05 March 2012

The Broken Path, by Judie Brown

The Broken Path: How Catholic Bishops Got Lost in the Weeds of American Politics, Judie Brown

The American bishops are to be commended for standing up to the Obama administration and refusing to accept the so-called compromise regarding the HHS mandate. It remains the case, however, that had this bold leadership been on display many years ago, we would never have been forced to deal with this battle in the first place. Years and years of silence (and in some cases outright dissent on the part of some clergy) on the issue of contraception have led to the vast majority of Catholics today not only using birth control, but not even knowing the Church's teaching on this issue, such that it is seen as a quaint and even ridiculous thing that the Catholic Church should be so outraged at being forced to provide access to contraception through its insurers. The fact that the majority of American bishops did very little in the last election to oppose Obama played a large part in helping secure office for the man who is now clearly an enemy of the Church.

Well-known pro-life leader Judie Brown has written a book about how we got here--and it pulls no punches. There are so many salient, quotable parts of this book it's hard to know where to begin. She begins by clarifying that her book is not intended to pass judgment on anyone's soul, but rather to take an honest look at some of the actions of the hierarchy that have contributed to today's crisis.

The problems didn't begin only recently; one can see the roots of today's crisis in Pope Leo XIII's 1899 warning against Americanism, a heresy that would place certain American ideals over that of the Magisterium. Fast forward a century later, and we find the Holy Father's words fulfilled: we have an American Church infested with Americanism. Other problems include homosexuality allowed to run rampant in the priesthood for too long, and heresy being taught for years in American seminaries. Pope John Paul II began the long turn back, and the current Holy Father is continuing the reverse.

The USCCB has also played its part. Recall the Call to Action conference of 1976, supported by the bishops, which became "a gathering point for Catholic groups and theologians who take issue with Catholic teaching and are committed to misrepresenting the essence of Catholicism whenever the opportunity presents itself."

The various committees of the USCCB have also undertaken shocking actions to scandalize the faithful. For example, she cites Bishop Howard Hubbard, chair of the USCCB's International Justice and Peace Committee, who approved the 2010 initiative of diocesan Catholic Charities to distribute free needles to drug abusers in order to prevent the spread of AIDS.

Catholic Charities has also played a role in the current crisis. An arm of the USCCB, Catholic Charities received a $100 million disaster relief grant from the federal government after it pandered to the Obama administration.

Then there is the Safe Environment office of the USCCB, created in response to the sex abuse crisis. Teresa Kettelkamp, executive director of this office, once served as adviser to the militantly pro-abortion group Feminist Majority Foundation's National Center for Women and Policing. Safe Environment's mandatory VIRTUS program, which is meant to educate children on how to protect themselves from sexual abuse, has been controversial because of the sensitive material of a sexual nature that its young watchers are exposed to. Despite national outcry by concerned parents and even some bishops, the USCCB continues to mandate that every diocese implement the VIRTUS program.

Finally, one cannot complete the discussion without mention of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which has been mired in controversy once it was discovered that hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money from this arm of the USCCB went to local programs that promote abortion, contraception, or the homosexual lifestyle.

These are only a few things Judie Brown highlights in her discussion of how the Church has gotten to where it is today. A cure cannot be found without first diagnosing the problem. After Ms. Brown lays out the problems, she provides suggestions as to the solution:

-Take the opportunity to discuss concerns with your priest and bishop, and always in a spirit of charity.

-Teach those around you what it means to be truly Catholic through word and deed.

-Pray for priests.

She closes the book with this prayer for clergy, which we would do well to pray on a regular basis:
O God, who hast appointed Thine only-begotten Son to be the eternal High Priest for the glory of Thy Majesty and the salvation of mankind; grant that they whom He hath chosen to be His ministers and the stewards of His mysteries, may be found faithful in the fulfillment of the ministry which they have received. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
I highly recommend this enlightening and readable book.

You can order it here.