The Motley Monk

The Motley Monk is Fr. Richard Jacobs, O.S.A., a Professor of Public Administration at Villanova University. His academic specialities include: organizational theory; leadership ethics; Catholic educational leadership; and, U.S. Catholic educational history. Check out Fr. Jacobs' daily blog at

The Obama administration and the myth of “freedom of religion”…


Father Ray Leonard spent a decade serving the Tibetan population in China where the regime of the People’s Republic of China didn’t tolerate religious freedom. Of that decade, Fr. Leonard observed:

In China, I was disallowed from performing public religious services due to the lack of religious freedom in China.

Now serving in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services, imagine Fr. Leonard’s surprise when, during the recent government shutdown, the Obama administration prohibited him and nearly 50 other Catholic priests from saying Mass and administering other sacraments at U.S. military facilities around the world. This prohibition was issued despite the fact that Congress had passed, and President Barack Obama signed, a law instructing the Department of Defense (DOD) to keep paying contract employees who were supporting the troops on the job.


The rationale for the DOD prohibition?

According to, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel determined–after consulting with Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department–that civilian Catholic priests, working under contract as chaplains, did not, among other things, “contribute to the morale” and “well-being” of service personnel. In a memorandum dated October 5, Hagel wrote:

The Department of Defense consulted closely with the Department of Justice, which expressed its view that the law does not permit a blanket recall of all civilians. Under our current reading of the law, the standard of “support to members of the Armed Forces” requires a focus on those employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities, and readiness of covered military members during the lapse of appropriations.

The only civilian contractors who met this standard, Hagel stated, were those working in secular “Family Support Programs and Activities,” “Behavioral Health and Suicide Prevention Programs” and “Health Care Activities and Providers.”

Note how those categories could be construed to include abortionists, but not Catholic clergy.

hagel obama

After Hagel published his determination, DOD maintained that the Anti-Deficiency Act barred civilian priests from volunteering to administer the sacraments to Catholic military personnel at military facilities. Thus, in his role as the Catholic chaplain at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia, Fr. Leonard was barred from visiting the chapel or his office on the Naval Base beginning October 7, 2013.

Leonard observed:

I never imagined that when I returned home to the United States, that I would be forbidden from practicing my religious beliefs as I am called to do, and would be forbidden from helping and serving my faith community.

Fr. Leonard didn’t take Hagel’s prohibition sitting down and filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense, the Defense Secretary, the Department of the Navy, and the Navy Secretary. Leonard’s suit alleges that the Obama administration is violating his and his congregation’s First Amendment rights to the free exercise of religion, the freedom of speech, and the freedom of assembly.

With the government shutdown over, Fr. Leonard’s lawsuit is moot.  But, the Obama administration’s secular, anti-freedom of religion ideology remains.



To read the report, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog “Omnibus,” click on the following link:

A difference in tone or volume, but not in substance…


There’s a Washington Post article that’s been circulating through cyberspace, quoting conservative Catholics who are expressing qualms about Pope Francis’ leadership style or have found themselves questioning whether they should stop proclaiming Church moral teaching.

For example, an Ohio marriage and family counselor in private practice and on the radio, Gregory Popcak, is featured. Popcak describes how he turned to prayer after several clients invoked the Pope’s public words to challenge Popcak after, to his credit, he explained Church teaching concerning human sexuality and love. One patient even quit, telling Popcak: “I’m much more of a Pope Francis-Nancy Pelosi Catholic, and you’re an old-school, Pope John Paul II Catholic.”

Several issues are entangled in what’s transpiring here, perhaps the most focal being how liberal Catholics have seized upon Pope Francis’ public statements and are challenging conservative Catholics to be less “obsessed” with Church teaching. In effect, they’re saying “Get over it! Pope John Paul II is dead and Pope Benedict XVI is retired. Our guy’s  in charge now. It’s our day. Your day has passed.”

Consider what Popcak reports feeling after his patient quit therapy. He first felt frustrated, then ashamed. Contemplating Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, Popcak saw himself acting like the good son. In that online essay, Popcak wrote:

The good kid who stayed behind, did everything his father told him to do. People who left the Church, who hated the Church…were suddenly realizing that God loved them, that the Church welcomed them, and all I could do was feel bitter about it.

Experiences like Popcak’s certainly put a face on the reality of the effect the Holy Father’s words are having on the ground. But, does that mean conservative Catholics should fall on their knees in frustration or perhaps even shame and repent of having evangelized others about Church teaching?

What’s important to note about the Washington Post article is that it reports nothing new, absolutely nothing.  Its contents could have been written last summer.


Yes, the momentous interview on the flight from Rio de Janiero did make people across the globe aware of Pope Francis’ views. And purposely so, because the Holy Father’s statements are being interpreted by the mainstream media in a way that favors their secularist ideology.

The Holy Father must surely know how his words are being twisted for ends other than which he may intend. But, so far, the Pope doesn’t seem much to care that he’s being misinterpreted. Perhaps that’s because Pope Francis believes the vast majority of people across the globe (including Catholics) have the wrong idea of the Catholic Church, believing Her teachers are cold, withdrawn, severe, and judgmental.

It appears the Pope isn’t going to allow that idea to persist, believing the idea will take care of itself over time. Right now, he’s going to use the mainstream media to get his point across. Perhaps the Holy Father even relishes the banner headlines he’s generating. Why? Pope Francis may see himself as the “the game changer” in the Church’s overall goal of evangelizing secular society.

Who’s to know?

If the experiences of the people reported in the Washington Post article accurately represent the reality on the ground, it appears Pope Francis may be correct. Driving people out of the Church won’t build the Church, so why alienate people if they can be opened to hearing the Good News?

Who’s to say that Pope Francis doesn’t agree 100% with pro-life, pro-family Catholics? Contrary to what the mainstream media is reporting and makes conservative Catholics feel frustrated or ashamed, his may be a difference in tone or volume, but not in substance.


