COMING TO GRIPS WITH MY CATHOLIC FAITH

Before moving to the Tampa Area in Florida in 2014, I had taken a leave of absence from attending Sunday Mass in Virginia.  My hope was that the homilies that presiding priests and deacons gave would be a source of spiritual inspiration to carry me through the week.  

With very few exceptions, the homilies were a big disappointment.  The majority of these dealt with events that transpired hundredths of years ago and which lacked relevance or connectivity with events that were happening in today’s world.  And there is so much happening in today’s world to prepare great homilies!

Among the reasons for this disconnect, in my opinion, is the unwillingness by Church leaders to alienate parishioners and influential political leaders by affirming key religious dogmas.  In other words, financial contributions deposited at collection baskets replace the purpose of the homily: to draw out the meaning of the passages in Scripture by making them relevant to people’s current lives.

When I moved to the Tampa Area, I hoped that things would be different.  They weren’t. 

During one of the first Sunday Masses that I attended at the church closest to me (in Trinity, Pasco County), the Deacon gave a homily where he explained the meaning of the word “transubstantiation” — the conversion of the substance of the Eucharistic elements into the body and blood of Christ at consecration – by comparing it to another word used in the vernacular, “transgenderism” — a term that includes the many ways that people’s gender identities can be different from the sex they were assigned at birth. The Church recognizes that every human person is created in the image and likeness of God, male or female (Gen. 1:26-27). Thus, the Deacon was making a comparison that was incompatible with the Church’s teachings.

The next challenge came in October of 2021.  Upon reading the Sunday bulletin, I discovered that October was designated as “Respect Life Month” and the first Sunday would be observed as “Respect Life Sunday.” It went on to say that “as Catholics, we are called to cherish, defend, and protect those who are most vulnerable, from the beginning of life to its end, and at every point in between.”

To get a head start, I sent an e-mail to the bishop in St. Petersburg in late September urging him to require all the priests under his jurisdiction to address the sanctity of life and the abomination of abortion at the Sunday homilies in October.  The Bishop never replied to my e-mail with a plan of action, and my parish priest never brought up in his homilies what the Catholic Church was celebrating in October – Life!

With this “don’t worry/be happy” policy in effect at most Catholic churches, it is not difficult to predict that they will fail miserably to attract and retain parishioners who believe in the true tenets of the Bible and the Catholic doctrines.  The downward slide in church attendance is already happening.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Two valiant priests took it upon themselves to give magnificent homilies recently that enriched the faith of their parishioners – Father James Altman from St. James the Less Catholic Church in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and Father William Kosco from St. Henry’s Church, in Buckeye, Arizona.

Father Altman gained national attention in 2020 by releasing a video where he stated that Catholics who vote for Democratic candidates cannot go to heaven.  He said that “there will be 60 million aborted babies standing at the gates of heaven barring your Democrat entrance.” Amen!

For stating the plain truth, La Crosse Bishop William Callahan ordered Father Altman to resign his parish – which he has led since 2017 — for “ineffective leadership,” and which motivated him to file a Vatican appeal against his canonical removal. Catholics from all over the U.S. donated over $700,000 for his canonical defense and personal needs. Catholics do recognize a leader when they are in the presence of one!

Father Kosco also released a video, which has gone viral, of one of his homilies in 2021 stating that “we’ve just elected a Catholic president who is diametrically opposed to all of the basic moral principles that are proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church.” He indicated that Biden not only contradicts his faith due to his stance on abortion, but also in his support of “this gender silliness.” When asked a rhetorical question about “how in the world did this happen,” he answered because of the “cowardice” by most Catholic bishops.  So far, Father Kosco has been allowed by his bishop to continue with his preaching. Let’s hope that this support continues.  

