Something Wicked This Way Comes

Bishop Pierre Cauchon interrogates St. Joan of Arc.

Bishop Pierre Cauchon interrogates St. Joan of Arc.

By Charlie Johnston

As you have surely noticed, I am struggling a bit. It is not that there is not enough to write about, but that there is too much, an information overload. In the 60s and 70s there were certain absurdist and political thrillers and farces, both on the big screen and in novels. Catch-22, Dr. Strangelove and Being There were all examples of the genres. They were all written so overly broad that no one was expected to take them seriously, even if they had a serious underlying point.

I have been being prepared for these times all my life and I am still astonished at the furious intensity with which it is all coming down – and the utter absurdity that we are expected to listen to with a straight face. I have talked with several people about how, if you just pull up the Drudge Report at any random moment now, things that used to be highlights in year-end reviews are routine. Shoot, things that are so grotesquely absurd that they would be shockers in a full decade of news are now part of our daily routine. In fact, I’m going to pull up Drudge right now and just pick five or six insane items. (For those of you who don’t know, Drudge does not write original material on the site; he simply provides links to existing stories from various news sites):

USA Caves to Iranian Nuclear Demands

    – This as the president insists he will not bother getting the approval of Congress for a deal – something Constitutionally required.
  • Mid-East in Free Fall – Four Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, have launched war against terrorist Jihadists who have taken over Yemen – which even this week the American administration continues to call its great success.
  • Saudi Arabia Considers Going Nuclear – The deal Pres. Obama insists on doing is so bad Saudi Arabia and Egypt are the first in a coalition of Arab states publicly discussing forming agreements with Israel for mutual protection.

Like I said, this is just taken from some top stories from the screen shot that is up as I write. I haven’t touched on Russia threatening to invade the Baltics. Greece threatening to go belly up and take all of Western Europe with it, Muslims protesting for the right to enforce “Sharia Law” in America, or any of a host of other insanities now taken for granted as the new normal. I keep expecting the late Peter Sellers to come toddling up and a director to yell, “Cut!” (For you youngsters, Peter Sellers was an actor who often played roles in political farces so broadly drawn they were not expected to simulate reality).

My struggle right now is primarily to figure out how to write about things in a way so that the forest does not get lost for the trees. The trees have gotten so unearthly and surreal, it is easy to get caught up gawking at them and lose sight of the big picture in these last moments before complete chaos and, thus, lose sight of how to endure and help others do the same.

Oddly, I got a little calm this afternoon when I stumbled upon an old episode of The Love Boat on television this afternoon. The old series from the mid-70s to the early 80s was a light-as-fluff comedy every week that featured three romantic stories unfolding on a cruise ship. For its time, it could be suggestive, always had a few bikini-clad girls, and characters were frequently up to some scheming mischief. A couple of things struck me on watching an episode for the first time in 30 years. First was how innocent it was. No matter how much the scheming to begin with, the characters assumed that love always trumped lust – and the fundamental search was always for true love and human kindness, which ultimately transformed any schemes. Second was that I was not subjected to any lectures disguised as plot lines on ‘rape culture, white privilege, inter-gender rights, marriage equality,” or other such nonsense that completely occupies the chattering class as the world collapses. The art of a period (particularly the mundane, conventional art – of which TV series are one form) reflect the common mores of that period. It startled me to realize that just 30 years ago, we did not just believe in truth, justice and the American Way: we presumed that was the fundamental answer to most problems. As the world gets darker, we spend much more time screeching about inane things. We are not as honorable a people as even the scamps among us were just over 30 years ago.

I have not been unmoved by the unspeakable scandal that happened in the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey. You have undoubtedly heard of the teacher at a Catholic High School who was fired by the Diocese for posting on her Facebook Page that she believed marriage is the union of one man and one woman, blessed by the Church. It is bad that Christians should be targeted by the government and by activists for trying to live their faith with fidelity, but to have officials of the Church join with the wolves in the attack is shocking. When such a shocking thing occurs, I like to give it a few days, to let people get their sea legs. I have had to do crisis management for a few officials in front of the media, and I know how confused things can get the first few days – and how people can say things they regret.