Let the discussion begin…



To read the Washington Post article, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s blog, click on the following link:

Another post-Vatican “cutting-edge” institute closes its doors…


As with many of the structures erected in the wake of Vatican II and whose founders promised to open the windows of the Catholic Church in the United States to the fresh air of the modern world, the Woodstock Theological Center (WTC) at Georgetown University—an “ecumenically open” institute since 1973 which has “carried out theological and ethical reflection on the most pressing human issues of the day”—has shut its doors.

Last February, the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) chronicled WTC’s closure. According to WTC’s Director, Fr. Gasper LoBiondo, SJ, WTC’s demise was a natural consequence of “ongoing strategic reflection” on the part of the Jesuits’ New England, New York, and Maryland provinces. Fr. LoBiondo noted, however, that the reflection itself was directly attributable to “the diminishing number of Jesuits.”

Writing at WTC’s website, Fr. LoBiondo was upbeat about the closure last June, writing:

All who have been associated with Woodstock Theological Center over its 40 years of service can be proud of what they have accomplished, and should be encouraged by the knowledge that the work they have done will not come to an end, because the value of such work will be embraced by other institutions in new forms.

Perhaps the work completed at WTC’s will be “embraced by other institutions” and continue “in new forms.” However, those who labored at WTC have now turned the page and moved on.

Come to think of it, WTC’s closure is similar to the late-1960s when liturgical liberals rejoiced that maniples were done away with. The “rest of the story,” as it is said with frequency, “is history,” meaning “get over it.”


So, let’s be pragmatic.

As the age of the post-Vatican II generation who founded institutes such as WTC increases and their numbers decline and, then, with fewer young men who are prepared theologically to shoulder the mantle of leading these institutes, the likelihood that these “cutting-edge institutes” will continue for another generation or two decreases dramatically.

What is ageless—the Church—will continue.

In the political world, it’s called “term limits.”  In the Church, it’s the simple reality of “sic transit gloria mundi.”  This is how God purifies the Church of that which is time bound so His creatures will focus upon the timeless.



To read about the closure of WTC, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s blog, click on the following link:
The Motley Monk’s Omnibus

No communion for Ms. Nancy?


There’s nothing newsworthy when it comes to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) advocating a woman’s right to abortion.  After all, she earned a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America and last June, when asked by a reporter if there is a moral difference between aborting a baby at 26 weeks and what Dr. Kermit Gosnell did in Philadelphia in delivering babies alive at 23 weeks and then severing their spinal cords to kill them, she said:

As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this. I don’t think it should have anything to do with politics, and that’s where you’re taking it and I’m not going there.


“practicing and respectful”

Ms. Pelosi’s statement didn’t escape the scrutiny of Cardinal Raymond Burke, the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, the highest ecclesiastical court in the Catholic Church, apart from Pope Francis.

Cardinal Burke’s analysis of Ms. Pelosi’s public statements concerning abortion?

According to a July 2013 interview in The Wanderer, Ms. Pelosi has violated Canon 915 which applies to “a person who obstinately, after repeated admonitions, persists in a grave sin–cooperating with the crime of procured abortion–and still professes to be a devout Catholic.”  In the Cardinal’s view, Ms. Pelosi has divorced her faith from her public life.  Therefore, she is not serving her brothers and sisters in the way that she must–in safeguarding and promoting the life of the innocent and defenseless unborn, in safeguarding and promoting the integrity of marriage and the family.

Speaking truth to power, Cardinal Burke minced no words:

What Congresswoman Pelosi is speaking of is not particular confessional beliefs or practices of the Catholic Church. It belongs to the natural moral law which is written on every human heart and which the Catholic Church obviously also teaches: that natural moral law which is so wonderfully illumined for us by Our Lord Jesus Christ by His saving teaching, but most of all by His Passion and death.

To say that these are simply questions of Catholic faith which have no part in politics is just false and wrong. I fear for Congresswoman Pelosi if she does not come to understand how gravely in error she is. I invite her to reflect upon the example of St. Thomas More who acted rightly in a similar situation even at the cost of his life.

For this violation of Canon 915, Cardinal Burke asserted that Ms. Pelosi must be denied Communion.

What makes the Cardinal’s judgment newsworthy are two, more recent events: 1) Pope Francis reappointed Cardinal Burke to his position last week and 2) Pope Francis said in an interview last week that the Church must be careful not to alienate sinners but, instead, become more welcoming and inclusive of them.

dead horses

Drawing a line in the sand by denying Ms. Pelosi communion seems to put Cardinal Burke’s jurisprudence at odds with Pope Francis’ call for greater pastoral sensitivity.



To read the Wanderer article, click on the following link:

“Proud to be Catholic” scores again…


Over at “Proud to be Catholic” in a blog post entitled “Going to War?”, the normally provocative Father Brian Sistare (pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Woonsocket, RI) raises an interesting if not challenging juxtaposition of two images for Americans to contemplate.

The first image is that of President Barack Obama expressing his personal outrage that the chemical weapons used in Syria were killing many children.  Of this image Fr. Sistare writes:

What I would like to point out in the midst of this difficult moment is the sheer hypocrisy of our government “leaders.” The Secretary of State John Kerry said that what President Assad did was a “crime against conscience,” and a “crime against humanity.” Obama also spoke of the heinous crimes that were done to the Syrian people by their own president, mentioning that children were killed. He said that “we cannot accept a world in which people are gassed on a terrible scale,” and that we don’t want the world to be paralyzed.”


