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A Conservative Catholic Grades the Pope’s Address to Congress

In coming to America and speaking before a joint session of Congress the Pope was representing Christ and the Catholic Church in two ways: One way was through his humble, Christ-like life in which he eschews earthly riches and the trappings of power in favor of a becoming Christian modesty, and for that – in my view – he gets an “A.” 

Pope FrancisBut the other way he is representing Christ is as the inheritor of Christ’s great commission to Peter, which was stated in Matthew 16:19: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven,” and which was confirmed after Christ’s Resurrection with the direction in John 21:15-17 to “feed my sheep.” In that regard the Pope’s address to Congress, and the millions of viewers around the world who saw or heard it, barely rated a passing grade of D. 

The Pope’s address to the joint session of Congress put me in mind, not of the leader of a great movement laboring to fulfill the enormous responsibility Christ bestowed upon Peter and his successors, but of the Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of Silver Blaze,” in which the guard dog didn’t bark, and the dog’s silence was the key clue to solving the big mystery. 

Today, it is no mystery that American culture and the moral foundation of our society are in freefall, but when Pope Francis mounted the dais in the House Chamber he made no mention of the great moral crises facing our country and indeed all of western civilization. 

He spoke with eloquence and conviction on a number of topics, like the environment, but like the guard dog in the Holmes mystery, he was strangely silent on the greatest threats faced by our country and by Christian culture. 

And while his celebration of the American political traditions of protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were no doubt appreciated by many in his audience, by digressing into areas which have no real basis in Catholic dogma or Christian theology, like the environment and economics, the Pope seriously diluted his moral authority to lead on the spiritual, moral and cultural crises that are rotting the core of Western culture in Europe and America. 

Not the least of these challenges is the increasing secular pressure for the Church to abandon its scriptural teachings on sexual morality, including homosexuality and marriage, in favor of acceptance of same-sex “marriage” and other practices directly contradicted by scripture and more than two millennia of Church doctrine. 

And this “the dog that didn’t bark” problem that we saw yesterday at the top of the Church percolates right down to your local parish. When was the last time you heard a sermon on the need to follow God’s teachings on divorce, adultery, sex outside of marriage, pornography, illegal drugs, treatment of spouses, etc. ? 

Most Cardinals, Bishops, Priests and Sisters have abandoned the teaching of morals, and so it was on Thursday with the Pope’s address to Congress. 

He made reference to the sanctity of life, but he never used the word “abortion” and was silent on the cause of most abortions – sex outside of marriage. 

And the hook-up culture that is promoted by the entertainment industry and pop culture - well that went unmentioned as well. 

Perhaps the guard dog didn’t bark because the Pope’s Vatican advisors understand that the same media companies that promote his secular agenda on things like climate change profit mightily from the filth that passes for entertainment these days. 

In 2013 the Pope sent a letter to Bishops in his native Argentina telling them pro-abortion politicians should not be eligible for communion. Yet on Thursday he said nothing to call to account those pro-abortion “Catholics,” such as Democratic House Minority Leader Representative Nancy Pelosi, who were seated before him in the House Chamber. 

The Pope’s silence left conservatives fighting to end the evil of abortion – say by defunding Planned Parenthood – without the support he generously offered to liberals wrapped-up in a mere policy debate about who pays for the Left’s latest environmental fashion craze – climate change. 

The Pope made reference to the plight of (illegal) immigrants fleeing oppression to come to America – but he made no reference to the cause of this massive migration northward, which is the corrupt (mostly socialist) governments of South and Central America and the drug cartels, human traffickers and terrorists with whom they cooperate, including those in his own native country of Argentina. 

And while he made a plea for mercy for the millions of “refugees” fleeing the Middle East for Europe – he made no mention of the cause of their plight – especially the wretched circumstances of Middle Eastern Christians – which is the rise of radical Islam and the failure of the West to defend the values he celebrated in his remarks. 

Just imagine if the trillions of dollars America and the West have spent holding radical Islam at bay had been instead directed to what the Pope called “the noble vocation” of business. How many jobs could have been created, how many people could have been lifted out of poverty, how many schools and universities could have been built, how much research could have been done and how many lives saved had our culture and countries already been secured against the depredations of ISIS and al Qaeda? 

Then contrast his silence on radical Islam with the work and eloquence of Pope John Paul II, and his embrace of the struggle of a previous generation of oppressed people against another bloodthirsty political movement bent on world domination – communism. 

