Saturday, December 22, 2007

More goofy clergy. Just what the Church needs.

I am not old enough to remember the embarrassments of Archbishop Hunthausen. More a political activist than apostle, His Excellency is remembered for withholding half his income tax to protest Reagan's policies at the height of the Cold War. (The IRS was in no mood for games, and simply garnished his wages.)

In a speech opposing the Trident Missile program, Hunthausen once declared, “Trident is the Auschwitz of Puget Sound.”

Mind you, the work I do here at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard is in direct support of Trident Submarines. I suppose to his mind that makes me something of a concentration camp guard.

In a rare move, the Vatican forced Hunthausen to resign some 16 years ago. Yes, he was that bad. But do not for a moment think we are today spared the foolishness of Hunthausen-esques. A thorn in the side of the Church, these prelates seem to revel in a reputation marked by an air of rebellion. I imagine them something like a spoiled teenager who never ceases to push the envelope, who never responds willingly to correction and at intervals employs good use of the silent treatment.

Take for example Bishop Cappio of Brazil. CWNews relays:

A Brazilian bishop ended a 23-day hunger strike on December 20.
A bishop fasting for 23 days? I don't know I've ever heard of that before in the history of the Church. This must be some noble cause; an end to abortion perhaps, or, or, opposition to legalized euthanasia? What could it be that drives his excellency with such conviction, such passion?

[He] had abstained from food since November 27 to dramatize his opposition to a development project
That's right. Now, if you would simply flip open your Bibles to Matthew chapter five you will find opposition to development projects significantly nearer the top of the beatitudes than you at first thought.
Bishop Cappio had lost nearly 18 pounds since beginning his fast. He was hospitalized on the same day that Brazil's top court overruled a lower court order, and said that construction could proceed on a plan to divert the flow of the Sao Francisco river.

The bishop has argued that the project will cause ecological harm, and provide disproportionate benefits to corporate farmers. The Brazilian government counters that the project will provide irrigation for millions of acres of parched land, bringing benefits to over 10 million Brazilians.

Bishop Cappio vowed to continue his fight against the project, despite ending his hunger strike. Earlier in the week he had received a message from the apostolic nuncio in Brazil, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, who was conveying the Vatican's order to end his fast. The Congregation for Bishops had sent Bishop Cappio a similar message in October 2005, when he was engaged in an earlier hunger strike against the same development project. The Brazilian bishop has never given any public response to the Vatican's orders.
Perhaps Cardinal Biffi was right when he warned the Holy Father of an Antichrist who "presents himself as a pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist."

"Today, in fact, we run the risk of having a Christianity that puts Jesus with his cross and resurrection into parentheses," Biffi said.

There are "absolute values such as the good, the true and the beautiful. One who perceives them and loves them also loves Christ, even if he does not know it, because Christ is the truth, beauty and justice."

But there are also "relative values such as solidarity, love for peace and respect for nature. If these are given an absolute value or uprooted from or placed in opposition to the proclamation of the fact of salvation, then they become the basis for idolatry and are obstacles on the path to salvation."

Bishop Cappio wasn't listening. I think he may have been too busy trying to give Rome the silent treatment.

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