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In August… Bell Tolls For Newsworthy Figures, Church Authority, And GOP Credibility

September 8, 2018 Frontpage No Comments


PHOENIX — Deaths and denunciations crowded in within hours as establishments quaked in late August.
Sen. John McCain, 81, expired of aggressive brain cancer at his ranch near Sedona, Ariz., on August 25, the same Saturday that a lengthy letter released from former Vatican nuncio to the United States Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò dropped a bombshell alleging tolerance of sex-abuse corruption in the heart of the Catholic Church. Viganò called for Pope Francis to resign.
Asked for a reaction, the Pope commented, “I won’t say a word about it” and said that journalists should reach a judgment themselves. It hardly seemed an adequate response in such a serious situation.
The Daily Caller site reported that critics of the religiously orthodox Viganò described him with such terms as “crackpot” and “terrorist.”
The New York Times’ non sequitur was: “The willingness of the pope and his allies to reach out to gay Catholics has infuriated conservatives, many of whom, like Viganò, blame homosexuals for the sex-abuse crisis. The pope has argued that the abuse is a symptom of a culture of privilege and imperviousness among priests who value the church’s traditions over its parishioners.”
Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted, like some other prelates in the U.S., soon released a statement calling for a full investigation of Viganò’s accusations.
Olmsted said he had known Viganò for 39 years, beginning when they served together in Vatican City at the Secretariat of State in 1979, and “I have always known and respected him as a man of truthfulness, faith, and integrity.”
In what amounted to a serious challenge to the Pope, the Rome-connected Olmsted added that “I ask that Archbishop Viganò’s testimony be taken seriously by all, and that every claim that he makes be investigated thoroughly. Many innocent people have been seriously harmed by clerics like Archbishop (Theodore) McCarrick; whoever has covered up these shameful acts must be brought to the light of day.”
California pro-lifers had a chance to see Viganò when he spoke at San Francisco’s massive Walk for Life West Coast on a sunny day in January 2015.
A growing number of critics of the Pope have said he tries to change doctrine as it suits him and undermines the Church’s clear message of salvation.
Meanwhile, the body of McCain, a political powerhouse, was taken from his ranch to a Phoenix mortuary on August 25 in a solemn southbound procession illuminated with law officers’ flashing lights that covered just under 100 miles. Services were scheduled for Phoenix, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where he was to be interred.
McCain had attended North Phoenix Baptist Church, where a service was scheduled, close to the spacious home where he had raised his second family on North Central Avenue. Various activities the church had hosted in its meeting rooms over the years included an appearance by saline abortion survivor Gianna Jessen, who told an audience in 2015 that the U.S. is at an “absolutely pivotal” time.
Jessen, whose life is devoted to saving the vulnerable, had said that she hopes to speak with some of the nation’s Founders when she gets to Heaven and say, “I tried to fight for the nation that you gave me….I tried to live, and not make a mockery of your sacrifice.” Those should be the kind of words McCain would appreciate.
Early on the morning following McCain’s death, former bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix Thomas O’Brien died at age 82 on August 26 after suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Like a number of other bishops, O’Brien had formally admitted, in 2003, to concealing sex abuse by priests under his jurisdiction.
Like no other bishop, though, O’Brien had been in the national spotlight for facing the hit-and-run criminal charge of fleeing in his car from a fatal accident after he struck an intoxicated jaywalker after dark. He was convicted in 2004 and sentenced to probation and community service.
O’Brien served as bishop of Phoenix for 21 years, beginning in 1982, until he resigned following the 2003 accident and had the title bishop emeritus.
Olmsted, then the bishop of Wichita, Kans., was appointed to Phoenix to succeed O’Brien.
It’s not that O’Brien was notoriously sinful. He often seemed a passive man with a diocese beyond his control, a characteristic that seemed to afflict various other dioceses, too, as the faith lacked vigorous defenders against an assertively hostile culture that began flexing its animosity in the 1960s.
O’Brien did take a courageous stand in 1999, though, when left-winger Janet Napolitano, then Arizona’s Democrat attorney general, was busy trying to hustle a 14-year-old girl in the custody of Child Protective Services off to Dr. George Tiller’s advanced-pregnancy abortuary in Kansas. She was about 28 weeks pregnant by statutory rape.
The bishop had a letter read in diocesan churches, offering whatever assistance was needed to help the young mom keep her baby. But grim Napolitano pulled every legal somersault possible to procure the permissive abortion — and got away with it.
