blogged recently. At that committee meeting an elephant (which regularly stalks the Cardinal, as well as his Ottawa counterpart, Archbishop Prendergast) showed up in the middle of the room but to my knowledge no other commentator gave evidence of seeing the huge beast awkwardly standing around. Since none of his more recent statements have addressed that beast I’m assuming the Cardinal has once again made the calculation to ignore the elephant altogether. Of course the elephant is simply a metaphor for renegade Catholics, especially politicians, who defy Catholic teaching and wreak havoc on Canadian society. At the meeting described, the elephant took the form of MP Brenda Shanahan and it was game on. Read my posting to get the full impact of the encounter. In all the flurry of huff and puff statements to Catholics and to the media these last few days, the elephant was nowhere mentioned by the Cardinal.
When Bishops make statements these days touching the public/political domain it’s a big deal. When they are seen to be doing anything to get the attention of society everybody wants to give them high-fives, particularly practicing Catholics who long to see the Bishops actually make a difference in the culture wars. Anyone who offers critical comment is vilified so I expect this to be another one of those times when I take some heat. Remember the last time the Cardinal spoke out on a conscience issue? Hint: Justin Trudeau was also in the news.
Let me say right out of the gate: I think Cardinal Collins and Archbishop Prendergast are humanitarians with considerable compassion for those that they serve. They are clearly gregarious people who greatly enjoy what they do and spend huge amounts of time in the service of others. Not a few would describe them as good guy Bishops deserving support in all that they do. Catholic media in nearly all cases portray them in that light.
But Bishops in their actions they are not, at least not in the traditional, Catholic sense of the word “Bishop”. A Bishop’s specialty is saving souls and getting people ready for heaven. He must be devoted to the kingdom of God and the righteousness of Christ. A good deal of public policy nevertheless intersects with this realm and the Bishop must accordingly address such moments, helping the people see the connection between their thinking and potential actions and their journey to heaven. A Bishop lives with the profound sense that all men are destined for heaven and so he embraces the entire population of his diocese—not simply Catholics—as comprising his flock and for whose souls he will answer to Christ his Master. His speech must be so tempered as to always reflect these realities.
The foregoing is the indisputable conclusion and tradition of the Church in this matter. It is easily summarized in Holy Scripture as well, being encapsulated well in 2 Timothy 4:1-5:
I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
I do not blame Cardinal Collins and Archbishop Prendergast solely for what lacks in their episcopal ministries. A significant share of blame must rest with those Bishops and Cardinals who chose them and elevated them from the priesthood. Some blame also rests with those who undertook their formation in seminary, and so on. However these two are very bright buttons on the tunic of today’s prelature, being very intelligent, well-educated and highly experienced churchmen. I ask myself, what possible excuse could they proffer for not living up to the promises made at their consecrations? Their years of wide ranging experience have undoubtedly clarified and solidified the implications of those promises. From my point of view a majority of their failures were simply (long-term) failures to uphold well established Church laws and precepts. Our nation has descended into moral chaos these past fifty years due largely to the same failures by Catholic Bishops as a whole throughout Canada. Such neglect will not be overlooked by the Divine Judge. A huge host, perhaps millions of souls, have been lost.
I will allow myself a short detour at this point for the reader’s early benefit. What am I suggesting that the Cardinal and Archbishop should have done, as opposed to what they did, in respect to recent pronouncements on euthanasia? I will suggest only one possibility that seems to me to line up with the authority and calling of a Bishop in these circumstances and at this juncture of time in our nation’s crisis. The Cardinal and Archbishop could have graduated from their standing as the Two Amigos to that of the Dream Team had they issued a bull of excommunication addressed to all Catholic politicians, Senators or MP’s who had in the past expressed public support of any kind and in any measure for the evil of euthanasia. Said bull would also give foremost attention, by name, to our “Catholic” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. This bull would mandate that any such politician who felt incriminated by said directive could not be certain of pardon and restoration back into the Church without first making public retraction of their advocacy and without a satisfactory sit down with the Bishop. [Update: Although I initially stated in this posting that such an excommunication would be justified under canon law, that is apparently not correct. What is appropriate and what is fully justified is censure under Canon 915, which I have detailed extensively in a former posting related to Archbishop Prendergast.]
