November 21, 2020 Column Father De Celles

Shutdown. By now you all know of Governor Northam’s re-imposing limits on public gatherings at no more than 25 people. This rule does not apply to “church services” or “educational” activities. So it will not affect St. Raymond’s Masses, confessions or Religious Education (CCD). It will also not affect most of our other activities, except for a few that are not liturgical or educational and exceed 25 in attendance. If this might describe your parish group or activity please contact the parish office for clarification and instructions.

“McCarrick Report.” On November 10, the Vatican released its long awaited 449 page report on its investigation into how former-cardinal Ted McCarrick rose to his high status in the Church despite his decades of homosexual activities and abuse.

First, let me say, I haven’t read the whole report. After reading the official summary and reviews of trusted sources who have read the whole report, I decided not to waste my time.

              From everything I’ve read, it seems to me the report is an almost complete whitewash. First, it is only an examination of “what did ‘Rome’ know,” and not much about what folks in the US knew. And so it essentially says, “we didn’t know, no one told us.” It’s not until he is considered for appointment to Washington that finally someone drew “Rome’s” attention to the problem: “These allegations were generally summarized in a 28 October 1999 letter from Cardinal O’Connor, the Archbishop of New York, to the Apostolic Nuncio, and were shared with Pope John Paul II shortly thereafter.”

              It then goes on to blame four American Bishops (all deceased now) for not disclosing important facts to Rome, and then to blame the great St. John Paul II for dismissing the concerns as mere rumors after reading a letter from McCarrick strenuously denying the accusations.

              It also apparently downplays Pope Benedict’s actions to prohibit the retired McCarrick from public activities, and then to absolve anyone currently in ecclesiastical office of any blame at all. It also dismisses the charges levelled by whistleblower Archbishop Vigano as unsubstantiated.

             Consider: the report was prepared by the Vatican Secretariat of State, i.e., it was not an independent investigation, but conducted by the very folks who should have known, and probably did know, there was a problem. Also, there is no mention of the role played by the homosexual “lavender mafia” in the hierarchy (including Rome). There is also no mention of the role McCarrick’s well-known fundraising prowess played in greasing the skids in Rome. It also does not examine the role played by John Paul II’s close advisors in advising him on McCarrick, or their possible connection to McCarrick’s fundraising or the “lavender mafia.” Finally, it essentially places the greatest blame on dead people who can’t defend themselves, including St. John Paul II.

            So much for transparency.

Biden and Catholicism. Many, including myself, were “disappointed” to see the Holy Father and the President of the  United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Archbishop Jose Gomez (Los Angeles) congratulate Vice President Biden for his election as president. Even though the election isn’t over yet: they’re still counting the popular votes, the President’s lawyers are in court claiming vast election fraud, not one state has certified their totals, and the Electoral College has not yet been appointed. Sigh.

             But my strongest “disappointment” was in Gomez referring to Biden as, “the second United States president to profess the Catholic faith.” Now, technically it is true that Biden does “profess the Catholic faith.” But by saying that, in this context, Gomez creates the impression that Biden is a practicing and faithful Catholic, which he definitely is not.

            I preferred what Bishop Joseph Strickland (Tyler, Texas) had to say: “A dark cloud has descended on this nation when the USCCB and Planned Parenthood speak in unison in support of a Biden-Harris administration that supports the slaughter of innocents by abortion for all 9 months of pregnancy.”

            Now, Archbishop Gomez is generally a solid bishop. So I was very glad to see a more nuanced approach at the USCCB meeting this week, when he announced the formation of a “bishops’ working group” to consider the problems Biden poses to the Church, particularly as a “professed” Catholic. According to Gomez,

“The president-elect [sic] has given us reason to believe that his faith commitments will move him to support some good policies….He has also given us reason to believe that he will support policies that are against some fundamental values that we hold dear as Catholics. These policies include: the repeal of the Hyde Amendment and the preservation of Roe vs. Wade. Both of these policies undermine our preeminent priority of the elimination of abortion….[Also] “the restoration of the HHS mandate [contraception insurance], the passage of the Equality Act, and the unequal treatment of Catholic schools.”

Good for him. On the other hand, this is just what the Bishops need: another committee. Well, we will see if it does what it should. Please God.

Justice for All. In a speech on November 12, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito stated:

“For many today, religious liberty is not a cherished freedom. It’s often just an excuse for bigotry and can’t be tolerated, even when there is no evidence that anybody has been harmed. … The question we face is whether our society will be inclusive enough to tolerate people with unpopular religious beliefs….

“Over the summer, the Supreme Court received two applications to stay COVID restrictions that blatantly discriminated against houses of worship….In both cases, the Court allowed the discrimination to stand…

“Consider what that deference meant in the Nevada case. After initially closing the state’s casinos for a time, the governor opened them up and allowed them to admit 50% of their normal occupancy. And since many casinos are enormous, that is a lot of people. ….So if you go to Nevada, you can gamble, drink, and attend all sorts of shows.

“But here’s what you can’t do. If you want to worship and you’re the 51st person in line — sorry, you are out of luck. …The size of the building doesn’t matter; nor does it matter if you wear a mask and keep more than six feet away from everybody else. And it doesn’t matter if the building is carefully sanitized …The state’s message is this: Forget about worship and head for the slot machines….

“…Take a quick look at the Constitution. You will see the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, which protects religious liberty. You will not find a craps clause or a blackjack clause or a slot machine clause….”

Thanksgiving. This week, of course, we celebrate Thanksgiving. Although this is a secular holiday, it was and is established as a day not to thank other people, but to thank Almighty God for the many gifts he’s bestowed on us. May He continue to bless us, and our beloved nation.

          And what better way to begin Thanksgiving Day than by coming to our 10am Mass? After all, Eucharistic comes from the Greek word eukharistia, which means thanksgiving. I hope to see you there. (The Mass will be livestreamed also).

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles