Thanksgiving is now past, and while leftovers are being refrigerated and families are saying their goodbyes, much despair is held by lay faithful. We are still reeling following the less than fruitful meeting of the USCCB in Baltimore a little over a week ago. The anger and questions of the laity had been pushed off until this November meeting. We were all expecting to get the ball rolling in the form of action to respond to the McCarrick scandal. We had been told, “You will get your answers. Be patient: this November meeting will initiate the American bishops’ fervent response to truths that have surfaced over the past ninety days.”
November has arrived, and the USCCB had a platform, as designated shepherds, to show their true colors. We had all hoped for strong men, armed with bravery and fortitude, ready to work to get answers for their flock. What did we get? Let me highlight the three big points to take away.
- We got the rug pulled out from under us at the last minute. DiNardo was essentially neutered by the Vatican. The president of the USCCB announced that the Holy See had requested a delay in a vote that would establish standards for accountability of the bishops, essentially expanding the 2002 Dallas Charter.
- Our American Lavender Mafia representative and Vatican puppet, Blase Cupich, cardinal-archbishop of Chicago, told us that, in many cases, clerical sex involving adult victims is consensual and should thus be judged differently from how child sex abuse cases are judged. In other words, we shouldn’t judge homosexual cases involving priests and bishops using their power to sexually abuse their seminarians.
- To cap the Baltimore meeting off, the USCCB took an anonymous vote of the bishops on if the conference should request that the Vatican open its files regarding Cardinal McCarrick’s ongoing abuse. Granted, many expected that Rome would posture its way out of releasing anything, but this was the bishops’ last chance to stand up for what was right. By a margin of 137- 83, the bishops voted down this request. One hundred thirty-seven of the 223 bishops in the USCCB meeting voted to suppress further truth being revealed in light of this scandal. One hundred thirty-seven of the bishops slapped us in the face. One hundred thirty-seven told us they don’t care. One hundred thirty-seven of the bishops continued to cover up for their buddy priests and bishops who are implicated by further investigations.
Well, consider the message received, USCCB. It is clear our shepherds have no intention (with the exception of a few – see Bishop Strickland of Tyler, Texas) of serving their flock’s best interest. Furthermore, it is clear that two thirds of the bishops have essentially sold their souls for the red or purple zucchetti.
The bishops, the cardinals, and even Pope Francis all rely on the laity falling prey to short-term memory. They pray that we wait for February, for the World Meeting of Bishops regarding the abuse crisis. The world will watch, and they will gather and proclaim “fervent discussion” regarding sexual abuse in the clergy and empty promises of far off plans of further action. They will pick another far off date to look forward to for more meetings, and this is when they hope we lose our zeal for change.
As the laity of Christ’s Catholic Church, we must re-invigorate our zeal. This not the time to take our feet off the accelerator. We must remain angry, remain informed, and remain active. The Church needs us to speak out. Get on your favorite social media platform and speak out about how our bishops (and pope) have failed us. Speak up about the doctrine that is undermined in favor of the anti-doctrine this papacy is pushing on us, even when the secular world will hate us for it.
Let’s all fondly remember Thanksgiving. Let us be grateful for what we have, give thanks to God, and eat our weight in leftovers. But let us make today, Black Friday, a symbolic one for the Church and its laity. Black Friday should be a blackout of support for these men who have failed as fathers of the Church. We will cut all channels of support for them. Send a message to your bishop that we will not stand for this any longer. While the USCCB may get significant taxpayer dollars from the American people each year (as much as 33% of their annual budget, according to their own reports), we will not give them a penny more. This support in the form of bishops’ annual appeals, or collections for shady ministries such as the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (which openly supports abortion, contraception, and LGBT issues, to name a few) will collect dust, the money will dry up, and they will realize that the laity’s is the hand that feeds them.
Black Friday falls nine days before Advent, which, for a long time, was a penitential season, much like Lent. Let us use these nine days to prepare ourselves for the coming of our Incarnate Lord, Jesus Christ. The nine days this time affords us is perfect for a novena. The novena to St. Charles Borromeo, a zealous defender of Church teaching, and patron saint of bishops, seminarians, and clergy, is fitting right now.
We as Catholics can get spiritually fit during this time of preparation by fasting, praying the daily rosary, and offering reparations, all things that it doesn’t seem our Church leaders have time for. Black Friday can mark our warm-up session in preparation for the spiritual marathon of the Advent season. Our church is suffering; we need these extra nine days to prepare for Christ’s birth. Grab your rosaries, repent, and let us make this Black Friday a turning point for our suffering Church.
Nikko Lane is a Catholic husband and father from Nashville, Tenn. Studying to be a family nurse practitioner and caring for patients in a Catholic hospital, he strives to live out his faith in service to others as part of everyday life.