“In this statement, we bishops do not intend to tell Catholics for whom or against whom to vote.”
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States (emphasis added)
“A Catholic organization may not directly or indirectly make any statement, in any medium, to endorse, support, or oppose any candidate for public office, political party or PAC.”
Political Activity & Lobbying Guidelines for Catholic Organizations — USCCB Office of General Counsel
On October 11th, Fr. Edward Meeks delivered a 26-minute homily at Christ the King parish in Towson, MD. His homily was subsequently uploaded to his YouTube channel under the title “Staring Into the Abyss with Fr. Ed Meeks” and has amassed over one million views at this writing.
The homily has also been poorly transcribed and published at The Thinking Conservative. I was unable to copy and paste directly from the published transcript, but I converted it to a PDF document and will be using that version (with slight corrections) for my analysis here.
Fr. Meek’s homily can be divided into three parts: the preamble, a five-point critique of Joe Biden, and the conclusion. I will work through the homily in the same sequence here, working selectively in line-by-line commentary and then comments following longer sections.
PART ONE: THE PREAMBLE
I mentioned to you for the past two Sunday’s that I’m going to be speaking today on the November 3rd election and want to give you a little heads-up as I begin.
This first line establishes that Fr. Meek’s homily is premeditated and carefully planned and forewarned. I think it is safe to also assume the recording and posting afterwards were planned. What this tells us is that this is not a “candid camera” homily, but, instead, a staged homily, read from a prepared manuscript and recorded for use as media.
We also can see that the preamble is the last guard or “heads-up” before the substance of the homily (i.e., the five-point critique of Joe Biden) to follow.
I will be going a little bit long this morning because I have a lot of ground to cover.
This simply adds to the advance notice and prepares the listener for a longer homily. At 26 minutes, Fr. Meek’s homily would be on the longer end of things, but by no means the longest one I have heard.
This will be for me personally the 14th presidential election I will have voted in since reaching the age of majority, and this one is unlike anything I have ever seen.
I didn’t do the math to figure out Fr. Meek’s age, but it does impress a sense of singular historic importance to this election which adds even more drama to this homily.
I actually said the same thing about the last election in 2016, but the events of the last four years and, in fact, of the past six or seven months, have cast this upcoming election in a whole new and ever more dire light.
This both anticipates the objection that every partisan pre-election speech begins with “this is the most consequential election of our lifetime” and, oddly enough, doubles down on it. We also begin to see the profound pessimism of the title “Staring into the Abyss.” If the past four years have been dire then one might think that Trump’s presidency is going to be critiqued but, instead, as we will see, the critique will solely land on his opponent’s shoulders. Odd. Also, a bit too Last Roman for my taste.
I believe that at this moment in time in history you and I find ourselves as part of a society that is staring into the abyss, and that how our nation votes on November 3rd will determine whether we collectively step off the cliff into that abyss, or step back from it, if only temporarily.
One should note that these framing themes of looming doom and cultural collapse and civilizational crisis are well-worn territory for nationalist and nativist rhetoric. They are the premeditated, chosen themes for this homily. Fr. Meeks never explains his metaphor of “the abyss” but he repeats it again and again and affixes it to his title. Oddly enough, the real preface doesn’t begin until the next line.
Now let me preface my remarks by saying that it is not my place to tell you how you must vote.
Fr. Meeks now begins to perform the contradiction that his homily truly is. By the meagre and most literal letter of the law, he admits that it is not his place to tell anyone how to vote. But, as we will see, he will go on to do exactly this in a number of ways I will point out. This may seem to satisfy the USCCB’s directive that serves as this post’s epigraph: “…we bishops do not intend to tell Catholics for whom or against whom to vote.” But, as the emphasis shows, Fr. Meeks will soon fall short of it. He will miss entirely that it is not his place to tell us “for whom or against whom” to vote.
We do, after all, still live in a free country with free elections at least for the time being, but it is my place as your priest and pastor to help you see how your vote may or may not line up with the teachings of the church.
