|The World Meeting|
of Families Targeted
In my last posting I mentioned how the Krazies have turned on their one-time champion, Cardinal William Levada whom Pope Benedict had appointed to succeed him as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when he (Benedict) was elected Pope. Levada headed the failed witch-hunt against the American nuns who are member of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The Cardinal was recently arrested for a DUI in Hawaii and it set the Krazy’s blogosphere alight with all sort of insinuations about a darker side to the Cardinal’s behavior. Frankly it is a mess but the Krazies, far from having compassion for one of their own, have been feasting on Levada’s blood with an enthusiasm you would have thought they would have reserved for Cardinal Mahoney or Archbishop Cupich or even their arch-nemesis, Pope Frank.
And now they are moving on to a second course in their ghoulish cannibalistic banquet going after none other than Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia. Led by media wolves Michael Hichborn of “The Lepanto Institute” and Michael Voris of “Church Militant TV,” the pack is turning to feed on Chaput and the upcoming World Meeting of Families held in Chaput’s See City of Philadelphia this September.
Poor Charles Chaput doesn’t deserve this; His Excellency (an ironic title) is the personification of the Episcopal mediocrity with which the Catholic Church in the United States was blessed under the papacies of Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. In his days as Archbishop of Denver, Chaput had a tendency to walk the same political line as Cardinal Raymond Burke though he eschews Burke’s love of buttons and bows when it comes to matters liturgical. Back in 2004 Chaput was quoted in the New York Times as saying that it was a serious sin for Catholics to vote for John Kerry because of the pro-choice plank in the Democratic Party platform. He supported Burke’s position that Catholic politicians who vote for pro-choice legislation should be denied Holy Communion. He also said that Catholics themselves who vote for pro-choice politicians “need to go to confession” before receiving Holy Communion. As Archbishop of Denver he also supported a Catholic school that refused to re-enroll the two children of a same-sex couple, though he had no problems with children of divorced and remarried couples attending Catholic Schools. He also does not believe that same-sex couples can love their children to the same degree that mixed-sex couples can.
Archbishop Chaput also brought the Neo-Catechumenal Way to Denver while Archbishop there, and opened a newly reorganized seminary for the Neo-Catechumenal students as well as for vocations from his own Archdiocese. It has a reputation for insularism, never a good sign in educational circles.
Since moving to Philadelphia, Archbishop Chaput has taken a considerably less provocative stand in pastoral matters. Most likely it doesn’t represent a conversion of heart as much as a change in the wind. On the other hand, Philadelphia has a long tradition of being among the most conservative dioceses in the United States and seems to be a good match for Archbishop Chaput’s style. He can just hold the course—he doesn’t have to make waves.
The upcoming World Meeting of Families is providing a bit of a challenge however. First of all, the highlight of the meeting is the visit of Pope Francis. Francis’ understanding of the Family is somewhat more open than Archbishop Chaput’s, and this meeting really isn’t the Archbishop’s. Secondly, a Papal Visit is a pastoral visit but it is also far more. The Pope’s position not only as a world leader but also as a Head of State complicates things immensely.
Protocol of the Papal Visit demands participation of civic officials. Governor Wolfe (an Episcopalian) and Mayor Nutter (a Baptist—though Catholic school educated) are both Democrats. Both are pro-Choice. Both are pro LGBT rights and supported legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Their appointment as “honorary co-chairs” of the event have infuriated Hichborn and Voris who have rallied the blogosphere’s torch-and-pitchfork gang in furious indignation against Archbishop Chaput. What Hichborn and Voris have not pointed out is that there is a third co-chair, former Governor Tom Corbett, a Catholic and a Republican. It would be unusual for a sitting governor and a sitting mayor not to be the “honorary” chairs of a civic welcome to the Pope. The only thing unusual about this team is the inclusion of a person no longer in office and Mr. Corbett’s inclusion is undoubtedly to balance the team with at least one Catholic and one person who can witness to our core values. Governor Corbett will do that but, as he is a gentleman, will probably do so without leaving a trail of blood. That always disappoints the krazies.
Hichborn and Co. have gone on to slam the rest of the welcoming team, the Executive Board, which—unlike the “Honorary” folk—actually do the work. The co-chairs of the executive committee include David L Cohen and Brian Roberts. What is their sin in the eyes of their eminent critics Voris and Hichborn? Well, for one they’re Jews. Imagine that. What would Saint Peter say if some Jews came out to meet him? “Shalom,” I would guess. Jesus was a Jew—though, as one krazy in my parish keeps reminding me “He’s a good Catholic now.” Moreover, Mr. Cohen is on the board of the “racist” Hispanic organization La Raza. (Whenever non-whites get together we can be sure they’re up to racism. There is a long history of People of Color skewing the system to disenfranchise the white folk. You remember affirmative action.) Oh, and he raised 1.2 million dollars for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign; that disqualifies him for sure. And now he supports Hilary—and he gets to meet the Pope? Not fair!!! And he has a history of working well the LGBT community. Mr. Roberts also has a history of creating Gay-friendly environments in the workplace. Both men are married (to women, not to each other) and have children, but that is no qualification for being on the board of a World Meeting of Families. I mean we aren’t talking about Jewish families. We want good old fashioned Catholic families with one man married to one women and all the children you can squeeze into a house. ‘Cause when we talk about families with two mommies or two daddies we say “families,” and this meeting is for families and not for “families.” Capiche?
