Michael Hichborn

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Cardinal Cupich at The University of Chicago Institute of Politics Nov. 6, 2017. Facebook / University of Chicago IOP

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There’s no ‘bridge’ between modernism and faithful Catholicism

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April 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Catholic Church today is suffering greatly from a split among the faithful.  This split is evident in matters pertaining to the liturgy, doctrine, social teaching, morality, theology, and even in how the Faithful view the very mission and purpose of the Church.

On the one side are aging dissidents that come from the heretical Call to Action and FutureChurch sects, looking to “sing a new church into being.” On the other are young Catholics flocking to the old rites and Traditions of the Church.  On the Call to Action side are those who act as if the Church began in 1965, moving away from “rigid” doctrinal teachings, while on the other are faithful Catholics yearning to know and live doctrinal Truths.

From the aging crowd of dissidents comes the cry for so-called “social justice” for women, immigrants, minorities, and workers, while the faithful remnant call for repentance, conversion, and a life in Christ.

This divide is so stark that what Pope Paul VI once called a fissure has now become a canyon.  In desperation to maintain relevancy, the dissidents in the Church are now seeking “common ground,” or a “bridge” between the two sides.

In June of this year, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles will participate in an event sponsored by Georgetown University’s “Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life.”  The event, taking its name from the motto of the Great American Seal (E Pluribus Unam), is called “Through Many, One: Overcoming Polarization Through Catholic Social Thought.”

According to Crux:

The gathering will focus not on internal Church issues, but on “the neglected challenge of bringing Catholic principles to public life so as to truly be ‘salt, light and leaven’ in a divided society.”

The director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought is John Carr, who used to be the Director of Justice, Peace and Human Development for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  Speaking with Crux, Carr said of this event, “We felt there was an urgent need to bring some Catholic leaders together to build bridges across political, ideological, ethnic and ecclesial lines for civil and substantive dialogue.”

Recalling the two sides of the divide I mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is necessary to point out a few things about Carr’s background.

  • Carr was involved in the 1976 Call to Action conference in Detroit, and again participated in a Call to Action event in 1999.
  • John Carr was responsible for helping to arrange the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, which brought in a host of radical dissenters, including the same-sex “marriage” and women’s ordination promoting Deana Hayes, the dissident priest Fr. Thomas Reese, and the pro-abortion community activist Paul Booth.
  • John Carr was responsible for overseeing the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and despite personal delivery of conclusive evidence against a quarter of the CCHD’s grantees being in violation of CCHD grant guidelines and Catholic moral teaching, the grantees continued to receive CCHD funding anyway.
  • Carr was instrumental for the formation of the USCCB’s “Faithful Citizenship” document, which Carr bluntly stated “does not shut the door on any candidate, not even one who supports abortion rights.” In other words, he helped craft the document that ostensibly gave Catholics permission to vote for John Kerry, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton.
  • From 1978-1980, Carr was the Executive Director for the White House Conference on Families.  The final report, which bears Carr’s name as Executive Director, gave formal recommendations to Congress which called for “Increased Efforts to Prevent and Deal with Adolescent Pregnancy,” “Increased Family Life Education,” “Support for Family Planning and choice on Abortion,” and “Support for Choice on Abortion, Equal Rights Amendment, and Non-Discrimination Efforts.”
  • In 2011, John Carr personally stated that he would happily provide a colleague and me with a grant from the Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) with the understanding that I would no longer conduct investigations into CCHD grantees.

In August of last year, Carr gave a presentation at the “Consistent Life Ethic Conference” (formerly the Seamless Garment Network) in which he compared the pro-life movement with “Black Lives Matter.”  The problem is that the bridge he and his Initiative are seeking to build is one that can only lead to the erosion of the resolve of Traditional Catholics.

Crux reported that participants in the three-day conference:

will explore a range of themes, including human life and dignity, solidarity and subsidiarity, human rights and responsibilities, and the priority of the poor and vulnerable, illustrating, as Carr pointed out, that "the most important word in Catholic social teaching is ‘and.'"

What is most dangerous about conferences like these is that it shifts the focus of faithful Catholics away from the work of salvation to the work of social activism.  Pay close attention to the words in the previous paragraph.  Nowhere in any of this is mention of repentance, conversion, sin, the four last things, and the urgent need to bring souls to Christ.

As Fulton Sheen pointed out so frequently, the very first word in Jesus’ public ministry was “come, follow me,” and His last word was, “go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”  In both instances, Our Blessed Lord is directing the action to Himself.  First, He calls on people to follow Him, and in the last He commands His disciples to go into the world to tell everyone about Him.

In other words, there can be no Catholic social teaching that is not integrally connected with evangelization. And yet, conferences like this one, as well as organizations like John Carr’s Institute, have very little to do with evangelization, and even less to do with the Catholic faith at all.  Sadly, these social justice efforts are little more than expansive discussions rooted in humanism, lightly dressed in Catholic garb.

If there is to be any kind of healing in the great divide between modernist social justice Catholics and the traditional faithful, it can’t be predicated on a human bridge of rhetoric and understanding.  Repentance means rejection of sin, without compromise.  Conversion means walking away from the life of sin without looking back.  Following Our Lord means hearing, believing, and loving everything Our Lord taught us and living in accord with His commandments.  And going into the world – the only activism Our Lord commanded – means giving to others the Love, Mercy, and Promise of Redemption that He gave to us. We do that by always striving to bring hearts, minds and souls to Christ through the Sacraments.  If souls are not saved, then nothing is saved, which means that if social action is not directed toward the salvation of souls, it is rooted in a dead faith.



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Michael Hichborn

Michael Hichborn, founder and president of the Lepanto Institute, is a well known public figure in the pro-life movement.  Michael spent seven and a half years as American Life League’s Director of the Defend the Faith project, researching and producing annual reports on various Catholic agencies involved with the Culture of Death.  Michael was also the host of the online video series, The American Life League Report.  This popular video series features exposé’s and explanations of the Culture of Death and its work in our country and in our Church.