We first see the pessimist Last Roman nativism sink into cynicism as Fr. Meeks implies that the abyss that awaits us is an unfree country without free elections. Then we see an emerging contradiction. If “ it is not my place to tell you how you must vote” then how does Fr. Meeks square that “it is my place as your priest and pastor to help you see how your vote may or may not line up with the teachings of the church.” This note about speaking as “your priest and pastor” should also be recalled for when, as we will see, Fr. Meeks tries to downgrade his homily from speaking as “your priest and pastor” to mere personal opinion.
So I will tell you emphatically that what I’m about to say to you should not be taken as an implicit endorsement of any candidate by Christ the King Church or by the personal ordinariate of the chair of Saint Peter.
While he may not endorse any candidate, Fr. Meeks is making direct remarks on the November 3rd election in a homily of a Catholic Mass, speaking as “your priest and pastor” and, as we will see, he will explicitly make an anti-endorsement of Joe Biden. Take that as you will.
I’m taking this opportunity to speak to you personally, to share with you my own personal opinion, but it is an opinion based formed and informed by the word of God and by the crystal clear teaching of the Church for the purpose of helping you think through the choices because, again, there are certain realities about the candidates and their parties that directly impact our Catholic faith, and so we must be aware of these realities before we cast our vote and my first allegiance is not to any political candidate or party, but to the truth.
Is Fr. Meeks speaking as “your priest and pastor” during the homily of a Catholic Mass or is he speaking personally, sharing mere personal opinion? Notice how quickly he shifts from “your pastor and priest” to “personal opinion” to “formed and informed by the word of God and by the crystal clear teaching of the Church.” By this point, the capacity in which Fr. Meeks is speaking is almost purposefully unclear, but we can see what is most obvious: He is standing at the pulpit, before his parish, their pastor and priest, speaking personally but with an asserted authority of the word of God and “crystal clear” teaching of the Church.
His final clause about not speaking about “any political candidate or party” is odd since he only attacks Joe Biden and the Democratic Party (e.g., “…there is one presidential candidate who stands in very public, very obstinate, opposition to church teaching, namely, former Vice President Joe Biden, along with the Democratic Party.”).
So, what I’m going to say is not politically motivated, because the stakes involved for transcend politics. But what I’m going to say, I believe, has to be said. Now let me begin by telling you that I have struggled mightily with this message, not because I’m afraid of thetruth. I think you know me better than that. To the contrary the truth is what motivates me every day of my life. I resonate completely with Saint Paul who said, “woe is me if I do not preach the truth of the Gospel.” Frankly, if I were not sold out to the truth I wouldn’t even be standing in front of you today, because I would not be a Catholic priest. No, the reason for my struggle has to do with the vitriol and with the vicious animosity that are evident in our society today. Animosity that is played out tens of millions of times daily on social media and in the violence that has overtaken so many of America’s cities and was even on full display in the recent presidential debate.
Besides trying to ally himself to the truth as opposed to a political party, despite the forthcoming enumerated critiques of Joe Biden and the Democratic Party in a de facto two-party system, the oddest part of this paragraph is that Fr. Meeks pretends to be concerned about his homily in light of the internet. If that was true then why would be have prepared to deliver it, record it, and post it to his YouTube channel for one million and counting views? If this is motivated by the truth with trepidation over social media then why is he so clearly doing this in a way that literally maximizes its media footprint to the tune of seven figures and counting?
Brothers and sisters, we live in a nation that is sadly, tragically divided. A nation at odds with itself. Jesus words in the Gospel of this past Friday were never more true, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I grieve for what has become of America. And so the last thing I want to do is to have this message contribute to that division in our country, and least of all to have it cause division in our parish. You and I are children of the same heavenly Father. You and I are servants of the same Lord and Master. We are first Christians, Catholics, we are second Americans, and then somewhere down the line from there we are Republicans or Democrats or Independents or whatever. Never forget that order. And so it has almost become a cliché to declare that we have reached a tipping point in our nation, but it is also true, and it is time for faithful Catholics and other Christians to stand up courageously and forthrightly to confront the evil that has overtaken our culture and say enough is enough. Because, whether you are aware of it or not, there are powerful forces in government at every level, as well as in the mainstream media, and in the Silicon Valley technocracy, that are working aggressively to silence the church, through legislation, lies, intimidation and censorship.