And perhaps most disturbingly, as he stood right across the street from the place where five mortals (Supreme Court Justices Kennedy, Ginsberg, Kagan, Sotomayor and Breyer) attempted to overturn God’s law on marriage, the Pope refused to state that under God’s law marriage can only be between one man and one woman. 

The Left long ago declared war on traditional moral values and religion. The next great battle in that war – in which religion itself will be outlawed – is already well under way.  

While the Pope made kindly references to American traditions of tolerance and religious liberty he failed to actually call Christians to defend those traditions from the assaults that are now shaking the very foundations of our culture. Led now by the homosexual lobby the Left is winning this war in large measure because the guard dogs of Western culture – the Pope, Bishops, priests and the rest of the Catholic hierarchy refuse to bark – or even show up for the fight. 

The Pope’s failure to use the great opportunity and vast media audience his address to Congress provided to restate the great moral teaching of Christianity and call Christians of all denominations to defend them was a missed opportunity of historic proportions, because if there was ever a time when vigilant guard dogs are needed, that time is now.

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Pope Francis

I want to share my latest post on Newsday concerning Pope Francis's present leadership of Catholics throughout the world. And whether his chosen mission is right or wrong and establishes new meaning to what is now infallible Canon Law which is in his authority to do in accordance with Church doctrine. But therein lies the potential negative consequences of a man,the Pope, making, changes, or modifying empirically tested,existential laws that represent the only laws held for over 2000 years as representing the covenant of Jesus Christ as the traditional guidance of the faithful. The Laws of God should surely govern the spirit of any Christian's soul. And for those Christians and Catholics who live in the Spirit of Christ,I suggest reading the Bible for reference. It was Jesus Himself who said John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." The following are a series of emails that I wrote to the Conference of Bishops and Sister Carol Keehan (Mar. 2010) concerning Sister Keehan's violation of Canon Law 1329 which deals with being an accomplice to abortion and the consequence of such a violation. She also acted with an authority and Influence that she did not have as a Catholic nun when she publically supported the passing of Obamacare in spite of a warning by the Conference of Bishops not to do so. It is the Conference of Bishops that has such authority under the Sacred Magisterium. It is an example of what happens when Catholics allow themselves to compromise their moral judgement to achieve institutional needs at the expense of religious freedom and the unborn which was clearly the price paid.
The Pope should be concentrating on the Canon Law of the church which is infallible and mandates the consequences of not complying with the covenant of Jesus Christ through the Sacred Magisterium. Surely, what happened in March,2010 as a result of Sister Carol Keehan's misguided act of disobedience and her indifference to the meaning of Canon Law 1329,should have been a warning sign to the higherarchy of the Church that her actions should not have been tolerated by the Conference of Bishops. The following are a series of my emails that I sent to Sister Keehan,the Conference of Bishops,and its response to me. The Conference of Bishops failed to fulfill its obligation under the Sacred Magisterium in this egregious matter that has resulted in extreme attacks on the religious rights of the faithful and the ancillary effects of secularizing America. The emails:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ: The following is an email that I tried to email To Sister Keehan. It seems that she has decided to hide from Judicial challenges to her morally incompetent statements concerning the U.S. Senate's version of the Healthcare reform Bill. Her publicly stated position on the Senate version of the Healthcare Bill as the CEO of The Catholic Hospital Association is particularly egregious because her comments are fallacious and disingenuous,possibly influenced by V.P.Joe Biden another excommunicated Catholic under Canon 1329. The Catholic Church,in the matter of Abortion, is committed to defend the unborn. There is no room for compromise or interpretation,except in medically justified abortions, by Catholics, politicians,clergy or lay, as to what the Church stands for in this matter, and the consequences of violating this sacred doctrine as adjudicated through Canon Law. I ask that Sister Keehan be publicly admonished by The Conference of Bishops who are obligated under the Sacred Majesterium to advise and educate the flock in cases involving Church doctrine. Many of the Catholic faithful are confused because there seems to be a double standard when the Church deals with the ordinary lay Catholic versus those of political authority or positions of influence or power. Catholics seem not to be educated as to the meaning of the sin of being an accomplice to abortion, and the consequences of committing this sin under Canon Law 1329. I think that this matter
should be made clear to all Catholic,once and for all,by the Conference of Bishops. Thank you for your indulgence. John Feltman

