“Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” Probably not. You might not even remember when it happened.
Please indulge me as I refresh your memory.
On Wednesday, November 17th, 2021, the USCCB was holding its Fall General Assembly at the Marriott Baltimore Waterfront hotel. There were quite a few items on the agenda for the meeting: an update of the “Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines,” recognizing the work of Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC); and a review of the Journeying Together, a campaign promoting an “intercultural dialogue and encounter process.”
But the agenda item that drew the most attention that day was Action Item #14:
Does the body of bishops approve the statement The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church?
This was the document that was expected to, among other things, set the tone regarding the reception of holy communion by public figures whose views contradict Catholic teaching. Catholics were confused. President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi both claimed to be “devout Catholics,” yet their views on abortion were in direct contradiction with Church teaching. Perhaps more alarming was that said politicians were still receiving holy communion. Speculation was that this document would put a stop to it.
Ahead of the meeting, the document received public pushback from Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky. The prelate known for his vocal support of the LGBTQ movement expressed misgivings but conceded that it would likely pass.
It was a cool morning that Wednesday in Baltimore. Though the temperature outside was only forecasted to reach 55 degrees, the news media, Catholic commentators, and concerned faithful expected things to really heat up inside the assembly hall when the discussion and vote would take place on the document pertaining to the Eucharist.
Things didn’t heat up at all. In fact, the room was noticeably cold and quiet. There was no lively debate. The discussion was minimal, and the vote was over in the blink of an eye. The document contained no guidelines for the reception of holy communion by public figures whose views are contrary to Church teachings.
Well in brief, they indeed crucified my Lord. Their weak document was an insult to the Word Made Flesh, a milquetoast piece of castrated drivel, and a watered-down attempt at catechesis that was not worth the paper on which it was printed.
In an unusual move, the fall 2021 meeting kicked off with a full day of executive session Monday. It also included an executive session on Tuesday afternoon. Typically, executive sessions are held only after the public sessions wrap up.
As for what went on during those closed-door meetings? One can only speculate. Though Apostolic Nuncio might have given us a clue shortly after the conclusion of the closed-door sessions. As Jack Jenkins of Religious News Service observed:
Evidence of disagreement between members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Holy See was made clear on Tuesday (Nov. 16), in the opening address from Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio who serves as the Vatican’s ambassador to the U.S.
Although he appealed to ‘unity desired by Christ,’ he also spoke directly to an ongoing disagreement between USCCB leaders and the Vatican. ‘There is the temptation to treat the Eucharist as something to be offered to the privileged few rather than to seek to walk with those whose theology or discipleship is falling short, assisting them to understand and appreciate the gift of the Eucharist and helping them to overcome their difficulties,’ Pierre said.
The Holy Father, known for passive aggressive words and actions, was sending a loud and clear message to the bishop’s assembly. He reinforced that message by hosting Speaker Pelosi and President Biden at the Vatican on separate occasions. Regarding Biden, the president claims that the Holy Father told him he was a good Catholic and that he should continue to receive holy communion —which he has been doing nearly every Sunday.
One such Sunday was a few weeks ago, six days after a document from the Supreme Court was leaked. The document hinted that the Supreme Court was leaning toward sending the issue of abortion back to the states. For those of us in the USA who uphold the idea that limited government reflects a healthy democracy, this was refreshing news. Contrary to the hyped narrative, the document would not result in the complete end of abortion. Rather, the decision of whether abortion would be legal in each state would be left to their own respective governments.
For the pro-life movement, the document would prove to be a step in the right direction and reason for celebration, but there would still be work ahead, presumably state by state.
For “devoutly Catholic,” albeit often confused Joe Biden, the leaked document was a declaration of war by the Supreme Court against a woman’s right to choose.
“I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental,” said Biden. “Roe has been the law of the land for almost fifty years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned.”
Coincidentally, the leak came as campaigns for the midterm elections were heating up. It doesn’t take a political expert to observe that democratic candidates face major hurdles in the midterms, primarily because of the Biden presidency which should be declared a federal dumpster fire. Thus, the leak proved an opportune time for the president to drum up some support for left leaning candidates by means of fear mongering.
“At the federal level, we will need more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to adopt legislation that codifies Roe,” Biden said.
The president’s remarks, which blatantly contradict Church teaching were made on Tuesday, May 3rd. That left 4 days in which Catholic bishops could have expressed their outrage, they could have implored the Holy Father to issue a statement, they could have urged Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington DC to take appropriate actions.
They could have … but they didn’t.
Hence, like most Sundays, “devout” President Biden received Holy Communion as usual at Holy Trinity, a Jesuit-run parish in Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood.
The parish has previously issued a statement that said in part, “As the Holy Trinity Parish Council, we stand with our Archbishop, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, concerning the issues surrounding offering the Eucharist to American politicians.”