It is good that Fr. Meeks admits that his rhetoric is a cliché at this point. It is not so good that cannot see how his conspiratorial claims add fuel to the divisions be condemns. Plus, as I noted above, if he really cared about “the Silicon Valley technocracy,” he may not be trying to make a viral YouTube video out of a Sunday homily.
So for us faithful Catholics, the starting point of our choice of whom to vote for needs to be that we intentionally think with the church. Think with the church, something that too many Catholics have failed to do for far too long. A fact that is largely contributed to the dire condition of our culture today. The church has clearly and consistently based her teachingon the Sacred Scriptures and on the living tradition and embodied in two thousand years ofher magisterium. That teaching has led to an array of foundational principles when it comes to us as Catholics and our moral and Civic responsibilities. It’s not always easy to sift through the myriad of issues at play in presidential politics, so it becomes crucial then that we properly prioritize those issues. Because some are, more, clearly more important than others. We can respectfully disagree. And we can have differences of prudential judgment and opinion around issues like the economy, taxation, immigration, National Defense, trade, healthcare, climate change, and so on. But don’t get sidetracked by the spurious seamless garment theory espoused by many in the church that asserts issues like immigration and the environment are of equal weight with abortion, because there is a set of issues upon which Catholics must not disagree. Pope Benedict XVI specified those issues in his 2012 Apostolic Constitution entitled Sacramentum Caritatis, in which Benedict defined what he called are non-negotiable values, a concept which he repeated countless times during his pontificate. Among the list of non-negotiable values which he identified, chief among them are the sanctity of life from conception to natural death, the sanctity of marriage, as a lifelong sacramental union of a man and a woman, and the preservation of religious liberty. They are non-negotiable because they are of paramount importance in Catholic moral theology. They are the moral principles were the church draws a clear line in the sand. And all of the fog and the confusion and spin that surrounds every political season, we must, as faithful Catholics, conscientiously vote in such a way that best upholds and protects these non-negotiable values.
Here Fr. Meeks truly begins to build a premise for his assertions to follow. He first clears away the “spurious seamless garment theory” and replaces it with his reading of Benedict XVI’s criteria of non-negotiables. Many Catholics will want to quarrel with this uncharitable and out of hand rejection of the seamless garment as necessarily opposed to Benedict’s non-negotiables. Close readers of Benedict’s beautiful letter on the eucharist will also notice that Fr. Meeks’ summary of it is wildly inaccurate (e.g., Benedict does not mention “the preservation of religious liberty;” this is Fr. Meeks’ own invention and misattribution). But we do not need to do a careful analysis of Sacramentum Caritatis to see that if Fr. Meeks was serious about giving a non-partisan account of these non-negotiables he would point out the flaws in both major parties. By choosing to only single out one of them as violating the three non-negotiables, he clearly is making the math very simple for his parishioners and many viewers: Don’t Vote for Biden. If you doubt me, just read what follows:
Again the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage, and religious liberty. Not that other issues are unimportant, but these three are foundational to who we are as human beingsand to what kind of society we are constructing. As Pope Benedict wrote regarding these values, “In the face of fundamental and inalienable ethical demands Christians must recognize that what is at stake is the essence of the moral law which concerns the integral, integral good of the human person.” On these and other critical issues, there is one presidential candidate who stands in very public, very obstinate, opposition to church teaching, namely, former Vice President Joe Biden, along with the Democratic Party.
Recall the epigraph from the USCCB: “In this statement, we bishops do not intend to tell Catholics for whom or against whom to vote.” Yea, so, Fr. Meeks is not doing that. He is saying, again, don’t vote for Biden or for Democrats. In doing so, he is at least violating the Church’s stance on clergy and election in spirit and there is room to say he is violating it in the letter as well.
And so I’d like to share with you the five things which every Catholic needs to know about Catholic Joe Biden, and how these line up with the non-negotiables. And by the way, before I begin, and for the sake of those of you who might be a little bit squeamish about what I’m about to say, let me quote for you a principal from the second Vatican council’s pastoral constitution on the church in the modern world entitled Gaudium Et Spes. The council fathers wrote this, “At all times and in all places the church should have the true freedom to teach the faith, to proclaim its teaching about society, to carry out its tasks among men without hindrance, and to pass moral judgments even in matters relating to politics, whenever the fundamental right of man for the salvation of souls requires it.”
