"Spiritual Wickedness in High Places"—A Catholic Looks At His Post-American Bishops
March 17, 2009, 04:00 AM
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St. Patrick`s Day has just been celebrated by millions of Catholics across the country—oblivious to the real intentions of their bishops. If American Catholics do not wake up soon, they may well lose both their Church and their country.

At a Sunday Mass in New York City a few months ago, we were told that our parish would begin hosting "Tolerance Sundays" in order to understand the plight of minorities and immigrants.

I turned to my wife, rolled my eyes, and said, "I can`t do it anymore." I then got up from the pew, walked out of the church, and haven`t attended Mass since.

It was an unfortunate, though inevitable, breaking point. After all, I haven`t placed a cent in the collection plate in years for fear of inadvertently funding some radical cause—such as the $7.3 million that the Church has given to ACORN over the last ten years, or the bishops` recent campaign to strip E-Verify from President Obama`s stimulus bill.

My skepticism, however, isn`t new. It comes from having grown up and attended Catholic school in the Archdiocese of Boston, where Catholics have long viewed the Church as an excessively politicized institution.

Indeed, it used to be quite common for the Bishop of Boston to weigh in on local politics, often unwisely. Cardinal Humberto Medeiros earned the eternal enmity of Boston Catholics for vocally supporting forced busing during the 1970s, even though most of the people affected by busing were Catholic.

Still, this politicization did have its occasional advantages, if you knew the right people. When I was a teenager, for example, I remember nervously informing my parents that, unlike my peers, I would not be receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation that spring because I had blown off the required two years of catechetical instruction.

But a few phone calls were made and I was soon confirmed by Cardinal Bernard Law at a parish I had never even visited before.

In the Archdiocese of Boston, it was all about who you knew.

Such a political fix might sound terribly immoral—if you`ve never had to sit through a modern-day catechism class. But you have to understand that for my generation, religious education never included learning about the Mass, or the Sacraments, or the saints.

Instead, we were taught that being Catholic simply meant being sensitive toward those who were not like us—especially blacks, homosexuals, and immigrants.

Did we believe any of it? Not really, since there wasn`t much of substance to believe in. But that`s the thing about propaganda. It`s almost always extremely boring, but when your elders spend years spoon-feeding it to you, you often end up accepting some of it anyway.

Luckily, at a young age, I acquired some unique exposure to Church politics when my entire family began attending the annual Catholic Charities fundraiser held on the lawn of the bishop`s residence, a lavish Italianate mansion across the street from Boston College. It was called the "Garden Party" and for years it was the most exclusive fundraiser in Boston.

Few people, of course, actually attend charity fundraisers out of charitable motives—they go to network and to be seen. This was especially true of the Garden Party, which was attended by the most important business and political leaders in Boston.

Cardinal Law would always give a short speech at the event. It invariably included some trite statement on public policy. For example, at the 1996 party, the Cardinal loftily denounced the Republicans` attempt to reform welfare.

At another Garden Party, Law boasted of his close friendship with the Bush Family, and of his many trips to the Bush estate in Kennebunkport—a relationship that continued into the early years of George W. Bush`s presidency.

Yes, Law was an important man, which was why so many important Bostonians wanted to befriend him. But what I learned at the Garden Party is that our Church leaders and our political and corporate leaders are all part of the same clique.

Mark Krikorian has described our political and business elites as being "post-American". They are people who do not primarily identify themselves as being American, but prefer to see themselves as "citizens of the world"—a world that invariably revolves around them.

In the same way, the American Catholic Church is run by post-American bishops. Like many politicians, they identify little with the regions of the country they are supposed to serve.

This is the part of the story people miss when they try to fathom the bishops` brutal disregard for the victims of clerical sex abuse—the hush money, the high-priced lawyers, the legal stone-walling, the mountain of lies and mendacious public statements.

Do we not associate such tactics with the typical post-American corporation? Or perhaps a corrupt politician caught in a bribe?

