No Greater Glory (2012)
Bishops, That is a Pretty Nice Tax Exemption You Have There. Wouldn’t Want Anything Bad to Happen to It.
Modern liberals are not noted for their subtlety. Case in point is Melinda Henneberger. A writer for the Washington Post, she is a liberal in good standing and a Catholic, a graduate from Notre Dame in 1980, who has written for the New York Times, Commonweal, a Catholic journal for those who like a dollop of incense with their leftism, and was a contributing editor for Newsweek, the magazine that is almost worth the buck its latest owner paid for it. Henneberger is pretty ticked at the Church in regard to what she perceives as political attacks on the South Side Messiah. Her recent column on this subject is deserving of a fisk, and I am happy to oblige:
The Catholic Church practically invented politics, so it may be asking too much to expect American bishops to steer completely clear of affairs of state.
Good, a snide start illustrates the fury with which this column was written as the good ship Obama begins to take on water. Liberal writers are usually at their nastiest when they start to perceive that a political pasting of Biblical proportions is on the way for their team
There are times when they couldn’t if they wanted to, and they think this is one of those times.
Ah, but you know better, don’t you Ms. Henneberger?
The upcoming “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign to push back against this administration’s health-care mandate for contraceptives, however, sounds so much like a “Fortnight to Defeat Barack Obama” that I’ve gotten to wondering what our prelates would have to do to cost the church its tax-exempt status. (IRS rules are pretty clear that churches have to give up their exemption if they campaign for or against a political candidate.)
Please, that paragraph is a bad joke. Democrat candidates for decades have campaigned in black churches and many of those same churches are quite forthright in their political advocacy. Think of the Reverend Wright, the man who Obama, hilariously, claims led him to Christ, and his sermons which were merely long political diatribes. The IRS has long turned a blind eye to this type of blatant political activity.
That is not going to happen, and I’m not suggesting it should. But as a thought exercise, what would it take to provoke such a thing?
She is certainly right that it is not going to happen unless the Democrat party has a true death wish.
If a bishop compared Obama to, I don’t know, Hitler and Stalin, would that be campaigning against him?
Oh, but wait, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria tried that already. Jenky wasn’t exactly a household name before that tirade.
We can see from the above that whatever Ms. Henneberger studied at Notre Dame, reading comprehension was not high on the list. What Bishop Jenky actually said was:
In the late 19th century, Bismark waged his “Kultur Kamp,” a Culture War, against the Roman Catholic Church, closing down every Catholic school and hospital, convent and monastery in Imperial Germany.
Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care.
Now things have come to such a pass in America that this is a battle that we could lose, but before the awesome judgement seat of Almighty God this is not a war where any believing Catholic may remain neutral.
This fall, every practicing Catholic must vote, and must vote their Catholic consciences, or by the following fall our Catholic schools, our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic Newman Centers, all our public ministries — only excepting our church buildings – could easily be shut down. Because no Catholic institution, under any circumstance, can ever cooperate with the intrinsic evil of killing innocent human life in the womb.
No Catholic ministry – and yes, Mr. President, for Catholics our schools and hospitals are ministries – can remain faithful to the Lordship of the Risen Christ and to his glorious Gospel of Life if they are forced to pay for abortions.
What Bishop Jenky was doing Ms. Henneberger is called issues advocacy and is perfectly permissible under IRS regulations. Nice try however to ignore the obvious.
What if, however, the best-known bishop in the country — and among the most likeable — said “the White House is strangling the Catholic Church”?
No again; Cardinal Tim Dolan of New York did that, too. And Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland said we have reason to fear “despotism” under Obama.
What Cardinal Dolan actually said:
The exemption given to the church is so strangling and so narrow and it’s also presumptuous that a bureau of the federal government is attempting to define for the church the extent of its ministry and ministers,” said Dolan on CBS’s “This Morning.”
What Bishop Cordileone actually said:
My own experience, I sort of backed into this religious liberty debate by my involvement with her Siamese twin–the definition of marriage in the law. And I got swept up in that, not exclusively, but in large degree because I was enlightened by Dr. [Robert] George and other people of his kind as to the erosion of the rights of religious institutions to serve the broader community in accord with their moral principles precisely because of this issue. As well, the rights of individuals to have their freedom of conscience respected.
When I saw what was happening my eyes were opened, it made me fear that we could be starting to move in the direction of license and despotism.”
Once again, both examples of issues advocacy.
(Even Pope Benedict XVI has joined the fray – though the former Joseph Ratzinger is really not much of a fray-joiner. “Many of you, he told American bishops, “have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection…with regard to cooperation in instrinsically evil practices.’’ Abortion, he means. Birth control, which is barred under church teaching, must be provided free to employees of Catholic institutions as part of their health care plans under the Affordable Care Act. Where does abortion come in? Some opponents argue that the Part B ‘morning-after pill,’ which is also provided as part of the bill, is an abortifacient, though science doesn’t support that claim.)
Ah, how Pope Benedict does set the teeth on edge of “progressive” Catholics! Go here to read the Pope’s warning of the erosion of religious liberty in this country. Once again, the Pope’s remarks would be considered issues advocacy. The fact that Ms. Henneberger brings up these remarks indicates the depth of her ignorance on the subject of political activities deemed impermissible by the IRS regarding churches. Continue reading
I die but God does not die!
