees International Union — the organizing committee included representatives from the Gamaliel Foundation. It has been widely reported and documented that both PICO and Gamaliel are recipients of funding from George Soros through his Open Society Foundation. PICO took Soros funding specifically aimed at controlling the media coverage of the visit of Pope Francis to the U.S. in April 2015.

Given Bishop McElroy’s message, the context, and the sponsorship, two questions must be posed to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and to each Bishop individually: Do you support Bishop McElroy’s message of “let us disrupt and rebuild”? Are you content with participating in events, protests, and “disruptions,” that are supported with funding from George Soros, whose Open Society Foundation is directly opposed to the Church’s teaching on abortion, contraception, and marriage?

With President Trump already well on his way to keeping all of his pro-life promises, it’s shocking that the Catholic bishops would align themselves with such of strategy of disruption and with allies sworn to oppose the core of the Church’s moral teaching. Lay Catholics, and many clergy, across the nation are not merely shocked, but disheartened and beginning to wonder if a formal schism is in the making.

The USCCB should, in my opinion, issue a press release distancing itself from the remarks of Bishop McElroy to make sure Catholics know he was expressing his individual opinion and not that of the bishops collectively. At the same time, the USCCB should reconsider its partnership with groups like PICO and Gamaliel for the simple reason that they do not share the moral vision of the Catholic Church on basic human rights and duties, and the connection to George Soros has become a highly visible scandal.

Dr. Deal W. Hudson took over Crisis Magazine in 1995, leaving in 2010 to become president of Catholic Advocate. While at Crisis, Hudson led the Catholic voter outreach for President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, and later advised the campaigns of both John McCain and Donald Trump on Catholic outreach. In 2014, he began his weekly two-hour radio show, “Church and Culture,” on the Ave Maria Radio Network, and launched http://www.thechristianreview.com in 2015. His books include “Happiness and the Limits of Satisfaction” and “Onward Christian Soldiers: The Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States.” To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

Read Newsmax: San Diego Bishop Tells Catholics to ‘All Become Disrupters’ | Newsmax.com
Urgent: Do you approve of Pres. Trump? Vote Here in Poll

Bishops Losing Their Moral Authority With Trump Rhetoric

Deal W. Hudson
February 6, 2017

During the 2016 election, I watched with disbelief, as all but a few Catholic bishops said nothing — in complicit silence — as Hillary Clinton, aggressively pro-abortion, ran for president. All the bishops did was attack Donald Trump on immigration and his promise to build a wall on the Mexican border.

Catholic voters repudiated the bishops’ view of the election, voting 52 to 45 percent for Trump-Pence. As an election issue, immigration was “trumped” by national security, ISIS terrorism, jobs, NAFTA, abortion, religious liberty, but most of all, by patriotism. Most Catholic voters had finally had enough of Obama’s America-bashing and saw Hillary as continuing to blame America for the world’s ills.

There was no group of leaders more shocked by the election outcome than the U.S. bishops and their primary supporters on the Catholic left, including Catholic colleges and universities, most women and men’s religious orders, liberal Catholic media, Catholic Democrats in Congress, and Soros-funded groups such as Catholics In Alliance With the Common Good.

But post-election, it appears the Catholic bishops have taken no lesson from the election results. They have virtually ignored the fact that President Trump wasted no time in keeping his pro-life promises: re-affirming the Mexico City Policy, banning the use of federal funds for abortions overseas, nominating an ostensibly pro-life judge for the open SCOTUS seat, and encouraging Congress to bring a bill defunding Planned Parenthood to his desk for signing.

Instead, the bishops continue bashing Trump, now POTUS, over immigration. As a prominent theologian and journalist Thomas Williams wrote a few days ago about Chicago Cardinal Blaise Cupich:

“Saying this is a ‘dark moment in U.S. history’ . . . undermines the moral authority of the episcopate that should know better than to issue careless statements of the sort. Catholics, and indeed all citizens, deserve better.”

Cardinal Cupich, along with San Diego Bishop, Robert McElroy, has emerged as the leaders of the Catholic Left among the bishops. It was Bishop McElroy who took the pains to point out how Catholic voters would be justified to ignore Hillary Clinton’s pro-abortion stance. Those who focus on “intrinsic evil,” he wrote are “simplistic” and “misleading.”

At the time, I missed the irony that McElroy’s column was published only days after the canonization of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Given that St. Mother Teresa is considered by Americans the “most admired person” of the 20th century, Bishop McElroy’s attempt to scoff at pro-lifers not only failed but has also contributed to the bishop’s loss of moral authority.