Arizona pro-life attorney John Jakubczyk later wrote that Napolitano, in order to rush the abortion along, even agreed to an astounding Arizona Supreme Court review of the case by telephone on a Sunday morning without any briefs, written argument or record, and with one of the justices having represented Planned Parenthood in private practice.
One of The Wanderer’s stories on this abortion scandal was in its November 2, 2006, issue, “One of Nation’s ‘Five Best Governors’ Draws Sharp Contrast on Abortion with Napolitano” (p. 7). That “best governor” was Arkansas’ pro-life Mike Huckabee.
Shortly before the two Arizona deaths, conservative-libertarian Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) rattled another establishment by denouncing national Republican Party leaders for blocking his current legislative attempt in the Senate to deprive Planned Parenthood of taxpayer support. quoted Paul on August 23: “Why would Republicans block a vote on defunding Planned Parenthood? It may surprise some. Because so many Republicans go home saying they’re against Planned Parenthood, but this vote could happen right now, right now today if Republicans don’t object. Everybody knows Democrats love abortion and Planned Parenthood more than life itself. But Republicans?”
The conservative news service added: “The ‘dirty little secret,’ the Kentucky Republican alleged, was that the leadership of his own party ‘favors bloated government spending more than they care about Planned Parenthood,’ and fears that attaching defunding to the bill ‘would derail their plans to greatly expand the welfare-warfare state’.”
“Despite the 2016 election delivering the first united Republican government since George W. Bush’s presidency,” said, “pro-life bills such as the 20-week abortion ban, Obamacare repeal, and Planned Parenthood defunding have died in the Senate before reaching President Donald Trump’s desk.
“Pro-abortion GOP Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski have the power to block simple majority votes, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is unwilling to revise the filibuster,” the news service added.
One would think that if the GOP’s establishment-oriented McConnell really cared, he would twist some arms tight, finally to fulfill the Republicans’ recurring futile pledge to defund the abortion giant. Democrat honchos, after all, squeeze arms until they turn blue to hand PP more triumphs.
As the Washington Examiner posted on August 26, even “moderate” Democrat Senators Joe Donnelly, of Indiana, and Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, delivered their votes for tax-funding Planned Parenthood, although a “clear majority of voters in Indiana and West Virginia…believe abortion should be illegal in most cases.”
Under the headline, “Democrats ‘pro-choice’ on abortion? Not a chance,” the Examiner wrote: “Abortion has become the beating heart of the party. This practice, which our civilization proscribed from at least the drafting of the Hippocratic Oath until the passage of the Geneva Conventions, is the adamantine center of the Democrats’ fund-raising apparatus. It is the party’s only non-negotiable tenet….
“To today’s Democrats,” the Examiner said, “abortion is like slavery was to Democrats in 1860: Mere tolerance of the institution is not enough. Saying it should be allowed is inadequate. One must endorse the legitimacy of the institution by making every taxpayer tithe to its chief practitioner.”
In other words, Dem politicians can be corralled into unanimity to slaughter still more millions of preborn babies, but majority Republicans supposedly are helpless to effectively defend the babies’ lives. What a pitiful political party. Or both of them.
One might argue that U.S. Catholic Church passivity on compelling moral issues has ill-served the nation in recent decades, even while bureaucrats of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops pressed for a liberal political agenda.
To recur to Bishop O’Brien’s hit-and-run trial in 2004, the bishop sat stunned and silent at the defense table, just staring ahead, after the guilty verdict was delivered, even though his attorneys sat on either side of him.
As one police officer had testified, O’Brien would have been in no legal trouble for hitting the intoxicated jaywalker, who was where he shouldn’t have been in the middle of the street, if O’Brien only had reported the accident instead of fleeing to his residence and remaining silent.
Even though he was at no fault for causing the accident, the bishop shouldn’t just leave a dying man lying in the road and hope that police would figure out what happened. Another motorist got O’Brien’s license-plate number, which enabled police to trace the car.
After O’Brien was informed by a top aide that police wanted to talk to him, the bishop later said he didn’t know how to get in touch with them. He did, however, know how to get in touch with a secretary at diocesan headquarters to ask that she arrange to have his smashed-in windshield repaired.
Fortunately for justice, the police got to O’Brien at his home first and towed his damaged car away for evidence.
Passivity, evasion of responsibility, trying to cover up. It didn’t work in Phoenix, and it shouldn’t work at Vatican City, no matter who’s behind the wheel, or being taken for a ride in some mini-car to show love for just some of the environment — but not all of what affects the Church’s people.

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