President Mocks Catholics As Progressive Catholicism Weakens

President Mocks Catholics As Progressive Catholicism Weakens May 12, 2024

Recently, two interesting stories emerged, one from the Associated Press (AP), the other from the bishop of Springfield in Illinois. Both, while discussing different aspects of Catholicism, concern a similar theme—progressive Catholicism. In this article, I examine the claim by AP that “America’s Catholic Church sees an immense shift toward the old ways” and whether or not “President Biden mocks our Catholic faith.” What conclusion can we reach from these two stories?

“A Step Back in Time”

On April 30th, Tim Sullivan at AP released an article on the emergence of conservative Catholicism, both in the laity and clergy. Sullivan presents the subject matter as a back and forth between progressive Catholics lamenting the shift and conservatives celebrating it. What do the progressives Catholics lament?

Traditional music:

The choir director, a fixture at St. Maria Goretti for nearly 40 years, was suddenly gone. Contemporary hymns were replaced by music rooted in medieval Europe.

Homilies on sin and confession. Priests dressing as priests. No altar girls.

So much was changing. Sermons were focusing more on sin and confession. Priests were rarely seen without cassocks. Altar girls, for a time, were banned.

A parish school began teaching about abortion and hell.

At the parish elementary school, students began hearing about abortion and hell.

Now, any semi-observant Catholic ought to wonder why such seemingly innocuous, objectively Catholic things like music, priestly garb, sin, forgiveness, and abortion caused such an uproar among Catholics as to warrant an entire article in the AP.

A Shock to Cafeteria Catholics

The reason shock occurs is due to poorly catechized Catholics (cafeteria Catholics) coming in direct contact with actual Catholicism, not the watered-down version they hoped for. Many, steeped in the teaching focused on social justice and “the spirit of Vatican II,” have even left the Church entirely when confronted with a Catholic Church that acts Catholic.

For example:

At St. Maria Goretti, once steeped in the ethos of Vatican II, many parishioners saw the changes as a requiem.

“I don’t want my daughter to be Catholic,” said Christine Hammond, whose family left the parish when the new outlook spilled into the church’s school and her daughter’s classroom. “Not if this is the Roman Catholic Church that is coming.”

“I’m not a Catholic anymore,” said Hammond, the woman who left when the church’s school began to change. “Not even a little bit.”

Others that stay cannot believe their eyes.

“I’m a lifelong Catholic. I grew up going to church every Sunday,” he said. “But I’d never seen anything like this.”

The new outlook has spilled across America.

Moreover, this progressive exodus only serves to further reshape the American Church. One only needs to look at the young priests coming out of American seminaries to see the writing on the wall.

Priests of the Future

In September of 2023, I wrote an article highlighting the advent of the “conservative” priest. Sullivan affirms my conclusion.

Young priests driven by liberal politics and progressive theology, so common in the 1960s and 70s, have “all but vanished,” said a 2023 report from The Catholic Project at Catholic University, based on a survey of more than 3,500 priests.

Today’s young priests are far more likely to believe that the church changed too much after Vatican II, tangling itself up in America’s rapidly shifting views on everything from women’s roles to LGBTQ people.

“There really aren’t very many liberals in the seminaries anymore,” said a young, recently ordained Midwestern priest. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the turmoil that engulfed his parish after he began pressing for more orthodox services. “They wouldn’t feel comfortable.”

Most of these old progressive guards now live in retirement homes. To the chagrin of many of them, the younger generations of priests seek to fix what they ruined.

How does President Joe Biden fit into all of this? Simple: his brand of Catholicism fits in perfectly with the cafeteria Catholicism of the past sixty years.

Words of His Archbishop

In a recent television interview, Cardinal Wilton Gregory made the following observations regarding the Catholic faith of the president:

…like a number of Catholics, he picks and chooses dimensions of the faith to highlight while ignoring or even contradicting other parts. There is a phrase that we have used in the past, a ‘cafeteria Catholic,’ [in which] you choose that which is attractive and dismiss that which is challenging. I would say there are things, especially in terms of the life issues, there are things that he chooses to ignore.