To say the Supreme Court document leak continues to be a divisive issue would be putting it mildly. One thing has remained consistent: confusion among Catholics. The pope still hasn’t said a word about the leak, nor the president’s subsequent pro-choice remarks. Neither has Archbishop Gregory.
That all changed on Friday, May 20th, when “Salvatore the Lion Hearted” decided enough was enough and let out a loud roar. So loud, in fact that it could be heard around the world — especially clear in both Washington DC, and the Vatican.
The Most Reverend Salvatore Cordileone, (which indeed translates, “lion-hearted”), is the Archbishop of San Francisco. Among the members of his flock, you’ll find a “devout” Catholic, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“The Republican-appointed justices’ reported votes to overturn Roe v. Wade would go down as an abomination, one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history,” Pelosi said on May 3, the day after the leaked draft was published.
The condition of the Speaker’s soul has been a source of concern for Archbishop Cordileone for quite some time. Several attempts to secure a one-one-one meeting with the Speaker proved unsuccessful. His Excellency then opted for a different approach and urged the faithful to participate in “Rose and Rosary for Nancy.”
“Please join me in the Rose and Rosary for Nancy Campaign. Pray a rosary once a week for her. Fast on Friday. … And if you commit to the rosary and fasting, we will send a rose to her as a symbol of your prayers and sacrifices,” Cordileone says in a video message.
The archbishop’s various attempts aimed at the salvation of her soul were ignored by Pelosi. She’d dug her heels in deep in support of “women’s rights.”
“The very idea that they would be telling women the size, timing or whatever of their family, the personal nature of this is so appalling, and I say that as a devout Catholic,” Pelosi said. “They say to me, ‘Nancy Pelosi thinks she knows more about having babies than the Pope.’ Yes I do. Are you stupid?”
Cordileone had had enough.
A letter from the Archbishop to the Speaker released publicly on May 20, read in part:
As you have not publicly repudiated your position on abortion, and continue to refer to your Catholic faith in justifying your position and to receive Holy Communion, that time has now come. Therefore, in light of my responsibility as the Archbishop of San Francisco to be ‘concerned for all the Christian faithful entrusted to [my] care’ (Code of Canon Law, can. 383, §1), by means of this communication, I am hereby notifying you that you are not to present yourself for Holy Communion and, should you do so, you are not to be admitted to Holy Communion, until such time as you publicly repudiate your advocacy for the legitimacy of abortion and confess and receive absolution of this grave sin in the sacrament of Penance.
A popular figure among the “trad nouveau” movement, Pope Benedict XVI, once said: “Truth is not determined by a majority vote.”
While the bishops sat cross-legged on the matter last November, the Archbishop of San Francisco seemed perfectly content to defy the majority this past Friday. His battle cry subsequently stirred up a sense of courage in other bishops who it seems likewise desired a different outcome during the Fall 2021 Assembly. Within hours of the letter’s release, at least 14 American bishops voiced their support for the decision. Several Catholic websites posted running tallies of “better late than never” bishops who endorsed Cordileone’s landmark action.
What’s the State of the US Bishops?
Yet again, some Catholics are left scratching their heads: does this mean that the rest of the US bishops don’t agree with their brother in San Francisco? The short answer is yes, no, and maybe.
Yes, some bishops like Stowe, who publicly expressed his opinions ahead of the November 2021 meeting do, in fact, disagree with Cordileone on this matter. Likewise, based on previous statements, we can assume that DC’s Cardinal Wilton Gregory takes issue with the decision. Then there are the usual red hats that fall in line with everything Pope Francis says namely: Cupich, O’Malley, Tobin, and Dolan. Of course, all these men could surprise us and come out in favor of Cordileone. Miracles do happen.
The rest of the US bishops are a mixed bag. You have some who are company men. These are the guys who will toe the line with Francis and his minions hoping that someday they will either be rewarded with a better assignment or the coveted red hat. While they may side with Cordileone, they won’t make it known publicly or privately for fear it will cost them an opportunity to climb the ladder.
Then you have the guys who may not always agree with Francis, but they also don’t want to stir the pot. These guys are the ones who are comfortable, they could take or leave a promotion.
The final group are the guys who are perhaps worse than the rest of them — the ones who aren’t necessarily afraid of Francis or their colleagues, but tremble at the thought of losing their fan bases. You know the type. They have a robust social media presence, a long list of speaking engagements, a book deal in the works. These are the type for which the Synod on Synodality fits like a glove — whatever the people want is what they want because it makes them feel loved, admired, and popular.
Over the next few days, there will surely be more bishops who rise in support of Archbishop Cordileone. I mean, come on, Bishop Cozzens who chairs the so-called “Eucharistic Revival” can’t keep quiet on this outstanding defense of the Most Blessed Sacrament, right? I guess we shall see.
Whether or not to support the archbishop is going to be a game changing moment that separate the men from the boys in the USCCB.