But when Bishop Paul Bootkoski finally spoke on it, he made it worse. He mutilated the words of Pope Francis to make it seem the teacher had committed an offense rather than his diocese.

Bishop Paul Bootkoski

Bishop Paul Bootkoski

He dissembled, making it seem as if they had not fired her before agreeing they had – and arguing they were right to do so. If her lawyer is telling the truth, at the time he was dissembling, school officials were angrily telling her she would, under no circumstances, be allowed to return. That would mean the Bishop was baldly lying when he first dissembled. Finally, he smeared those who defended the woman as just trying to get media attention. Bishop Bootkoski hit a grand slam of maliciousness here – attacking the faithful, betraying the faith, bearing false witness against Pope Francis, and maliciously smearing any who dared ask for justice.

I did a little research to see if there had been similar instances in the Bishop’s past or whether he had performed any notable service for the faith. I like to get a sense of a man…to see his entire career to get an idea of how much benefit of the doubt there should be. As many recall, I was – and am – a defender of Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Yes, he acted clumsily in dealing with the homosexual movement. Many thought he should have quit the field of New York’s St. Patrick Day Parade. Some made a good case, but others condemned him for not forbidding homosexual entries – not bothering to find out that neither he nor the Catholic Church have ever had control of the parade. His only choice was to march or to abandon it. While sympathizing in some measure with some of his critics, I did not forget that as head of the USCCB, he DID have the steel to hold the line and not buckle under to the administration’s efforts to foist phony “compromises” to force Catholics to swallow the mandatory abortion and contraception portions of Obamacare. It was a sustained effort I have not been accustomed to seeing from the assembled American Bishops. My point is that I am not quick to pile on to one who has shown past fortitude and courage, even if they fumble and stumble a little.

Bishop Bootkoski appears to be a journeyman ecclesial administrator. There is nothing strikingly negative or positive in his previous history. But now a time of decision has come. He made a bad decision to attack the faithful and betray the faith. Given a chance to clarify, he doubled down and smeared both Pope Francis and his critics in the process. His behavior in this matter has been utterly contemptible – and he deserves the contempt of the faithful unless he repents and lives his duty. If not, he must be removed.

I am thinking hard about this. I do not just want to note the wolves who have crawled among us in shepherd’s garb. We have absolutely heroic Bishops – like Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop Emeritus of Chicago, and Bishop Emeritus Rene Gracida of Corpus Christi. I had one good man who should know better speak of leaving the entire Church because of Bishop Bootkoski’s actions, arguing that the Church has betrayed us. The Church most assuredly has not betrayed us, but does it surprise anyone that there are traitors in the ranks? I have spoken, admittedly sometimes obliquely, of this since I started this website. It is not just among the laity that betrayal comes. I have always known that betrayal would come from some among the princes of the Church, just as it has since the beginning. But our faithful Bishops have the right to expect the faithful not just to condemn betrayal, but to support fortitude. All too often we are long on the former and short on the latter. Meanwhile, those of us in the laity have the right to expect our Bishops to defend both the faith and the faithful. The key for both clergy and laity is to stay with the Barque of Peter, defending it from all assaults, both from without and within. To quit your post is not to do what is right, but to abandon the Church in the hour of its greatest need. I will have more to say on this next week. I am gathering names to which letters must be sent, for if this Bishop does not repent of the ill he has done or is not removed from the post he has disgraced, it will be a scandal that will jeopardize the faith and the faithful.

Do not be surprised. This is among the things that must come. Pope Paul VI knew several generations ago that the smoke of satan had infiltrated the Church. There will be more things this year that will shock and dismay all of us. It is not enough to condemn, not enough to despair, not enough to protest. We must act in a way that builds up the faithful, that builds up the Church, and that supports the worthy Shepherds who are standing their post with fidelity. Contrary to what some think, that is the majority…and they will be significantly enervated to see that the faithful will rise with them.

