#Archbishop Cordileone

Reveling While Gomorrah Burns

“There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction … Bold and willful, they are not afraid to revile the glorious ones …”

—2 Peter 2:1, 10

“It’s no wonder the faithful have lost confidence in the bishops, because so many of them did such a horrible job on the scandal and still to this day don’t say anything about the worst miscreants. Oh, but they sure will get all over a priest—instantly—who simply speaks the truth.” 

—Fr. James Altman

Today, ash rained down all around me while I pumped my gas. The sky was pea green. Yesterday, it was orange. I could not see the sun either day. Fires have been blazing around the vicinity of my San Francisco Bay Area home for weeks, and the level of smoke and debris in the air has hit critical mass.

While I hunkered under the scant shelter provided by the awning over the gas pump, the people around me went on about their business as though the veritable brimstone falling from the sky were a mere drizzle of rain. An SUV plastered in bumper stickers advertising the homosexual proclivities of its discordantly singing driver tore across the parking lot. Meanwhile, another driver piled out of a car blaring obscene rap music wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with a borderline-pornographic image—in full view of the children sitting in the back seat of the adjacent vehicle.

Is this how people behaved while Sodom and Gomorrah burned? I wondered. 

After everything that’s happened this year, you’d think people would give more sober consideration to the Last Things—that they’d be at least a bit more concerned with making sure the eternal destinations stamped on their souls’ tickets were of a beatific nature. But all evidence suggests otherwise. Here in Gomorrah, even as we drown in ash and choke on smoke from the fires raging all around us, we’re still reveling in our sins, thumbing our noses at God, and castigating anyone who refrains from joining in the libertine fray. 

Worse yet, we’re being egged on by the very “shepherds” who should be correcting our errors. Here in San Francisco, Catholic Charities was busy promoting “gay pride” throughout the month of June. Our Archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone, is chairman of the board of directors of that organization. The selfsame Archbishop has turned a blind eye to the scandalous antics of the notoriously pro-LGBTQ Most Holy Redeemer parish—which did a “gay” version of the Stations of the Cross this past Lent—for his entire tenure, despite numerous complaints from the laity (including me). Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., Archbishop Wilton Gregory publicly prayed for God to “bless those who take to our streets to protest injustice”—effectively endorsing the recent riots. And while forest fires blazed, the Pope himself was preaching his pet gospel of “climate change” rather than the gospel of Christ. 

The few priests who have the courage to address, and attempt to correct, our iniquities are immediately dogpiled by their viper “brethren” for being “uncharitable” or “divisive.” I’m thinking of Fr. James Altman, who had the audacity to state the simple fact that one cannot simultaneously be a faithful Catholic and vote for a political party that is drunk on the blood of aborted babies. He also had the courage to call out two specific DNC darlings who happen to wear collars—pro-LGBTQ Fr. James Martin, SJ—who once tweeted “art” portraying Jesus as homosexual—and left-wing mouthpiece Archbishop Wilton Gregory. 

Fr. Altman’s words ignited a firestorm. The laity lit up social media with both outrage and support. Fr. James Martin, never one to sit on his hands, tweeted several none-too-subtle responses regurgitating that worn-out line of equivocal, empty verbiage every “Catholic” Democrat spouts for self-absolution: voting-is-a-matter-of-conscience-blah-blah-blah. He also, by his own back-handed admission, advised people to complain to Fr. Altman’s bishop:

Apparently many people took Fr. Martin’s advice, and it didn’t take long before Bishop Callahan issued a very public bit of “private” fraternal correction, with the threat of canonical penalties if Fr. Altman doesn’t fall into line—thus proving exactly what Fr. Altman alleged in his now-infamous homily: any priest who speaks truth is badgered into silence by the hierarchy.

The truths spoken by Fr. Altman—that one cannot simultaneously serve the God of Life and the Party of Death; that the left-wing agenda is contrary to the teachings of the Church—are actually no-brainers that we should be hearing from every priest, bishop, cardinal, and yes, even the Pope. But this is far from the case, and one need do no more than follow the money to find out why. The DNC funnels billions of dollars to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops; the Obama administration alone was a $1.6 billion cash cow for the USCCB. After all, their lifestyles are expensive—and that money’s gotta come from somewhere. I mean, have you seen the places these guys live in?

Here’s Cardinal Dolan’s house:

And how about the Archbishop of Chicago?

It seems even the “modest” ones are pretty darn posh. This one sold for a mere $1.2 million:

Of course the hierarchy is invested in preserving the status quo, at best, and in promoting the leftist agenda at worst—it’s paying off for them, big time. To call their flocks to repentance would require them to rectify their own iniquities—which, as we’ve learned from the endless scandals of recent years, are legion—or else face inevitable charges of hypocrisy from their flocks. They don’t want us to change because they don’t want to change. The more debauched society becomes, the more debauched they can get away with being.

