A Dream Bishop Rallies His Troops
“As your bishop, I come to you with an apology, a prayer, and a mission. We face a grave threat from the government of the United States, the threat of the most powerful government in the world attempting to force Catholics to participate in actions which both Faith and nature teach us are profoundly immoral. I am referring here to enforced complicity with contraception, including abortifacient contraception, and sterilization.
“But these represent just one aspect of the war that is being waged in our country, led too often by the courts, the legislature, and the policies and bureaucracies of the executive branch of our federal government, against the gift of life, and against the importance to the social order of belief in God and the natural law; yes, even against the very witness of Christ and His Church—a witness that values do not find their sources in the decisions of men, that spiritual good does not originate in the State, and that morality in the service of life is a most precious gift.
“I begin with an apology. For years I have focused our public policy efforts on peripheral issues while politically ignoring our country’s long slide into secularist hostility to Christian principles. I have put my trust in the political values of enemies of the truth, I have enjoyed being the token bishop in their deliberations, and I have cherished the first place at banquets with the rich and powerful. I have played the game, as it is said, and have lusted for recognition as a player at the highest levels.
“Meanwhile, I have neglected the Church. For years, outstanding lay people and exemplary priests, deeply concerned about the decline of Catholic values in both the Church and the culture, have tried to tell me that we needed better preaching, more reverent sacraments, faithful schools, health care that did not compromise Catholic principles, and an insistence on fidelity among clergy, universities, religious communities and even parishes. But I have ignored and even deliberately stonewalled these people, repeatedly dismissing their pleas for help. I took refuge in the various imperfections I found in them. I preferred to blame them for the abrasive specks in their eyes so that I could pretend not to see the log in my own eye (Lk 6:42).
“Thus did I allow the wolves to have their way with the flock! How well did our Lord say of me: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in” (Mt 23:13). I stand before you now, in sackcloth, in ashes, in tears.
“So much that I have sought and defended in these sad days of decline has been but empty air. Yet I failed to see what Scripture itself foretold:
For they sow the wind,
and they shall reap the whirlwind.
The standing grain has no heads,
it shall yield no meal;
if it were to yield,
aliens would devour it. (Hos 8:7)
“Now, my dear faithful Catholics, we are reaping the whirlwind. What little yield we have, aliens have come to devour. And in all of this I acknowledge my own fault.
“But I also have a prayer. My prayer is that God, and you, will forgive me and strengthen me for the reckoning to come. How ironic it is that so many of us, and myself most of all, have allowed our consciences to be dulled! We no longer even perceive how wrong are these actions which the government now forces upon us. Too many of us already approve or even practice voluntarily what the government now demands. Yet how wrong, how horrifying, is the deliberate frustration of the procreative ends of the marital act, which withers our very capacity for love! And how wrong is the taking of innocent life in exchange for our own pleasure and ease!
“I have long taught that these things were wrong, of course, but I have not placed the natural and supernatural requirements of life and family at the center of my ministry. I have not demanded that Catholics deepen their understanding and recommit themselves to what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ in the most important and intimate areas of their lives. Like Our Lord I have enjoyed the company of sinners; but unlike Our Lord I have not called them to conversion.
“And now, to be sure, we are reaping the whirlwind. The time of disdain for Christ is past; the time of active persecution has begun. I had hoped not to see this in my lifetime, yet by my own weakness I have hastened the day. My prayer, once again, is that God will forgive all of us, starting with his bishops, starting even with me, and strengthen our resolve to turn again. For now that we are put to the test, we may yet respond as did Joshua. May God give us one more chance to decide in His favor, even in the midst of these modern Amorites who surround us! For I speak to you now in the words of Joshua of old:
And if you be unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD (Josh 24:15).
“Now to the mission I have come to offer you. I not only pray that you will choose the LORD, but I call you to do so. I call you to stand up as lay members of Christ’s faithful, as stalwart sons and daughters of the Church—to awaken and to use all of your votes and all of your political influence to reverse this horrendous course of our government, this war against nature, this violation of the Christian conscience, this denial of the rights of both God and man. And I call you not to this one battle only, but to be relentless in your witness to the truth and in transforming our culture into a culture of life.
“I call you to rededicate yourselves to Christ and His Church, to begin anew your proper vocation of transforming the world and renewing the whole secular order in Christ. I call you to be signs of contradiction to the world, and to demonstrate with your courage, your love, your lives that “there is a God in Israel” (1 Sam 17:46)—that there is a God in the Catholic Church.
“Rally, my people. Rally and rise! To me, Catholics! In God's name, I am your priest, and in His name I am both a prophet and a king. To me, then—to your bishop—and so to Our Lord Jesus Christ!”