Blessed Anacleto González Flores before his martyrdom, April 1, 1927
Something for the Weekend. El Martes Me Fusilaran. (They will shoot me on Tuesday.) A song performed by Vicente Fernández Gomez celebrating the fight for the Church and religious liberty by the Cristeros in Mexico in the twenties of the last century. This seemed appropriate on the day when my family and I will be seeing For Greater Glory. Go here to read my post on the film and the historical background on the Cristero War. Here are the lyrics of the song translated into English: Continue reading
Roger Ebert is one of the more celebrated movie critics in the country. He is also a secular liberal of a fairly exteme variety. This was on display in his review of For Greater Glory. Go here to read the review.
Ebert confesses that he had never heard of the Cristeros war:
This war has all the elements to make it well-known, but I confess I’d never heard of it. A close Mexican-American friend, well-informed in Mexican history, told me she never has, either. Is it in the usual history books? You’ll learn a lot about it in “For Greater Glory,” the most expensive film ever made in Mexico, an ambitious production with a cast filled with stars.
Judging from the rest of the review, this confession of ignorance was superfluous.
Ebert seems to lack any concept of the Catholic beliefs regarding martyrdom:
It is well-made, yes, but has such pro-Catholic tunnel vision I began to question its view of events. One important subplot involves a 12-year-old boy choosing to die for his faith. Of course the federal troops who shot him were monsters, but the film seems to approve of his decision and includes him approvingly in a long list of Cristeros who have achieved sainthood or beatification after their deaths in the war.
Yes Mr. Ebert, we Catholics do believe it is better to die than to deny Christ. We have it from the mouth of Christ that this is what we should do. If you have problems with this, take it up with Him.
Ebert seems to believe that it is OK to persecute the Church a little, but Mexican President Calles took things a wee bit too far:
President Calles (Ruben Blades), who can’t believe the Cristeros can possibly be successful, pursues the war beyond what seems to be all common sense. It’s one thing to enforce legal restraints on the Catholic Church and another — a riskier one — to order such extremes as sending all the bishops and foreign-born clergy out of the country and authorizing the murder of priests in their own churches.
Overall Ebert thinks that For Greater Glory is a good film, but all this Catholic business ruins it:
For Greater Glory” is the kind of long, expensive epic not much made any more. It bears the hallmarks of being a labor of love. I suspect it’s too long for some audiences. It is also very heavy on battle scenes, in which the Cristeros seem to have uncannily good aim. But in its use of locations and sets, it’s an impressive achievement by director Dean Wright, whose credits include some of the effects on the “Lord of the Rings” films. If it had not hewed so singlemindedly to the Catholic view and included all religions under the banner of religious liberty, I believe it would have been more effective. If your religion doesn’t respect the rights of other religions, it is lacking something. Continue reading
There is well known to Us, Venerable Brethren – and it is a great cause of consolation for Our paternal heart – your constancy, that of your priests and of the great part of the Mexican faithful, in ardently professing the Catholic Faith and in opposing the impositions of those who, ignoring the divine excellence of the religion of Jesus Christ and knowing it only through the calumnies of its enemies, delude themselves that they are not able to accomplish reforms for the good of the people except by combating the religion of the great majority.
Pius XI, FIRMISSIMAM CONSTANTIAM
The film, For Greater Glory, the heroic story of the Cristeros who fought for the Church and religious liberty in the twenties of the last century in Mexico, is opening on June 1. Go here to read my first post on the film and the historical background of the Cristeros War. I will be seeing the movie with my family on Saturday, and I will have a full review of the film on Sunday or Monday. In the meantime, reviews are beginning to come in. I enjoyed this one by Dustin Siggins at Hot Air:
Over the last several years Catholics in America and Europe have experienced what they believe are the stripping of religious rights, and many are concerned the situation could easily turn into a public confrontation with various governments. One example of this is in England, where just this week the federal government has moved to declare wearing crosses in public is not a right. On this side of the water, my church’s parochial vicar Father Robert Lange often quotes His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, who in 2010 said the following: “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”
Such things were on my mind as I watched “For Greater Glory,” a movie about the Cristeros, or “soldiers for Christ,” who fought against religious persecution by the Mexican government from 1926 to 1929. The movie starts with laws which encroach upon religious freedom relatively benignly, such as not allowing the public wear of religious symbols. The Mexican government then moves to decry foreigners who allegedly control the nation’s citizens, particularly the Vatican, and rounds up all foreign-born bishops and priests to force them to leave the country. Peaceful rallies and protests are responded to with military force, which leads to an economic boycott.
The boycott is the last straw for Mexican President Plutarco Elías Calles. Ignoring the counsel of his advisers, he begins invading churches and killing Catholic priests and parishioners. This leads to protests of various forms, from peacefully marching in the streets to violent rebellion. At the heart of the entire movie are a teenage boy who sees his mentor shot before his eyes, an atheist whose wife’s Catholic faith and his own belief in religious freedom cause him to lead the rebellion, a woman whose network of faithful Catholic women is critical to the rebellion’s early formation, a rebel whose legendary fighting skills are matched by his disdain for authority, and a priest whose violent leadership in the rebellion causes a great deal of spiritual uncertainty. Continue reading