But it is unfair to blame the bishops and the priests for the sad state of affairs in today’s Catholic Church.  The church official who has been most derelict in upholding the Church’s doctrines is none other than Pope Francis – who got elected to this position on March 13, 2013, after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. I prefer to call this Pope “El Papa Che” because of his Argentine ethnicity and his embrace of the socialist ideology of Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

El Papa Che is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, the first Hispanic, and the first from outside Europe since Gregory III – a Syrian who reigned in the 8th century.  A lot of firsts that become meaningless after considering that El Papa Che holds globalist and socialist views that run counter to most Catholic principles.

After returning from World Youth Day in 2013 at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, El Papa Che placed two souvenirs from this trip – a beach ball and a sports jersey — on the altar at the Vatican, right next to the Tabernacle! That’s right, this Pope placed two profane items on the altar of one of the most important churches of all Christendom, and next to the Tabernacle – where the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar is kept. This was not a good omen of things to come for a pope that had just been selected as the head of the worldwide Catholic Church.

In July 2015, El Papa Che accepted from then Bolivian President Evo Morales a crucifix displaying Jesus nailed to a hammer and sickle – both prominent symbols of Marxism. To make things even worse, the Pope accepted this gift from a man (Morales) wearing a picture of Che Guevara on his jacket – a murderer responsible for the killing of innocent victims in Cuba in the name of communism. When some in the media tried to justify the Pope’s behavior by claiming that he had been taken by surprise, he responded: “I understand this work.  For me it wasn’t an offense.” He knew what he was doing!

But there was more to follow from this trip to Bolivia.  Quoting a fourth century bishop, El Papa Che characterized the unfettered pursuit of money as the “dung of the devil.”  During a speech in Paraguay in 2015, he expanded on his remarks in Bolivia by urging political and business leaders “not to yield to an economic model which is idolatrous, which needs to sacrifice human lives on the altar of money and profit.” El Papa Cha showed his true “red” colors by putting down capitalism and advocating for the redistribution of wealth to the poor. 

It should not come as a surprise that with El Papa Che’s Marxist ideology, he would butt heads with President Trump. Back in February 2016, the Pope said that Republican presidential candidate Trump was not “a good Christian” and that “a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.” He continued his preaching to Catholics by admonishing them that “in encountering the diversity of foreigners, migrants and refugees, and in the intercultural dialogue that can emerge from this encounter, we have an opportunity to grow as Church and to enrich one another.” The Pope showed his globalist and open-border bona fides, which explains why he disagreed with the robust nationalistic views of President Trump.  Notice that the Pope made no distinction between “legal” and “illegal” immigrants.  To him, they are all children of God that should be allowed entry into the United States without the need to enforce immigration laws.

When asked in 2018 and 2021 for his views on the Ten Commandments, El Papa Che declared that “I observe them, but not as absolutes.” The Pope ignores the obvious – why would God give Moses the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai in stone tablets if for no other reason that they never be changed! Indeed, the Pope’s remarks contradict the proscription of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (entry number 2072) that states; “the Ten Commandments are fundamentally immutable, and they oblige always and everywhere.  No one can dispense from them.” Not even El Papa Che!

In October of 2019, El Papa Che did the unthinkable again! He attended an idolatrous worship of the pagan goddess Pachamama (Mother Earth) and blessed this wooden image in the Vatican Gardens and Saint Peter’s Basilica. El Papa Che ignored the prescriptions of the First Commandment: “I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange gods before me.”

By divinizing Pachamama and the earth, El Papa Che contradicted the Church doctrine that always considered man as the king of corporeal creation.  Gen. 1:28 makes it quite clear: “And God blessed them [Adam and Eve] by saying: increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes, of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth.” The Pope repeatedly presents man in his documents and speeches not as the master of nature, but as the servant of nature – which suits his climate-change advocacy.

During the summer of 2021, the United States Conference of Bishops went ahead with a plan that could deny communion to public figures who support abortion. By a vote of 168 to 55, they drew up a report on the meaning of the Eucharist – which will be put up for a final vote of the bishops in November of 2021, with two-thirds approval needed for adoption.  Of course, the Vatican would need to approve any action by the bishops. 