The second image is that of the 40-year history of chemically induced abortions being performed in the United States, which both the President and his Secretary of State, John F. Kerry, support.  Of this image, Fr. Sistare writes:

The little, innocent victims of abortion are even being killed “chemically” by such CONTRAceptives/abortificients, such as the morning after pill, the IUD, the NuvaRing, and even high dosages of the birth control pill.  “Chemical warfare” against our own people has been happening for over 40 years now, and the current “leader” of our country has no problem with it, even adding insult to injury by asking God to bless one of the major suppliers of these chemicals used in the warfare against the innocent, in the organization known as Planned Parenthood.


While many of the nation’s citizens will surely be offended by this juxtaposition of images, Fr. Sistare correctly notes that both depict acts of “chemical warfare,” whether or not the United Nations certifies them as such.

In the political arena, it’s so very easy for the leader of a world superpower to point the finger of blame at a tin-horn dictator who inflicts genocide upon his citizens and to threaten war to end such horrific crimes against humanity.

But, it isn’t all that easy for that leader to recognize that his four other fingers are pointing right back at him.  To recognize that fact, that leader would have to admit that he is entirely supportive of genocidal acts being committed in his own nation.

Kudos to Father Sistare for expressing the matter so clearly.

Sending your children to a Catholic school? Caveat emptor…


With the new academic year having gotten underway, it’s always good for parents to assess what their children will be learning, especially with the curriculum being nationalized.

In 2009, the National Governors Association launched the Common Core State Standards Initiative (“Common Core”) which is an attempt to nationalize the curriculum so that high school students who graduate in every state that adopts the Common Core will “be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”

Who possibly could be against that goal?


In her book, Don’t Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid: Confronting the Left’s Assault on Our Families, Faith, and Freedom, Marybeth Hicks tells parents who enroll their children in Catholic schools they should be very wary, if not opposed to the Common Core.

Why so?

Not for the usual reasons conservatives assert: who’s really behind the Common Core (e.g., the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation along with David Coleman, President of the College Board and architect of the Common Core) as well as the content it requires students to learn (e.g., social justice mathematics, using class and race conflict to explain American history).

Hicks tells her readers how the Common Core now is infecting Catholic schools nationwide because, although dioceses are not required to adopt the Common Core, they must do so if students are to demonstrate mastery on the tests measuring what students have learned (as that is measured using the standard of the Common Core designed by Coleman whose company makes the tests).  Hicks quotes Sarah Dalske, a Catholic school parent living in Sacramento:

My children go to Catholic school, and over 100+ [d]ioceses have adopted the [Common Core] because it’s what “has to be done” if we want our kids to get into college and be prepared and also be prepared to enter the “workforce” and earn a “living wage.”

In a letter Dalske wrote to the Diocese of Sacramento, she argued:

[Are] you telling me in future grades my kids will be reading such books as “Freakonomics” and “The Tipping Point,” learning that abortion is one of the was to lower crime…?  How would Catholic school teachers reconcile this while simultaneously teaching that all life is sacred and every baby has the right to life, that every person is give a soul at the moment of conception by God and has the God-given right to be brought into this world?….After all the new and confusing math and reading lessons, and the “literacy” lessons through science, history and technology, after all the testing, where will the time be to teach our children their faith?

The lesson for parents who send their children to Catholic schools?

Lest they believe Catholic schools provide immunity from the infection of a curriculum that’s opposed to Catholic teaching, they had better—like Sarah Dalske—investigate precisely what their children are being taught and when they are being taught it.

In Catholic schools, the goal of training the nation’s youth for the workforce is not antithetical to the goal of educating their souls in the faith of the Catholic Church.  If Dalske’s statistic is correct, in many dioceses the former may become more prominent than the latter…if it hasn’t already.


The post-Copacabana Beach parish…


While many Catholics are regaling in the afterglow of the much-touted and “highly successful” World Youth Day (WYD) 2013 in Rio, there are signs that papal spectacles like these—“circuses” some might say—should be reassessed for their ultimate value in evangelizing Catholic youth.

One young Catholic—sincere and searching for the truth but not quite sure what truth is—recently told me that young people are leaving the Church in droves because they “don’t feel the Church loves us…present company excepted, of course.”

It was for this purpose—to reach out to evangelize youth, demonstrating Mother Church’s love for them and their salvation—that Blessed John Paul II established WYD.  Over the decades, the media’s images of all of those young people—millions in some instances—traveling to distant locales to unite in prayer, to be catechized, and to participate in the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist—has been edifying for many Catholics and especially members the Curia who are already preparing for the next WYD in Poland.

PF Rio

But, there’s another aspect of  WYD that isn’t being reported and discussed, one that casts a shadow over WYDs, in general, and raising the question “Should WYD be held?”, in particular.

In “The Downside of World Youth Day,” Connor Malloy describes some of what’s not being reported.  For example, large group sessions dedicated to catechesis—two featuring Cardinals O’Malley and Dolan—didn’t have their desired effect upon the audience.  The problem? Everything else competing for the audience’s attention.  At the opening Mass, Malloy notes:

…hordes of pilgrims were wandering around, popping in at food tents and taking pictures of Copacabana Palace during the Consecration. It was beyond easy to take one’s eyes off the ball, and this identity crisis—between being a pilgrim and being a tourist—presented a constant struggle.

This is nothing new.  Malloy tells of an author who related that, following WYD 2000 in Rome, “mounds of used condoms were reportedly found scattered on the grounds—a most eloquent monument to relativism.”

For Malloy, this detachment, those distractions, and the immoral behavior raise two questions: Are we serious about the faith? And, what faith are we spreading?  He answers:

When contemplating the emerging Catholic youth, the target audience of WYD 2013, one has to ask, with what they have already witnessed in their lives from cultural, domestic, economic, and social perspectives—from Hollywood, secularism, capitalism, and the iPhone—how much of a role does Catholicism really play in their everyday lives? And what kind of Catholicism is it, anyway? Because from what I saw in Rio, for many there is a wink-wink, “do as I say not as I do” mentality about the Catholic faith.

