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The Return of Courage Among American Catholics

Posted on Wednesday, July 20, 2022
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by Seamus Brennan
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AMAC Exclusive – By Seamus Brennan

Catholics

2022 has been a banner year for American Catholics. From the historic overturning of Roe v. Wade to this summer’s Supreme Court victories for school choice and the right to public prayer, U.S. Catholics have in recent months made groundbreaking progress on some of their most hard-fought battles. Thanks to these victories, the Church—and every American who makes common cause with Catholic efforts to defend the dignity of life and human freedom—has reason to be optimistic for the future of the faith.

But the promising state of the Catholic Church in America goes far beyond its latest slate of Court victories. After decades of relentless hostility from the Democratic Party and corporate media entities, the American Church is now showing refreshing signs of moral, spiritual, and political courage—and every American Catholic should rejoice in that fact.

Last November, most notably, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a major letter containing official guidance for Catholic Bishops on offering the Sacrament of the Eucharist (or Holy Communion) to self-professed Catholic politicians who take public policy positions that run contrary to the teachings of the Church.

The Eucharist, as understood by the Church, is “the source and summit of the Christian life” and is believed by Catholics to consist of the physical Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. For all of the Church’s history, reception of the Eucharist by the Catholic faithful has signaled both communion with the Catholic Church and a full acceptance of the Church’s authority to teach on faith and morals. As such, Catholic political leaders who publicly stray from the infallible teachings of the Church are engaged in what the Church defines as scandal—because it causes confusion and doubt among the faithful about what the Church actually teaches about faith and moral. Like abortion itself, the Church considers the causing of scandal to be a mortal sin (a sin that, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law” and “turns man away from God”).

“[Catholic] [l]ay people who exercise some form of public authority have a special responsibility to form their consciences in accord with the Church’s faith and the moral law, and to serve the human family by upholding human life and dignity,” the letter states. “It is the special responsibility of the diocesan bishop,” the letter continues, “to work to remedy situations that involve public actions [by Catholics] at variance with the visible communion of the Church and the moral law. Indeed, he must guard the integrity of the sacrament, the visible communion of the Church, and the salvation of souls.”

Although the guidance was largely perceived to have been issued in response to self-avowed Catholic figures like President Joe Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi—who have continued to advocate for abortion-on-demand—it stopped short of calling out either figure by name.

Following the release of the letter, a handful of American bishops have already begun staking out leadership roles on the matter. The most notable instance of clerical leadership following the letter’s release can be traced, ironically, to the liberal epicenter of San Francisco, where Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone made the courageous decision to disallow Pelosi from receiving Holy Communion on account of her public support for abortion.

“After numerous attempts to speak with her to help her understand the grave evil she is perpetrating, the scandal she is causing, and the danger to her own soul she is risking, I have determined that the point has come in which I must make a public declaration that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion,” Cordileone wrote in a May statement.

Considering the Church’s longstanding hesitancy to weigh in directly on the problem of politicians who violate the Church’s moral teachings, it is difficult to overstate the significance of Cordileone’s decision to deny Pelosi the sacrament. And just as encouragingly, the decision has received the support of a growing number of bishops throughout the nation—indicating that the desire for a Church that is unafraid to speak the truth openly and confidently is far stronger than it may otherwise appear.

Meanwhile, however, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. has continued to offer President Biden Communion—whose receipt of Communion likely amounts to a far worse instance of scandal given Biden’s high profile position as the only Catholic president in American history who has advocated for the extreme position of abortion-on-demand as a constitutional right. (Gregory’s continued willingness to offer Biden Communion has called his judgement into question among some Catholics, especially given that Gregory did not hesitate to declare as “reprehensible” former President Donald Trump’s June 2, 2020 visit to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington to honor Pope John Paul’s extraordinary legacy of standing up for religious freedom.)

But fortunately, the Cordileone decision is not the only sign of hope for a revival of fortitude among the American clergy. Other bishops in dioceses throughout the nation have followed Cordileone’s lead and issued similar statements—including the Colorado bishops, who in response to a state-level pro-abortion bill, requested that politicians who voted for the legislation “refrain” from receiving Holy Communion. “The burden from their decision does not rest upon the shoulders of priests, deacons or lay Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist. It rests upon the consciences and souls of those politicians who have chosen to support this evil and unjust law,” the bishops wrote.

Moreover, last month, Bishop Robert McManus of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts took the controversial step of revoking the Catholic status of a middle school for flying rainbow and Black Lives Matter flags in front of its building. “The flying of these flags in front of a Catholic school sends a mixed, confusing and scandalous message to the public about the Church’s stance on these important moral and social issues,” McManus said in a June 16 statement.

McManus’s actions stand in sharp contrast to other Christian leaders throughout the nation—many of whom permit the flying of such flags at their churches. Biden’s own Catholic parish in Washington, for instance, boasted a Black Lives Matter flag during the week of Biden’s inauguration in 2021.

The scandal proliferated by ostensibly Catholic politicians like Biden and Pelosi has ultimately contributed to previously unimaginable levels of hostility towards unborn life—most clearly seen with figures like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who recently called to shut down crisis pregnancy centers throughout the nation. (Warren’s comments follow weeks of unprecedented acts of violence and vandalism against the very same pregnancy centers.)

Therefore, as political activism among the Catholic faithful continues to intensify, those leading the charge regard it as vital that the American bishops lead the way. Fortunately, they can look to brother bishops like Cordileone, McManus, and others who embody the virtue of fortitude in responding to the moral challenges of the day.

