December 2003

Amchurch Comes Out: The U.S. Bishops, Pedophile Scandals and the Homosexual Agenda .  By Paul A. Likoudis. Roman Catholic Faithful (217-632-5920). 260 pages. $24.95.

In 1978, at age 24, Likoudis had the following experience: “I was on my first day of work…at the National Catholic News Service…located at the U.S. bishops’ national headquarters in Washington, D.C., when an odd-looking fellow dressed in skin-tight pants and chest-hugging shirt approached me and asked if I would like to have lunch with him. I politely declined…. I would later learn that the man, John Willig, worked in the Office of Public Affairs and Information at the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference…. Willig, who would later die of AIDS, was president of the Washington, D.C. chapter of Dignity, an association of gay activists who work for a change in Church teaching on homosexuality. That was the beginning of my education as a Catholic journalist.”

What a rude awakening!

Over the past 16 years Likoudis has been reporting for The Wanderer with a keen eye for the pushy homosexual network in the Church. Likoudis says that “the most important issue facing the Catholic people in this country is the rise of a broad-based, exceedingly aggressive homosexual movement….” And he’s right.

“Amchurch,” a phrase coined by Likoudis, refers to the leadership of the American Catholic Church which, on numerous issues, has gone its own way in defiance of the Holy See. This book is about Amchurch’s “gay” agenda. The book names names — the homosexual activists and those bishops who’ve protected them — and you will find an abundance of information on the usual suspects.

Likoudis fingers Joseph Cardinal Bernardin as the “bishop-maker who…gave the American hierarchy its pronounced pro-gay orientation.” Likoudis’s section on the media-sainted Bernardin is quite revealing. But the key point is this: “Bernardin acquired power rapidly. As his friends back in Charleston continued buggering little boys, Bernardin used his influence…to select bishops (many of whom are still ordinaries) who would, to put it charitably, condone and promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle and tolerate the sexual abuse of children by priests.” Of course, Bernardin is gone, but the pro-homosexual coloration of a good portion of the hierarchy continues, if only because of Bernardin’s pivotal role in making bishops.

In his Foreword, Fr. Joseph F. Wilson says of Likoudis: “He has gone from the optimistic point where he expected that to bring these problems to light would mean to have them addressed, to the reality that these problems are public, that they have been for years, that they are known at the highest levels of the universal Church, and they are not addressed.”

But addressed they will be, as long as Likoudis and other brave souls keep the spotlight on the insolent Lavender Mafia.

- Dale Vree



On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs.  By James V. Schall, S.J. ISI Books. 190 pages. $24.95.

We might approach a book like this warily. Does the author, keen to examine the “unseriousness” of life, have the wit and wisdom to succeed? Schall, a worthy Jesuit, shows us — with aplomb — that he does. This new collection of musings on what it is to be an educated human does not disappoint. But this book is distinctive in its playfulness. Its chapters alternate between the direct and the oblique. The strategy leads to original meditations on the bankruptcy of relativism, the need for play, and the difficulty of actually learning in today’s university.

In recovering the dignity of play, he does not slight the dignity of work. “It is true that we have to work to have leisure,” he admits. Yet he insists that “until we recognize the limits of work, we will think that work is our human destiny.” Then comes the disarming observation: “That’s what the Marxists thought, and we know what happened to them.”

Though a professor, Schall monkey-wrenches academic pretensions: “We live in an ideological time that proudly assures us that no answers can be given, that there is only power and exploitation…. No proposition is more questionable or less questioned than this.” Declaring that answers do exist, he warns us against fearing to ask questions because we fear their answers.

Schall recommends the work of the late cartoonist Charles Schulz. His praise is not gratuitous. Like Robert Short and Mark Pinsky, Schall teaches us how to think theologically about cartoons.

Remember, for example, Lucy van Pelt, Charlie Brown’s foil in Peanuts. In Schall’s view, Lucy is not just a famously crabby girl with a crush on her piano-playing neighbor. Nor is she just a sidewalk shrink with a ready store of advice. Rather, she becomes a precocious Thomist and a “theologian of the Fall.” Insights, as even (or especially) the scientist knows, can come from unlikely sources.

- Patrick O’Hannigan



The Free Press.  By Hilaire Belloc. IHS Press (757-423-0324). 95 pages. $8.95.

Conservatives warn us of “the liberal media.” Liberals look for someone to be their Rush Limbaugh. But both conservatives and liberals play by the rules of finance capitalism: media run on money, money leads to mergers, and mergers make for pabulum.

