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June 3, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory lashed out against President Trump and the First Lady’s visit to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in the nation’s capital on June 2. The long-planned event caused an uproar because it happened the day after the President walked to St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House. He visited the historic church, the day after protesters had set it afire on May 31.
When protesters were cleared from the area to facilitate his walk, the media and the left jumped on the incident, which they labeled a photo-op held at the expense of poor protesters. They are joined by progressive clergy who have turned their criticism into their own media event and photo-ops. Even bridge-building Jesuit Fr. James Martin tweeted his indignation at the President’s religious gesture.
The Archbishop Judges
When the President visited the Catholic Shrine on Tuesday, the Archbishop’s official statement insinuated that the directors of the Saint John Paul II National Shrine were being manipulated by the administration to serve as a presidential campaign backdrop.
“I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people, even those with whom we might disagree,” Archbishop Gregory said in a statement referring to someone with whom he disagrees.
The statement carried much weight, as Archbishop Gregory is the former President of the U.S. Bishop’s Conference. The prelate abandoned the vague style normally used by bishops in dealing with American politics and leaders. He severely judged the President’s actions and claimed to know his interior motives—which God alone knows.
What Catholics Need to Hear
This message engaging in petty politics is not the one Catholics and Americans need at this time. The key issues that need to be addressed go far beyond whether one likes the President or not.
Indeed, it is “baffling” that Catholics hear only this posturing when they crave spiritual leadership and direction. The vague progressive platitudes invoking social justice and human dignity do nothing to stop the violence and everything to provide it cover.
Catholics need to hear three things from Archbishop Gregory in this time of crisis.
A Clear Condemnation
The first thing Catholics need to hear from Archbishop Gregory is a loud and unequivocal condemnation of what is happening in the riots. The brutal incidents that sparked the protest must not be the pretext for far worse violence. Since when do two wrongs make one right?
The Church’s role is to speak out against injustice, violence and attacks on the most vulnerable. It is time to speak out against the agitators who are employing terror tactics to destroy the remnants of order in our society. There should be prayers for the helpless women, old men and children who are ruthlessly attacked in the streets—or even trapped in burning buildings, while rioters blocked the access of fire engines.
Something must be said to console poor owners whose small businesses and lives are ruined. There should be special prayers for the safety of the policemen who nightly risk (and give) their lives to protect their neighbors from harm. Indeed, “greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).
The Archbishop should censure the senseless destruction of property and the defacement of monuments. The Church’s places of worship are set on fire and covered with graffiti.
Vague calls for “solidarity” with protests, which turn violent, only inflames the situation and supports the class struggle narratives that are so contrary to the Gospels that promote social harmony.
An Appeal to Return to Church
A second message Catholics need to hear from the Archbishop is about the reopening of the churches and the sacraments. Whole regions of the nation still do not have access to the sacraments. People are dying without confession and last rites. At a time when protesters crowd the streets, churches that can hold hundreds are often limited to 10 or 25 people. There seems to be no ecclesiastical hurry to reopen.
Catholics want to hear a consistent message from the bishops, assuring them that they feel the urgency of their plight. Leaders need to be vocal in pointing out the contradiction between semi-full restaurants and department stores and near-empty churches. Have pity on the faithful who lack the spiritual nourishment of the sacraments lest they perish.
Where are the Pleas for Pardon and Amendment?
A final message for Catholics from the Archbishop would be the recognition that the violence and social strife are a consequence of the sins of the nation. This is a time to talk about sin. The sins of public blasphemy, procured abortion, same-sex “marriage,” Drag Queen Story Hours for children, drug use, and other such evils that are tearing the country apart.
Catholic bishops should be leading the faithful in prayer, asking for pardon. There should be acts of reparation in reopened churches and special pleas to the Mother of God to have pity on the nation and bring the violence to an end. A final element would be a call upon the faithful to amend their lives and sin no more. In short, the message that needs to be heard is the same one given by Our Lady at Fatima in 1917. Today, the world is witnessing the consequences of ignoring her warnings.
There is little chance Archbishop Gregory will deliver these messages. Most of our Catholic bishops prefer the empty pronouncements that conform to the latest social gospel fads or errant theologians. They proceed down the path of self-destruction. The faithful who insist upon following Church tradition receive little encouragement.
Meanwhile, America burns. It is most baffling. . .