The USCCB Scoreboard Reads: Lions 7, Christians 0

The USCCB Scoreboard Reads: Lions 7, Christians 0 July 8, 2024

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons, by Andy/Andrew Fogg

Looking at America’s Catholic bishops from far outside and with zero insider information, I can say that they appear to be split into two camps. 

One camp, the ascendant and apparently controlling group, are the buddies — dare I say operatives? — of the billionaire Neo Nazis who are doing a pretty effective job of destroying American democracy. You might call them the lions. 

The other camp, the gobsmacked, blithering, can’t-quite-figure-out-that-they-are-nose-to-nose-with-evil-incarnate group, are the bishops who still think that the 10 Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes are, well, commandments from God, and that Jesus Christ, not Trumpism, is Lord. You might call them the Christians. 

So far — and again from far outside and with zero insider information — it’s looking like the score is Lions 7, Christians 0. 

Meanwhile, over in Italy, the land that — with the backing of the Vatican — went fascist even before Germany in the 1930s, the bishops are actually celebrating democracy instead of aligning themselves with those who are working to kill it. 

History repeats itself. But differently. 

This time around, while the Supreme Court of the United States of America torches the Constitution and sets up the presidency as an absolute, total dictatorship, complete with the power to kill anybody or any number of people, at will, with absolutely no consequences, the Italians are standing up for democracy. Meanwhile many of America’s religious leaders, including almost all Evangelicals and a healthy number of our Catholic bishops, are in the bag for the destruction of our democracy. They are backing a moral degenerate/criminal who gives every appearance of being a flat-out psychopath for president and excusing every evil, vile, morally repugnant thing he does or says.  

America’s right wing bishops are so besotted with fascist teachings that they have even begun enacting right wing political goals into the fabric of Church governance itself by cutting the USCCB’s programs that serve the poor and seek justice. These moves cripple the American Church’s ability to address the evils that are coming at us. Meanwhile, Pope Francis continues to visit the poor, and to speak for them, even when he is slandered and attacked for doing it. 

History repeats itself. But differently.  

While America’s bishops are either sucking their thumbs in dismay, or actively supporting the destruction of our democracy, the Italian Bishops Conference has dedicated this year to the theme “At the Heart of Democracy: Participation throughout history and into the future.” 

In that vein, the Italian press has published a previous speech by Pope Francis highlighting the same theme. Pope Francis also gave a speech decrying the attacks on democracy. Pope Francis and the Italian bishops make the point that democracy requires many people from all sorts of backgrounds, faiths and ideas to work together for common goals. 

That is why democracy is always so incredibly successful. From the ancient Greeks, to the Roman Republic, to the United States of America, democracy empowers people to build and grow. In the course of that, democratic nations inevitably trounce all competition and end up powerhouses of strength and prosperity. 

The problem comes when a few individuals give their souls to bottomless greed. They figure out how to hack the democracy in order to concentrate wealth to themselves. Then, inevitably, they decide they want all the money, and all the power. They kill the democracy so that they can have everything for themselves.  

And that is where America is today. Our problems stem from a coalition of fascist billionaires and corrupt religious leaders who have taken over our institutions in order to accrue all the power and wealth of this great nation to themselves. 

I applaud the Italian bishops and Pope Francis for their support of democracy. Democracy is, as everything humans devise, imperfect. That is inevitable since democracy is government of, by and for the people, and people are imperfect. But democracy is the form of government that provides the greatest freedom, happiness, prosperity and security we can know in this world. 

Totalitarianism leads to misery, suffering and death. Dictatorships crush ordinary people like you and me under its wheels like an 18-wheeler rolling over bugs on a highway. 

It’s a sad thing that so many of America’s religious leaders have decided to be present-day Nazis. Make no mistake about it: What they are backing is old-school fascism.

The Supreme Court decision of July 1, 2024 setting presidents above the law is absolute dictatorship on a level that it took Hitler several years to gain. It’s a tragedy that, at this pivotal moment, America’s religious leaders who haven’t drunk the fascist Kool Aid are flitting and dithering and refusing to stand up and speak out loud and without apology for the Gospels of Christ. 

Religious leaders have backed monsters before. And those religious leaders who refused to back the monsters have also ducked and covered and played polite games until it was too late to stop the oncoming cataclysm before as well. This time, the pope is not ducking and covering. But, he’s being forced to almost stand alone. 

As I said, history repeats itself. But differently. 

What that means for those of us in the pews is that we are like lambs without shepherds. No one is preaching Christ. 

The loudest and the meanest American clergy (from many denominations, not just Catholic bishops) are preaching Trumpism, which if you have eyes to see and ears to hear, is satanic. It is definitely and absolutely not preaching Christ. There is no Jesus in anything these clergy say. 

The rest of America’s clergy are giving us feel-good platitudes straight from the 1970s. 

I’ve thought about this. I’ve prayed about it. I’ve thought about it again. And I’ve prayed about it some more. 

I’ve decided that I have a Shepherd. His name is Jesus. He was murdered by political priests cut from the same cloth as the Neo Nazi clergy of today, including some of our bishops, who are preaching Trump instead of Christ. 

Before He was murdered, Jesus told His followers that they were not greater than He was. If the forces of greed, cruelty, dishonesty and indifference to basic morality and human suffering killed Him, they would kill His followers as well. 

Jesus didn’t tell us we were going to be prosperous and have all good things. He never said life in Him would be all ponies and rainbows. He told us that we would be drug before courts, that our friends and even our families would turn on us, and that if they killed Him, they would also kill us. 

He told us to pick up our cross and follow Him. And He was not speaking figuratively. 

I feel that our bishops have deserted us in this time of great peril. Even the best of them, the well-intentioned and still faithful among them, are dithering, not leading. I feel that some of our bishops have turned on us and are exploiting our faith to build little empires of political and monetary power for themselves by telling us we must, on pain of sin, vote in ways that will lead to our destruction.  

I don’t feel so much heartened as ironical when I see that the Italian bishops and the pope are willing to speak for the good of democracy. When I put it in historical context, the irony of the Italian bishops cherishing democracy while the American bishops work to destroy it is so thick I could walk on it from here to Kansas. 

From Crux:

Speaking to the Italian Bishops’ Conference the pope said July 7, “It is evident that in the world today, democracy, let’s tell the truth, does not enjoy good health.”

… The declining state of democracy, the pope said, is concerning for the world, because the good of humanity is at risk … He compared the current crisis in democracy to “a wounded heart,” describing it as a “heart attack” in which “we must also worry about the different forms of social exclusion.”

… “It is our duty not to manipulate the word democracy nor to deform it with titles, empty titles, capable of justifying any action. Democracy is not an empty box, but is tied to the values of the person, of fraternity, and also of integral ecology,” he said.

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