Even as Gomorrah burns, they are reveling in their depravity, encouraging us to do the same, and attempting to silence all dissent.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

That time is here. But God will not be mocked. To whom will you listen?

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On Bishops and Bellyachers

I was in the grocery store when I snapped. It was two months into lockdown. As an immune-compromised person, I’d begun my Coronavirus journey cautiously—staying in, and wearing an N-95 mask if I had to go out. My roommate had been shopping for the items we were unable to get delivered. So it’d been some time since I’d experienced the outside world, and the transformation was jolting.

Perhaps it was the decimated dairy case—particularly perplexing because I’d read that many dairy farmers had dumped their milk for lack of demand. We, however, were clearly suffering from an acute lack of supply. Perhaps it was the purchase limits on other items I knew farmers were being forced to trash due to an alleged drop in demand—like potatoes. Perhaps it was the one-way aisles and big red Xs taped to the floor in the checkout line at designated standing positions, making me feel like so much herded cattle. Perhaps it was the saran wrap over the keypad on the card reader—as if customers wouldn’t touch it just as often as they would’ve touched bare buttons; as if saran wrap were self-sanitizing. Or perhaps it was the flip-flop on single-use plastic bags. The San Francisco area municipalities deemed them a grave environmental evil and banned them several years ago–but now they’ve done a 180: reusable bags are now the public nuisance because they might spread the virus, and single-use plastic has been restored to a-okay status.

It might’ve been any one of those things that ruptured the shackles of my complacency; more likely it was the accumulation of all that nonsense in addition to the stupidity and government overreach I’d been reading about in other regions. At any rate, the real enemy had revealed its monstrous face, and it wasn’t a virus: it was the renunciation of reason and the fetishization of fear. It was the mad dash toward despotism being made in the name of safety. I’d seen the enemy, and I’d made up my mind to wage war against it, even if I went to jail or caught my death of COVID-19—or both—in the process.

I fear life amidst tyranny more than death of any kind.

So when I heard about the Liberty Fest rally at the California State Capitol on the 23rd, there was no question about my attendance. As a Catholic, I felt it was imperative to protest the closure of churches, and as a writer, I felt it was important to bear witness.

I’d read that there’d been arrests at previous protests, so I made preparations for that possibility. I coached my roommate on what to do if she received my call from jail, and gave her my father’s phone number in case she needed to raise bail. I then contacted my dad, who is sympathetic and supportive, and advised him that if my roommate called, he could rest assured that I hadn’t broken any Constitutionally valid laws. 

Then I set out for the Capitol.

What I found there was nothing short of exhilarating. It was a little slice of normal—the old normal, the real normal. A tiny island of nerve and pluck in a seething ocean of worry and panic. A party at a funeral. The mood was positive, excited, energized. And the crowd was diverse. Although some leftist outlets have chosen to focus their reporting on the presence of “extremist groups,” I saw nothing of the kind as I circulated through the crowd. 

I did see families and individuals of all races, tattooed bikers both male and female, beautiful Latinas dressed like 1950’s pin-up girls, dark-suited pastors, military members in uniform, a blue-haired religious liberty protestor, a hippie drum circle, and a man in a Guy Fawkes mask.

The majority of the people were like me—there to protest the closure of churches. I’d estimate that 65% of the homemade signs were religious liberty-related. I decided to talk to these people. 

I spoke to countless Christians from all over California. I spoke to Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, and other mainline Protestants. Outnumbering them were the Evangelicals—they came from so many different churches, it made my head spin.

But out of all those names and faces, two stand out: Emma Gonzales and her daughter, Donna Estrada.

What makes these two ladies special? They’re the only Catholics I met. Of the countless Christians I spoke to, only these two shared my particular faith.  

They seemed surprised to meet a fellow Catholic. They’d attended every lockdown protest at the Capitol, in spite of the great distance from their home in Southern California. At the previous rally, they’d brought a bundle of rosaries Emma had made to give away for free. They’d had only one taker—just one person was willing to accept a free rosary. This explained why they were surprised to meet me; they had not encountered any other Catholics to speak of in their previous protests.

I was shocked. I expected more. I expected better. I’d spent I don’t even know how many hours on social media reading Catholic-penned posts complaining about the closure of our churches and the failure of our bishops to do anything about it. But when an opportunity for action had presented itself, those same “fed up” people had chosen to stay on the bench and let others play the game.