Looking with an unvarnished eye at these papal spectacles and what they have become in some ways,  have they outlived their purpose?  Arguably, there may be better ways to evangelize Catholic youth.

More substantively, are those outdoor liturgies a disservice to the Eucharist?  Is Mass to be a spectacle—pulsating with dyathrambic rhythms to which the congregants bump and grind while slurping down a latté—or is the Mass  a sacrament—an encounter with the Living God?

“Why can’t it be both?” some may ask.

Malloy observes:

That young pilgrims may have confused WYD with a rock concert is understandable. The question is, can we trust them to see the substance beyond the fluff, the Incarnation beyond the entertainment? Chances are these pilgrims love challenges; we must challenge them to swim against the tide of relativism that exists even within the Church itself, and to surrender themselves to Christ’s redeeming love.

Time will tell when many in that crowd—the “sheep” Pope Francis wants to bring “home” to the Church—return to their dioceses and parishes and  “shake things up,” as the Pope instructed them. What will happen when these young people discover that the Church’s teaching hasn’t changed?  Then, too, should they be allowed to turn liturgy in their parishes into mini-Copacabanas? Will they once again leave, and this time, for good?

If young people are leaving Church in droves because they don’t “feel the Church loves us,” one wonders what kind of mother they are looking for.



To read Connor Malloy’s article, click on the following link:

A decades’ long administrative “wink and nod” in U.S. Catholic education?


When a local newspaper in suburban southern California—the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin—published photographs of a local Catholic high school teacher’s wedding, “Matrimonial bliss turned into an employment nightmare.”

The problem?

The teacher at St. Lucy’s Priory High School in Glenora, CA, 45-year-old Ken Bencomo, is homosexual and attempted a so-called “homosexual marriage” with his “partner” of 10 years, 32-year-old Christopher Persky.  Bencomo and Persky were among the first homosexuals who got “married” at the San Bernardino County Assessor-Recorder’s Office following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that allowed homosexuals to simulate marriage, according to the Los Angeles Times.

After the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin published the pictures, administrators at St. Lucy’s fired Bencomo, telling him on July 12 his contract would not be renewed, citing the “wedding, the photos, and the attendant publicity.”

The school’s administrators followed-up the firing with a statement, calling St. Lucy’s “a community of faith for those who wish to express, practice and adhere to values in education based on the Roman Catholic tradition.”  The statement adds that employees have a contractual obligation to abide by those values in public.  And:

While the school does not discriminate against teachers or other school employees based on their private lifestyle choices, public displays of behavior that are directly contrary to church teachings are inconsistent with these values.

Conservative Catholics might applaud the firing—Catholic moral teaching is supposed to be the keystone supporting the distinctive identity of a Catholic school—and liberal Catholics might deride it—using Catholic moral teaching as a judgmental cudgel is an affront to human rights.  Bencomo’s lawyer called the decision “crushing” and “draconian,” intimating that Bencomo may sue to get his job back.

None of that really matters.  What really matters is how this outcome is the result of a consistent failure of moral leadership on the part of St. Lucy’s administrators for at least 17 years which, according to the LA Times, is the period of time Bencomo has been teaching St. Lucy’s.  For at least the past 10 years, the school’s administrators have known about Bencomo’s sexual orientation and relationship with Persky. During that decade, Bencomo has brought Persky to school events, identifying Persky as his “partner,” according to Bencomo’s lawyer.

There was nothing “in the closet” about this homosexual relationship.

That is, until all of the “attendant publicity” resulting from the “photos” taken at the “wedding” were published in the newspaper.  Had Bencomo only kept the entire affair in the closet, administrators at St. Lucy’s must have reasoned, there would have been no attendant publicity and no firing because, at St. Lucy’s, immoral lifestyle choices kept private are “okay,” but public displays of immoral lifestyle choices are “not okay.”

It’s a Catholic school administrator’s policy equivalent of the military’s “Don’t Kiss, Don’t Tell” policy.  One doesn’t have to make a judgment or take a stand on a moral issue.  No, just ignore it…unless…

Quite likely, the administrators fired Bencomo because important constitutents and constitutent groups associated with the school or perhaps even the Archbishop of Los Angeles or his representative demanded that something be done…or else.

That’s the problem.  It’s an administrative “wink and nod,” even though the efficacy of Catholic moral teaching is being debased inside a community of faith—an “educational” one at that—whose administrators claim this community to be “for those who wish to express, practice and adhere to values in education based on the Roman Catholic tradition.”

So-called “homosexual marriage” is not part of that tradition.  Nor does presenting one’s “partner” to that educational community of faith express, practice, and adhere to the values of that tradition.

Why administrators at St. Lucy’s didn’t deal with the problem when it first emerged says a whole lot about their expression, practice, and adherence to the values of the Roman Catholic tradition…as well as all of those Catholic educational leaders who didn’t tell those administrators “or else” during those 17 years.



To read the LA Times article, click on the following link:,0,4837008.story


National Public Radio’s “fair and balanced” coverage of the papal peregrinage…


It’s always fun to take a peek into how government funded radio (National Public Radio, or “NPR”) covers news concerning the Catholic Church.  With the papal peregrinage to Brazil underway, NPR doesn’t disappoint in it’s fair-and-balanced coverage of events…yet once again.

In its “Parallels…Many Stories, One World” blog for July 24, 2013, there’s not one story about the papal peregrinage.  But, there is a story about a radical Brazilian priest who was excommunicated.

Padre Beto

Padre Beto, aka Roberto Francisco Daniel

“Padre Beto”—aka Roberto Francisco Daniel—become a Catholic priest after going to college, working, and having sex.  Which, along with what he’s been told by penitents in the confessional, the Padre says, informs his “different way of looking at church doctrine.”

What’s that include?

Premarital sex, gay marriage, divorce, and open marriages where either party can have an extramarital affair as long as both spouses agree.