Citing this passage from Gaudium Et Spes is pretty rich when you consider that it comes from section 76 which begins as follows: “It is very important, especially where a pluralistic society prevails, that there be a correct notion of the relationship between the political community and the Church, and a clear distinction between the tasks which Christians undertake, individually or as a group, on their own responsibility as citizens guided by the dictates of a Christian conscience, and the activities which, in union with their pastors, they carry out in the name of the Church.” A line earlier, the council goes as far as to admit that “She will even give up the exercise of certain rights which have been legitimately acquired, if it becomes clear that their use will cast doubt on the sincerity of her witness.” Fr. Meeks is cherry-picking from Vatican II and ignoring the clear directives from the USCCB here. It is misleading and self-serving.
Okay then, the five things that every Catholic needs to know about Catholic Joe Biden.
The real title of this political election homily should just be “the five things that every Catholic needs to know about Catholic Joe Biden” because that is the real content. However, one will note that Fr. Meeks spends more time introducing these five-points than he does in presenting them.
PART TWO: FIVE-POINT CRITIQUE OF JOE BIDEN
Number One: Joe Biden is unabashedly pro-abortion.
This is Fr. Meeks’ first and more important point if we recall the three non-negotiables he outlined in part one. I will go through this first point in line-by-line detail. For the other four points, I will treat each of them as a whole. As the homily treats Biden and the Democratic party in severe detail, you should recall the massive performative contradiction that is mounting as Fr. Meeks violates canon law and the guidelines that the Catholic bishops have issued to clergy and the faithful.
Joe Biden is unabashedly pro-abortion.
Joe Biden has never claimed to be pro-abortion. In fact, there are very few pro-choice advocates for legal abortion or “abortion rights” advocates who describe themselves as pro-abortion. This is more than a matter of semantics given the burden of cooperation we find in moral theology. If Joe Biden were, in fact, a supporter of abortion as opposed to a supporter of the right for women to choose to have an abortion, things might be very different. There is a real moral difference between saying “I am for abortions” and saying “I am for women having the right to choose to have an abortion.” The latter keeps the possibility of being against abortion personally while supporting a law that allows for it, while the former does not. By framing his first point in this way, Fr. Meeks begins his partisan attack of Joe Biden in a sloppy bit of inexact and overdetermined rhetoric.
This fact is clear from his long voting record, his public pronouncements, his allegiance to and support of groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL, and for his party’s platform, not only in this election year, but in their platformgoing back decades.
Biden’s record actually shows a very different picture. It shows a man who has struggled to prioritize competing goals and goods. For example, it was Biden who negotiated the exception for religious non-profits for Obamacare. His movement on this issue forces one to get into the detail of the policy and the jurisprudence about it. I will go into more detail about it below, but the fact is that Biden presently believes that the Obamacare coverage expansion can become universal or at least must be equally accessible to all. This goal of universal access to healthcare does mean not being selective about healthcare offerings, but this balance is a deeply prudential decision, not a single issue priority.
He, and they, support abortion for any reason or for no reason right up to and even beyond the moment of birth.
This is a reference to the Born Alive Act. Trump has tried to make a duplicate version of the 2002 Born Alive Act, which passed unanimously in both house and senate, which was opposed for varied reasons. But none of those reasons indicate a desire to not prosecute or to allow for infants to be killed. We can test this easily by looking at the sentencing of Gosnell which shows that these laws are in place and for good reason. You can read more about this issue here.
He, and they, opposed the effort in Congress to pass legislation requiring doctors who perform abortions to provide medical care to babies who survive the abortion opting rather to let such babies, simply die outside the womb with no care.
As noted above, this is referring directly to a new Born Alive Act, which already exists since 2002, originally sponsored by Senator Ben Sasse, which was rejected in February. This bill did several things, but it was never proposed in a way that meant to pass. For one, it allowed the Trump administration to appear to be proposing new abortion policies even though this bill already existed. Secondly, it allowed Republican supporters to frame abortion in terms of late-term and, as we see in Fr. Meeks’ homily, even full-term infants. This is powerful rhetoric when campaigning but it misses the real reasons it was opposed which had more to do with the fact that existing laws already address it, including the 2002 bill it copies. Fr. Meeks’ framing here is almost identical to Trump’s. After the bill failed, Trump wrote this on Twitter: “Senate Democrats just voted against legislation to prevent the killing of newborn infant children. The Democrat position on abortion is now so extreme that they don’t mind executing babies AFTER birth.” We can see that Fr. Meeks’ “non-partisan” critique of Biden is also making his pulpit and parish a mouthpiece for Trump.