And then there is Denise Morrison being on the Committee. Ms. Morrison—also married and parent of adult children (and Boston College graduate with the Maiden Name of Sullivan, so probably “one of us”) is the CEO of Campbell Soups and Campbell Soups has run adds showing “families” when we all know that people who eat Campbell’s Soup only belong to families (without the “ “). We don’t want that sort of publicity around of World Meeting of Families. And there is Eric Foss who is President and CEO of Amarack. You remember Amarack; they filed a Amicus Curiae brief favoring same-sex marriage in the recent Supreme Court case. And, in his days at PepsiCo Foss also made it a nice place for gay people to work. I don’t think it was just about gay people, but it did include them.
I had this all written and ready to go, when Michael Hichborn brought up a new problem. The President of the organizing committee is Robert Ciaruffoli. From everything I had been able to find out, Ciaruffoli seemed to be Mr. Squeaky Clean by all public records. But then Mr. Hichborn found that Mr. Ciaruffoli has contributed to a number of campaigns, including that of Vice President Biden, who have supported pro-Choice and LGBT agenda. Ciaruffoli has also, Hichborn tucks away in a subordinate clause where he hopes it won’t be noticed, supported candidates who are pro-life and pro-Traditional Marriage. It never dawns on ideologues—not that Mr. Hichborn is an ideologue but his financial base would be composed heavily of ideologues, that one contributes to campaigns for reasons beyond one’s own narrow views, in this case anti-abortion and anti-same-sex marriage. Most of us good Catholics need to do some anguishing and even soul-twisting when it comes time to write a check or cast a ballot.
To move down a level from the Committee President, in addition to Messers. Cohen and Roberts there are four other co-chairs for the event. And the Executive Leadership Cabinet includes 13 other members beside Ms. Morrison and Mr. Foss. Why didn’t Hichborn find the dirt on the others? Or even tell us there are others who might possibly not have soiled hands. Of course, since God would have spared Sodom for even ten righteous souls, we really don’t want to pay attention to those who might have clean hands and pure heart. It is always embarrassing when we are hurling our fire and brimstone before God decides to show his displeasure.
So what is the problem? The problem is a weltanschauung. That’s a fancy shmancy word for “worldview.” Hichborn and company pander to an audience that buy into exclusivity. “If you don’t do it our way, you can’t be part of the club.” They want this to be, not a World Meeting but a Catholic Meeting as if the Church’s mission is only to its own. There is no concern for those who are not in the Church and, as they see it, in the Church are only those who fit in the cookie-cutter mold of their particular Catholicism. When Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago says that we need to “show mercy to non-traditional families,” they go berserk. Their vision of a World Meeting of Families would be for a convention center filled with mantillaed women and girls in long jumpers and men and boys in grey flannel slacks and white shirts and dark ties where all would spend hours on their knees adoring the Blessed Sacrament in between lectures by Cardinal Burke and Alice von Hildebrand and workshops about achieving holiness in your marriage by renouncing sexual intimacy once one had reached menopause. While I certainly hope that prayer will play a central role in the upcoming Philadelphia meeting, we need to face the realities of life in the twenty-first century and figure out what the Gospel has to say to the Family-in-the-pew and the Family-not-in-the-pew today.
I think what is really sad is that if you read their posts and watch their videos people like Hichborn and Voris are charlatans who have found their niches from which to prey on those who are overwhelmed by the collapse of a world and a culture which had all long taken for granted. When I read the krazies I find—for the most part—older women who want desperately to pass on to their grandchildren a world where all is sure and safe and through which there is a clear, well-illumined and definable path to bring us from the milk and cookies of Grandma’s house today to all being together again forever in God’s house. That path does exist, of course, but it is a path of faith and sometimes dark faith, that takes us through the tangled underbrush of our modern world trusting only in promises yet unseen. It is frightening to many that we live in a world where some families have two daddies and where a child is not safe in the sacristy or in the womb and where “to death do us part” are only empty words, but that is the reality. It doesn’t have to be frightening however if we remember that perfect love casts our fear. For those who love God and love their neighbor this world can be a beautiful place rather than the ruins of a bygone Christendom.