According to Padre Beto:

The Catholic Church has to change. We know now because of scientific discovery a great deal about human sexuality, for example.

After this, “Parallels” devotes one paragraph to the papal peregrinage and immediately returns to Padre Beto’s “surprise” excommunication after he was “repeatedly warned by the church to stop making his views public, to recant and repent.”  But, in April 2013, and without warning following an ecclesiastical hearing, Padre Beto was informed that he was excommunicated.

“It never even crossed my mind that they would excommunicate me,” Padre Beto says.

What’s next for Padre Beto?

He hopes soon to be able to preside over a so-called “homosexual marriage.”  He says:

I will do it with a great sense of peace because where there is love, God is present.

This is how government funded radio (National Public Radio, or “NPR”) covers news concerning the Catholic Church.  With all of the events surrounding the papal peregrinage, NPR first focuses upon the loss of the Catholics in Brazil to evangelical denominations and second excommunicated priests.

How’s that for “fair and balanced”?



To read the NPR “Parallel” blog, click on the following link:

To read about Padre Beto, click on the following link:

If you’re really interested in tax reform, the USCCB and Catholic Charities USA may not be…


A Wall Street Journal op-ed calling into question whether tax “reform” should disallow the deduction for charitable donations offers a nugget of data that Catholics interested in tax reform should carefully consider.

The “nugget” is the total amount of money the federal government is pouring into charitable programs sponsored by the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Charities USA (CC-USA).  The op-ed notes:

Religious organizations also receive large infusions of federal funds. Catholic Charities USA receives more than half of its funding each year ($554 million in 2010) from federal grants. In 2012, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops received $63 million…in federal grants.

It’s difficult to unpack the exact numbers because the recipients oftentimes use multiple names.  That said, the USCCB directly received $34,767,249 in the form of three awards in 2012.  That’s 17.3% of its 2012 annual budget.  CC-USA directly received $5,546,607 in 2012 for 21 contracts with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The President of the William Simon Foundation, James Piereson, who wrote the op-ed, stated:

These are reputable institutions, and many of the programs they sponsor are important. Nevertheless, in view of their dependence upon government funds, no one can seriously maintain that these groups are “independent.” Instead, they form one of the more powerful lobbying forces in Washington for increasing government spending, especially spending on tax-exempt groups.

Forget all of that “lobbying” to garner more federal largess which, in turn, only increases the federal tax burden on the less than 50% of U.S. citizens who pay income tax.

Bad as that is, all of that lobbying represents these organizations’ ever-increasing dependency upon the federal government to subsidize their “charitable” work.  And that’s the problem: The government knows just how to pull those strings when it’s to the government’s advantage to do so.

If the government threatens not to increase funding, leaders of charitable organizations cry “Wolf!”, insisting their organizations will no longer be able to provide the quality of goods and services all of those people who are dependent upon those organizations have come to expect. Why?  Those leaders define “no increase” in funding as a “cut” in funding.

Then, too, if the government was to cut funding to those organizations, those leaders will also cry “Wolf!”, insisting that the cuts will hurt those who are already dependent upon those organizations as well as all of those additional clients who also need the goods and services provided by those organizations.

In the end, the government uses the power of the purse to control those organizations, exerting appropriate pressure to get them to knuckle under to the government’s diktats. Never forget: The government wants those charitable organization to do its bidding and to promote its policies.  Look at what Obamacare has attempted to do to Catholic higher education and the nation’s Catholic hospitals.

So, where is the lion’s share of all that federal largess to the USCCB and Catholic Charities USA going?  “Immigration services.”  Hmm…why ever would the federal government so willingly fund Catholic organizations to provide those “services” and not “educational” services, like parochial schools?

Charity is an individual’s love of God and neighbor that is demonstrated in that individual’s freely-given acts of love. Churches—funded by their members—do that.  Government can never do that.

It might very well be time to eliminate the tax deduction for charitable donations as part of a much larger tax reform package.  This should include eliminating the IRS and introducing the flat tax (with appropriate thresholds for the poor, destitute, and those in need).  Then, let’s see if “charity” is really charity or if much of it is just a tax deduction.



To view the USCCB data, click on the following link:

To view the Catholic Charities USA data, click on the following:

To view the USCCB 2012 budget news, click on the following link:

“Uterus to the polls”…


“Pathetic, inducing sorrow” is about all The Motley Monk can say concerning University of Pennsylvania Professor Anthea Butler’s suggestion this past weekend that past abortions and single parenthood should be marketed as positive elements in women’s political campaigns.

In an MSNBC interview, CNSNews reports Butler—an associate professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania—saying:

You have to be able to push past this, because these stories are not liabilities, they are assets, to speak that other women, whatever your experience has been, whether you’ve had an abortion, you’re a single parent, however those things are, we have to make them pluses, and not minuses.

Insofar as Butler is concerned, the problem is a consequence of those male politicians who make it difficult for women to participate in the political process.  Professor Butler noted:

…I’m thinking about what happened with [Texas Gov.] Rick Perry making that snide comment about Wendy [Davis]…and I think that’s what keeps women away from doing this.  Just like we did “Souls to the Polls” in 2012, we need to do women to the polls, and women to run in 2014.

Imagine that!  To win office, women politicians should boast about abortions and divorces.

The culture of death is alive and well.  What used to be considered evil is touted as virtue.  What used to be considered virtuous is considered an embarrassment.

This, from a professor of religious studies at an Ivy League university.

“Uterus, to the polls!”, the show’s hostess Melissa Harris-Perry, enthusiastically interjected.

All The Motley Monk can say is “Pathetic. Inducing sorrow.”



To read the CNSNews article, click on the following link:

A possible explanation for the empty chair?


In the post, “What’s in an emptychair?“, The Motley Monk wondered what could have happened at the last minute that prevented Pope Francis from attending the Sunday, June 22 performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony to celebrate the Year of Faith.  Announcing the last minute change in plans, a papal spokesman cited “other commitments,” specifically, “commitments that could not be postponed.”



