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The Unrepentant Traditionalist
February 11, 2010

The Catholic Church's Complicity in Failing to Halt Abortion:
A Pro-life Manifesto: Part V

by Frank Creel

ARLINGTON, VA — I am writing this series as a Catholic. I must ask: Where is my Church in this struggle? Has She not been part of the problem?

And it is with shame that I must answer: Yes, and in two respects: in Her sufferance, if not outright guilt, of scandal, and in Her lack of courage.

There can really be no argument on this point: The struggle against abortion is the cause célèbre nonpareil of our era. A free citizen living in these times is morally challenged as profoundly as an American living through slavery or as a German during the years of Hitler’s madness.

We are morally defined by our response to the existential demands of our era. No Yankee or Southerner in antebellum America was left unscathed. No German in the time of the Third Reich avoided Divine scrutiny. Few of us today will be able to stand before God pleading total innocence of the blood of these 50 million children. I include myself among the guilty because I have lacked the wit and the passion to save a single one of them.

So, too, has my Church lacked the wit, the passion, the holy rage to bring an end to this moral abomination, staining us all.

Let us first address the Church’s sufferance of scandal.

Does it not give scandal to the faithful, to those who possess a degree of passion about abortion, to see many of their bishops reluctant to chastise Catholic politicians for their public support of abortion? To see their priests and bishops, with no apparent thought for the heinous sin of sacrilege against the Body and Blood of the Lord, distributing the Eucharist to these very public sinners? To witness the most prominent of these public sinners, Ted Kennedy, being celebrated like a modern Galahad at his funeral Mass, with the primate of Boston in respectful attendance?

Why was there not unanimous episcopal condemnation of President Obama’s commencement address at Notre Dame in May? This is the most pro-abortion president in American history, and he makes no apology for it. Have our bishops forgotten the obloquy still visited on German bishops for their failure to denounce en masse Nazi persecution of Jews?

The other scandal is difficult even to talk about.
I have known many priests. Most have been an inspiration to me, some of them very holy, almost to a man good and masculine, well educated, and committed to their vow of celibacy. Some of these good men have been unfairly slandered in the recent atmospherics surrounding the real scandal of priestly pederasty, stoked by press hysteria, the greed of lawyers, and poor or “recovered” memories of victims.

My mother died in 1983. I waited in the parlor of her parish to discuss funeral arrangements. A delicate little man in a Roman collar came prancing into the parlor, greeting me in a lilting way (not at all appropriate to the occasion), extending his fingertips to be limply grasped, and chattering away in empty pleasantries. He was completely unembarrassed by, perhaps unconscious of, his effeminate mannerisms.

I knew then that the Church had a serious problem on Her hands.

The Church rightly teaches that individuals afflicted with the “objective disorder” of homosexual inclinations are children of God to be treated with dignity and respect. I believe that God permits such afflictions as a powerful call to sanctity, just like any other cross of personal suffering.

The Church in general and American bishops in particular, however, erred grievously in permitting such individuals access to Holy Orders. This was an open invitation to the disaster that has now occurred. Entire dioceses are being forced into bankruptcy by settlement claims; seminaries and chanceries are being converted into “pink palaces” and hotbeds of open heresy and dissidence; the victims of this evil — along with many of their relatives and friends — are being alienated from the Church and Her sacraments.

In the context of the pro-life struggle, the worst consequence was the severe blow dealt to the Church’s credibility in all things moral. It will take decades or generations for this gaping wound to be healed. Healing will require a degree of courage the Church as a body unfortunately has yet to evince in this struggle.

Bishops, on the whole, attain their rank by steadily building a reputation as administrators, fundraisers, and builders of schools and hospitals. None of the holiest priests I have known ever came close to being raised to the episcopacy.

Bishops are terrified, accordingly, of losing their tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity. I have shown elsewhere (Homiletic and Pastoral Review, August-September, 2009, 62-67) that this fear is completely unfounded. The IRS’ enforcement record is too shameful to expose to judicial scrutiny, and a full-throated embrace of First Amendment freedoms would overwhelm the flimsy statutory base of the regulatory restrictions.

In any event, even if the IRS were a sleeping dog, the Church was at its most glorious when it was poor, hounded, and martyred. Who would not prefer such an honor to the shame we now experience?

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The Unrepentant Traditionalist is copyright © 2010 by Frank Creel and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. All rights reserved.

Frank Creel, Ph.D., a columnist and author, was an English teacher in the Peace Corps in Turkey. He is fluent in the Turkish language and in Arabic script.

See a complete biographical sketch.

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