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Wednesday, September 01, 2004


Several items:

1) On July 26th, 2004, in a case in Kansas, a federal judge has ruled that health care and social workers are not obliged to report underage sex to the authorities. The ruling violates a 1982 state law stating that sex involving a minor is illegal, even if it involves two underage children. Abortion providers can now legally conspire to promote child abuse. This is very convenient, as they already do this. Now they don't have to worry about prosecution.

2) On August 24th, 2004, the lawyers for the USCCB have decided that the Catholic Answers voting guide might be dangerous: the Church might lose her tax-exempt status if she promotes it. The USCCB's own voting guide, roundly criticized for listing such a mish-mash of voting issues in a very morally confusing fashion, has been pulled and cannot even be found on the USCCB's own website anymore.

3) On August 26th, 2004, federal district Judge Richard Casey found "that the testimony at trial and before Congress establishes that D&X [partial-birth abortion] is a gruesome, brutal, barbaric, and uncivilized medical procedure… credible evidence [exists] that [such] abortions subject fetuses to severe pain. Notwithstanding this evidence, some of Plaintiffs' experts testified that fetal pain does not concern them, and that some do not convey to their patients that their fetuses may undergo severe pain during a D&X [partial-birth abortion]."
However, all that having been said, Judge Casey also insisted that partial-birth abortion had to remain legal as long as any medical doctor felt such a procedure was necessary to protect a woman’s health.

4) A few days later, Cardinal McCarrick, the man who is supposed to head up the commission investigating the dispensing of the Eucharist to pro-abortion heretics, told an Italian newspaper that "questions tied to peace and social justice, as well as aid for the poor," should have equal footing with the question of abortion.

5) The Knights of Columbus, which has historically worked very closely with the USCCB, refuses to kick out members of their organization who support and/or promote legal abortion.

I've spent a long time thinking about the confluence of these facts. To be honest, I cannot think clearly about them. Every time another incident is added to the list, my sadness increases and I cannot get beyond it. The law in this country has become a whore. But that's not the worst of it.

Caesaro-Papism is a malady that has afflicted the Eastern Orthodox churches ever since they broke away. Indeed, one could argue that this is the major cause for the schism between East and West. It's a long word that means one thing: the bishops of the East spend more time listening to their political leaders, their Caesars, then they do to the Vicar of Christ. They treat Caesar as if he were Pope. As a result of their millenia-long fascination with the political culture and their resulting tin ear for theology, the Eastern churches now permit divorce (up to four times) and contraception.

Horses have blinders on them for a single reason: it keeps them from becoming distracted by the things going on around them. Instead of startling and rearing at every passing disturbance, the horse with blinders can focus on his task: pulling the load, running the race, focussing on the finish.

Historically, bishops have almost always needed blinders too. It is very easy to mistake the policy of a local ruler for a universally good theological idea. One of the Pope's major tasks has always been to reign the bishops in, help them ignore the cultural fancies of the day and focus entirely on Christ.

Different popes have had different levels of success at this. Except for John Fisher, all of the bishops of Henry VIII's England, for example, managed to throw off their blinders and follow Henry as he schismed from Rome and established a new church. When bishops lose their focus, the Church is grievously wounded.

Abraham pleaded with God to save Sodom and Gomorrah if ten righteous men could be found. We have a half-dozen good bishops in America. Can we find four more?

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