He, and they, are pushing for the repeal the Hyde Amendment, anaction which would force All American taxpayers, including you and me, to fund abortions,to pay for them.
Biden has indeed gone from being a staunch Hyde Amendment supporter to opposing it. The reasons for this can be said to be for political expediency or, more reasonably, Biden’s realistic assessment of the policies that may become an obstacle for his proposed healthcare plan. The Hyde Amendment is a measure that prevents Medicare from covering abortion access with medical exceptions. The result is that the population who qualifies for Medicare becomes an unequal participant in the laws that permit access to legal abortion. From the side of taxpayer conscience, we can understand why Biden supported this amendment for many years, from the side of someone looking to propose a new healthcare plan that focuses on equal access, I think we can see why it is now seen as an obstacle to Biden.
Along with your anti-life positions on euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, embryonic stem cell research and other issues, the Democratic party has become the party of death and Catholic Joe Biden is their standard-bearer, or as he said in the first presidential debate, “I am the Democratic Party”.
Biden has said this on euthanasia to Senate Committee on the Judiciary on April 27, 2000: “I am opposed to legalizing physician-assisted suicide in this country, period.” Regarding stem cell research, this is a replay of the Obama vs. McCain election where this issue emerged. But if one pays close attention to legislation since Bush, it is evident that both parties have held a number of different and even opposing positions including Trump’s recent COVID-19 Regeneron treatment which made use of stem cells. Here Fr. Meeks really oversteps as his total focus on the Democratic party as the “party of death” misses the Trump’s enthusiasm for the death penalty and also his callous and incompetent handling of COVID-19. As we will see, Fr. Meeks will critique COVID-19 shutdowns, but it is remarkable that in the midst of a global pandemic where over 200 thousand Americans are dead, Fr. Meeks see the opposition party, and not the incumbent, as “the party of death.”
Number Two: Joe Biden opposes the Church’s teaching on the sanctityof marriage
Joe Biden opposes the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of marriage. While he was vice-president and he publicly endorsed same-sex marriage in 2012, three years before The Supreme Court ruling. And in 2016, while still the vice president, he officiated over the wedding ceremony of two men, posting a photo of the ceremony on Twitter with the caption, “Proud to marry Brian and Joe at my house. Couldn’t be happier. Two long-timeWhite House staffers. Two great guys”.
We should not work too hard on this point. Donald J. Trump is thrice-married and a serial adulterer with zero regard for the civic or religious institution of marriage. Biden, by contrast, knows the pain of losing one’s beloved and the suffering of burying a son. I think Biden knows far more about the human family than Trump’s transactional and scandalous records on the matter. Fr. Meeks has fully descended into a Trumpian parody, all within a homily at a Catholic mass. This is a scandal.
Number Three: A Biden presidency would be a danger to our religious liberty
A Biden presidency would be a danger to our already dwindling religious liberty. He and his party advocate for the repeal of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which protects the religious conscience rights of healthcare workers who declined to participate in abortions and of Church based adoption agencies that choose to place children only with married heterosexual couples, among other things. Biden is also on record committing to restoring the Obamacare mandate requiring religious ministries and orders like the Little Sisters ofthe Poor to provide contraceptive and abortifacient drugs to their employees, despite the fact that that is a direct violation of their faith, conviction and of church teaching. And, by the way, on the subject of religious liberty, Joe Biden is on the record as saying, that as president he would not hesitate to reinstitute a nationwide pandemic lockdown if the science demands it. Undoubtedly such a lockdown would, once again, close our churches. Let me remind you what it was like for us to have no public masses and no sacraments for 11 weeks this past spring.
