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U.S. Senate Smells The Smoke Of Satan

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By CHRISTOPHER MANION

The smoke of Satan blew thick and dark, swirling across the floor of the United States Senate on the evening of January 29, as members voted to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the consideration of S. 2311, “A bill to amend title 18, United States Code, to protect pain-capable unborn children, and for other purposes.” The bill straightforwardly “amends the federal criminal code to make it a crime for any person to perform or attempt to perform an abortion if the probable post-fertilization age of the fetus is 20 weeks or more.”
The vote on the motion to proceed required 60 votes. It failed, with 51 votes in favor, 46 opposed, and 3 not voting. According to a January 29 USCCB press release, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, of New York, “chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, reacted by calling the Senate’s failure to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act ‘appalling’.”
“Abortions performed in the second half of pregnancy usually involve brutally dismembering a defenseless unborn child,” he wrote, “while also posing serious dangers to his or her mother. The Senate’s rejection of this common-sense legislation is radically out of step with most Americans. . . . Furthermore, the United States is currently one of only seven countries that allow abortions beyond 20 weeks. The other six are North Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada, and the Netherlands. The Senate must rethink its extreme stance on late-term abortions. I call upon the public to tell the Senate that this vote is absolutely unacceptable.”
“Tell the Senate”? How about telling the 14 Catholic senators who voted to prevent the Pain Capable Unborn Children Act from becoming law? Cardinal Dolan doesn’t even name them; here they are:
Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.); Susan Collins (R., Maine); Dick Durbin (D., Ill.); Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.); Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.); Tim Kaine (D., Va.); Pat Leahy (D., Vt.); Ed Markey (D., Mass.); Catherine Cortez Masto (D., Nevada); Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.); Bob Menendez (D., N.J.); Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska); Patty Murray (D., Wash.); and Jack Reed (D., R.I.).
The vast majority of those Catholic senators voting “no” are Democrats, of course — after all, Democrat National Committee Chairman Tom Perez insists that “every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health.”
Curiously, three Catholic Senate Democrats defied the party line to vote in favor of the motion to proceed. Admittedly, they knew that 14 other Catholic would vote “no,” and thus kill the bill; but the question remains, why did they bail on one of their party’s most fundamental issues?
The answer is simple: Those three Democrats — Joe Donnelly (D., Ind.), Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), and Bob Casey (D., Pa.) — are running scared for reelection in 2018. They all hail from states that voted for President Trump in 2016. Catholic Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, who hails from North Dakota, another state won by Trump, did not join them. She gravely imperiled her 2018 reelection chances not only by voting against the motion to proceed, but by being caught on video giving a triumphant “high-five” to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) on the Senate floor after winning the vote to end debate on the bill. That video will undoubtedly be replayed across North Dakota this coming fall.

Bishops Blowing Smoke

Here arises an anomaly. During the week of February 12, culminating on February 15, several Senate bills addressing immigration policy failed to receive the required 60 votes to proceed to debate. Days later, according to a USCCB press release, officials of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, didn’t just call the failure “appalling”; they announced a “National Catholic Call-In Day to Protect Dreamers.”
“We are deeply disappointed that the Senate was not able to come together in a bipartisan manner to secure legislative protection for the Dreamers,” wrote Daniel Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president; Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, USCCB vice president; and Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, in a joint statement February 19.
The prelates asked U.S. Catholics “to call their members of Congress next Monday, February 26, to protect Dreamers from deportation, to provide them a path to citizenship, and to avoid any damage to existing protections for families and unaccompanied minors in the process.”
They added: “Our faith compels us to stand with the vulnerable, including our immigrant brothers and sisters. We have done so continually, but we must show our support and solidarity now in a special way. Now is the time for action.”
A “National Call-In Day.” Note that our bishops constantly complain that they “might endanger the Church’s tax exemption” if they are too strident — including exercising their consecrated authority under canon law — regarding pro-abortion politicians.
But when it comes to immigration, they change their tune. Why didn’t they announce a “National Call-In Day” for the faithful to contact those 14 pro-abortion Catholic senators? Aren’t unborn children among “the vulnerable”? Is not abortion an objective evil, while immigration law lies in the realm not of the clergy but of the laity, according to Lumen Gentium and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 2241.2)?
Well, while it is uncomfortable in the extreme to resort to Orwell when discussing our beloved shepherds, it appears that some of our vulnerable brothers and sisters are more vulnerable than others, and the unborn are simply not vulnerable enough for the bishops to “show their support and solidarity now in a special way.”

Why The Silence,
Your Excellencies?

Part of the answer is addressed in a report from a USCCB-related news site. President Trump’s policies have reduced the funding of refugee and other programs that send hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the bishops’ welfare agencies. (All three signatories to the USCCB statement cited above have repeatedly refused to respond to requests for particulars concerning this taxpayer funding.) Those budget cuts have resulted in layoffs of hundreds of employees in the bishops’ welfare bureaucracy.
So is it all about money?
Well, maybe not. A recent incident in a small Pennsylvania diocese sheds light on another reason. Roger Cardinal Mahony, retired archbishop of Los Angeles, had apparently been appointed by Pope Francis to be his special envoy to the Catholic Diocese of Scranton’s 150th anniversary Mass this coming March 4. However, the announcement incensed the lay faithful in the diocese. They reacted in an uproar, and Cardinal Mahony quietly withdrew.
Why the uproar? Cardinal Mahony is the poster boy for the cover-up scandals that brought on the homosexual abuse crisis 16 years ago. He spent over a billion dollars to stay off the witness stand under oath — and he was not alone. He even asserted that personnel records were protected by the “Seal of the Confessional” (the courts disagreed). But he wasn’t alone. Over half of America’s bishops had enabled and/or covered up for notorious abusers, countless dioceses paid billions more in settlements, and voluntary donations from the faithful have plummeted across the country ever since.
Yes, our bishops need the money, but as Cardinal Dolan admits, there’s more than money at stake: If bishops begin calling out and condemning Catholic pro-abortion politicians by name, they know those politicians won’t take it lying down: “tu quoque” might be a logical fallacy, but it’s a very effective political weapon, and America’s many errant bishops, alas, have become politicians — and in this case, they are “vulnerable” indeed.
Cardinal Mahony spent a billion of the faithful’s dollars to stay off the stand, but, as Sen. Everett Dirksen (R., Ill.) used to say, “a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” And alas, the bishops are desperate for real money.
Why don’t they take a stand for life, and face the inevitable persecution?
Well, Donald Trump can stand up to the massive onslaught of the pro-abortion elites; but as Fr. George Rutler puts it, at the Last Judgment we will hear the giant thunderclap of bishops being reunited with their spines.
Rest assured: Today’s political bishops didn’t call out those pro-abortion Catholic senators and they never will. It’s up to the laity.

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