By Lisa Fabrizio
I have often written that the reason some folks persist in calling themselves Catholic is to be ready when reporters from the New York Times come to call. Sometimes I think that the Old Gray Lady might someday be the catalyst for many conversions to the faith, should serious thinkers ever meditate on just why the Church is so often in her crosshairs.
The Catholic Church is the largest institution in the world, and probably the oldest still in existence; and as such, her ways have been and still are well known throughout the globe. Why then, must she constantly explain herself to those who neither hold to her tenets nor share her mission? And even more curiously, why are her attempts to lead her own flock the subject of so much controversy? Surely, in this enlightened age, no one is forced to be a Catholic. If those who chafe at Rome's bit wish, there are many options out there from which to choose. But this exercise of free will does not serve the real agenda of those who wish all worship of God expunged from our nation.
A case in point is the recent decree by Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Arizona which revoked his consent for St. Joseph's Hospital to "use the word Catholic or be identified as Catholic in the Diocese of Phoenix," because he learned that an 11-week-old baby had been aborted in direct contravention of Church teaching. Prior to this unfortunate action he was forced to take, he also privately informed a nun, Sister Mary McBride, who sat on the hospital's ethics committee that, as a result of her consent to the abortion, she and all other Catholics involved had automatically incurred excommunication.
Anyone familiar with this issue knows that, as has been pointed out by myself and many others including Pope Benedict XVI, that this self-excommunication, or latae sententiae, is supported by Canon law, "which says that the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with receiving communion, which is receiving the body of Christ." This also explains why Bishop Olmsted was correct in removing the Blessed Sacrament from the hospital chapel and forbidding the celebration of Mass on the premises.
Which is where the New York Times and its ongoing anti-Catholic crusade come in. An op-ed piece by Nicholas Kristof entitled, "Tussling Over Jesus" begins thusly: "The National Catholic Reporter newspaper put it best: 'Just days before Christians celebrated Christmas, Jesus got evicted.'" (A note to those who think NCR is a Catholic publication representing the views of a great many Americans of the Faith: NCR and its ilk are no more representative of adherence to the Magisterium of the Church than are Planned Parenthood and its supporters in encouraging women to become parents.)
In keeping with Times' policy as stated in my opening paragraph, Kristof then quoted a total of four 'Catholics'; the hospital's president, two writers from NCR and vampire chronicler Anne Rice, who recently "quit being a Christian;" a group she now calls "quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious and deservedly infamous." Kristof then goes on to crow that, "The Catholic Health Association of the United States, a network of Catholic hospitals around the country, stood squarely behind St. Joseph's." Except that, the CHA--who naively backed ObamaCare, believing promises that it contained no federal abortion funding--has since recanted and issued a statement supporting the bishop and recognizing that he is the "authoritative interpreter" of the ethical and religious directives that guide Catholic health care in his Diocese.
And in choosing to revoke St. Joseph's Catholic designation, Bishop Olmsted cited continued abuses by the hospital and its parent organization, San Francisco-based Catholic Healthcare West. Indeed, CHW and its affiliates are responsible for distributing numerous types of contraception, performing sterilizations and granting monies to organizations that promote Planned Parenthood and the homosexual lifestyle; all of which may seem desirable to some, but not to faithful Catholics.
And that's the problem. Most folks, and indeed many Catholics who have not been properly catechized, simply do not understand the Faith. They don't understand, for example, that excommunication is far from being a tool to punish and permanently separate Catholics from the Church, but an act of charity aimed at getting the person to recognize their error and return to a faithful reception of the sacraments; most often accomplished simply by making a sincere sacramental confession and receiving absolution.
Servant of God, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, once famously said, "There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church—which is, of course, quite a different thing."
But when it comes down to it, the only ones evicting Jesus are the people who have chosen to expel him from their hearts by rejecting the hard parts of his teaching that interfere with their chosen lifestyles.