In “Double Storm for the IOR” (Institute for Religious Works, or “Papal Bank”), Sandro Magister suggests that revelations about the new “prelate” Pope Francis had appointed to clean house at the IOR kept the Holy Father from attending the concert.

According to Magister’s report, the “new prelate” is Monsignor Battista Ricca who apparently won the Pope’s trust “above all through the familiar relations he established with him as director of the Domus Sanctae Marthae—where Francis chose to reside—and of two other residences for priests and bishops passing through Rome, including the one on Via della Scrofa at which Bergoglio used to stay as a cardinal.”

Appointing Ricca “prelate” of the IOR, Pope Francis thought he was placing a highly trustworthy person in a key IOR role, one giving Ricca statutory power to access the proceedings and documents as well as to participate in the meetings both of the cardinalate commission of oversight and of the supervisory board of the Vatican bank.

As the media reports described the appointment, Pope Francis personally appointed a man possessing an “incorruptible” reputation, well-suited to “clean house.”  This was to be a “signature” appointment, one demonstrating the Pope’s commitment to reform the Vatican bureaucracy, in general, and the IOR, in particular.

What Pope Francis did not know when he made the appointment, Ricca had previously served in the Vatican’s diplomatic corps and, after one year in Montevideo, Uruguay, Ricca was suddenly transferred.  Magister reports the transfer can be summarized in two phrases used by those who confidentially examined the case: “pink power” and “conducta escandalosa.”

With all the papal nuncios convened in Rome to meet with Pope Francis, it was at the time of the concert in his honor that the Pope became convinced, Magister reports, “thanks to not one but several incontrovertible sources, that he had put his trust in the wrong person.”  The Pope’s response?  According to Magister:

Sadness, gratitude to those who had opened his eyes, the desire to make remedy: these are the sentiments gathered from the sound of the pope’s voice during these conversations.

Informed about what was being discussed, Ricca asked for and obtained a meeting with Francis to defend himself and make his own accusations.

Who’d believe it?  The Pope may have been absent from the concert because the IOR scandal he was attempting to clean up was now blowing up right in front of him with his handpicked man as the potential source of a “Double Storm.”

Unfortunately, this story possesses the elements of a high-intrigue soap opera that will draw the media’s attention—like moths to a lightbulb—to it: power…sex…and money.

Hopefully, the Holy Father sent notes of apology to all of those who had spent hours preparing for the concert in his honor.  But, if what Sandro Magister is reporting is correct, the Holy Father needs the prayers of the faithful.  This “housecleaning” isn’t going to be easy.



To read the “What’s in an empty chair?” post, click on the following link:

To read Sandro Magister’s post concerning the IOR’s double scandal, click on the following link:


Scripture comments on the State of Washington’s recent legalization of gay marriage and marijuana…


An email sent by the secretary of the local branch of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham—established in 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI to allow Anglicans to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church while retaining much of their heritage and traditions—was forwarded to The Motley Monk.

It’s a great piece of exegesis that The Motley Monk will allow speak for itself without comment:

For those who haven’t heard, Washington State has passed both laws—gay marriage and legalized marijuana.  The fact that gay marriage and marijuana were legalized on the same day makes perfect biblical sense because Leviticus 20:13 says “If a man lies with another man they should be stoned.”  We just hadn’t interpreted it correctly before.



What’s in an empty chair?


There is quite a diversity of opinion being expressed about this photograph:

empty chair

Taken on Sunday, June 22 just prior to a concert—a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony—to celebrate the Year of Faith, the Pope’s chair is empty “due to other commitments,” specifically, “commitments that could not be postponed.”

According to the Associated Press, health wasn’t the cause, as Pope Francis appeared fit and relaxed earlier in the day.  That said, Associated Press also reported:

Unlike his predecessor Benedict, who was well-known as a music lover, Francis has shown scant interest in music, liturgical or otherwise.

Then, too, Sandro Magister has reported “papists” in the Curia attributing the following words to the Pope: “I am not a Renaissance prince who listens to music instead of working.”

That’s the stuff of papal palace intrigue that’s intended to communicate what Pope Francis really is thinking…or to impugn his character.

What if Pope Francis doesn’t want to live the lifestyle of a Renaissance prince?  What if he personally abhors concerts of classical music?  In the big scheme of things, none of that really matters, except perhaps for “Curiaistas” who have something to gain or lose if and when Pope Francis does reform the Curia.

Yet, let us not forget what the Pope’s absence communicated to the conductor as well as to all of those musicians and vocalists who practiced for hours precisely because he is the Pope and they admire him.  After all, this is the Successor of St. Peter and Bishop of Rome, not Bishop Joe Schlub of some diocese located somewhere in Lower Slobovia.  A lot of people watch and interpret a pope’s conduct for what it may signal about his and the Church’s intentions.

If there isn’t a better reason than the two already provided, The Motley Monk counts himself among those whom the Pope’s conduct “bewildered…even some of his most convinced admirers.”

The Pope has sent a message.  Whether it has the grandeur of “a solemn, severe peal,” as Sandro Magister quotes Church historian Alberto Melloni observing, it is clear this pope believes some things are more important—and very well may be more important—than a concert of classical music where he is scheduled to be the guest of honor.

“Mind your manners,” The Motley Monk’s Mom used to tell him, especially when he didn’t want to do something he was required to do and for reasons he didn’t very much appreciate.

Hopefully, Pope Francis has written personal notes expressing his regret to all of those who were to perform for him.  That’s what The Motley Monk’s Mom would make him do…“or else, Mister!”



