Catholic Bishops and Grave Responsibilities

June 3, 2014 - 4:43 PM
Catholic clergy must lead their flock, must not turn a blind eye to the tenets of the faith. They must stand up when an injustice is done and show the great power of Our Lord. Is this being done today?

Many pro-lifers expressed their shock when reading about the May 19, 2014, commencement speaker at Boston College---an allegedly Catholic institution. These concerns were expressed because that speaker was none other than Secretary of State and pro-abortion Catholic John Kerry.

Prior to the event, the college announced that the speech would be followed with an honorary Doctor of Law degree for Kerry.

To make matters worse, pro-lifers were concerned because the Archdiocese of Boston's cardinal, Sean O'Malley, had not said a word of criticism about this invitation, nor had he intervened urging the college to cancel the invitation and the planned award for Kerry.

The official Archdiocese of Boston website did not carry a statement from the cardinal on the commencement or the presence of the pro-abortion secretary, but it does present a statement on the previously scheduled Black Mass at Harvard---an equally heinous offense to God and his church.

The Black Mass was cancelled due to public outrage. Kerry was not cancelled.

So the question is this: Why wouldn't the cardinal say something condemning this? News reports indicated that the Boston area Catholic Action League had publicly asked the cardinal to, at the very least, announce publicly that he would not attend the commencement.

The League quoted the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' statement which says: "The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors, or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."

The members repeatedly requested action from the cardinal. In the end, these appeals fell on deaf ears.

In the aftermath, one Catholic priest wrote me expressing concerns about this very sad chain of events. He said that, based on St. John Paul's statement after a 1991 Consistory of Cardinals, there was a crucial need to act when such things occur at Catholic institutions. St. John Paul was asked by the cardinals to say something about the "slaughter of innocents" throughout the world.

In response to the request, the Holy Father wrote this 1991 "Letter to the Bishops of the World," saying, "A source of particular concern, however, is the fact that people's moral conscience appears frighteningly confused and they find it increasingly difficult to perceive the clear and definite distinction between good and evil in matters concerning the fundamental value of human life."

He continued his message to bishops:

Having meditated and prayed to the Lord, I decided to write to you personally, my dear brother bishop, in order to share with you the concern caused by this major problem, and above all in order to ask your help and cooperation, in a spirit of episcopal collegiality, in facing the serious challenge constituted by the present threats and attacks against human life.

All of us, as pastors of the Lord's flock, have a grave responsibility to promote respect for human life in our dioceses. In addition to making public declarations at every opportunity, we must exercise particular vigilance with regard to the teaching being given in our seminaries and in Catholic schools and universities.

Through the coordinated action of all the bishops and the renewed pastoral commitment which will result, the Church intends to contribute, through the civilization of truth and love, to an ever fuller and more radical establishment of that "culture of life" which constitutes the essential prerequisite for the humanization of our society.

And so we pray for Cardinal Sean O'Malley and his brother bishops. We ask each of them to heed the profound words written by St. John Paul II. As we strive to create that "culture of life" in our nation and our world, we need the type of moral leadership that shines a light in the darkness and courageously fights against evil at every turn.