Cordileone Joins the Hated Trads
Speaking from personal experience, you and I will probably not know about all of the support the archbishop receives for his letter to the Speaker. When I began offering my commentary on the Church in Crisis here at OnePeterFive, at The Remnant, and on my website I received more than one private endorsement. Here are a few:
“There are so many of us who want to say what you say. I agree with what you say, but I also know that if I say these things will lose followers and opportunities.”
“Have you ever considered a pseudonym? Maybe those who are inclined to support the words, but not the person would be more comfortable attaching their names to the project.”
“Though I personally love what you are doing as much as I like the effort you’re putting into this, the fact is that you’re too controversial.”
“To be honest, I’ve been warned to stay away from you or it will ruin my reputation. But I wanted to send you an encouraging note letting you know that I personally enjoy your commentaries. Consider me a supporter behind the scenes.”
“You’re giving ‘em the cold hard facts. Keep up the great writing! Please don’t publish my endorsement. It’s not that I don’t support you. The timing just isn’t good.”
“I particularly admire how you are speaking the truth with guts and it needs to be said. It rubs people the wrong way and challenges what they thought they knew. Which is why nobody will ever align themselves with you or this undertaking. I will remember you in my masses.”
“It seems you have always been a controversial figure. It seems to bode well for you and lately the stuff I see from you is really solid. Just don’t expect support whether what you do is good or not.”
Indeed, I think I have a hunch about the various degrees of endorsement Archbishop Cordileone has been receiving over the last few days. However, if he’s anything like me, he doesn’t care. The San Francisco prelate didn’t issue a letter to Speaker Pelosi to lead some sort of counter revolution, he did it to save souls.
Like his brother bishops, he sat through the closed-door castration at the Fall Assembly, he listened as Archbishop Pierre issue veiled threats on behalf of the Holy Father. He’s certainly seen both Pope Francis and Speaker Pelosi taunt the American bishops through their photo op and audience. None of that scared him.
On Friday, May 20, 2022, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone joined the group of us whose “give a damn” is busted. We’re a group who has been silent for far too long as politicians and even popes have undermined the truths of the faith.
We were mortified when five Protestants were called in to the Second Vatican Council to assist in writing a “new mass,” a mass that wouldn’t be “offensive” to Protestantism. We watched in horror as John Paul II permitted Buddhists to place a statue of Buddha on the tabernacle at Assisi. We groaned when Benedict XVI back stepped his remarks on Islam and even prayed alongside an Imam. Then there are the numerous times we’ve been appalled by Pope Francis — from Pachamama to James Martin.
Yes, it’s clear Archbishop Cordileone has entered the ranks of those of us who are bold enough to speak the truth, even when it’s not the popular thing to do. We are the ones who believe the most offensive “F word” is “feel.” We attest that since the 60s, the Church has been far too concerned with how people “feel.” The result? A decrease in vocations, lack of catechesis, dummying down the Mass, etc. We refuse to water down the truth because of how it makes the faithful “feel.” We’re the ones who don’t care what you saw on EWTN, nor what Father “So and So” told you, or what you read on Bishop “So and So’s” blog. We’re the small, yet passionate group who want you to read the facts from valid sources, not simply take the word of the latest Catholic celebrity who aims to make a buck off your lack of knowledge. We’re a rare group. Yes, when it comes to being popular, our give a damn is busted. We care about one thing and one thing only: the salvation of souls. Thus, no endorsement be it public, or private matters to us.
And Pope Francis?
By Sunday, the San Francisco Examiner’s Editorial Board had already called for Pope Francis to remove Archbishop Cordileone. I doubt Salvatore the Lion-Hearted is afraid. What Pope Francis chooses to do or not do probably matters very little to Cordileone. I suspect he’s likewise not concerned with what Archbishop Pierre or any of his brother bishops think of his letter. Moreover, I have a sneaking suspicion that none of the publicity — in favor of or opposed to his decision matters all that much to him.
Right now, it’s a safe bet that in all this only one thing matters: the well-being of Nancy Pelosi’s soul. As a good shepherd, he desires that all members of his flock attain eternal life in heaven. When one sheep strays away, he goes out in search of her, to bring her back into the safety of the fold. On that cool November day in Baltimore, Archbishop Cordileone may have been sitting silently during the vote to crucify my Lord, but within his soul was stirring a desire to pounce on the opportunity to save souls. When the time was right, Salvatore the Lion-Hearted pounced, indeed.
The world needs more courageous figures whose give a damn is busted. There are far too few modern-day examples of Nicholas of Myra, Basil the Great, Jerome, or Athanasius. Yet so many souls desperately need the truths of the faith. Thus, we pray for our brother, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. Through his example, may others take up their cross in defense of the faith — no matter how painful, how dirty, how disgraceful it may get.
Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven. (Matthew 5: 11-12)
Roar on, Archbishop Cordileone, roar on.
Photo credit: CNA.