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The Hammer Drops

Leon J. Podles, in his new book Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church (2008, Crossland Press, hammers the point home that most Catholic bishops “hate confrontation.” This goes a long way toward explaining their reluctance to discipline predatory priests. It also goes a long way toward explaining the sorry state of the Church today. Fortitude, one of the four cardinal virtues, is sorely lacking among the current leaders of the U.S. Church.

This cowardly attitude also explains why several U.S. bishops shrugged off the recent and numerous invalid attempts at priestly “ordination” of women by the rogue Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement. As we wrote in our New Oxford Note “A New Catholic Community” (Oct. 2006), Bishop Patrick McGrath of San Jose, California, “has no plans to reprimand or excommunicate or in any other way acknowledge” the woman in his diocese who claims to have been “ordained” a Catholic priest and who has been offering an invalid “mass” at San Jose State University. In our New Oxford Note “The Beat Goes On” (Oct. 2006), we noted that then-Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh took no action against the “ordination” ceremony on the Pittsburgh rivers or its participants, and that Archbishop Sean O’Malley of Boston “has not sanctioned” and has “imposed no penalty” on his former archdiocesan director of Healthcare Ministry who was “ordained” a Catholic womanpriest in Canada. These bishops, it seems, were willing to wink at the unlawful simulations of the conferring of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, and the public rejection of the de fide doctrine that female ordination is invalid, rather than risk confrontation and — God forbid! — bad press.

So when Roman Catholic Womenpriests made another attempt at “ordaining” female Catholic priests in St. Louis, Missouri, we perked up, with an inkling that Archbishop Raymond Burke wouldn’t allow this travesty to take place in his archdiocese without repercussions.

As we reported in our New Oxford Note “Archbishop Burke Has Courage” (Jan. 2008), Archbishop Burke “reacted strongly” to the November 11, 2007, attempt by “bishop” Patricia Fresen of Germany to “ordain” Elsie Hainz McGrath and Rose Marie Dunn Hudson at a Jewish synagogue in St. Louis. He “sent letters by courier to Elsie and Rose warning them to ‘renounce your intention to attempt to receive priestly ordination…. Should you refuse to comply…you will automatically in­cur…the censure of excommunication.’ He warned them that they have placed ‘in danger the eternal salvation of your soul and the souls of others,’ and that their ceremony is a ‘grave spiritual deception.'” He warned them that they risked the penalty of interdict (the withholding of the Sacraments) unless they publicly acknowledge their errors.

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