Joe Biden voted for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993. At that time it was seen as a bill that would create exemptions for Native Americans, like the use of ritual peyote. Since then, the left of centre bill has been copied in states or used as a reason to deny services to same-sex couples and more. This bill is also a key part of the Hobby Lobby demand to be afforded the same exceptions as religious non-profits, like Little Sisters of the Poor. In the latter case, the nuns recently won a decision that asks for more than the initial exemption granted by Obamacare, which would only apply to their staff. So this 1993 bill is hardly a one-sided piece of policy. As for the COVID-19 lockdown, Fr. Meeks’ pitting the Church against science is deeply uncatholic and also manipulative, trying to use access to the sacraments as reasons to vote for Trump. Disgusting.
Number Four: A Joe Biden presidency opens the door for America tobecome a socialist country
Evidence for this assertion is in his signing on to the self-avowed socialist Bernie Sanders agenda. His selection as a running mate of Senator Kamala Harris, identified by bipartisan groups, by non-partisan groups, as the most leftist member of the U.S. Senate. His several months long silence on the murder and mayhem being inflicted on America’s cities by Marxist socialist organizations, as well as the all too obvious and serious influence being exercised within the Democratic Party by a leftist extremist. So why, you may ask, should that be an issue of concern to Catholics? One has only to consider the lessons of history and the teachings of the Pope’s to answer the question. For more than 200 years, wherever socialism has sought to gain a foothold, in France, following the French Revolution, in the twentieth century and today in Latin America and Eastern Europe and Asia or wherever, the socialists have you viewed the church, especially and specifically the Catholic Church, as an enemy to be destroyed or, at the very least, to be silenced and marginalized. Socialism is a soul robbing ideology that always and inevitably leads to totalitarianism, where the government presumes to put itself in the place of God in the lives of its subservient citizens. For this reason, socialism has been clearly and vigorously condemned and denounced by an unbroken string of no less than 11 consecutive posts from Pius the 9th in 1849, to Benedict XVI in 2005. Mob rule is one of the chief tactics and strategies of socialism, and, in a perverse twist of irony, the same socialist mobs who like to chant “silence is violence” reap the benefit of the several months-long silence of Joe Biden and his party, as the mobs carried out their orchestrated campaign violence in America’s cities. Again, Joe Biden is probably personally not a socialist, but he and the Democrat Party can validly be called out for giving aid, comfort and encouragement to those who are. Whether they be the demonic forces unleashed in the streets of America’s cities by Marxist nihilist anarchist revolutionaries
There are so many falsehoods here that I cannot address them all. Biden beat Sanders in the Democratic primary. The Democratic National Convention soundly dismissed most of the Sanders platform, such as Medicare for All. Kamala also opposed Sanders. This idea that there some proximity between Biden and Sanders is ridiculous. Sanders was an independent for most of his political life and Biden has made fun of that saying that Democrats should elect Democrats. Pay close attention to the “murder and mayhem” description of the protests and riots that followed the killing of George Floyd. The organization he is making reference to is Black Lives Matter Global Network. I have done a very close and detailed debunking of this Marxist accusation used by the right here. As for the Red Scare Anti-Black tactics, Martin Luther King Jr. was called a Marxist and a Socialist and was also accused of inciting riots and mayhem. Like this handwritten note:
Like COVID-19, Fr. Meeks shows no sympathy or grace for the dead. If this is pro-life then we must conclude that pro-life is a pro forma performance, not a real concern for life. Fr. Meeks tries to disguise his disgust for the Black activists in political insults like “mob rule” and “nihilist anarchist revolutionaries” but any person of colour will immediately detect a scent of white supremacy lurking in his rhetoric. I am not saying it is a dog whistle or that he is a white supremacist. It just smells like racism. On socialism, Fr. Meeks has a terrible command of the details and facts. The French Revolution was not socialism. Also, in Latin America especially, Fr. Meeks claims that socialism always opposes the Church is easily shown to be false in the numerous Catholic socialists and activists like St. Oscar Romero and Venerable Helder Camara and many, many more. For Eastern Europe, Fr. Meeks misses the entire Orange revolution which included Catholic Socialists as well. In the end, trying to say that totalitarian communism is the same as democratic and social democracy is a classic American Red Scare tactic, but it is also very stupid.