It wasn`t always this way. New York`s Cardinal Francis Spellman was devoted to the vision of the Founding Fathers and taught American Catholics to be the same. Bishop Fulton Sheen was a dedicated patriot who preached that love of God was impossible without love of country.

Unfortunately, such church leaders are now very hard to find.

Today, New York`s bishop, Cardinal Edward Egan, counts former General Electric CEO Jack Welch—a pioneer of outsourcing to India—among his closest friends. An unabashed post-American elitist, Cardinal Egan reportedly raises his hand and snaps his fingers to summon a subaltern to his side during meetings.

In 2002, when it was revealed that Cardinal Law had harbored dozens of sex predator priests in greater Boston, his residence was hounded around the clock by protestors holding signs that read "Honk if you want Law to Resign!" Law apparently lay awake at night listening to the endless blare of passing motorists honking in derision.

During this very dark time, do you want to guess who Cardinal Law`s bigger supporters were?

Yup, Hispanic immigrants, who formed small, but very dedicated, counter-protests at most every anti-Law demonstration.

Cardinal Law had spent years courting Boston`s immigrants, often boasting in Spanish of having been born in Mexico. He even claimed that he was an immigrant too—just like them. In reality, Law grew up in a military family and spent much of his childhood on American military bases overseas before moving stateside to attend Harvard University.

Still, Boston`s Hispanics defended Law as one of their own, despite all of his well-publicized sins. To them, he was "El Cardenal" and all that mattered was that he was on their side.

Now it has long been my hunch that when Bernard Law was being forced out of Boston, the other bishops carefully took notes, especially Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles.

Mahony harbored scores of sex predators in California, virtually from the moment he was made Bishop of Fresno in 1975. The worst of them, Irish-immigrant Fr. Oliver O`Grady, sexually assaulted children as young as nine months old.

So when calls for Cardinal Mahony`s resignation grew louder in 2007, he was well-prepared. Mahony had spent the previous years thoroughly ingratiating himself with his Hispanic constituents, particularly illegal immigrants.

Mahony`s lies about immigration are as transparent as his lies about Oliver O`Grady. But none of that seems to matter to his Hispanic supporters. As long as Mahony takes on their cause, they will excuse him anything.

The difference is that in Boston, Hispanics have very little influence, so their support for Law had no impact. In Los Angeles, however, Hispanics are the emerging majority. Mahoney`s critics have been unable to overcome their strong support for him.

If my hunch is accurate, then the bishops are advocating for Open Borders simply because they desperately need more constituents who will forgive them anything, especially if the sex abuse scandal gets even worse.

This is a terribly short-sighted strategy for the Catholic Church for at least two reasons. First, American Catholics will continue to abandon an increasingly corrupt and Hispanicized Church. Second, as Hispanics begin to flex their growing political muscle, they will have less need of the bishops.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Cardinal Mahony`s influence within the Latino community has gradually weakened simply because there are so many emerging Hispanic leaders with whom they more closely identify.

These Hispanic leaders, like former Assemblyman Fabian Nunez and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, almost always ignore the bishops on anything but immigration. They are typically pro-gay marriage and pro-abortion and their constituents do not seem terribly bothered by the fact.

"Aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in," wrote C.S. Lewis. "Aim at earth and you get neither."

Perhaps no bishop has more earthly aims than Cardinal Roger Mahony, whose spiritual bankruptcy is most comically illustrated by the new "Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels" that he commissioned in 1996.

The cathedral is a $200 million New Age monstrosity that inspires revulsion rather than reverence. Among its many awful features is a statue of the Virgin Mary that depicts her as a boyish, short-haired feminist with a plunging neckline.

In his Letter to the Ephesians, Saint Paul admonishes us to be wary of "spiritual wickedness in high places".

Certainly, it is hard to conceive of a greater wickedness than consciously placing innocent children at the mercy of sex predators. American Catholics, however, must wake up to the fact that the bishops` attempt to globalize their congregations is another form of wickedness—which they must fervently oppose.

Both our Church and our country are at stake.  

Matthew Richer (email him) is a writer living in Massachusetts. He is the former American Editor of Right NOW magazine.