Catholic Family News

The Passion of the Church: Reflections on the USCCB Fall Meeting

Darkness Has Its Hour

“When I was daily with you in the temple, you did not stretch forth your hands against Me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” (Luke 22:53)

Early last week (Nov. 12-14), the bishops of the United States gathered in Baltimore for their annual fall general assembly. Anyone who followed the meeting knows that it began with a surprise and shocking announcement from a visibly frustrated Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, current USCCB President:

“Dear brothers, I need to open our time here together with an important announcement. At the insistence of the Holy See, we will not be voting on the two action items in our documentation regarding the abuse crisis, that is, the standards of accountability for bishops and the special commission for receiving complaints against bishops. The Holy See has asked that we delay voting on these so that our deliberations can inform and be informed by the global meeting of the [episcopal] conference presidents that the Holy Father has called for February 2019. I’m sorry for the late notice, but in fact this was conveyed to me late yesterday afternoon [Nov. 11].”

This order, by the way, came directly from the Vatican Congregation for Bishops led by none other than Cardinal Marc Ouellet, one of the prelates identified by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò in his well-known testimony and one whom Viganò specifically challenged in his second statement to release “key documents incriminating McCarrick and many in the curia for their cover-ups,” documents which “are at [Ouellet’s] complete disposal”. (Ouellet subsequently released a disgraceful letter of attack against Viganò, which actually served to confirm key elements of the latter’s testimony. Viganò, in turn, issued a dignified rebuttal.)

Immediately after Cardinal DiNardo finished his “special announcement”, Cardinal Blase Cupich, with equally shocking readiness to respond (did he know the announcement was coming?), interrupted DiNardo with what appeared to be a prepared speech defending Rome’s directive:

Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, delivering what certainly sounded like prepared remarks in response to Cardinal Daniel DiNardo’s surprise announcement. Notice that Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia (bottom-left) does not look impressed. Chaput faced some unjust public criticism from Cupich just days before the opening of the Synod on Youth, in which both prelates participated as Synod Fathers.

“It is clear that the Holy See is taking seriously the abuse crisis in the Church, seeing it as a watershed moment – not just for the Church in this country, but around the world – in putting so much emphasis on the February meeting. At the same time, as you [Cardinal DiNardo] are our representative going to that meeting, we [U.S. bishops] need to be very clear with you where we stand, and we need to tell our people where we stand. And so, I would suggest that we carry on our discussions on these documents [the ‘action items’ to which DiNardo referred], that we fine-tune them through our understanding, debate, and the ways that amendments can be proposed, and that instead of taking a binding vote as an action item, we take a resolution ballot so that we can communicate to you, as you go to that meeting representing us, where we stand and what we need to say in that discussion.”

Cupich went on to pay lip service to “the urgency of this moment” by proposing that the bishops convene again next March in a “special session” (instead of waiting until June, their next scheduled meeting) “to take up this issue [of clergy sexual abuse] for the good of the Church in this country without delay.”

Note well the blatant contradiction and gross hypocrisy in his words. Cardinal Cupich repeatedly used the terms “urgency” and “without delay” while defending the Dictator Pope and Lavender Mafia’s order “to delay,” as Cardinal DiNardo said, the bishops’ scheduled vote on “the standards of accountability for bishops and the special commission for receiving complaints against bishops.” And Cupich expects us to believe that he and “the homosexual current” (Viganò) in Rome consider the abuse crisis to be a matter of “urgency”? This is beyond insulting. (See Dr. Peter Kwasniewski’s recent LifeSiteNews column for how the bishops should have responded to the Dictator Pope’s unjust order.)

This pathetic display was followed shortly thereafter by the next circus act: an address from Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the current Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., which included the following comedic lines:

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, current Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, delivering his rather lengthy prepared remarks shortly after Rome’s surprise directive was announced by Cardinal DiNardo and defended by Cardinal Cupich.

“Pope Francis asks us to be a synodal and humble Church, a Church that listens. We need to listen once more to the voice of Christ: For I have given you an example, that as I have done, so you also should do. The exercise of authority is a real service and governance should not be a privilege or a position, but a responsibility to be neither ignored nor totally delegated. … The recent Synod on Youth is an example of listening and of taking young people and their concerns seriously.”