Number 5: Joe Biden’s positions on these four moral issues as a very high-prole Catholic subvert and undermine the faith
Joe Biden’s positions on these four moral issues as a very high-profile Catholic, a man who served in the U.S. Senate for more than three decades, then as Vice President for eight years, and now as a candidate for President, of very high-profile Catholic, his positions then serve to subvert and undermine the faith of nominal and poorly catechized Catholics, as for example, it gives rise to the effort, the misinformed effort, known as Catholics for Biden.
At least one of Biden’s campaign ads picture him with Pope Francis and with a group of smiling nuns in an effort to portray himself as a devout Catholic, and, by the way, when you have to tell people what a good Catholic you are, does that not make you question how good a Catholic the person really is? Ironically it’s another group of nuns, namely the LittleSisters of the Poor who would once again be targeted by a Biden Presidency for enforcement of the Obamacare mandate. Furthermore, Senator Kamala Harris, his running mate, is on record calling the Knights of Columbus “an all-male extremist group.” Extremistbecause of the Knights clear support of church teaching on the non-negotiables that were talking about here. And, by the way, Deacon Bud, Father Rob and I are members of the Knights of Columbus, and, yeah, we’re all male. What of it? I’ll leave it up to you to decide if we’re also extremist. Also isn’t it interesting that the same leftist media which gives high praise to Joe Biden’s Catholicism, while characterizing the Catholicism of Judge Amy ConeyBarrett as dangerous and extremist? The perennial failure of any of our Bishops to call out Biden and many other Catholic politicians who publicly defy the churches most cherished moral teachings only serves to confuse many Catholics, and many others in our society, causing them to think Oh, I guess what he holds isn’t that bad. Isn’t that bad? The willful destruction of 61 million babies in the womb including, by the way, 23 million black babies, isn’t that bad? I asked you, what could be worse? In its document entitled Living the Gospel of Life, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops declared abortion to be the preeminent moral issue of our time. The right to life undergirds all other rights. That’s why it’s mentioned first in the Declaration of Independence. And it represents governments’ most important responsibility. So don’t let anyone, be he a priest, a bishop, or cardinal, tell you otherwise. Abortion is, I believe, spiritually speaking, both the primary cause and the primary symptom of a society in a downward death spiral. As I said, it’s time for faithful Catholics to stand up and say, enough is enough, to all officeholders and politicians who claim to be devout Catholics, while publicly and obstinately contradicting the church and subverting her teachings.
Suddenly, Fr. Meeks cares about Black people! But he only cares about them in order to instrumentalize them for his political speech masquerading as a homily. This is the sloppiest of the five-point and it essentially claims that because Joe Biden is a Roman Catholic, his presidency would undermine Catholicism. This makes as much sense as saying that Biden is anti-Catholic because he is a Roman Catholic Democrat. Here we see echoes of the Fr. Altman speeches and the deep desire of conservative US Catholic to excommunicate and cancel those who disagree with them. Well, Fr. Meeks has no jurisdiction over Biden. His unfocused final attack, that moves from saying that Biden is not Catholic because he is Catholic to again try to ensure that abortion is enshrined as the only real issue of importance, shows how desperate he really is and how that desperation allows him to violate Church teaching and directives in order to claim that Biden is violating Church teaching and directives. In this final point, we see that this homily truly is: a performative contradiction in every way, from the inside out.
PART THREE: CONCLUSION
In conclusion, we are as a nation, as I stated earlier, I believe, staring into the abyss, stemming from our culture’s wholesale rejection of God and his law, a rejection manifested most tangibly in five decades of legalized abortion.
What is “the abyss”? If we take the “wholesale rejection of God and his law, a rejection manifested most tangibly in five decades of legalized abortion” as the root that the stem of “the abyss” emerges from them I guess it is a dystopian prediction that the Church in America will decline into nothing. This is a thesis that has been predicted many times. Rod Dreher has made this sky is falling narrative into an entire repetitive career. People like William F. Buckley Jr. made the same case in God and Man at Yale in the 50s and the same basic thesis is republished at regular intervals. Is that the abyss? The same cultural decline, moral degradation, and all that jazz? One does wonder how Fr. Meeks tracks this claim with the steady decline of abortion over the five decades of its legalization and also the precipitous climb of abortions during the global pandemic he is so cavalier about.
