Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cardinal George and Archbishop Burke at the National Press Club

This is a response to Diane Korzeniewski's excellent post in response to mine of hers, etc. See her post Te Deum laudamus!: Continuing discussion on Catholic dissidence, Archbishop Burke and Randall Terry.

Likewise, this inning of our constructive dialogue on this most important topic, is too big for her com box. I'll put a link there to this.

Perhaps the encapsulation of this post can be stated as my title hints: Cardinal George AND Archbishop Burke need to appear at the National Press Conference, in person, and make statements, take questions, and do a little fire and brimstone preaching in the process. That of course is not their style, unfortunately. Because they didn't do that, Randall Terry did the next best thing. I'm sure Randall Terry would kiss their feet and back off, if they were to do what he, me and a host of others (I'm including the heavenly hosts in that reference) think they should do.

Let me give you some more examples of what I mean.

Did you see any of the March for Life video coverage this past January of the speeches? There was a juxtaposition that was very telling of my point that we need some on-fire preaching and public confrontation of this very public issue. Check out Rev. Luke Robinson's "talk." Trademark speech! Best Practice preaching! Watch it here and cry. He (a black evangelical Protestant) even begins with quotes from Mother Theresa. WE NEED CHANGE NOW MORE THAN EVER.

Moments after he was done (interrupted by frequent cheering of the crowd) a group of Catholic bishops took the podium and also spoke of their support for Life. It was so forgettable that I don't think it even made it to YouTube among the dozens of other videos posted there. If someone knows if it got posted, please let me know where it is. The juxtaposition with Robinson quoting Mother Theresa and the polite response of our bishops was telling of why Catholicism is not as effective in the public forum as it could be.

My call for some revival preaching, as opposed to polite dialogue, is hilariously exampled in Patrick Madrid's book "SEARCH AND RESCUE: How to Bring Your Family and Friends into or Back into the Catholic Church." Madrid's mantra is that of quiet persuasion, and the quote before his Table of Contents is the always present Catholic adage "Evangelize always. When necessary, use words." (St. Francis of Assisi).

What irritates me is that this quote is used (by many in Catholicism) as if it was Scripture. But, that quote is NOT ANYWHERE IN THE BIBLE. Yet you'll find quite the opposite attitude in the lives of both OT prophets and NT apostles. What if Jeremiah, Isaiah, or Moses were to have followed St. Francis' adage? DISASTER -- and probably no Old Testament. Let me remind you that Jeremiah was killed for getting in the face of kings and other church leaders. And there was another man, in the NT whose first name began with "J" who suffered the same consequence. Can you imagine Jesus following St. Francis' adage: "Hey, Jesus, Evangelize always, but only when necessary use words." PLEASE folks STOP using this idiotic adage. It has caused Catholics in this country to be silent NOT evangelize, and to NOT confront culture, and for bishops to NOT publicly challenge public officials on very public policy.

The second thing about Madrid's book that is contrary to his thesis is the title, and the drawing on the cover of a life ring being thrown to a guy in a small row boat supposedly overcome by big waves (not depicted). In water rescue situations "Search and Rescue" is NOT a quiet operation, there is, NECESSARILY a lot of yelling. Duh!

The third thing about Madrid's thesis (and the thesis of Catholics who think that reverence before the Blessed Sacrament is the proper attitude when confronting public evil) is Madrid's quoting of Pope Pius XI who wrote in admiration about another St. Francis. St. Francis de Sales was successful in converting a large segment of France formerly controlled by John Calvin. Ironically Madrid cites Pius XI evidence that contradicts Madrid's thesis. Here are two quotes (the first from Pius XI, the second from Madrid)... hardly the quiet or non-confrontational man this guy was (emphasis of Pius' words, quoted by Madrid, mine):

It is almost unbelievable with what vigor and constancy he defended the cause of Jesus Christ... If they fled him, he pursued, calling after them loudly... When during a sermon, almost the entire audience one after another left the Church, he would continue preaching. At no time did he ever lose his mental poise or his spirit of kindness toward these ungrateful hearers. It was by such means as these that he finally overcame the resistance of his most formidable adversaries. (Pius XI, Rerum omnium peturbationem, sec. 8, Madrid's SEARCH AND RESCUE, page 6-7.)

Early in the morning, before the townspeople got up, Francis slipped his tracts under the door of each home, Catholic and Protestant. He knew that if, free from peer pressure, the people would just read for themselves the biblical and historical case for the Catholic Church, they would be more likely to consider the Catholic message. And that's precisely what happened. (Ibid, pg 13)
Now, toning down my "rhetoric" let me respond more directly to Diane's last post:

For the most part I think we've done our part to generate some thought and discussion on this topic. In many respects we agree on substance. We're perhaps disagreeing on "degree" of how justice, correction, or tolerance and trust is played out in the public square. We both trust the Holy Spirit... although I'm not sure how any of us, without taking 120 years, know what the H.S. actually wants. Look how long it has taken bishops to decide certain beliefs. (I have a bone to pick with God about that one.)

My rebuttal for contemplation:

a. Throughout history popes, bishops and laymen have felt they were led by the H.S. to become militant when quiet dialogue (in the face of grave evil) was not making progress at saving civilization. The Civil War is an example, as is WWI and WWII. I have sensed we're on the cusp of another such time with the abortion issue.

b. I knew W. Edwards Deming. Did a documentary about him, interviewed him, read his books. Your citation of his comment about incremental change (as opposed to sweeping change) only works in situations where the output is being constantly evaluated for quality. (e.g. Statistical Processes, I know them well.) When there is no such systemic evaluation present, sweeping change (of the process) may be necessary. I posit that is the case with the American Catholic Church. See my essays on Best Practices of Faith Formation.

c. You can't compare the motivation of a homeless waif stealing bread for food with an educated prince of the Church living in comfort. Canon 915, as Ab. Burke points out, is easy to understand...perhaps even by the homeless waif who can't read. I discount, therefore, that we cannot judge a bishop's motivation for ignoring something so clear. We're not taking about confronting an ignorant lamb, sheep (or waif) here, but supposedly head shepherds who are educated and hand selected: "PROTECT THE LAMBS, FEED THE SHEEP" (c.f. John 21).

d. If we can't judge the motivation of a bishop, we are certainly not in a position to judge the motivation of Randall Terry. It's a matter of historic speculation, but I suspect that if there were 12 bishops in this country who had the fire in their belly Randall Terry demonstrates, ABORTION WOULD NOT BE LEGAL TODAY IN THIS COUNTRY. What if the Apostles (with Mathias, not Judas) had been around during the last 100 years? Do you think Margaret Sanger would have had a pulpit in the public forum? I think she would have been converted or chased off the public map by indignation of St. Paul's preaching. I'm looking at this with the perspective that unlike Protestant preachers like Billy Graham (as great as he was during that time) Billy did not have the apostolic (e.g. historic and infallible guidance of the Holy Spirit) that our bishops have, and have had, had they chosen to rise up and use it.

e. I challenge us all to think more carefully where the line is drawn between what is "charitable" speech and "tolerance of evil." I struggle all the time (after reading scandalous news reports on the web) whether or not to comment to the contrary in the article's com box. Most of the responders are illicit fools, and there needs to be more salt out there. My solution is for Catholic business men and women to buy up the newspapers and control the com boxes. Free Speech is a misnomer when people are led to destruction. And it's still against the law to yell (falsely) "FIRE!" in a crowded building or darkened theater. But is it just as illicit to not yell FIRE when there truly is one.

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