If you want equal justice for all, and true freedom and lasting peace, then America, defend life! All the great causes that are yours today will have meaning only to the extent that you guarantee the right to life and protect the human person.Bill and Hillary Clinton sat with tight lips listening to him squirming for the whole world to see. Pope John Paul II confronted the world as a sign of contradiction.
What about Pope Francis this morning? (See the video here.) Did the most diabolical president in our history squirm?
Not a bit. He applauded throughout even after the mild reference to religious freedom. The bulk of the pope's nine minute talk was on climate change and defending the planet -- not leaving it to the next generation. And he praised a beaming Obama for his efforts to reduce air pollution. As I write this it's so surreal it's making me laugh. Am I in Oz, Toto? But I forgot. The pope did devote twenty seconds to marriage and the family. (From 1:38-1:58) Thank you, Holy Father.
The bishops must have been pleased that the pope at least mentioned religious freedom (It got about two minutes.) since they've been banging on that single chord for several years. Forgive me if I'm not jubilant. Hey, I'm all for religious freedom, but let's face it. The bishops' concern appears to be more about money than protecting the religious rights of individuals from the hobnailed boot of the state. What a tragedy if the grants gushing down from the federal government dry up like the one on human trafficking. How much money are we talking about? Well, let's just look at Catholic Relief Services which received $427,969,000 in 2013 and $423,886 in 2014 -- almost a billion dollars in two years. And then there's Catholic Charities and Catholic colleges and universities and the value of the tax exempt status, etc. Well...you get the idea. Their focus is the religious rights of the institutions many of which abandoned Catholic teachings years ago. How many Catholic schools and Catholic health institution already provide contraceptive benefits to their employees? How many so-called Catholic hospitals actually perform sterilizations and provide early Plan B abortions in the emergency room? How many Catholic schools put students in abortion mills for practicums? How can you claim religious rights when you're already doing what the state wants to make mandatory?
And I really want to know where the concern is for the religious rights of individuals. I'm still looking for a Catholic Bishop who defended Kim Davis for refusing to issue a marriage license to the gay guys or the statements from the USCCB about the individuals being attacked and losing their businesses for refusing to cooperate in evil. To be fair, the USCCB website has a statement about religious liberty, but when the rubber meets the robe and people actually suffer the discrimination there's almost no support. It reminds me of the Florida bishops twiddling their thumbs (finally releasing a half-hearted statement) while Terri Schiavo was murdered by deliberate neglect.
The pope's disappointing address at the White House was no surprise, though. Trashing the planet with "filth" seems to him more important than burying dead babies in the landfills. Souls appear to be more in danger for littering and burning coal than for murdering the weak at both ends of life. Oh, I know Pope Francis has said lots of good things that get almost no press coverage, but this trip is the perfect opportunity for his unfiltered message to be heard by millions. If this morning's speech, a crowd pleaser for the secular world with its focus on immigration and global warming, then I'm not too hopeful. Tomorrow he speaks to Congress and the pre-speech hype says he'll focus once again on the dangers of climate change. One Catholic congressman, Paul Gosar from Arizona, is boycotting the event. I can't disagree with him. The pope is treating issues of prudential judgment and questionable science as if they are Catholic dogma.
My husband and I aren't boycotting the pope's visit. But the enthusiasm we had for the visits of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict that took us to the streets of D.C. and Baltimore just isn't there. We'll watch the pope on TV and shake our heads over the missed opportunity to call America to account for her real sins, especially the mass murder of the innocent. The Pope is popular all right, but for all the wrong reasons.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.
Blessed Jacinta and Francisco, pray for us.