Charles Peguy (1873-1914): “It will never be known what acts of cowardice have been committed for fear of not looking sufficiently progressive.”
Elsewhere, I recently published a piece pleading for the universal reinstatement of the Traditional Latin Mass. This plea flies in the face of fears that the usus antiquior will be restricted, or even canceled, in the days ahead. One fervently hopes that such concern will prove to be mistaken.
Now comes, however, a statement from about sixty Congressional Democrats urging bishops not to deny the Blessed Sacrament to pro-abortion politicians “over one [unnamed] issue [abortion].”
The Democrats’ statement is an invitation to sin and error. One is reminded of a Japanese reply (on 7 December 1941) to missives sent to them by U,S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull, who angrily told Saburo Kurusu and Kichsaburo Nomura, Japanese negotiators, that their government’s answer to his memorandum was “crowded with infamous falsehoods and distortions.”
Infamous Falsehoods and Distortions. That is the nature of the Congressional Democrats’ document contending, in essence, that Holy Communion must be made available, even to those politicians who sinfully and flagitiously ignore the murder of millions of children. That is not, though, the only travesty in this document. About these legislators. Baruch himself seems to warn us: “They had no respect for his commandments, and would not live by them; they refused to let him guide them in the way of righteousness” (4:13)
Indeed, to correct the Congressional statement might well be the work of a semester-long course in the Catholic moral theology utterly alien to those who signed this benighted document. In the earlier piece I wrote, I quoted the weeping prophet, Jeremiah: “Are they ashamed of the abomination they have committed? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush” (6:15).
Among the many positions taken by and points made in this congressional statement are misrepresentations or misunderstandings about such matters as these. (Following each entry is just one Catechism reference which can help clarify the confusion in—and no doubt resulting from—this egregious statement, a Modernist litany ignominiously masquerading as Catholic witness.)
- The nature of the Church itself (#87)
- The divine character holy communion (#1355)
- Abortion (#2271)
- The nature of discipleship and obedience (#144)
- Implied approval of contraception (#2366)
- Human sexuality (#2333)
- Sacred Tradition (#78)
- The Magisterial, Scriptural, and Traditional warrant for capital punishment (#2267)
- The nature of Catholic Social Teaching (which is never to be a “cover” for excusing the murder of babies–#1888)
- “Separation” of Church and State (#2244)
- Formation of Moral Conscience (#1783)
- Religious Relativism (#2039)
- Their legislative and personal “goals” (#2105)
These legislators have the insolence to quote Christifideles Laici (1988), utterly ignoring the cri de coeur of that same document: “Who is able to count the number of babies unborn because they have been killed in their mothers’ wombs” (#5) and missing its main point:
“How can one not notice the ever-growing existence of religious indifference and atheism in its more varied forms, particularly in its perhaps most widespread form of secularism? Adversely affected by the impressive triumphs of continuing scientific and technological development and above all, fascinated by a very old and yet new temptation, namely, that of wishing to become like God (cf. Gen 3:5) through the use of a liberty without bounds, individuals cut the religious roots that are in their hearts; they forget God, or simply retain him without meaning in their lives, or outrightly reject him, and begin to adore various ‘idols’ of the contemporary world” (#4)
The reprehensible document produced by these Democrats is filled with idol worship, calling to mind the admonition we read in Wisdom: “The worship of idols, whose names should never be spoken, is the beginning and the end, the cause and the results of every evil” (14:27). We look for the beatific vision of God Almighty, but instead behold the stern visage of Rosa DeLauro.
Representative Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut and chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, May 19, 2021
If the beginning of wisdom is the Fear of the Lord (Prv 9:10), these legislators have no wisdom, for there is in this statement no evidence of either servile or filial fear (#1451). Salus animarum suprema lex: The salvation of souls is the supreme law of the Church (#849). But these legislators are unafraid of our and their destination–losing our salvation–if we do not repent of the evil we permit, do, and even celebrate (it is “Pride Month,” after all). In my earlier article I quoted from St. Paul: “I have told you this many times before, and now I repeat it with tears: there are many whose lives make them enemies of Christ’s death on the cross. They are going to end up in hell, because their god is their bodily desires. They are proud of what they should be ashamed of, and they think only of things that belong to this world” (Philippians 3:18-19).
In the piece I published earlier, I suggested that American society is in the throes of terrible moral darkness (cf. Mt 6:23). I tried briefly to substantiate that with survey research from Arizona Christian University.
Such data–to support the charge that we are subject to massive ethical ignorance–are hardly necessary in the face of this Congressional Statement. Hosea’s prophecy leaps to mind: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (4:6).