But, hold on! Not so fast! El Papa Che made an announcement in September 2021 by warning the bishops that “the problem is not theological, it’s pastoral.” But what’s more theological that the Fifth Commandment: “You Shall Not Kill”? Oh, I forgot that El Papa Che does not believe that the Ten Commandments are “absolutes.” The Pope went on to explain that when defending a principle, some bishops act in a way “that is not pastoral” and “enter the political sphere.”

The problem is that El Papa Che has not always led by example.  In fact, he’s transformed himself into a politician on many occasions.  Former President Obama stated in December of 2014 that “Pope Francis personally issued an appeal to him and then Cuban President Raul Castro” to encourage the United States and Cuba to pursue a closer relationship, and, then, hosted the U.S. and Cuban delegations in the Vatican to advance this initiative.  El Papa Che was not acting as the Vicar of Christ, but as a politician in this instance.

And when El Papa Che visited Communist Cuba in 2015, he only met with the President Raul Castro and even with former Dictator Fidel Castro.  But he chose not to anger the Cuban head of state by meeting with the human-rights dissidents who had challenged the entrenched poverty, hunger, and lack of liberties that the Cuban Communist Party had subjected the Cuban population for decades.  Again, El Papa Che forgot to follow his own advice to leave politics aside and act in a pastoral way.

El Papa Che met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the Vatican in October 2021, and will meet with Biden at the end of the month.  Pelosi supports abortion rights, and Biden dropped his support of the Hyde Amendment during the 2020 Democratic primary – the law that blocks the use of federal funds for most abortions.  Most recently, Biden stated that the Texas law that bans abortions after as early as six weeks into pregnancy is “almost un-American” and an “unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights” as guaranteed by the Roe v. Wade decision.  Again, where is El Papa Che’s pastoral v. political admonition?!!! Moreover, the Pope ignores the advice that Jesus gave to differentiate between the spiritual and material worlds: “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” Obviously, El Papa Che aims to be both, a politician and a religious leader – not what Jesus wanted!

Archbishop Cordileone, whose eccelesial territory includes Pelosi’s congressional district, noted that in the 1960s, prominent Catholic segregationists were excommunicated by then-Archbishop Joseph Rummel of New Orleans for refusing to take a stand against racial integration.

“Rummel recognized that prominent, high-profile public advocacy for racism was scandalous: It violated core Catholic teachings and basic principles of justice, and also led others to sin,” said Archbishop Cordileone.The same, he said, is true of prominent Catholics who support abortion rights.

We live in a world where Catholics are under constant attack.  We might as well get ready for an upcoming fight with the “woke” crowd in the U.S when they attempt to replace the “Merry Christmas” greeting with a “Merry Holidays” one. 

In the United States, we have an administration that is populated by socialist Democrats who want to replace God with a secular government.

In the Vatican, we have a Pope who holds globalists, anti-capitalist, and socialist views. 

We have bishops who ask priests who are preaching the Catholic doctrines to step down from the priesthood. 

I often ask myself the question: “Quo Vadis” or “Where Am I Going” with my Catholic faith?

Yes, I have considered changing religion and joining the Protestant faith.  But I come from a family with deep roots in the Catholic faith – even with a distant relationship to the mystic St. Teresa of Avila. I got most of my values from my Catholic education.  Unlike the Protestant faith, I believe that bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ after they’ve been consecrated by a priest, and I pray to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

As you can see, there are many priests, bishops, cardinals, and past popes (John Paul II comes to mind) who are wonderful keepers of the Catholic “traditions” and Biblical teachings. When it comes time to criticize the bad apples or suggest the reformation of antiquated and ineffective policies — like celibacy — who better to do this than Catholics? Running away is not the answer. Speaking up to bring change, this must be the goal of all Catholics.

At the end of the day, I choose to remain a Catholic.  I choose to attend Mass to receive Holy Communion.  I choose to pray to my God, the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mary, and all the Saints – and leave aside all the aberrant popes, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, and priests who besmirch the teachings of the Catholic faith and traditions.

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