Opponents of the Church are doubtlessly emboldened by their sweeping victories this Tuesday, and they aren’t losing any time in attempting to punish and harass the bishops who dared to oppose their goals:
A Madison-based group that advocates the separation of church and state and once took on Green Bay City Hall for putting up a nativity scene is now taking on the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is looking for help from the Internal Revenue Service in going after Bishop David Ricken for what it says is a violation of the diocese’s nonprofit tax status. The foundation argues Ricken intervened in a political campaign.
…The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s lawyer, in a Nov. 1 letter addressed to the IRS and shared with the media, said Ricken’s letter generally addressed issues distinguishing Republican and Democratic social platforms and clearly was an effort to influence the outcome of the vote.
“Though he does not explicitly state, ‘Vote for Romney’ or any other specific candidate, it is clear to the reader that Ricken is urging members of his diocese to vote against President Obama and other Democratic candidates,” foundation staff attorney Rebecca Markert wrote. [Green Bay Press Gazette]
My understanding is that Bishop Ricken and the Diocese of Green Bay are firmly on the right side of the law here. Nonetheless, in these times, I’ll believe anything is possible so we can’t let our guard down. This is a blatant attempt by liberal activists to silence a courageous bishop, and we can expect to see more of this sort of harassment and intimidation in the months and years to come.
On a related note, might I suggest that now would be a good time for the Church to regroup and set its house in order?
I suggest starting with Fr. Mike Tegeder, who –no joke– publicly called for his superior, Archbishop Nienstedt, to resign in the wake of the archdiocese’s unsuccessful effort to pass a marriage protection amendment in Minnesota. Tegeder wrote:
“As a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, I would ask our archbishop, John Nienstedt, to prayerfully consider stepping down from his office. It would be healing for our state and our church and would show some magnanimity on his part. His misguided crusade to change our Constitution, spending more than a million dollars and, more importantly, much goodwill, has been rejected. Elections have consequences.”
Indeed, elections have consequences, and so should disobedience.
Next we have Fr. Richard Lawrence of Baltimore, MD, who preached from his pulpit two sundays before Maryland voted on same-sex marriage that he thinks the church should include same-sex couples in the sacrament of matrimony. Fr. Lawrence’s comments were widely disseminated by the liberal media out to all corners of the archdiocese in order to further confuse and demoralize Catholics.
(Notice how you will never see the “Freedom From Religion Foundation” going after priests like Fr. Lawrence or Fr. Tedeger. That’s because FFRI and their liberal ilk are happy to encourage priestly disobedience because it serves their deeper purpose of splintering the Church.)
If the Church is to protect herself, she must also protect herself from those inside her walls that seek to let the enemy in.
And speaking of enemies within the walls, just look at Boston College “Catholic” theologian (and, more importantly, national co-chairman of Catholics for Obama) Thomas Groome’s letter to the Erie Times arguing that Obama will be an abortion-reducing president and was thus the “pro-life” choice. What’s incredible is he makes this argument while simultaneously claiming (like VP Joe Biden did) that he is a faithful Catholic.
And while we’re on the general topic, I think the bishops should take some action to address every Catholic who accepted a national co-chair position on Obama’s reelection team.
Finally, this is the one chart Catholics need to look at to understand the challenge and opportunity for the Catholic vote over the next months and years (via Catherine Harmon at CWR):
As I said time and time again four years ago, if active Catholics simply reach out to our fallen-away brothers and sisters and invite them back to frequenting the sacraments we will simultaneously change the culture and the trajectory of our politics. If Catholics in America take their faith seriously our national politics will seriously change for the better.
Thank God for the Year of Faith, that’s all I can say.
And with that, try to enjoy your weekend, everyone!