But no, these Two Amigos will do everything they can to gloss over the fact that influential Catholics in our society—and especially Catholic pols—are destroying the heart of our nation. Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 exposed the extreme split between the Gospel and culture in his address to Canadian Bishops, subtly rebuking them and warning that Canadian society would continue to go amuck “in the most disturbing of ways,” through neglect of the truth and of discipline. To watch these Bishops carry on their ministries you'd think it was impossible to ever find in Canada the men or circumstances that inspired some of the most censorious directives of canon law (e.g. Canon 915). We’re so good here in Canada, just a bunch of honest, righteous and ever-lovin’ souls. No one bad enough ever (at least in the last half century) to be denied anything, let alone Holy Communion! Wheee! We’ll never succumb to the evils and corruption of other nations. How wonderful! Being a Bishop in Canada must just be a piece of cake!
But take note! Should ever an evil or wicked Catholic politician arise in the distant future to torment Canada with unjust and ungodly laws, these two brave churchmen are on record (see here and here) as being ready to jump into the lion’s den and rout the enemy! Duly noted. Let’s face it, in the big picture—over a period of decades—it takes renegade Bishops to produce renegade Catholics, including politicians. They all express their infidelities in unique ways. What’s that you say? You’re not buying this “good bishop needs to excommunicate” theory? Then you probably know little about the pseudo-catholic hegemony of Canada’s ‘Catholic’ PM's. And you probably don't realize how the secularization of Canada has been brought about largely by the renegade actions and influence of highly placed Catholics.
So let’s return from our detour. What would we think of a fire chief who expressed concerns about bullying and safe spaces and who wished to adjust the design of buildings to reflect and effectively address those concerns? Suppose he called a press conference and made proposals? Wouldn’t we say he’s a little bit out of his line of specialty? It’s fine that he’s concerned and that he wants to make a difference in that area but many other specialists are working in that area and have devoted their professional lives to it. It’s not something to which he can make a major contribution. He should focus on his own specialty which is saving lives in emergencies and preventing and putting out fires.
It’s not that the Cardinal has no right to weigh in as he has on euthanasia, but let’s face it, there’s been a great deal of conversation about this evil for quite a few years in Canada. In fact this spectacle has all the trademarks of crisis management. It did not sneak up on us overnight as the Cardinal implied more than once. There are professionals in our nation, theologians, ethics professors, social activists, who have for many years made the case to the nation about the dangers of euthanasia. In addition, other countries have been plagued with the weight of this injustice and we have their records to help us put such crimes into perspective.
My point is becoming clearer I hope. No other person could do and say what a Bishop must and yet be taken seriously by those whom he addresses. Simply put, the Bishop’s focus is so intently on the welfare of souls that no other leader would dare to venture into his province, save heretics and madmen. If he is found saying things that can be said equally well by persons in other fields, he is squandering his office and his spiritual capital and few, if any, will be impressed with his message. He can’t simply show up on the airwaves one day pleading to be heard because he’s the Bishop and saying things you’ve heard lots of times before by lots of other people. His is a calling by Christ Himself to say and do in his diocese just those things as would Christ Himself in that same setting and circumstance. Only a Bishop can be up to such a weighty responsibility. But make no mistake, that responsibility is not solely determined at any moment by the prudential judgment of any and every Bishop. The Magisterium of the Church provides the framework for all who are interested in making an objective investigation into the success of any Bishop’s ministry and I believe the Magisterium precisely would demand an action by the Bishop(s) along the lines I noted in an earlier paragraph.