In a powerful November 2021 speech, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles reminded Catholics that—despite the extreme dangers posed by the American left—it is the Gospel, not the left, that ultimately “remains the most powerful force for social change that the world has ever seen.”

Should American Christians, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, take Archbishop Gomez’s reminder to heart, and turn to the Gospels and courageously defend the truths of Christianity—regardless of how much the left may be fighting to resist them—they could spur a momentous spiritual and cultural revival in the United States and an authentic and powerful Christian witness in the world. And in the end, Christians of every stripe should hope for nothing less.

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Walt
Walt
1 year ago

Dave:oh puleeeeze…….you have no idea about the Catholic Church……..cradle Catholic here……the Catholic Church is not perfect by s long shot….but neither is the “believing Bible churches….all churches are made up of good believing folks…….like anything else in this world there are “rotten apples” involved…..I love the Catholic Church…….do I agree with everything that happens in the church?…..no….I think for myself unlike you and s lot of other gullible folks….that is why a guy like Joe Biden got elected…why the politicians in this government get elected

Sallylee Cook
Sallylee Cook
1 year ago

Amen

beckyrjh53@gmail.com
1 year ago

It’s about time the Church returns to an understanding of what is important.
If only our criminal and corrupt politicians would do the same.

Mike
Mike
1 year ago

Along with the former vice president Biden, the Catholic Church is one of the worst violators of the illegal immigrant rampage going on at the southern border. They can’t have it both ways – you save lives from abortion while killing illegals with promises the church can’t fulfill.

Darius Dickison
Darius Dickison
1 year ago

Evey religion made by man is problematic at best. Smarter to read and seek HIM directly through HIS WORD. Use the least modified (sterilized) version of the manuscripts possible. All GOoD from there.

Leesson
Leesson
1 year ago

Of what good does denying Pelosi Communion in San Francisco when all she has to do is fly to Rome and receive Communion at a Mass over which the Pope is presiding,.as she did recently.
As a “cradle Catholic” I’m very disturbed by the extreme liberal leanings we are seeing in the Church, not only here in the United States but throughout the world, as evidenced by the selection of the current Socialist Pope by the College of Cardinals. The Church is going through a very dark time, in my opinion, this article’s author’s comments not withstanding.

LauraC
LauraC
1 year ago

The current Pope is a disgrace to the church and to faithful Catholics around the world. I wouldn’t want to be within lightning strike distance the day he faces God.

George Morgan
George Morgan
1 year ago

Re-read the 10 commandments, they are COMMANDMENTS , NOT the 10 Suggestions . If you LOVE God you follow his Commandments, ALL of them, not just the ones you want to . A TRUE Catholic OBEYS his/ her God and believes they are Saved by the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ their Lord and God for the forgiveness of their Sins. And will inherit the Glory of Heaven promised by Gods own Word. My Brothers and Sisters choose Wisely, we are only here for a little while, where will you spend Eternity??????

Texas Resister 64
Texas Resister 64
1 year ago

Amen. Cardinal Gregory is an embarrassment to the Catholic Church, because he wears his leftist credentials more obviously than his zucchetto. But that’s because of the corrupt nature of the group that controls such honors and power in Rome, who would give the cap to McElroy rather than to Gomez.

BAE
BAE
1 year ago

Yes. Bishop Cordileone is a brave man; standing up to the wicked witch of the west. Poor

Nancy Pelosi didn’t get her way, oh my, she must be so angry she was unable to intimidate the Bishop. She rules through intimidation and wins. Not this time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jeanette
Jeanette
1 year ago

Biden and Pelosi plus others in power are NOT good Catholics.

william czincilla
william czincilla
1 year ago

God Bless the Catholic Church. People like Nanny Pee and joey 2 scoops should leave.

irene
irene
1 year ago

you leftists and demonic people will never be able to completely destroy the Church that HIS APOSTLE started even when freemasons and gays were brought into it by the commies. remember the GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE, the jews were not destroy even though they demonic rats of the world tried to kill them throughout history. and they will not be able to do it to HIS FOLLOWERS either. we had some evil leaders in the church and in government throughout the centuries but we are still here and growing in strength. in the end, GOD wins and the devil losers, that is why the devil is called the eternal loser or fallen angel and the people who are blind deaf and dumb to him and listen to his lies and tall tales will learn too late I think and end up in hell suffering all the pain they cause while they walked this earth and the demon will just laugh away. my mother told me to not listen so much to what people say but more to what they do. that show me more who they are and what they believe. and Nancy and Joe, to old farts, will not be happy when they die because their actions are mortally wrong.

jrcvwi
jrcvwi
1 year ago

For an eye opening view of the Catholic Church, and what it should look like versus what it has come down to, look up Father James Altman. He speaks the truth, once and for all.
He has been removed by the bishop, under protest, from his church but is still very active and still a priest.

Edmond
Edmond
1 year ago

It is a real shame that the Pope doesn’t have the same courage archbishop Cordileone has, if he did he would tell Joe Biden he could not receive communion, but he will continue to play politics and say he agrees with church doctrine but wouldn’t address Biden specifically.

Walt
Walt
1 year ago

The Catholic Church needs to grow a set of you know what and enforce the tenets of the church they profess to love…..being a Catholic I understand what needs to be done…….a bishop in Nancy Pelosi’s district finally grew a set of you know what and refused to administer communion to her….great except I gotta ask…..what took them so long…….as I said I am Catholic born and raised and I can tell you the Church has changed….some genius sitting behind a desk in Rime decided to make the church more acceptable to more people……my church was unique art one time. No more

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