Once again, astounding contradiction and hypocrisy. The Pope’s official representative in the United States, invoking the sham of “synodality”, exhorts the bishops to take “responsibility” and govern effectively. How could he even say this with a straight face? The bishops had just been told that “the Holy See” (let’s be clear: Pope Francis) has forbidden them to take action until next February, after they get their marching orders from the boss! And as for the rigged youth synod being “an example of listening and of taking young people and their concerns seriously,” that claim is worse than delusional; it is a diabolical falsehood.

Contrast Archbishop Pierre’s lengthy pandering to Pope Francis with the brief but powerful note of exhortation issued by Archbishop Viganò the following day (Nov. 13):

“Dear Brother Bishops in the US,

I am writing to remind you of the sacred mandate you were given on the day of your episcopal ordination: to lead the flock to Christ. Meditate on Proverbs 9:10: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom! Do not behave like frightened sheep, but as courageous shepherds. Do not be afraid of standing up and doing the right thing for the victims, for the faithful and for your own salvation. The Lord will render to every one of us according to our actions and omissions.

I am fasting and praying for you.”

While the three-day assembly was not without a few positive moments – for example, Bishop Joseph Strickland’s challenge concerning “LGBT” propaganda and the public denouncement of McCarrick by two outspoken bishops – overall, the meeting can be summed up with two words: scheming and cowardice. These same words come to mind in reference to Our Lord’s Passion (the scheming of the Sanhedrin and Judas and the cowardice of the other Apostles), and it is precisely His Passion which is now being renewed in His Mystical Body, the Church.

Making a Mockery of Christ and His Church

“For it is impossible for those who were once illuminated…and are fallen away: to be renewed again to penance, crucifying again to themselves the Son of God, and making Him a mockery.” (Heb. 6:4, 6)

In many ways, the USCCB’s fall meeting was a painful confirmation of the Third Secret of Fatima as described by Benedict XVI: “a passion of the Church” resulting “from sin within the Church” that is manifesting itself “today…in a really terrifying way”. Readers may recall that I stressed the vital relevance of Fatima in relation to the abuse crisis earlier this year. I do so here again because we must understand this decades-long crisis for what it is: the prophesied Passion of the Church due to apostasy (loss of supernatural faith), the root sin which manifests itself in both the scheming of “the homosexual current” identified by Viganò – the modern equivalent of Judas and the Sanhedrin – and the cowardice of most of the rest of the episcopate (Viganò himself is one of the few exceptions).

Cardinal Raymond Burke would no doubt agree with this assessment, as evidenced by his Aug. 16 interview with Raymond Arroyo on EWTN’s The World Over. In answer to Arroyo’s question, “How do you uproot this?” (referring to the rampant “predatory network” of sodomite clergy around the world), His Eminence stated:

“I think that we have to recognize…Our Lady warned us at Fatima about an apostasy from the Faith. I believe that there has been a practical apostasy from the Faith with regards to all the questions involving human sexuality; principally, it starts with the idea that there can be legitimate sexual activity outside of marriage, which, of course, is false, completely false.” (Emphasis added)

We must understand that the “enemies of the Cross of Christ” (Philip. 3:18) within the ranks of the clergy are legion. Whether they be schemers or cowards matters not, for as Sister Lucia of Fatima once affirmed: “Either we are for God or we are for the devil. There is no other possibility.” Whether by sins of commission or omission, these enemies of Christ are indeed “crucifying again to themselves the Son of God, and making Him a mockery” (Heb. 6:6).

What a mockery it was, for example, to allow the disgraced Cardinal Roger Mahony to lecture the bishops on the abuse crisis and how to properly respond. The retired archbishop of Los Angeles, whose criminal shuffling and shielding of sodomite predators cost the Church hundreds of millions of dollars, had the audacity to quote St. Charles Borromeo and tell the bishops:

Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles.