But when a Bishop does go on a life or death crusade (and euthanasia certainly qualifies as life or death for many) he is not to be found groveling at the feet of Caesar. He is not to whine about the pressure he feels from impending legislation or the encroaching secularization of society. He is not to plead for a break from Caesar, claiming religious discrimination or suppressed human rights. Why not? Well, because that is below his office. Think of the example of Christ before Pilate. There were no defenses, only a life offered up. But put more simply: it makes the Bishop look like a toothless cat crying out for protection. Is that the example provided by Christ? Nor is a phony kind of moralizing required: “Is that what Canada has become?” or It’s “an attack on people who do nothing but good.” What is needed is a Bishop who will, for the record, remind the nation of the absolutes involved and in black and white terms let people choose the fate of their own souls.
Does the Cardinal know the gravity of the crisis? I’m not really sure. Perhaps he does; he calls himself “a man at full tilt.” He seems to see the horror of the impending, new killing field. Yet, take note, he is not yet prepared to accept the measures instituted by the Church for just such times. He is not yet prepared to employ the censures of the Church against those renegade Catholic politicians who usher in such evils. Nor is he yet willing to make a public declaration that any Canadian that supports or otherwise assists in the legalization of euthanasia damns his/her own soul to hell.
Well let’s just call a spade a spade. The Cardinal—and the Archbishop—simply don’t believe these realities. That is why I call them both hireling Bishops. It’s not that they are in it for the money; it’s just that they are not in it for Christ and His kingdom. They simply do not believe in the kingdom of God and the salvation of souls; at least not in the traditional age old sense held by the Church. I don't see how any other argument can line up with the abundance of facts facing us. Search the Cardinal’s recent public statements. His language in public makes no mention of it. He studiously avoids all words and imagery characteristic of salvation theology and there is not one reference in his remarks on euthanasia where he employs even the mention of “evil.” Imagine, his is a national audience by his own choosing and it’s as though there is no heaven or hell, no sin or evil, only the here and now. Tell me; is that the approach of an Apostle of Christ, after the Resurrection? A most devastating argument was his complete silence (as a pastor of Christ’s flock) at the recent hearing where he responded to a Catholic MP who practically taunted him while justifying her own betrayal of Christ’s teaching. He issued not a word of correction, let alone rebuke, for her explicit support of intrinsic evil. Evidently the Cardinal has got too used to saying nothing about Catholics regularly participating in intrinsically evil actions.
Let’s look at the actions of the Two Amigos from a different point of view. With high profiles based on such factors as population, political importance, etc., these two set the pace for Catholicism in our nation. When they misrepresent or neglect the warnings and weighty teachings of Christ the whole nation reels and falters. Where has been the Cardinal’s new found courage for the last four or five decades on abortion? The effect of abortion on this nation has been much deeper and more traumatic than ever we can imagine euthanasia will be. Think how sobering the number 4,000,000 can be. Yet where have been the statements? I must have slept in and missed the memos. Sad to say, it never seemed to the ordinary guy that the Bishops visualized abortion as a challenge to the status quo of the education or healthcare systems. But now, with almost fifty years of killing to dull the senses, the chickens are coming home to roost. Suddenly we hear so much about doctors’ ethics and the ‘faith-based values’ of health care workers and how the government must respect conscience rights. Allow me to translate: euthanasia as proposed will disrupt the delicate nature of Catholic health care and not only endanger funding but perhaps the entire Catholic system. To be sure, a multitude of voices will be screaming at Catholic leadership to do something. Strange, the little children aborted these past fifty years had no voices, faces, names or credentials with which to pull our heartstrings but now apparently we are talking about ‘real’ persons with names, lives, families, identities, qualifications. Now we must rise up and fight for their conscience rights. What about the conscience rights of babies? If we could have got inside their heads before they were cut and suctioned to pieces what would their consciences be screaming to us? What’s the greater injustice: forcing a person (physician, etc.) to do something against their will (incidentally only 30% or fewer of physicians even object to physician assisted suicide) or literally destroying another person’s life? Somehow we’ve sidelined the right to life only to turn around and find ourselves worshipping conscience rights. For that we must thank Bishops like Collins and Prendergast.
