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When Shepherds Become Wolves

August 9, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By SHAUN KENNEY

The Catholic University of America announced last week that they were stripping Theodore Cardinal McCarrick of his honorary degree, the first time this has ever been done in the 140-year history of the nation’s premier Catholic institution.
During the university’s long history, it has been no stranger to controversy. The Americanist heresy was first identified and rooted out, claiming the career of its first rector — Bishop Keane of Richmond.
The ghost of Americanism hasn’t quite dissolved from the Catholic hierarchy in America. One of its chief errors as defined by Pope Leo XIII was that — as moderns — Catholics today were better suited to leverage and discern the Holy Spirit, an error condemned for no other reason than that the Holy Spirit is just as efficacious for our forefathers as He is today.
Yet this arrogance still seems to have its grip upon Church leaders here in the United States. We see it alive and well today among those who erroneously believe that, as they live in a literal golden age at the pinnacle of human advancement in the most powerful nation ever to grace the globe, they are booted and spurred to ride the laity and bring them along into a new age.
This new age has come along with all sorts of novelties. Perhaps it began with the nouvelle theologie of the mid-20th century? Or the new evangelization, which lives in the hearts of the John Paul II generation but serves as a catchphrase for the cynics and bureaucrats? Or the new springtime? New, new, new. Novelties, novelties, novelties. . . .
Of course, for many Catholics, Pope John Paul II is the only Pope that we have known. Both Benedict XVI and Francis have seemed as mere surrogates for the Pope who walked with Reagan and Thatcher, who stood up to the Soviets, who rallied the Polish people, and who kissed the Earth and stood apart as a contradiction to the world.
Yet behind it all, the Velvet Mafia (their own term, shockingly enough) waited and bided their time.
If you have not read Goodbye, Good Men! one could not more highly encourage friends to read the book in its entirety. For many of us who considered the priesthood as a vocation but were turned away for our “rigidity” or unwillingness to consider openness to dissent, it was a dismaying experience.
How many good men heard the call to holiness and were turned away — not for their so-called rigidity, but by the likes of McCarrick who was grooming some for a very different sort of priesthood?
For how many years did men I counted as friends sit in dismay about why they were turned away by spiritual directors and vocations counselors? They wanted to be holy, they wanted to serve God — how many of us now wonder whether we were turned away because we would not become manservants to the likes of a McCarrick or his legion of enablers?
How many of potential seminarians and priests were turned away by men who were more wolves than shepherds?
As a vocational standard, a bishop’s sacred duty is to protect his flock. Not for the “greater good” but to the point where he would lay down his own life for his friends . . . even for a prodigal son to the confusion of the faithful whose spiritual development simply cannot join in the joy of retrieving a lost soul.
For a cardinal of the Church, he wears the scarlet as an outward sign of his willingness to die for the faith — not in a metaphorical sense, but in an actual sacrifice of his life for even the littlest and most defenseless of God’s creation.
For this alone, I have struggled with feelings of anger and resentment. The resentment is perhaps ill-placed, but the anger I feel is not one of vengeance or of evening up a score. What I cannot believe, what some part of me refuses to believe, is that bishops and cardinals and priests with a divine calling to protect and defend the Body of Christ even to the point of martyrdom have instead chosen to use the flock as a fleshpot.
Yet I continue to come back to a common theme regarding modern-day manipulation of the Holy Spirit, a motivation that sees sinful behavior and chalks it up to social injustice, inequality of class, psychological background, or chemical and mental imbalances. Such arguments, aided by a pharmaceutical industry which too often treats the aftereffects of one medication with another medication, treats sin as something scientific, treatable, even curable under the right conditions.
The wages of sin, we are taught, is death. Yet we have created entire industries to cheat the hangman. Gluttony? There’s a pill for that. Lust? We can make that four hours longer. Sloth? Take uppers. Anxiety? Take downers. Envious? No pills for that . . . but someone clearly cheated you. Greed? Socialism can fix that. . . .
Thus the Catholic Church in the United States falls prey to the modernist lie, becoming yet another cult industry designed in the image of man to subsidize feelings. We have traded the Mass for talking circles, the Real Presence for community discernment, Confession for psychiatry, marriage for “love is love” (whatever that means), and Baptism . . . well, it’s just quaint and traditional.
Yet the Church was never instituted to make us feel better about our sins. For all the lies of “feel-good” Christianity, I can promise you that Jesus Christ did not “feel good” on the cross. I can promise you that Mary did not “feel good” seeing her Son crucified. Job did not feel good. Elijah did not feel good. Abraham did not feel good. . . .
. . . Because this is the core of the lie of the modernist movement. The world tells you they can remove your suffering by destroying what makes you human. Christ promises that you will indeed suffer, but He will be with you every step of the way. Quite a contrast to a world that says you can suffer, but if you choose to do so, you’re on your own, pal.
This symptomatic moral rot within the Catholic hierarchy is the betrayal of Christ to dialectical materialism — namely that with more worldly goods, spiritual goods will follow. Has this been the case? Are we even close?

Martyrdom

Perhaps it is time for the Catholic Church in America to embrace its own suffering and finally wash itself clean of the McCarrick era. Certainly the Chilean bishops have set the example — a resignation en masse.
Yet this act will not eradicate the bureaucrats who enabled the bad behavior in the first place at institutions such as Catholic Relief Services or the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. So there is much more work to be done than the whitewashing that occurred in 2002 during the “Long Lent” after the pederasty scandal came to light; a time where we needed shepherds.
Instead, the laity received a wolf in McCarrick, who in turn promoted other wolves to positions of power and influence within the Church. Wolves can be eradicated, of course. But having “good wolves” is no answer at all. Rather, the scarlet of our cardinals is the reminder we require. Martyrdom — of reputation — will be required to bring truth to light and disinfect the entire rotten apparatus of power.
Perhaps then, our vocations may return to strength and the Church be given the shepherds God has already sent us, but the wolves have devoured.

+ + +

Of course, I am succeeding (but not replacing) the inestimable Mr. James K. Fitzpatrick for the First Teachers column. Please feel free to send any correspondence for First Teachers to Shaun Kenney, c/o First Teachers, 5289 Venable Road, Kents Store, VA 23084 — or if it is easier, simply send me an e-mail with First Teachers in the subject line to: svk2cr@virginia.edu

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