When bishops as popular as Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia and Cardinal Dolan of New York City continue to pound on President Trump about immigration, ignoring his pro-life achievements, just as in the election, the bishops will be the loser.

Read Newsmax: Bishops Losing Their Moral Authority With Trump Rhetoric | Newsmax.com
Urgent: Do you approve of Pres. Trump? Vote Here in Poll

Did the Bishops Punish Archbishop Burke?

Deal W. Hudson

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Archbishop Raymond Burke (St. Louis) lost an election at the annual meeting of the U.S. bishops last week.

Over the past three years, Burke has assumed the mantle of the late Cardinal John O’Connor in pro-life matters, challenging fellow bishops to take stronger stances in the defense of innocent life.

Nominated as chairman for the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, 60 percent of his fellow bishops preferred his opponent. As bishops’ conference expert Rev. Thomas Reese noted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, an auxiliary bishop defeating an archbishop for a conference chairmanship is “very unusual.”

Archbishop Burke’s credentials as a canonist are widely recognized. In fact, he missed the bishops’ meeting because he was in Rome as a member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, the Vatican’s highest judicial authority.

Burke has been a controversial figure since early 2004 when, as bishop of La Crosse, WI, he began to challenge pro-abortion Catholic politicians publicly on their reception of the Eucharist.

Shortly after moving to St. Louis as archbishop, Burke said he would deny Communion to Sen. John Kerry if he presented himself. Although his position has been backed up by 13 other bishops, Archbishop Burke was clearly straining the boundaries of “collegiality.”

Father Reese, former editor of America magazine, says the bishops were sending a message: “Most of the bishops don’t want communion and Catholic politicians to be a high-profile issue, and he [Burke] is seen as a man who’s pushing that issue. . . . Had he been elected, it could have been interpreted as endorsing his position.”

Archbishop Elden Curtiss (Omaha), Archbishop Sean O’Malley (Boston), and Cardinal Francis George (Chicago) went on the record denying that there was any message being sent by the bishops to Burke. And supporters of Archbishop Burke have no reason to regret the selection of Bishop Thomas Paprocki, the Chicago auxiliary, whose reputation and credentials are similar to that of Burke’s.

The question still in the air after the bishops’ meeting, however, is whether Burke is being punished for not backing down after the controversy surrounding him during the 2004 election.

In response to the Kerry and Communion controversy, the bishops formed a task force, headed by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, to study the issue and present a report. That report, “Catholics in Political Life,” differed sharply with Burke, finding that each bishop could decide for himself in such cases.

Archbishop Burke did not back down. Early this year, he published an article on Canon 915 in Italian law journal Periodica de Re Canonica arguing that the McCarrick report was incorrect.

Burke said that a bishop’s interpretation of what to do in the face of a pro-abortion Catholic politician “would hardly seem to change from place to place.” For Burke, enforcing discipline must go hand-in-hand with teaching:

No matter how often a bishop or priest repeats the teaching of the Church regarding procured abortion, if he stands by and does nothing to discipline a Catholic who publicly supports legislation permitting the gravest of injustices, and at the same time, presents himself to receive Holy Communion, then his teaching rings hollow.

He gave the names of bishops with whom he disagreed: Cardinal McCarrick, Cardinal Roger Mahony (Los Angeles), and Archbishop Donald Wuerl Washington, DC. Just as it’s very unusual for an archbishop to be defeated by an auxiliary bishop in an election, it’s just as unheard of for a bishop to take issue with another bishop by name.

In his article, however, Burke spread the net even wider. He argued that any Catholic who administers Communion – even a lay person – is required to withhold it from Catholic politicians who know they hold positions contrary to Church teaching.

Burke has said publicly that he will not stop addressing this issue. In an interview with Catholic News Service shortly after the 2004 election, he said:

It’s funny because some people now characterize me as a fundamentalist, or an extremist . . . . But these are questions that are at the very foundation of the life of our country. We just simply have to continue to address them.

The archbishop of St. Louis has been true to his word. His article on Canon law formalized his objection to McCarrick’s report.

If Father Reese is right, the bishops are distancing themselves from a fellow bishop who kept controversy in the air, a controversy most of them would rather see go away.

The bishops’ own document from last week, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” was a powerful indictment of Catholics who participate politically without demanding an end to abortion. Archbishop Burke, though he was not at the meeting, and though he will not chair the canonical affairs committee, must be given some credit for the strength of the bishops’ corporate voice in this statement.

Published at InsideCatholic.com, November 19, 2007