So for now, I consider how to act in a manner that builds up the Church while removing the rotten timber.

About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
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204 Responses to Something Wicked This Way Comes

  1. Jim M. says:

    Another disturbing public outcry against Catholic doctrine that occurred at a Catholic school last year in the Diocese of Charlotte:

    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2014/what-really-happened-at-charlotte-catholic-hs

    The gaystappo was in full force, along with progressive Catholics who objected to a speaker following the Catechism and Church Doctrine.

    Threats of violence against the Sister forced her to cancel future speaking engagements.

    The Bishop in this case remained silent. At least publicly.

    Like

  2. Mick says:

    Charlie, what about this?

    http://www.religionnews.com/2015/03/31/rogue-bishops-announce-resistance-launch-rebel-catholicism/

    In your estimation, is this just a tempest in a teapot, or the start of something major?

    Liked by 1 person

    • charliej373 says:

      Mick, this is something I have been planning to write about in a larger context. It would not entirely surprise me if, before the year is out, we had two anti-popes, one from the ultra-traditionalists and one from the progressives. Bishop against Bishop. I have been trying emphatically to prepare people to stay with the Barque of Peter, because that is what JESUS SAID we are to do. I would not be surprised to see Pope Francis make a major secular blunder sometime during the year, one that would fire those who are given to politically thinking about our faith ammunition to bolster their rebellion. If so, even that will help ultimately clarify what prudential responsibility the Pope and Bishops have and what prudential responsibility the laity has. It is going to get darker and stormier – but I tell you this Pope is the captain appointed by God, Himself, to carry us to safety through this Storm. Keep steady, be deliberate, and hold fast to the Barque of Peter as the Storm gathers force.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Mary Ann says:

        Well, sadly, this Pope spoke material and blatant heresy last week in an official letter to a political body, saying that the death penalty contradicts the divine plan. This is contrary to official Church teaching and to Scripture. Thank God, he did not (nor could he) say that in a formal teaching capacity, but most people don’t know the difference.

        Like

        • charliej373 says:

          Well, I think you overstate your case here a little, Mary Ann. What he said is not Magisterial teaching – and I know that most don’t know the difference – but it is not an opinion forbidden by the Magisterium, either. So it would be error to consider it a Magisterial statement, but it was not heretical – and certainly not blatantly so. His opinion differs little from St. John Paul’s on the matter – only John Paul took care to always note when he spoke it that it was not Magisterial, but something he deeply believed.

          Liked by 1 person

          • malachi99 says:

            It certainly is the case that the overwhelming majority of papal statements on the death penalty demonstrate quite clearly that legitimate authority may have recourse to it. Nevertheless, Pope Francis’ statement on the matter (which I will take your word for Mary) is true in an important sense. He may just as well have said that all death and suffering contradict the divine plan and he would have spoken true.

            Like

          • Mary Ann says:

            It is a postion forbidden by the Council of Trent and by Scripture. John Paul’s position was careful: the death penalty’s legitimacy is part of the magisterium, but the moral application of it is a prudential moral decision contingent on circumstances, and his opinion was that the circumstances of modern life made it unnecessary.

            Like

        • Mary Ann says:

          Two catechisms, Trent and JPII’s, state the moral liceity of the death penalty, and new Catechism specifically states that this is the traditional teaching of the Church.

          Like

          • Mary Ann says:

            I don’t mean to be abrupt, just concise. I can give you references if you like. What I am saying is that it is Church teaching, and that of Scripture, that the death penalty is morally licit. It is Catholic teaching that one may not deny the morality of the death penalty. You can be against it prudentially, but not absolutely. I guess a better way to say it is that one may not claim that the death penalty is intrinsically immoral, contrary to natural law. It can be immoral by circumstance, but the Church teaches that it is not an intrinsic evil.