These sixty Democrats are, presumably, baptized and confirmed. Confirmation “gives us a special strength of the Holy spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross” (#1303). These Catholic Democrats, however, seem utterly unimpressed with that as they “make a claim on the Church’s bearing.” Samuel says: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10). Instead, these Democrats say: “Listen, Lord, for your bosses are speaking.”
After many years of “Catholic formation,” including (if these are the attentive Catholics they claim to be) receiving the sacraments, hearing homilies, attending retreats and church missions, doing extensive spiritual reading, listening to Catholic radio and watching Catholic television (and, in some cases, holding degrees from Catholic colleges), these people have produced a document which is the bitter fruit of their “formation.” Jeremiah: “They have no sense; for they do not know the way of the Lord, the law of their God” (5:4).
How did we produce this generation of ignorant, arrogant, truculent Catholic impostors? Either they are deliberate moral mountebanks (cf. 2 Cor 11:15) or they are unconsciously devoted to the ethical ignes fatui of the day: They do not know; they do not know that they do not know.
When error and sin fill such public documents, what are we to expect of politics? “Justice is turned away, and righteousness stands at a distance. For truth has stumbled in the public square, and honesty cannot enter” (Is 59:14). Do not expect political or legal justice when legislators are morally turgid (cf. Pss 118:9, 146:3).
Justice is based upon wisdom and virtue, and we are lost in the jungles of ignorance and malevolence. We no longer know who we are because we no longer know Whose we are (1 Cor 6:19-20).
I have previously argued for a chain of reasoning that teaches us that we must pray properly; then, by the grace of God, we may act properly (lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi; cf. #1126). In providing Catholic witness to a morally beleaguered society, we fulfill our baptismal and Confirmation promises; we become, in essence, part of the divine solution rather than part of the secular problem: “The fidelity of the baptized is a primordial condition for the proclamation of the Gospel and for the Church’s mission in the world. In order that the message of salvation can show the power of its truth and radiance before men, it must be authenticated by the witness of the life of Christians” (#2044).
Those who approach the Eucharist, having mortally sinned, or having approved of (and even applauded) mortal sin, not only condemn themselves (1 Cor 11:27), but thereby give scandal (#2284) and implicitly advocate a kind of debauched thinking. “Our way of thinking [should be] attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking” (#1327). St. Irenaeus, who said that, was teaching us that the Blessed Sacrament must never be, nor be seen as, confirmation of mortal sin, such as the promotion of abortion. By permitting those who “obstinately [persevere] in manifest grave sin” (Canon #915) to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion, Catholic clergy are teaching the acceptability of both evil thought (cf. Mk 7:21) and of evil action: that is sacrilege.
This document from “Catholic Democrats” is a grotesque inversion of that catechetical adjuration (about preserving the purity of the Blessed Sacrament). Previously, I contended that the restoration of the eternal Mass will not, of itself, restore moral harmony to the Church and to the profane societies now deviously influencing sacred authority. Return to the eternal liturgy, however, is powerful anamnesis, calling to mind the need for repentance and devotion to the holy. Such restoration is an urgent, and increasingly obvious, necessity. That such a restoration would require massive (genuine) Catholic education at every level is all to the good.
The Postcommunion reflection this coming weekend (the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost—27 June) is a prayer that God “cleanse us from our hidden faults, and deliver us from the snares of our enemies”—especially those enemies who superciliously claim membership among us (cf. Mt 10:36, Ps 55:12-1). They, and we, are called to hate what is evil and to cling to what is good (Rom 12:9, 1 Thess 5:21-22).
By the grace of God, may they find their way back to the Truth which sets us free. Priests who pray the Traditional Latin Mass might well consider offering the Votive Mass for the Removal of Schism: “O God, who dost correct what has gone astray and gatherest together what is scattered . . . we beseech Thee in Thy mercy to pour down upon Christian people the grace of union with Thee, that . . . attaching themselves to the true shepherd of Thy Church, they may be able to render Thee due service” (Collect).
Deacon James H. Toner (M.A., William & Mary; Ph.D., Notre Dame) is Professor Emeritus of Leadership and Ethics at the U.S. Air War College, a former U.S. Army officer, and author of numerous books, articles, reviews, and monographs. He has taught at Notre Dame, Norwich, Auburn, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and Holy Apostles College & Seminary. He has contributed many columns to The Catholic Thing, Crisis Magazine, One Peter Five, and the Wanderer, as well as myriad academic and military periodicals. He and his wife Rebecca have three sons and eleven grandchildren.