“We need to lead by witness and certainly prayerful witness as devoted brothers to each other. … Also, our collegial communion is threatened [in] the same ways it was in Charles Borromeo’s time, and that is from outside influences. In those years, kings, emperors, wealthy merchants, all kinds of folks, tried to interfere with the Council and with the lives of the bishops. We must not allow outside groups of any kind, in this country or anywhere else, to interfere with, or attempt to break the bonds of our collegial union.”

In other words, the bishops need to insulate themselves even more in order to save their own skins.

Or how about Cardinal Joseph Tobin’s ridiculous questioning of why the faithful’s trust in their shepherds has been obliterated by the abuse crisis: “What was there before? What was our credibility built on, that it could be so swept away?” Commentator Phil Lawler gave a fitting answer:

“The credibility of Catholic bishops was built on the presumption that they would be honest with their people, and courageous in defense of the truth. It was ‘swept away’ by twenty years of non-stop revelations that the bishops were not being honest, and not defending the truth. And the remaining shreds of credibility were washed down the drain when, rather than coming clean, prelates asked the public to accept implausible explanations of questionable conduct—such as, just to pick one example, claiming that a ‘Nighty-night, baby’ Twitter message was intended for a sibling.

But perhaps the prime example of mockery came at the end of the three-day meeting, when a majority of bishops voted against a resolution that merely encouraged the Holy See “to release soon all documentation that can be released consistent with canon and civil law regarding the allegations of misconduct against Archbishop McCarrick.” As Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported on Wednesday (Nov. 14): “After about a half hour of debate, objections that the resolution was redundant and ambiguous won out, and it was voted down by a clicker vote of 83-137, with three abstaining.”

Scheming or cowardice, commission or omission, the root problem is the same: apostasy (loss of supernatural faith). And one of the primary effects of apostasy is the snuffing out of charity (supernatural love), resulting in a lack of zeal for God and for souls.

No Zeal for God or Souls

“And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold.” (Matt. 24:12)

While thumbing through my copy of Divine Intimacy Friday morning (Nov. 16), I stopped on the meditation entitled “Zeal for Souls” (#317) and was struck by its timeliness:

“According to the measure in which the love of God takes possession of our heart, it creates and nourishes in us an ever increasing love for our neighbor; this love, being supernatural, seeks only the supernatural good of our fellow men and thus becomes zeal for the salvation of souls.

If we have little love of God, we shall have little love of souls, and vice versa; if our zeal for souls is weak, this means our love of God is also weak.”

The text goes on to describe the source of zeal, which is charity, and the tragedy that results when charity grows cold due to sin:

“Zeal for souls finds its source in charity and in the contemplation of Christ crucified. His wounds, His Blood, the excruciating sufferings of His agony, all tell us how much God values souls and how dearly He loves them. But this love is unrequited, and it seems that ungrateful men strive more and more to elude His action. It is this sad spectacle of all the ages which is renewed even today, as though men wished to insult Jesus and renew His Passion. ‘The world is on fire. Men try to condemn Christ once again, as it were, for they bring a thousand false witnesses against Him. They would raze His Church to the ground’ (St. Teresa of Avila, The Way of Perfection, 1).’ If Teresa of Jesus could speak these words in her century which was troubled by the Protestant heresy, how much more can we say it in ours, when the struggle against God and the Church has increased immeasurably, and has now spread over the entire world.”[1] (Emphasis added)

One can only imagine what Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., who wrote those words and died in 1953, would say if he were to witness the state of the Church today – for example, the near-complete absence of zeal among the American bishops (apart from a few good men) at their recent meeting. Perhaps he would think of Our Lord’s prophecy concerning the end times: “And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold” (Matt. 24:12).

Judgment and Triumph are Coming

“The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Amen, amen I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, itself remaineth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. … Now is the judgment of the world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” (John 12:23-24, 31)

As we continue to endure this Passion of the Church, it is vital for us to remember “that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to His purpose, are called to be saints” (Rom. 8:28). God our Father is preparing to bring great good out of this terrible evil, just as He wrought our redemption “by the death of His Son” (Rom. 5:10).