            Like

          • charliej373 says:

            Mary Ann, I am not arguing with your interpretation of the Magisterium here. But you are solidly intellectual. You know that in court, you can impose the most innocent construction to a statement or the most malicious construction. What I am saying is that you took an uncharacteristically hyperbolic interpretation of Pope Francis’ words and practically shrieked that he is a heretic. Frankly it shocked me, as you are usually so measured and your critiques solid. If you take the route of considering innocent construction, the Pope’s actual words could be interpreted as meaning the need for the death penalty is evil, or that various social factors lead to a great evil in increasing the use of the death penalty. Your interpretation is also a legitimate one for consideration, though the harshest of several possible reasonable constructions…but his statement is not grounds for accusing him of “blatant heresy.” Please, you are one of the top commenters here and when you give me a statement like that, I expect looking up the actual text to justify the heat in your accusation. You say Pope Francis spoke blatant heresy. I say you badly overstated your case. (Fortunately, that is rare…but that is what I saw in this instance).

            Like

          • Mary Ann says:

            Charlie, sorry, I was trying to be studiously literally accurate in saying that his actual words (“the death penalty contradicts the divine plan”) are, in “Catholic talk”, a quite literal expression of heresy. They are “material heresy.” He is saying that the death penalty (not the application or the circumstances, but the death penalty, contradicts the natural law. Now he may not be conversant with Catholic terminology of natural law morality – many educated from the 70’s on are not. He may not intend to contradict the teaching of Church and I would never say that he did intend to contradict it (that would be formal heresy). But already, some theologians are saying that this is proof that settled Catholic teaching can change – not develop, but change. Of course, it is (and nothing can be) proof of no such thing, because he did not say this authoritatively as part of his magisterium, but he did say it “officially” in a letter to a political body.

            Charlie, I was so shocked upon reading his words (and the actual heretical words are not included in many of the news stories) that I could do nothing but be silent and pray for days and days.

            He said:

            ‘“Today the death penalty is inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime of the condemned. It is an offence against the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person that contradicts God’s plan for man and society and His merciful justice, and it impedes fulfilling the just end of the punishments. It does not do justice to the victims, but foments vengeance.” And also “The death penalty is contrary to humanitarian sentiment and to divine mercy which must be the model for human justice. ”

            The only qualifying thing is “today, in one sentence. It does not qualify the absolute statement in the next sentences, which expressly deny various aspects of Church teaching.

            Also it is one thing to say that someone has spoken material heresy, and quite another to say a person IS a heretic. That would be formal heresy, and for the Church to judge or the person to admit of themselves.

            Like

          • charliej373 says:

            All right, Mary Ann. This is the sort of precise parsing I have come to happily expect from you. It was a serious matter the way it was formed, but without the additional precision you offer here, the way your first statement was phrased, I feared it could give ammunition to those who are so bloody eager to declare Francis and “antipope.”

            Like

        • Pawel says:

          Well Luther was right too with his accusations but in the end it turned out he was ultimately wrong just by not being obedient to the Pope and the Magisterium. If Pope Francis is wrong at some points just pray for him, do not accuse him even if you are right. Let’s humble ourselves and keep in mind that God may test us out by having the pope say something new or even erroneous. And let’s remember that human justice does not equal to God’s justice. Mary Ann, do you think 100% out of those who are sentenced to the death penalty are guilty? Probably not.

          Like

          • Mary Ann says:

            I do not accuse him of heresy. I simply say he spoke material heresy. Material means the words are in their sense heretical. Formal heresy is when (is when, Sister always said never to say “is when” in a definition!:)) a person intends heresy knowingly. I do think that it is kind and good to bring material heresy to the attention of those who speak it, because of the dangers to the Church and to souls. And, yes, he can say something erroneous, many popes have. But they will not teach it magisterially. Whether or not 100% are guilty is beside the point. The point is whether the death penalty is intrinsically moral or not. We can outlaw it on the basis of its fallibility, and that would be great, but we can NOT AS CATHOLICS SAY that it is immoral in itself. It’s a bit like pacificism. Allowed but not mandated. We cannot say people may not fight in wars. We can say that people may refuse to fight.