Cardinal Gregory refers to the president’s extreme record on abortion. In his 2024 State of the Union speech, Biden promised (to the rapid applause of fellow Democrats):

If Americans send me a Congress that supports the right to choose, I promise you, I will restore Roe v. Wade as the law of the land again!

The above statement should shock any faithful Catholic. That it originated from a supposedly Catholic president represents the definition of scandal. It does not end there.

Sign of the Cross at an Abortion Rally

On April 23rd, at an abortion rally in Tampa, Florida, President Biden made the sign of the cross in reaction to the following words of Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Nikki Fried:

We come back here to the state of Florida, where Ron DeSantis felt like he needed to run for president, so 15 weeks wasn’t good enough, we had to go to six weeks.

For the non-Catholics out there, Catholics make the sign of the cross as a form of a blessing, penance, and protection. To use this sign at an abortion rally in response to the good news that Florida now limits more abortion reflects the definition of sacrilege. Moreover, one wonders, does such active promotion of objective evil constitute merely a mockery of the Catholic faith or self-excommunication on Biden’s part?

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki on Biden’s Mockery

In response to the above actions taken by President Biden, and encouraged by the words of Biden’s own archbishop, bishop Thomas John Paprocki shared his thoughts with the faithful in Springfield, Illinois. In a video and a follow up interview posted on YouTube, the bishop made the following observations:

To use the sign of the cross as Biden did, however, is to invoke the cross in a sacrilegious manner.

To misuse this sacred gesture is to make a mockery of our Catholic faith.

When asked in the follow-up interview what Catholics can reject without falling into heresy, apostacy, and schism, the bishop responded:

It’s more the gravity of the matter. It’s not so much that you have an accumulation of things that you reach a tipping point and no longer a good Catholic.

That’s the big problem with President Biden has been saying. In effect, he’s rejecting at least part of the fifth commandment, which says, “thou shall not kill.” And he seems to be saying he has no problem with killing babies in the womb… The Catholic Church teaches human life begins at conception. There is no other point to draw the line. You have a human life there. If you reject that teaching that think it is okay to kill babies in the womb. In effect, you have rejected the fifth commandment.

Is Biden Excommunicated?

Moreover, regarding what constitutes an automatic excommunication, and whether President Biden falls into that category, the bishop stated:

There is a process. Let’s say that person [who rejects one or all the ten commandments] goes public and makes a big deal about this. “I reject the ten commandments or some of the ten commandments. I reject what the Church teaches about abortion.” Then the Church authority may need to step in and declare that person excommunicated. In this case, it would be the archbishop of Washington.

Finally, when asked what he would say to the president in a one-on-one meeting, the bishop stated he would challenge Biden to take seriously the Church’s teaching.

You can’t just pick and choose them [Church teaching]. Even the president of the United States is bound by the truth as revealed by God.

And

If a person says, “I am a Catholic and I believe what the Church teaches.” Well, then, as a matter of integrity…follow what the Church teaches.

Final Thoughts…

The Catholic Church in American currently occupies two worlds. One world represents the waning influence of progressive cafeteria Catholicism reflected in Catholics like President Joe Biden. The other world constitutes the emerging faithful who seek to reclaim an authentic Catholic faith considered diluted by progressives of the last generation. That a Catholic president, who claims to “personally accept” Church teaching, yet refuses to “impose” his view on others, crosses himself in support of abortion represents the height of absurdity (and yes, sacrilege). Biden’s archbishop holds enough evidence, as pointed about by Bishop Paprocki, to formally excommunicate the president to bring him back to his senses. However, given what we know, the president has separated himself already. Moving forward, the actions taken by Cardinal Gregory seem more of a formality.

What do you think?

Thank you!

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