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Monday, January 30, 2012

90 Bishops and counting....

Thomas Peters has compiled a listing here of the now 82 Bishops who have spoken out publicly against the Obama/HHS Mandate.

Here's what Brian Burch of Catholic Vote so eloquently pleads:

Please pray for our Bishops.  

Because they need it, they need lots of it.

And they need it now.

Many American bishops have publicly spoken out against the Obama administration’s recent declaration of war against the Catholic Church. So far, the response from the episcopate has been widespread, clear, and strong. We should all be encouraged by the readiness on the part of these bishops to lead the American Church in this fight for freedom.

But we ought not take this leadership for granted. So often it seems, when something Church-related gets us upset, we are all too ready and willing to focus our outrage on the local bishop. Granted, the last ten years have certainly reminded us that bishops can make poor, even seriously harmful, decisions. And the accounting for those transgressions is still underway.

But too often the bishops suffer our wrath over the fact that the state of the Church (in our parish, our diocese, or our country) isn’t just the way we want it to be. Expecting faithful leadership from the bishop is one thing. Calling up the chancery (which you have on speed dial) because Father Bob failed to mention Hell in his homily is something else.

It gets lonely at the top, or so they say.

The same thought has been echoed by high-ranking military officers, or their biographers, who speak of the “loneliness of command.” When you’re the top dog, or the top brass, or the top guy in the diocese, you get to call the shots. But that means that you also bear the responsibility, alone, for the shots you call.

In the case of bishops, it means that every day they are asked to make decisions, issue statements, and take actions with one thing in mind – the salvation of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of souls. That’s a sobering dose of responsibility. And as a bonus, these shepherds carry out their vocation with the certain knowledge that no matter what they do, a good percentage of the souls they are charged with will be left disappointed, upset, or outraged. At them. That’s not a job anyone should envy. Certainly not one that we should take for granted.

A Chesterton quote, on St. Thomas Aquinas, whose feast we just celebrated:
His experiences included well-attested cases of levitation in ecstasy; and the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, comforting him with the welcome news that he would never be a Bishop.

Welcome news indeed. And now things just got really fun if you have “Most Rev.” in front of your name. At the end of the day (and that day, if we want to be precise, is August 1, 2013), the HHS mandate doesn’t force most of us (unless we own a small business) to do anything. The bishops aren’t so lucky. Yes, the laity have a responsibility to engage this threat wherever and however they can. The ways for doing this are numerous and varied, and have been ably put forth on CatholicVote's site.

But in most cases, the actual responsibility for the decisions that will need to be made regarding the cold hard consequences of the mandate lies squarely on the shoulders of the bishops. Thus has it been, from St. Ignatius of Antioch to St. Thomas Becket. These successors of the Apostles, these shepherds of souls, these men clothed in black cloth and human weakness have been called through the ages to stand on the ramparts of the Church under siege and take the first blow from the enemy’s sword.

Thus has it been, and thus shall it be. The bishops will be the ones who will have to stand tall, just as St. Polycarp and St. John Fisher did before them, and say, with dire consequence, ”We cannot, and we will not.” And they will be the first to suffer. One American prelate, Francis Cardinal George, the Archbishop of Chicago, made this stark and rather chilling observation of the current state of affairs:
I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.

Pray for them. 


  1. The last sentence of Brian Burch's post is spine chilling , but I'm afraid he might be ......RIGHT !

  2. "Change you can believe in" - " Yes, we can!" - These campaign slogans now strike at the very heart of religious freedom in this country. I never imagined that in my lifetime I would see such a violation of our rights as Catholics or God-fearing Christians. This "tyrant" deceived many voters; even good Catholics were fooled by his youth, his rhetoric and His glitzy promises. Now we have to deal with this problem. Sign petitions. Write letters. Vote him out.

  3. Thanks Sandie and Redcat...

    As of this writing, there are now 111 Bishops. Perfect love cast out fear.