            Like

      • SteveBC says:

        Charlie, back when the Synod was occurring and closing, you really opened my eyes on the issue. I can’t say as I’m particularly looking forward to learning more about this issue, since I would wish it were not to arise. However, since it must apparently do so, your take on the issue will be most helpful, I’m sure.

        Like

      • Mick says:

        Thanks for the wise words, Charlie. Come hell or high water, I pledge my fidelity to the Church and Pope Francis.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mary Ann says:

        and I am so sorry if I gave scandal. I wanted to be careful, and to point out something that could be harmful, and should be a matter for prayer for the Pope.

        Like

      • CrewDog says:

        “NJ Catholic Bishop Won’t Say If He Agrees With Church Teaching on Homosexuality, Marriage”
        http://cnsnews.com/news/article/michael-w-chapman/nj-catholic-bishop-won-t-say-if-he-agrees-church-teaching
        I think it’s important to know what’s “Going-On” in the Church, World and Nation but … if we are indeed in The Storm! …… Don’t let what you have little or no control over disturb and distract from YOUR Mission at YOUR Home, Church and Neighborhood! When the SHTF, what some Bishop in NJ says or what LGBT or godless Socialist Gang that holds sway in DC, Ottawa, Paris or Dublin does won’t matter squat-all!! “Stuff” like the above is just satan and pals doing what they have always done ….. Confuse, Distract and Divide The Flock! There is an old saying from WWII 8th Air Force days that goes something like this: “If you ain’t getting lots of flak, then you ain’t over the target!” Our “Target” is Jesus and Salvation! If you ain’t getting a lot of satan’s flak then get back on “Target”!!

        GOD SAVE ALL HERE!!

        Like

    • SteveBC says:

      Wow, Mick, I had no idea such a thing was going on. How weird.

      Like

  3. Mick says:

    More Christian hostages taken by Muslim terrorists:

    http://hotair.com/archives/2015/04/02/video-al-shabaab-attack-on-college-kills-at-least-15/

    Please pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mick says:

    Addendum to my last post: I was reading the comments section after the article that I just linked to; and one commenter said, “I wonder what the [Muslim terrorist hostage-takers] have planned for Easter.” And a horrible thought went through my mind: What if they’re planning to do mass crucifixions of Christian hostages tomorrow? God help those poor people.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Charlie and Family For some reason I am no longer receiving updates by email. Have I done something wrong? Hit a wrong button? Help!

    God Bless You Joanne Pray the Rosary daily!

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      I guess it is one of the glitches of WordPress…that it sometimes does that. There is nothing I can do on my end to fix it. Some have told me they have just unsubscribed and then re-subscribed. But if you bookmark the page and check it regularly you won’t miss anything.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. CrewDog says:

    From what I read in the “News” it appears that ANTI- Jewish, Christian and Traditional Family Political Correctness has infected the ENTIRE Western World. It took the Nazis and Communists only a few years to impose The Terror and Horror of the 20th Century upon countless millions. Anybody here doubt that the Terror-n-Horror of the 21st Century has begun in earnest!?? Perpetrated by a strange amalgamation of godless Socialists, Radical Islamists and Gay/Abortion/Environmental/Anarchist Activists!
    “Swastikas Scrawled Across Northeastern U. Campus” – Anti-Semitic crimes at Northeastern raise concerns among Jewish leaders
    http://freebeacon.com/issues/swastikas-scrawled-across-northeastern-u-campus/
    GOD SAVE ALL HERE!!

    Like

    • Michelle says:

      I don’t get it. I’ve never known anyone in my life that hated Jews. Where is all this anti-Semitism coming from. Is it being taught in the Universities?

