By Charlie Johnston
In Italian, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s last name means “lionhearted.” Man, is he living up to his name! Right from the belly of the beast he is standing fast against those who are not content to demand tolerance for people who live sexual disorder contrary to Christian faith, but insist that all must bow down in worship of active homosexuality and call it a positive good.
Archbishop Cordileone’s secular sin was that he re-emphasized the simple rule that the Catholic High Schools in the Archdiocese must consistently teach and be informed by Catholic doctrine. This meant, among other things, that the teachings on marriage as a sacrament between a man and a woman must be candidly proclaimed. In a more rational time, this would have been regarded as the uncontroversial, even rather timid, decree that it is. Homosexuals are not banned from teaching positions; there is no morals clause. Rather, they simply must accurately and faithfully teach what the Church teaches on matters of faith in all public capacities. Thus, you cannot be a San Francisco Catholic High School teacher and, in your private time, lead a public crusade against the Church’s teaching.
All the forces of the anti-Christian media-government complex have swooped into to savage the Archbishop for taking this stand, even bringing a prominent public relations gunslinger to manage the smear effort to oust him, so that Catholic schools may safely teach that homosexuality is the coolest thing ever and murdering your babies is a glorious right.
But this lionhearted Archbishop is having none of it. A gentle, tolerant man, he is yet determined that he will faithfully safeguard the faith at all costs and transmit it with fidelity to those given into his care. He is a hero for our times.
Alas, our Bishops are an inconsistent lot. In America, while individual Bishops are occasionally marvelously courageous, as a group they have pretty consistently been all too eager to play the easy mark for predatory secular officials who talk pretty to them. They are more like the preacher’s gullible daughter than the faithful preacher. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), by imperial decree, took control of the Internet. There was no law passed by the Congress or signed by the president – just a decree issued by this department of the executive branch. When such a federal commission, which is an agent of the president, promulgates new rules, there is supposed to be a period of several months in which those rules may be studied and commented upon by the public. The FCC has still not even bothered to reveal what, exactly, is in the rules, much less concerned itself with what their putative bosses, the people, think about them. They don’t need no stinking public input in how they will rule our lives.
Right on cue, Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the U.S. Bishops Committee on Communication, stepped forward to gush over how the FCC’s still undisclosed rule will protect freedom of speech on the Internet. I have criticized committees of American Bishops in the past for boldly proclaiming positions on public policy without bothering to find out exactly what they are talking about. In this case it is literally true, for NO ONE except the commissioners – and perhaps the president and his designees – knows what the new rules are, only that the government has taken over.
But Bishop Wester, being the shrewd strategic thinker he must be, apparently thinks that if it is being done by the same people who use the language of tolerance to force Catholic Social Services in some states out of the adoption business, to persecute people who stay true to their faith, fining and trying to take their homes and businesses from them; the same people who used a health care law to try to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide abortion coverage; hey what could go wrong? They say they are going to protect our rights – and Bishop John (call me Neville) Wester takes them at their word.
I know the progression of how things work. First, the FCC will try to anesthetize both Congressional opponents and citizen activists by showing they really aren’t going to regulate content at all. That should not be too hard to accomplish with Congress. When it comes to defending our rights, Congressional Republicans have been as aggressive as a eunuch in a brothel. The initial benign face suits the FCC’s purposes, for the first order of business is to use it as a new revenue source and tax the snot out of it. That process will raise costs, first slowly, then dramatically, as it saps access and destroys innovation. Then the government will promulgate registration rules – no regulation, you understand, just register your site. Maybe you will eventually have to get a license to operate a website…no big deal, they won’t tell you what to say, just get licensed like a beautician or a plumber, to protect the public. Finally, after the tax and regulatory controls are firmly in place and people have gotten used to the bureaucratic regime, then Bishop Wester, you will find that defending life or marriage, or promulgating any Magisterial doctrine that runs afoul of your masters in the government, will be defined as hate speech and banned. That is the protection you will get. Those who mount their assault on freedom well know that the danger to their schemes comes not from Republicans, but from the faithful – and the longer they can gull leaders of the faith, the more fully they can get the architecture of tyranny completed. Then it won’t matter what the leaders of faith say. In the build-up, it sure would be helpful if we had fewer Bishops like Wester who so eagerly want to play the role of Neville Chamberlain in this unfolding drama and more like Cordileone who would rather play Winston Churchill.
Fortunately, the forces of darkness will not have time to fully carry out their oppressive plans. I have already said I will not participate with any of it, even the early seeming benign stages. I will not register, I will not respond to any government inquiries, I will pay no fines, I will not go to court to defend myself on what is my God-given right as an American. If it gets far enough along that the bureaucrats have started taking control of individual websites, they will simply have to leave me alone, arrest me, or take the website down by force. So if I suddenly stop publishing and the website is gone at some point, you know what happened. Don’t worry. Whatever victory they gain will be short-lived. I’ll be back.
We are seeing a great division throughout the world into two cities. On one side is the City of God. On the other is the City of Government, of the imperial bureaucrats. The latter has nothing to do with God and is actively trying to pull Him from His heavenly throne. You must choose which City holds your allegiance. There is no place of neutrality. Recently, the remarkable Msgr. Charles Pope wrote a column in which he encouraged Priests to “man up.” It is solid advice for Bishops as well. We cannot negotiate our way out of this crisis with the anti-Christian forces of darkness. The only way to peace this time is through war – and the more vigorously you prosecute the spiritual war, the less costly will be the physical toll of the later crash. Man up.