To read the AP report, click on the following link:

To read Sandro Magister’s report, click on the following link:

Guess who’s back professing…


On February 25, 2013, Deandre Poole—an adjunct instructor of communications at Florida Atlantic University (FAU)—engaged his class in an exercise to teach them about the power of certain words and the way that power is based on cultural values. Following the textbook’s instructions, Poole had students write the name “Jesus” on a piece of paper, place the paper on the floor, and step on it.

The exercise offended one student, who exchanged words with Poole.  In turn, Poole reported the student to FAU academic administrators not for his reaction, but the way he treated Poole. When this student went public with his grievances, some media outlets sympathetically portrayed him as facing FAU charges for refusing to “stomp on Jesus.”

The protest sparked interest in the story.

Florida’s Governor, Rick Scott, weighed in.  He wrote FAU’s President calling the lesson “offensive, even intolerant” and requested a report concerning policies “to ensure this type of ‘lesson’ will never occur again.”  U.S. Senator Marco Rubio also weighed in, asking why the student was suspended for “respectfully expressing his religious and conscientious objections” to the classroom exercise.  The Motley Monk posted about the matter here at “The American Catholic.”

Poole denied using the word “stomp” and FAU academic administrators denied punishing any student.  Yet, Poole was placed on leave and barred from campus, FAU citing threats against him, presumably from all of those right-wingnut, gun-toting Christian zealots.

As it’s said, “the rest is history.”

“Really, what does it matter now?” Hillary Clinton would ask.

According to Inside Higher Ed, FAU academic administrators have rehired Poole.  Furthermore, they stated that Poole had done nothing wrong and any decision about the future use of the exercise would be based upon a FAU Faculty Senate investigation.

What’s that mean?

Those administrators have reneged on their previous statement that the exercise would not be used again:

Based on the offensive nature of the exercise, we will not use it again and have issued an apology to the community.  It was insensitive and unacceptable.  We continue to apologize to all the people who were offended and deeply regret this situation has occurred.

Why did FAU’s academic administrators back down?

Perhaps it’s for the reason that the FAU Faculty Senate report finds Poole’s classroom exercise entirely appropriate.  The report then took aim at senior FAU administrators, writing how—by not defending Poole—they “dismally failed” to protect academic freedom.  What irked members of the Faculty Senate, in particular, is the extent to which external political pressure (read: Republican conservatives) influenced decisions that were based upon early media reports concerning what transpired but did not happen as reported.

Poole says “I’m ecstatic,” adding:

I regret the misinformation that was out there and the way the story was characterized.  I wish everyone had all the information to form a more reasonable conclusion…. Members of the public need to be reminded that a university is an institution of higher learning, and is supposed to be a safe place for engaging in controversial issues.  If we can’t have these conversations at the university, where else are we going to have them?

In the name of protecting academic freedom, then, “stomping” on Jesus’ name is absolutely “out” at FAU.  “Stepping” on Jesus’ name is definitely “in.”


For students to understand better the power of certain words and the way that power is based on cultural values.

Believe it or not, people are going to pay tuition for this communications lesson, one that can be learned for free.  Just state  in public something that’s not politically correct.

Today, this is what passes for “higher education.”

Others might call it a denying “freedom of speech.”  Or, better yet, a “racket.”




To read The Motley Monk’s previous post about the FAU incident, click on the following link:

To read the Inside Higher Ed article, click on the following link:

Has post-Vatican II catechesis of Catholic youth failed?


In Fall 2012, an unnamed parish in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (presumably its pastor) hired the Villanova University economist and Director of its Center for the Study of Church Management, Charles Zech, to survey lapsed Catholics (presumably the parish’s lapsed members).  The survey’s purpose was to discover their reasons for leaving the practice of the Catholic faith.

The study’s findings—methodological questions and generalizations aside—were (yawn) unsurprising:

  • the sexual abuse scandal;
  • dissatisfaction with the parish, Archdiocese, and Vatican; and,
  • most who leave join Protestant denominations.

Interviewed by NBC’s local television affiliate, Zech noted that parishes do have some power to keep disgruntled Catholics from leaving.  Most important is what Zech identified as the “quality” of the liturgy:

Liturgies are really important.  I’m not sure that parish staff and clergy understand how important liturgies are to people, that they have good music and the liturgy be meaningful.  People who feel they are not being fed by a meaningful liturgy—they’ll go where they are being fed.

That’s a very interesting observation.  “Good music” will keep potentially disgruntled congregants from leaving?  If so, then it would be interesting to learn exactly what kind of music is most likely to keep in the pews those apparently many congregants who disagree with Church teaching?  Might it be Gregorian chant?

The Motley Monk doubts that is what Professor Zech is suggesting.  But, for the 189 respondents who have left the Church, how the music makes them feel appears to be primary.

More important to The Motley Monk is another of Zech’s observations concerning the study’s secondary findings:

People who are going to leave the church over the scandal and the church’s handling of it have already left.  So people leaving the church today are leaving for other reasons.  A growing reason we found out was the church’s attitude toward homosexuals and gay marriage.  A lot of younger people object to the church’s teaching on that.

Although Zech’s survey is neither reliable nor valid—meaning its findings, though accurate, cannot be generalized to the larger population due to sampling methodology—this finding may lend support to what other, more reliable and valid studies—like the Pew Research studies of faith and religion—have been noting and may very well be a trend.  Namely, the nation’s young people don’t particularly care about the moral questions and answers to those questions concerning homosexuality and so-called “homosexual marriage.”

If this finding is accurate, this is not good news for Church officials.  The nation’s Catholic youth are no different in attitude toward homosexuality and so-called homosexual marriage than are the nation’s youth in general, despite the Church’s vigorous and very public opposition.   Are the nation’s bishops and pastors to believe that improving the quality of music will keep this generation’s young Catholics practicing their faith?