      Like

      • charliej373 says:

        In part, Michelle, it is because in the 70s the Arab world got the brilliant long-term idea of funding Middle Eastern Studies Centers and Departments in American Universities. The idea was to get their point of view enunciated – and in some cases they chose some professors and dictated curricula. Which meant that some phony history was ginned up. But the Arabs of that time could not guess at how deeply corrupt and malleable the American intellectual centers had already become and would become. Over some 40 years, Arab countries have, in fact, “bought” the obeisance of many universities to their ideology – and have succeeded in raising a generation of ignorant, angry blowhards who are now professors and are teaching Jihadist screeds as history. It was a brilliantly successful plan that could not have succeeded except for the massive loss of intellectual integrity on American campuses – even a little would have stopped it.

        But also, in some strange way, the Jewish people have long been the world’s canaries in history’s coal mine. The widespread persecution of Jews is almost always the forerunner of cataclysmic conflict. It is hard for me not to see that as something spiritual, for in Western Europe and now here in leftist America, Jew hating is de rigeur – even among left-wing Jews (whose identity seems to be cultural and ideological rather than religious). It has risen in a malignant way with an astonishing speed that was hard to foresee even 15 years ago.

        Like

        • Michelle says:

          Charlie, it is so evil what you described as to how it happened here in the US. I am glad to know because I don’t like walking around with rose colored glasses. The story always seems to be the same, the loss of intellectual honesty and the willingness to stand up and defend the truth when it’s unpopular to do so. That’s on us. So, I have a question that’s been bothering me for a long time, Charlie. Is God Truth? Is it as simple as that? If you follow all truth, any truth, stand up for whatever the truth is, are you on the narrow road?

          Liked by 1 person

          • charliej373 says:

            You are close, there, I think, Michelle. God is, I think, love – but in actuality, genuine love is always true and genuine truth is always loving. I know some people pride themselves on their brutal honesty – but more often than not, they are more interested in the brutality than the honesty. Facts can be wounding, but even when truth cuts, it prepares for growth and healing.

            Liked by 2 people

      • Barbara Dore says:

        Michelle , I agree with you. My friend said to me, Why so many people hate Jews.? She thinks because Jesus came from the Jewish race. something is connected with it. I was very fond of my jewish neighbour (rip) and her daughter profoundly thanked me for being good to her deceased mother. I was honoured to be asked to attend her funeral which was completely different. I learnt the different culture. Going back to the history, Spain put the jews out of their country or forced some of them to convert to the catholicism. It is noticed that anti semitism gets worse. If they knock at my door and i would save them .

        Like

  7. CrewDog says:

    This should set your Alarm Bells off!! The FBI can’t keep track of all the ISIS Operatives in the USA!! Obama and Administration has done everything in their power to besmirch, hobble and marginalize local police and sheriff’s departments ……. while at the same time refusing to acknowledge the Islamic Worldwide Terrorist Threat ….. and NOT guarding USA Borders …… and giving SPECIAL immigration treatment to people from Terrorist producing countries. It’s nothing less than National Suicide ……….. Europe = Same-Same ….. The Storm cometh!
    “FBI Asks Police to Help Track Threats by Homegrown Terrorists”
    http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/fbi-terrorism-isis-us/2015/05/29/id/647427/
    GOD SAVE ALL HERE!!

    Like

  8. CrewDog says:

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
    To paraphrase The Bard: “Something is rotten in the State of New York”!
    Time to pull our heads out of our …. Ya Know! …. Thanks to “The Establishment” entrenched in Our Church …like our Political Parties ;-( …. the Cover-Up continues and evil continues to fester.
    Does anyone here still not understand the Why of The Storm!!?? The Lord quite simply is going to make us Wake-Up and take Our Church back!

    DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE
    Evil does have its hour — but Truth has its day.
    http://www.churchmilitant.com/video/episode/defending-the-indefensible

    GOD SAVE ALL HERE ……..& MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

    Like

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