“Has it come to this in Canada where killing people is seen as health care?” asked the Cardinal this week. Newsflash, Cardinal, those in power in Canada have been treating abortion as healthcare since the 70’s. Yes, they’ve also been funding it. Where have you been? The Cardinal called it a “fundamental change in our law.” Which one was that Cardinal, the one in 1969 or the one they now call the Carter decision? Does anyone else see these as sad and pathetic statements? Not only is this too little too late but, incredibly, the Cardinal makes it sound as though abortion has never taken place in our nation; he makes no mention of it whatever. He thinks people “will be appalled” when they find out the truth about euthanasia. I kid you not! But if Canadians can live every day for fifty years with abortion without working up a sweat, why would euthanasia bother them? I call this kind of talk bizarre. Does the Cardinal consider abortion, in the pragmatic chamber of his heart, legitimate and settled law? Is it the one subject to avoid at all costs? One wonders what can be his thinking.
Both of the Two Amigos are now urging Catholics to do their duty and contact their MP’s. No joke. “Join or start a prolife group,” they suggest. May I ask what the prolife movement has done in the last fifty years to halt abortion in Canada? Could it be that stopping abortion has everything to do with the Bishops and nothing to do with the prolife groups? Here are Bishops asking laity to do their job again. “Take courage, do not be afraid to stand up for the dignity of life.” Incredible! You’ll understand why I find that particularly ironic. When will they do their duty and finally put to rest the evil perpetrated by Catholic politicians obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin so that we, and all Canadians, may see a freer, more just society? Why does it come back into our lap, as though we, the laity, are failing to act? Talk about victimization. But it seems that’s only the appetizer. Archbishop Prendergast would victimize Catholic families a second time, the first time due to his failure to follow Canon Law and discipline renegade PM Justin Trudeau (BEFORE he became PM) and now a second time by refusing the last sacrament to Catholics tormented and confused in their last days by scandalous, contradictory messages in the culture (because of terrible leadership of Bishops). So, he won’t do the hard work and deny the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to a powerful political figure but he’ll tell his priests to deny the Sacrament of Anointing to dying people. Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up! But not to worry, this Archbishop is all huff and puff and I’m sure after euthanasia becomes the law of the land he’ll grow silent on the matter. Already I sense the Bishops are equivocating.
Look at this another way: The Two Amigos ask us to fast and pray that our parliamentarians heed us. Did they heed their flocks over the years when the faithful appealed to their Bishops about shocking scandals taking place in the Catholic community centred around renegade Catholics denying Church doctrine, committing sacrilege, living scandalous lives, and otherwise living like devils, etc.? How many hundreds of letters, possibly thousands, during their careers, did they thwart, derail or ignore altogether? I know all my letters and appeals to Priests and Bishops about matters related to orthodoxy, scandal, and sacrilege went unheeded in my estimation, even though some were politely answered.
There’s more irony here too. The Cardinal is pushing hard on the primacy of conscience in all his statements and conversation. It’s almost as though it’s all that these post-Winnipeg Statement Bishops can do. They’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. They can't support actual Church teaching on controversial subjects like contraception, homosexuality and abortion because they can all be said to boil down to "personal conscience" which is inviolable. (Doesn’t everything related to the moral law?) Catholics in the pews are so conditioned now to this argument that you'll start a war if you try to turn back the tide or cleanse the temple of its demons. This is why contraception and the teaching of Humanae Vitae is such an issue for the Two Amigos.
It is the business of Bishops to do the bidding of Christ their Leader. That used to mean following the precepts and laws of the Church, including the admonishment and discipline of sinners. If Bishops fail in this regard they make a grave omission and endanger the souls of all the faithful. Following the ripples outward, the entire nation is endangered. In fact if they fail to keep the discipline of the Body, the Church, the Body becomes weak and contemptible, unfit for duty and unfit to represent Christ Who is the Head. In such cases the Bishop has betrayed his calling and has repudiated his promises as an Apostle of Christ. The facts show that Cardinal Collins, along with Archbishop Prendergast, has done exactly that and I have called for (here and here) the intercession of St. Joseph, Protector of the Church, to accomplish the conversion or downfall of both Bishops so that worthy Bishops might take their places.