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Posted by: bnewman -
Feb. 06, 2012 10:45 PM ET USA
Yes Bishops should lead, and they have'nt done too well in recent years. But this is America....the pro-abortion crowd do not wait for bishops to lead them and they seem do very well.If Catholic Institutions break the law they will face ruinous fines. If they concede,and forget about conscience, next year there will be yet more demands and bigger demands on conscience,until they are no different from secular institutions.Forget about bishops: is that OK with American lay people? Maybe so.
Posted by: Baseballbuddy -
Feb. 05, 2012 9:11 PM ET USA
While I mostly agree with you, Dr. Mirus, let us remember that Dr. Martin Luther King was willing to risk arrest and jail for what he believed. If our bishops are not willing to risk that, why should I? A shepherd leads his flock; he does not call them to rally. We, the trying-to-be-faithful in the laity suffer the consequences of the bishops' lack of resolve. If they lead the charge on this, they will elicit nothing but admiration.
Posted by: Francis -
Feb. 05, 2012 10:46 AM ET USA
My utter joy and amazement at reading this wonderful letter was followed by my profound sadness upon realizing that it came not from a bishop but from the pen of a courageous, insightful and inspired lay leader -- Dr. Jeff Mirus. Please send the letter to your bishop and let us know how he responds. Very, very well done. Thank you!
Posted by: FredC -
Feb. 05, 2012 10:23 AM ET USA
We need leaders to lead the opposition to the mandate, to organize, with the strong backing of the bishops. The faithful must be told how to oppose the mandate. We need a "Catholic vote." I recommend www.CatholicVote.org as a good avenue, but it is not sufficient.
Posted by: koinonia -
Feb. 05, 2012 8:01 AM ET USA
"...there is no longer any distinction between what is real and imaginary, what is good and evil, what is the result of our faith and what is the fruit of some ideology, AB Fisichella declared. Why is it, he asked, that the West is increasingly showing signs of a widespread foolishness...In the Christian view hope is not the fruit of man's discovery, but of a full, total and gratuitous act of the love of God, which consists in the call to salvation through participation in his very life." Nice.
Posted by: AgnesDay -
Feb. 04, 2012 2:29 PM ET USA
Or perhaps the Dream Bishop could say: I herewith tender my resignation to the Holy Father, and rather than strain your credibility by leading you unworthily, I will enter St. Elsewhere's monastery, fasting and praying for the success of your new leader. Even less likely?
Posted by: impossible -
Feb. 04, 2012 1:18 PM ET USA
Does anyone see the similarity between what the USCCB has wrought and the Frankenstein story? Maybe it's high time they take "Him" off of their life support system - DUH!!! Not everyone who cries, "Lord, Lord, ....." They need to publicly repent, privately confess their sins and make a firm purpose of amendment to replace the whining with honest-to-God (and Man) words and actions. Please, please Jeff do the much needed Dream Bishop sequel.
Posted by: filioque -
Feb. 04, 2012 2:55 AM ET USA
Beautifully done. Thank you.
Posted by: mdepietro -
Feb. 03, 2012 11:54 PM ET USA
Sigh... It would be nice to see something like this, but I will not hold my breath. This action of Obama to force contraception down the throat of the Church was predictable. We will know the Bishops mean business when the mealy mouth document "Faithful Citizenship" is replaced by the bishops proclamation that support for Democrats under these circumstances is sinful, and when all the Catholics, including Sec.Sebelius and VP Biden, who cooperate in the enforcement of this edict are excomunicated
Posted by: jimboland2488830 -
Feb. 03, 2012 10:19 PM ET USA
Great letter! And who is the Bishop making the rally cry?
Posted by: impossible -
Feb. 03, 2012 9:59 PM ET USA
Too bad the "Dream Bishop" didn't publicly apologize and repent for having voted for the misleading Faithful Citizenship documents issued over the years. Maybe this Dream Bishop might issue a sequel in which he not only does that but also sets forth a clear direction for Catholic voters in which he clearly sets forth the principle of proportionate reasons and its necessary application for moral Catholic voting. I look forward to the sequel. PLEASE!
Posted by: Chestertonian -
Feb. 03, 2012 9:17 PM ET USA
Excellent! Also appropos to our current crisis, Jesus meeting the weeping women: '"Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, 'Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.' At that time people will say to the mountains, 'Fall upon us!' and to the hills, 'Cover us!'for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?"'
Posted by: Lahrye -
Feb. 03, 2012 8:39 PM ET USA
This is directed to all Catholics to step forward and share the Yoke to defend our Faith and Mother Church! This can not just be overlooked but taken to heart and bear our responsibility with faith!