A somber examination of Cardinal O'Malley of Boston.
By Frank Walker
September 2009 - Now that Cardinal O’Malley has renounced the love and admiration of the faithful, he can freely pursue a more worldly respectability. I pray it does not happen, but it may be easier for him to make compromises going forward, and he’ll get even more pressure to do so. But looking at his record, O’Malley has generally been a faithful bishop. He hasn’t accumulated a list of gay accusers, preached heresy, or attacked the Pope. He has encouraged Catholics to vote against pro-choice politicians. He has even promoted the sacrament of penance. O’Malley has an easy humble likeable manner. He lobbied hard in the hopes that Pope Benedict could stop in Boston and he has handled the ponderous scandals and financial problems of that diocese with grace and skill. Why then this late fall? The Cardinal has become a striking example of one of the most insidious and pervasive problems in the Church today. He is a Catholic liberal.
Thanks to new media, the rise of new faithful religious, the new Catechism, shifting winds, and/or some other positive phenomena including the Grace of God, there is an emerging group of faithful Catholics in the U.S. But the overwhelming majority of baptized Catholics still do not really hold the Faith. Mainly through a cultivated ignorance and the heartless reach of the modern cultural machine, most Catholics are now functional heretics. We have an almost entirely protestant church within our own disabled structures. This group is often labeled Cafeteria or “liberal” Catholics. The faithful minority persists and has vitality, but within that remnant population a large part (particularly in leadership) are “Catholic liberals.” That is to say that unlike “liberal Catholics,” they hold and profess the Faith without heresy, yet they remain philosophically and politically liberal to a great extent. “Catholic liberals” stand on Catholic principle but they fall down in application and practice as Cardinal O’Malley demonstrated in recent weeks.
Liberalism as it exists today is immoral. This is because it is so generally false. While on the one hand is espouses such ideals as charity, mercy, justice, tolerance and peace; in reality it achieves none of these things. Senator Kennedy’s life was a perfect example of this. Lauded by other liberals as a champion of the poor and powerless, in fact he was a ruthless political player and a murderer. His idea of charity was to impose huge tax burdens on families then build government agencies on behalf of the poor. This is not charity or justice, as many Catholics will intone, but slavery and theft. If Kennedy truly were interested in the power of individuals, he would have promoted their democratic voice; but he showed contempt for the will of the people, hurling one false political accusation after another at his enemies and polluting the public mind with his lies.
A “Catholic liberal” is someone who may tell you that Faith is neither Liberal nor Conservative. This is true only to the extent that theological truth informs all others. Faith is higher than philosophy and of course above politics. But this does not mean, as virtually all people that say this imply, that there is much virtue in Liberalism and some big problems with Conservatism. Liberal ideals place little value on freedom or obedience to God, acting as if history should be re-played so that the Jews stayed in Egypt and the Commandments were left at Sinai. While many Catholic leaders ascribe unjust economic conditions to conservative hyper-capitalism, this is misleading. That kind of oppression grows from corporate-political alignments that build government and deny property rights. A free society is always less oppressive and property more widespread and abundant. Freedom is not a tenant of liberalism. although, license is.
“Right and Left” began when Christendom became moribund following the Protestant revolutions. Before the Church was pushed out of northern Europe and its role minimized in the remainder there was no right and left, only “right and wrong.” With the fall of Old Europe, a philosophical blindness ensued. The “Enlightenment” was not. Today civilization has been divided into two groups, neither of them spiritually guided by the Church. We can see applied Conservatism in the American Revolution and the British Empire, while Liberal principles are born out in the French Revolution, socialism, and fascism in our time. Though neither philosophical perspective reflects a complete Catholic mindset, Liberalism is the Church’s enemy.
Right and left today describe more than politics. They present two ways of seeing things. While Conservatism seeks wisdom by looking dimly back toward Western Christian civilization, Liberalism rejects that past in favor of a new utopian reality. If Conservatism is akin to a heretical form of Christianity, than liberalism is full apostasy. So then why do faithful Catholics choose liberalism if it is so morally weak and fruitless? Why do they see charity in stealing and mercy in oppression? Why do they lump the cause of convicted serial killers in with millions of innocent deaths? Why do they pretend Islam is not menacing despite centuries of Catholic history? Why do they recognize only heinous moral symptoms like abortion and gay marriage, and ignore the causes in pastoral and liturgical malpractice, enormous government and a tyrannical judicial class? Finally, why do they align themselves with the enemies of the Church and treat the faithful to scandal, scorn and contempt? The simple reason, grounded in Church teaching, lies in sinfulness or vice. Sin has a darkening effect on the reason and all people suffer from it. The blindness of a liberal world-view can be born of jealousy, anger, laziness, lust, greed. Among powerful individuals the destructive effects of pride are a timeless reality.
Cardinal O’Malley’s liberalism may have pride as its source. While urging Catholics to support pro-life politicians, he also promoted the “Faithful Citizenship” voter guide published by the USCCB. That bewildering document was slammed by exiting Bishop Joseph Martino and integral to the brilliant Obama Catholic strategy. While head of the Boston Archdiocese, O’Malley has touted amnesty for illegals and bigger social programs. Recently he was in Cuba with the Castro brothers agitating for an end to the embargo. He opposed the Iraq war and his views on capital punishment are boilerplate; citing the myth of deterrence, the cheapening of life’s value, and calling what is only justice a popular desire for vengeance. Like so many Catholic leaders, O’Malley is discouraged that there are few pro-life Democrats, as if the death culture need not accompany the progress of a mega-state. Advocating on behalf of dictators and vicious killers and lending credibility to the anti-Catholic establishment have been among the Cardinal’s pastoral goals.
Clearly one of the gentlest, most restrained, engaging and popular American Church leaders, O’Malley finally voiced where his contempt does fall when he rebuked the Catholics dismayed by the Kennedy funeral; an event that undermined every holy and good thing that the Cardinal’s life represents. After permitting a world-wide circus of scandal and contemptible moments in praise of Ted Kennedy and his agenda, O’Malley finally wielded the Bishops’ spiritual sword for something. Striking back at the “vindictive…angry” Catholics who reject “mercy, unity and the ability to change hearts,” the Cardinal took a hard line. What was the last straw? In decrying the funeral, faithful Catholics challenged the only thing Cardinal O’Malley will stand for when it counts, his liberalism.