Again, if this finding is accurate, it suggests that post-Vatican II catechesis of the nation’s Catholic youth—whether in the Catholic high schools or parish-based CCD programs—has failed to form the consciences of Catholic youth to appreciate what Pope John Paul II called “The Splendor of Truth.”  Instead, the secular, materialist, and consumerist “Culture of Death” has achieved results that may be nothing short of spectacular.

Yes, the Sirens are singing anew.  And that’s apparently what lapsed Catholics want and, presumably, what parishes should provide them, according to Zech’s study, if they are going to keep disgruntled members from leaving.

Yet, The Motley Monk would note,  this is a noxious prescription.  As Walter Copland Perry has observed:

Their song, though irresistibly sweet, was no less sad than sweet, and lapped both body and soul in a fatal lethargy, the forerunner of death and corruption.



To read the NBC article, click on the following link:

When speaking off the cuff: What does Pope Francis really mean?


Once again, there’s a media frenzy.  This time it’s been generated by Pope Francis who allegedly has spoken of the existence of a “gay lobby” in the Curia.  Rumors had been circulating and, it was alledged, confirmed in a “secret” report Pope Benedict XVI prepared for his successor prior to the conclave.  Some in the media also believed the “Gang of Eight” cardinals selected by Pope Francis would address the issue.

The details of what Pope Francis said “off the cuff” to the Conference of Latin American Religious (CLAR) on June 6 are well documented elsewhere, the most oft-cited being “In the Curia…there are holy people….[but also] a current of corruption.”  According to notes taken at the meeting and released by some who were present concerning the secret report, the Pope said: “The ‘gay lobby’ is mentioned, and it is true, it is there….We need to see what we can do….”

All of this has become even more complicated with the Catholic News Agency (CNS) reporting today that CLAR officially states that the Pope’s assertion “cannot be attributed with certainty to the Holy Father” (italics added).


As important as those statements rightly or wrongly attributed to Pope Francis and disclosed to the media may be, other statements—some of potentially greater significance—have not been as widely reported.

For example, La Stampa states that Pope Francis also told CLAR’s leaders to “keep moving forward” and not be “afraid to take risks by approaching the poor and new emerging figures across the continent.”  That sounds fine.  But, place that statement in its larger context:

Perhaps even a letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine (of the Faith) [CDF] will arrive for you, telling you that you said such or such thing….But do not worry. Explain whatever you have to explain, but move forward….Open the doors, do something there where life calls for it. I would rather have a Church that makes mistakes for doing something than one that gets sick for being closed up….

It takes time for the contours of a papacy to take shape.  Early into this papacy, much has been made about the Pope’s first appearance at St. Peter’s Basilica and his humility.  This “pastoral” Pope has washed feet, kissed babies, visited parishes, and heard confessions.  This “Pope of the People” has eschewed living in the Apostolic Palace and is now chauffeured not in a Mercedes Benz but a Volkswagen.

The media loves all of this…and hopes for more, interpreting this Pope’s actions as symbolic of what many in the media long for: A Roman Catholic Church that is more open to and accepting of the forces of what some in the media define as “progress.”

In an attempt to understand more clearly the overall direction the Holy Father intends to steer the ship of the Church in today’s murky waters, The Motley Monk reads the daily homilies Pope Francis has been delivering at St. Marta’s as these are reported by ZENIT.

Overall, the Pope preaches in a style reminiscent of the early Church Fathers, dotting his homilies with folksy applications of scripture to this generation’s moral challenges.  He invokes little, if any, “hierarchical” language. Instead, it’s much more “lateral.”  There’s no insensitive reiteration of Church teaching “from on high,” but a sensitive response on the part of a pastor who knows his people—having heard their confessions—and speaking candidly about what is afflicting them and keeping them from the Kingdom of God.

In sum: Anecdotes that make the daily Scriptures strike home.

The problem: Others can apply those anecdotes in ways the Holy Father may not have intended.

For example, take the Pope’s statement “do something where life calls for it.”  This statement has the potential to open the door to a host of unintended interpretations, especially when what has preceded it is “Explain [to CDF] whatever you have to explain, but move forward….”

Don’t overlook this particular statement because, The Motley Monk is sure, Pope Francis means it.

The question is: What precisely does the Pope mean?

In a homily to his congregation, a pastor can say “I would rather have a Church that makes mistakes for doing something than one that gets sick for being closed up….” The members of the congregation would understand exactly what is meant.  Plus, that seems to be sound pastoral teaching.

But, the papacy differs from the local pastorate.

Yes, the pope is the Universal Pastor.  Yet, he is also the “Rock,” charged personally by Christ with safeguarding Church teaching.  It’s one thing for a local pastor to translate the Beatitudes into acts of compassion for those who live on the margins and to challenge the members of one’s congregation to err in favor of compassion rather than to dictate moral positions.  It is an entirely different matter if a pope were to intimate—even in private—that bishops should err on the side of heresy and “Explain whatever you have to explain [to CDF], but move forward… (wink).”

Pope Francis certainly does not mean that.

But, some in the media would have him mean that, and are calling upon the Pope clarify precisely what he means.  It’s a “lose-lose” proposition, one that will center upon the legitimacy of and the Pope’s stance vis-a-vis Church teaching.

During the 20th century and early into the 21st, the Holy Spirit has blessed the Church with extraordinarily good, if not saintly popes.  The contours of this papacy have yet to be clearly defined.  As Pope Francis learns to navigate the Church  to confront directly this generation’s moral evils which the media may tout as “progress,” Catholics should pray that the Pope teach as Jesus did, “with authority” that stuns those today in his hearing who “are sick for being closed up” in their secular ideologies and unwilling to listen to the Truth, as the Church teaches it.



To read the article in LaStampa, click on the following link:

To read the CNA account, click on the following link:

1 3 4 5 6 7 11
Follow TAC by Clicking on the Buttons Below
Bookmark and Share
Subscribe by eMail

Enter your email:

Recent Comments
Our Visitors. . .
Our Subscribers. . .