Now did you read the news today
They say the danger’s gone away
But I can see the fire’s still alight
There burning into the night.
– From the classic 80’s band, Genesis
Have you been reading the news? What a few weeks its been.
Most recently there was Cardinal Burke’s
exile removal from the Vatican’s Supreme Court Apostolic Signatura and Roman Curia. The secular press is reporting this as demotion – Burke’s second demotion under Francis (having been removed late last year from the body which selects bishops). Of course those same outlets reported Burke’s ascension to Prefect of the Signatura waaaaay back in 2008 as a demotion too. Remember, then-Archbishop Burke of St. Louis in 2004 publicly denounced Catholic Presidential Candidate John Kerry’s pro-abortion stance and famously announced he’d refuse to give Kerry communion in his diocese. In 2008 as a major election was nearing in this country, with the most pro-abortion candidate in American history about to choose another Catholic politician as his vice presidential running mate, Burke left St. Louis. Secular media and certain partisan Catholic outlets pointed to this as the liberal political operative Pope Benedict XVI removing Burke to Rome so as to not interfere with progress on the American front. As if.
Back to now. Depending on who you read in Catholic Media, Burke’s transfer is a sign that Francis has moved the Catholic Church into the 21st century and Burke’s purging is sign of victory over the “conservatives.” A glorious age will dawn and Man will achieve new heights, all because Burke is gone.
Or… This is a sign that Francis has declared war on the Traditionalists in the Church. The Barque of Peter is sinking, we need to not just bail water, but jump ship. Cling to what’s left floating until we gather enough flotsam and driftwood to build not just a new boat, but a freaking battleship. All because Burke is gone.
I’m confused as to how Burke had that much influence on the Rock upon which the Church was built. I’m confused, is this a good thing or bad thing for the Church?
Confused. As many of my fellow North Dakotans were confused regarding a proposed Constitutional Amendment on Election Day a week and a half ago. The language was simple, “the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.” Somehow this was confused a definition of life-beginning-at-conception, a ban on IVF and contraception, a threat of gulags for women who miscarry, a ban on all advance health care directives… I read a legal analysis offered by the opponents of the measure that said the measure would ban oil and gas production in North Dakota; another article that said it would ban kittens in North Dakota. Seriously. The proponents’ offense turned to defense and the message got confused and, in the wake of confusion, 66% percent of North Dakotans voted against recognizing and protecting the right to life.
Confused. Like Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old woman with terminal brain cancer who, on All Saints Day, decided the best course of action for her and her family was to take a lethal (and legal in Oregon) prescription to end her life. She didn’t want to lose control of her body, so she took her life.
Confused. Like the public response to Brittany Maynard’s death. “God gave her the tumor to punish her.” “No, but she should have suffered courageously because we all have to suffer, instead of being such a coward.” “No, no one should suffer, and we need to allow people to take their lives in these situations.” “Agreed, and she was so courageous in taking her own life.”
Confused. Like the North Dakota Supreme Court who, half a week before Brittany Maynard’s suicide, opined in a 3-2 decision that there exists a fundamental right for a woman to abort her child…up to viability (not sure how a fundamental right can be conditional, but it can be in North Dakota). One of those justices is a Catholic woman. However, due to a technicality in the North Dakota constitution, even though a majority of justices found a (conditional) fundamental right to abortion, our abortion regulations all still stand because only three justices agreed whereas four were needed to agree in order for our abortion laws to have been overturned. Thank Heaven for small mercies.
How about the Synod on the Family? I am still trying to figure out what happened there. The Secular media is no help and doesn’t really care. And the Catholic media is so split along partisan divides, I don’t know if I’m reading opinions or facts and if facts are reported through the hermeneutic of liberalism, conservatism or continuity… Or of confusion.
Its enough to make one wonder if the end is near.
Early last month I was lamenting an episcopal appointment to a prominent post in the American Catholic hierarchy. My friend Aaron agreed with my pessimism, but quickly pointed out that the appointment which I disapproved of had no impact on his or my daily lives nor on our obligations as husbands and fathers. We have enough to worry about in governing our domestic churches, why should we care who Pope Francis appoints to lead the Archdiocese of Wherever?
Last night a different friend sent me Simcha Fisher’s blog post from Tuesday on the latest about Cardinal Burke. Its great. And heavy with sarcasm and, like my buddy Aaron did over a month ago, it puts the hysteria back in perspective. I wasn’t that worked up about Burke, we all knew it was coming, so I have been following the hysteria with detachment and a sense of humor. And it really has no impact on my daily life or my vocation.
But the Right-to-Life defeat, the Supreme Court, my friends and coworkers jumping on the “death with dignity” train, the confusion about the Church’s teaching on marriage??? Then I read today’s Gospel, and the moral of the story: Don’t worry. God’s in control and He’s here already. In the Eucharist, in the Church, in our families. We can look around at signs and worry and fret, but why? “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,” says the Psalmist. Is my help in Cardinal Burke, the electorate, judges, the media, or bishops? Or is it the Lord? Am I making my own problems where they don’t in fact exist? By doing so, do I neglect my own vocation? Or am I getting my hands dirty in tending to my family and work?
Genesis (the band, not the book) captured the paranoia, but also had the prescription:
There’s too many men
Too many people
Making too many problems
And not much love to go round
Can’t you see
This is a land of confusion.
This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we’re given
Use them and let’s start trying
To make it a place worth living in.