Hilaire Belloc charted this dynamic as early as 1918, the year he published his feisty manifesto The Free Press. He’d had first-hand experience of the phenomenon while collaborating with the brothers Cecil and G.K. Chesterton on their fearless weekly, The New Witness. Thanks to IHS Press, our only publisher exclusively dedicated to the social teachings of the Church, we now have an annotated, illustrated — and altogether sparkling — new edition of Belloc’s analysis.

Unlike the mainstream media (Time, The New York Times, etc.), the “Free Press” is not mass-marketed to the millions to mold opinion and maximize consumerism. Rather, the Free Press has something original to say, says it directly, and vouches for its message. Though it’s as fallible as any other form of free speech, it admits as much and pledges to pursue the truth.

Belloc, ever a realist, speaks with authority about the distinct problems of the various organs of the Free Press. First, they are particularistic, that is, they explore the truth from a limited and particular perspective. Want the truth about Ireland? Read The X Review. The truth about labor unions? Read The Y Review. What about the war? Read The Z Review. And so the list goes, for the arts, the economy, and — shall we add? — Mother Church.

Secondly, the Free Press is boycotted, as much as possible, by mainstream media. It’s a fine thing to put one’s light on a lamp stand, but the biggest lamp stands belong to media moguls who see no advantage in recognizing their competition, much less giving it credit.

Lastly, the Free Press itself offers no overarching ideological vision of its own. So if we are looking for “the big picture,” we must sift our way through specialized publications. (This reviewer finds himself separating hard news on home-schooling from accompanying libertarian dross, and prying incisive critiques of militarism away from peacenik posturing.)

Yet Belloc’s experience equally shows him the promise of the Free Press. First, it’s read, and read seriously. Secondly, it’s read by “doers,” by people who are willing to act on the truth. Third, and lastly, the Free Press often finds confirmation in the events which, if we keep our eyes wide open, we see unfolding around us.

Given both the problems and the promise of the Free Press, what is its future? Belloc was candid. The Free Press would survive; it would sustain its unique contribution. But it would do so in a world in which, sadly, communities of living and democratic solidarity were in extremis.

But there’s something to add to Belloc’s prognosis. What he did not see should make us still more cautious. For he did not anticipate today’s wide-scale co-opting of the Free Press, or what claims to be such. In Los Angeles, for example, “the alternative press” has become the vehicle of lifestyle huckstering. Read all about it? Right, in the Liposuction Gazette.

What then? Belloc would counsel the friends of the Free Press to press on. “No man,” he writes, “who has the truth to tell and the power to tell it can long remain hiding it…without ignominy. To release the truth against whatever odds, even if so doing can no longer help the Commonwealth, is a necessity for the soul.”

- James G. Hanink



In God's Time: The Bible and the Future.  By Craig C. Hill. Eerdmans. 229 pages. $16.

This exceptional book by Craig Hill, New Testament professor at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., shows eschatology as the central theme of the Bible and the key to understanding Jesus. Hill’s easy-to-read writing style makes the subject accessible to all. His views avoid the extremes of the Jesus Seminar and the Left Behind series. In Hill’s analysis, a compelling case is made for trust in the primary tenet of Christianity: Jesus’ bodily Resurrection from the dead.

Jesus Seminar scholars eschew a bodily resurrection, Jesus’ teaching on Judgment, and the coming Kingdom of God. They limit Jesus’ message to love, tolerance, and spirituality by asserting that the New Testament authors wrote about Jesus after a gap in time and fraudulently added eschatological themes. Hill’s response looks to the historical setting. He tracks eschatological themes in the Old Testament and shows an intensification of these themes in inter-testamental literature such as 1 Enoch and Tobit. Immediately before Jesus, John the Baptist called for repentance in the light of the coming Kingdom of God. The evidence of the early Church after Jesus shows a religious movement focused on hope for eternal life and Jesus’ future return.

The Left Behind series identifies two returns of Christ: one a rapture where some are taken by Christ to Heaven, and a second one when Christ comes to judge those left behind. Hill investigates Daniel and Revelation within their historical context along with the Old Testament, Gospels, and Epistles. Weighing all, Hill concludes that the traditional view of a single return of Christ is supported by abundant evidence.

Carefully written with ample footnotes, this book provides a window for the general reading public to understand eschatology, who Jesus was, and what He taught about the future.

- David R. Bickel





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