In order to receive what God has prepared, however, we must clearly identify the root cause of the present crisis – namely, the pestilence of Modernism spread through the Second Vatican Council – and use the God-given remedies at our disposal to effectively combat the cancer. Longtime CFN Editor John Vennari (requiescat in pace) brilliantly addressed these themes at the end of his crucial booklet, The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita, as follows:

“Thus, the Passion that our Holy Church is presently suffering is no great mystery. By recklessly ignoring the Popes of the past, our present Church leaders have erected a compromised structure that is collapsing upon itself. Though Pope Paul VI lamented that ‘the Church is in a state of auto-demolition,’ he, like the present pontificate [at the time, John Paul II, but equally so with Francis], insisted that the disastrous aggiornamento responsible for this auto-demolition be continued full-steam [indeed, it has accelerated to break-neck speed under Francis!].

In the face of such ‘diabolical disorientation’ (the term that Fatima’s Sister Lucy employed to describe the present mind-set of many in today’s hierarchy), the only response for all Catholics concerned is:

1) to pray much, especially the Rosary,

2) to learn and live the traditional doctrine and morals of the Catholic Church as found in pre-Vatican II Catholic writings,

3) to adhere to the Latin Tridentine Mass where the Catholic Faith and devotion are found in their fullness, unaffected by today’s ecumenism,

4) to resist with all one’s soul the liberal post-Vatican II trends wreaking havoc on the Mystical Body of Christ,

5) to instruct others charitably in the Tradition of the Faith and warn them of the errors of the times,

6) to pray that a contagious return to sanity may sweep through a sufficient number of the hierarchy,

7) to put great confidence in Our Lady and her power to reorient our Church leaders back to Catholic Tradition, [and]

8) never to compromise.”[2]

Always an apostle of Our Lady, John concluded his booklet by exhorting his readers to know, live, and spread the Message of Fatima:

“Since this present struggle is essentially a supernatural battle, we must not ignore the supernatural helps given to us at Fatima in 1917. All concerned Catholics should faithfully fulfill the requests of Our Lady of Fatima, and especially pray and work toward the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This will be the key to destroying ‘the errors of Russia’ not only in Russia, but worldwide, including within the Church.[3] For in the promised Triumph of the Immaculate Heart, the unrepentant agents of Liberalism, Modernism, and Naturalism will all be gathered in a great ecumenical gathering with the prince of this world to receive the communal head-crushing from the heel of the Queen of Heaven.”[4]

May it be so very soon!


[1] Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., Divine Intimacy (Baronius Press, 2015), p. 923-924.

[2] John Vennari, The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita: A Masonic Blueprint for the Subversion of the Catholic Church (Rockford: TAN Books and Publishers, Inc., 1999), pp. 30-32.

[3] For an excellent treatment of the “errors of Russia” being within the Church, see Maike Hickson, “Have the ‘Errors of Russia’ Now Infected Rome?”, OnePeterFive, Dec. 13, 2016.

[4] Vennari, Permanent Instruction, p. 32.

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Matt Gaspers

Matt Gaspers is the Managing Editor of Catholic Family News. He was asked by John Vennari (1958-2017), longtime Editor of CFN and stalwart defender of the Faith, to carry on CFN’s important work shortly before Mr. Vennari’s passing. In addition to writing for CFN, Mr. Gaspers has also been published by The Fatima Crusader, OnePeterFive, and LifeSiteNews. His study and writing interests include theology, Church history, Fatima, Islam, and the spiritual life. He has spoken at conferences hosted by Catholic Family News and the Fatima Center. He and his wife, together with their children, reside in Colorado.

Matt Gaspers

Avatar photo

Matt Gaspers is the Managing Editor of Catholic Family News. He was asked by John Vennari (1958-2017), longtime Editor of CFN and stalwart defender of the Faith, to carry on CFN’s important work shortly before Mr. Vennari’s passing. In addition to writing for CFN, Mr. Gaspers has also been published by The Fatima Crusader, OnePeterFive, and LifeSiteNews. His study and writing interests include theology, Church history, Fatima, Islam, and the spiritual life. He has spoken at conferences hosted by Catholic Family News and the Fatima Center. He and his wife, together with their children, reside in Colorado.