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once wrote these words, almost sixty years ago, “A nation always gets the kind of politicians it deserves. If the time ever comes when the religious Jews, Protestants and Catholics ever have to suffer under a totalitarian state which would allow them to them the right to worship God according to the light of their conscience, it will be because for years they thought it made no difference what kind of people represented them, and because they abandoned the spiritual in the realm of the temporal.”
This is a hilarious speech to quote Archbishop Sheen from. It is from a 1947 radio broadcast titled “Light Your Lamp.” The subject is how to combat communism, which in 1947 refers to Russian Stalinism. Before Meek’s chosen passage, Sheen’s first negative suggestion for opposing communism is “not by name-calling or hate.” (Who name calls and hates? Biden or Trump?) Sheen’s first positive suggestion for fighting communism is as follows: “Communism can be met politically by choosing candidates in elections not on the basis of political party, not on the basis of the economic class they support, but on the basis of the moral worth of the candidate. Namely, whether a candidate is a husband of one wife, whether he says his prayers, whether he refuses to follow a party line dictated from abroad.” (Who is a faithful husband? Who wears a rosary around his wrist? Who prays? Who is refuses to take orders from abroad?) After these opening notes, Sheen discusses the need to give workers more ownership over their means of production than faceless stockholders and this proposal, on the whole, is a very good way to think of the core economic proposal of social democrats. So Fr. Meeks’ attempt to moralize with Sheen backfires tremendously to the one who checks the source. You can listen to Sheen’s entire address here.
And so the bottom line, brothers and sisters, is vote, and when you do, think with the church, while also understanding this: that no one running for public office is ultimately the solution for what ails America, only God is. That’s not a statement of resignation to the inevitable, it is rather a statement of Hope.
This is fairly innocuous on its own. Fr. Meeks is right that we should vote and, of course, God is the only theological solution to anything, but this does seem to be a soft and gentle facelift to Trump’s character. Sort of like saying “vote for Trump, but trust in God” or something like that. It is hard to get hope from the abyss though. I am not led to believe that Fr. Meeks is an apophatic politician or proposing some mystical via negative for us to follow, and we still do not know what this abyss metaphor is about.
The late Father Richard John Neuhaus once wrote, “Christians have not the right to despair, for despair is a sin, and we have not a reason to despair,” he said, “quite simply because Christ is risen.”
So, the US is standing at the edge of an abyss and staring into it but we should not give in to despair because it is a sin. I am fine with that, actually. The only issue that Fr. Meeks’ abyssal situation leaves a lot of things out like COVID-19, racism, and more. Another point to remind the reader is that Trump is the incumbent. If things are this dire and abysmal after Trump’s first term then why is he critiquing Biden?
You and I are called to be salt and light in a dark and dying world. And you and I as faithful American Catholics are engaged in a battle for the soul of our beloved Nation. Let’s take that call seriously.
If the world is dying then it might be good to mention that we can invoke the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth and that God so LOVED THE WORLD that He sent us Christ His Son. I know this is perhaps too much to read into this, but one can see a dualistic Gnosticism here at play where the world is discarded and the soul is preserved. This also reminds me that we have heard nothing about a real threat to our common home the earth and to us its inhabitants: climate change.
I like to conclude this homily with a quote from the Old Testament that you’re, no doubt, familiar with. It’s one of my very favourite scripture quotes and one which is most pertinent and most compelling for today. 2 Chronicles 7:14, Almighty God declares this, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways then, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.”
I was sure Fr. Meeks would try to save his “homily” by inserting a reading from readings for the day, but this is not from the liturgy. But it is a lovely passage nonetheless.
God bless you and may God Bless America.
In the video, the congregation erupts into thunderous applause after this line. I tend to not like applause at Mass, especially if it is not intended for worship, but it is funny to me how this secular clapping performatively certifies that this so-called “homily” is, in fact, a premeditated partisan political speech, made to order for media promotion, masquerading as a Sunday homily. Fr. Meeks disgracefully turned his parish’s celebration of the Mass into a Trump rally in violation of canon and civic law of his Church and State.
Thanks for reading everyone! Please share this widely with those who are using it as a self-evident and obvious reason for Catholics to vote for Trump. It is not.
Vote your well-formed conscience!
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