The Email:*
Dear Sister Keehan: As a Catholic and Canon Law Scholar, I was shocked and dismayed at your public statements concerning the Senate version of the Healthcare bill about to be voted on by Congress. You have not been empowered by the Church nor are you qualified to speak on such matters in the name of the Catholic Church. I will pray for your immortal soul and ask that you pray for mine. I am sure that as we stand before God in His judgement, He will not accept ignorance as an excuse for violating his word through the Sacred Majisterium upon which the Catholic Church is founded. Especially as offered by those who have vowed obedience in His service, and those who should know better. The following is a comment I submitted in response to an article written by David Gibson of Politico.
Your's in Christ, John Feltman
The Comment:
Sister Carol Keehan is wrong. In fact she is considered a moral incompetent under Canon Law 1329 and is Latae Sententiae (automatically excommunicated) for her violation of this Law. The Canon Laws of Catholicism are not open to interpretation by anyone except the Pope in matters of faith and morals,and his position is clearly against the Senate version of the Reform Bill as it is written. I sincerely hope that her Bishop will advise her that she has erred in her judgment as a Catholic. The Conference of Bishops has made the Church's position on this matter quite clear. I also suggest that Sister Keehan speak with
Congressman Stupak for clarification. The Senate Bill would be acceptable if it had the Stupak Amendment in it,but it does not. Congressman Stupak wants Health reform,as we all do, but not at the price of the abortion of 800,000 unborn fetuses/yr being funded to any degree by taxpayers money. And nothing can come before a Catholic's responsibility to defend the lives of the unborn,and the Senate Bill clearly leaves open the possibility of tax dollars being redirected towards funding abortion. Sister Keehan is compromising her Catholicism for a rally phrase spoken by Obama in the State of the Union address when he asked Americans not to walk away from healthcare reform.
I don't know of anyone who does not want healthcare reform. Sister Keehan seems to suggest that the Senate Bill satisfies her conscience. Well Sister it doesn't satisfy my conscience nor millions of other Catholics and the Church's hierarchy. And I question your motivations in doing so.
Jesus Christ was sold out for thirty pieces of Silver. What's your price?
And please, if you think you are right in your opinion to which you are entitled as an American, do so as an American and not as a Catholic because you do not speak for Catholicism. President Obama's legislative record on abortion issues and his professed positions and reasons given for his total support of Roe vs. Wade, leaves anything he states on such issues to be highly suspect as to there secular nature and moral competence. And this Reform Bill that he wants Congress to pass is not only spiritually flawed but a Bill that will surely bankrupt this nation. And then, where will Healthcare be? John Feltman
Unfortunately, The Conference of Bishops never responded to my emails that were written in March,2010 concerning Sister Carol Keehan's becoming an accomplice to abortion by prioritizing social service funding over the rights of God's unborn innocent and seriously affecting religious freedom which has now been made evident.
Pope Francis should be addressing the many spiritual issues of abortion and the spiritually deadly consequences of abortion under Roe Vs Wade,abortion on demand for any reason. And the specific responsibility of all Catholics under the Canon Laws of the Church,especially Canon 1329 which deals with being an accomplice to abortions. There are also the issues of thousands of sexually perverted crimes committed by Priests and others in the Church and the need for Pope Francis to institute solutions to the causes of these crimes such as the vow of celibacy which has been the main cause of these crimes and certainly why such a vow is more of a creator of evil than a justifiable condition of being a priest. I believe the Pope and the world knows that man is not God and such an abstinence is not within the human nature of a man to accomplish when given the temptations he is subjected to in the practice of his priesthood,especially today. The number of Catholic seminaries that have closed, in the last 20 years, is a sure sign thst something is not right in the catholic Church. There are many other issues concerning the poor and needed and those Christians being slaughtered by ISIS and other evil religious bigots throughout the world that the Pope should be addressing but Climate Change is not one of them.He not only is not qualified to make such comments but leave you with a suspicion that the Pope may be playing politics when he should be playing the Pope.Science has not proven any postulate concerning climate change and probably never will. Dr Ivar Gaever,Ph.D,Math and Physics,Nobel Prize,1973 and a supporter of Obama,says that Obama is wrong about Climate Change.And so do I.
John P Feltman

barkless dogs

I've been saying for years that what our religious and political "leaders" don't say and do is often more telling than what they do say and do. Sins of omission may be less noticeable than sins of commission, but they're often more damning.