I couldn’t help but think about our local bishops and their lack of decisive action. I live across the street from a Catholic church, and within the pages of their bulletin, I’d seen several updates about the bishops’ alleged actions to promote re-opening our churches. These updates were generally trite and empty assurances that our leaders were leading, but were occasionally slaps in the face to anyone reading between the lines, such as this quote from Bishop Michael Barber in a recent parish email:

When I was interviewed by KGO Channel 7 and KTVU Channel 2, I made the point that if churches follow the same safety protocols as Safeway or Home Depot or the tattoo parlor, why can’t we reopen?  I think it is reasonable and absolutely necessary we follow safety procedures.  It is not reasonable, and it is a violation of our religious freedom, if the government tells us we cannot reopen “because we are a church”.  As a diocese, we have voluntarily closed our churches for worship.  Nevertheless, I declined to sign the petition to reopen on Pentecost.

He might as well have said, “I’m putting on a tough face for the press, but when the cameras stop rolling and it’s time to actually do something, I won’t, even though I know it’s ridiculous to assert that an abortion clinic is safer than the house of God. Oh, and in case you forgot, I’m responsible for squelching the Mass—I did this voluntarily.” 

Then there’s San Francisco’s ironically named Archbishop Cordileone, who recently wrote

I am also well aware of the spiritual distress that so many of our people are experiencing due to the unavailability of attending Mass in person.  I therefore wish to send you this communication to update you on steps we are taking to reopen for public Mass here in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. 

The thing is, his “communication” says little to nothing about any concrete steps toward re-opening. It’s just mumbo jumbo about how he’s “been joining brother bishops in California for our weekly videoconference meetings to discuss the current situation”; how he’s “consulted with top experts in the fields of health care and epidemiology”; and his “form[ing] a committee of pastors and lay people to draft safety protocols.” The whole thing sounds like a bureaucratic shell game designed to distract the laity into thinking Big Things are being done, while in reality the action being taken is Big Fat Nothing. His Excellency can (and probably will) natter away with the other feckless California bishops and so-called “experts” for weeks, or even months; he can draft more safety protocols than there are commandments in the old law–and none of that will actually restore the Mass to a single starving soul.

But ensuring his flock is properly fed is actually very simple–he need do but one small thing which requires no input or approval from anyone else. All he has to do is tell our priests to go back to work.

Adding to the absurdity of both bishops’ stances is the fact that they have kept churches open for private prayer. Apparently that’s safe, but Mass isn’t. The people sit in the same pews. They breathe the same air. They pray to the same God. And they take the same safety precautions that could be taken if Mass were to be offered. But one is kosher while the other is verboten. This makes absolutely no sense unless the Liturgy itself is somehow virulent. 

Perhaps that’s what the bishops privately believe. 

Both bishops take great pains to emphasize their cooperation with state and local authorities, including Governor Newsom. Bishop Barber writes on the Oakland Diocese’s website that “the Catholic bishops of California are working with the Governor’s Office.” And Abp. Cordileone states that, when it comes to the resumption of public Masses, “We all agree that we should do this in sync with government regulations.” 

In a state like California—which has all but declared open war on Catholicism—working with the political leaders and following regulations is like pushing the self-destruct button. In a battle to save your life, you cannot “work with” someone who wants you dead. To trust such a person to consider your best interests—to count on them to help you survive—is not only naive, it’s suicidal.

And the fruits of the bishops’ efforts to “work with” the state government—California’s guidelines for re-opening churches—reveal this in spades. The government is attempting to regulate virtually every aspect of our worship, down to the manner in which we receive Holy Communion. And they’re attempting to prohibit the cornerstone of the Eastern Catholic Liturgy, without which there can be no service whatsoever—singing.

So much for “working with” the authorities.

If our bishops really had our spiritual health in mind—if they really were lionhearted—they would’ve followed the example of Minnesota’s bishops and re-opened our churches in defiance of Newsom’s stay-at-home order. There’s no reason why limiting attendance and social distancing couldn’t keep people equally safe at Mass as the identical provisions have for in-church private prayer. It raises the obvious question: why don’t our bishops want us to go to Mass? There’s no possible answer that isn’t either frightening, disgusting, infuriating, or some combination thereof.

I’m reminded of the adage I’ve heard the parish old timers use often: We get the leaders we deserve. My experience at the Capitol affirmed this. Are you a discontented Catholic, angry that we have complacent cowards at best, and criminal perverts at worst, as bishops? Then stop acting like a complacent coward yourself. Stop bellyaching on Facebook about how bad things are and start working to make them better. Get out of your comfort zone and into the battle zone–we’re not called the Church Militant for nothing.

If you’re not willing to make sacrifices to save and sanctify your Church, don’t be surprised when your Church is the thing being sacrificed.

We are all, collectively, the Body of Christ. While you sit on your La-Z-Boy hiding behind whiny tweets, the rest of us can accomplish nothing. The fingertips may wish to move forward, but if the other parts are too indolent and fearful to budge, the entire body languishes. So quit assuming someone else will solve our crisis; the hierarchy is a pack of wolves, and your fellow laypeople are as lazy as you are. Stand up already, and awaken your snoozing Catholic friends, too. 

The time to act is now. And the right person for the job is you.

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