Monday, March 20, 2006

Does Anything Good Come Out Of Massachusetts?

Boston Gay Adoption Row Reveals Growing Gap Between Church, Society

BOSTON (AP) – Massachusetts, one of the most Catholic states in the country, is witnessing an ever-widening rift between church and state on a raft of social issues, from gay marriage and abortion "buffer zones" to stem cell research and emergency contraception...

read full story here

This story kind of epitomizes what I've been saying for a few years now. Does anything good come out of Massachusetts? When it comes to politics, morality and social issues, it looks like the answer is loud and echoing "NO!" Massachusetts is lost. It is officially a post-Christian state, in which virtually all traditional Christian influence over state law as been shed in exchange for a "new morality" based almost entirely on secular relativism. The fact that Massachusetts is thoroughly post-Christian should be no surprise to anyone. Most people in the Bible Belt states have known that for years. What's frightening is the prospect that Massachusetts could become the front runner of other New England states, and is perhaps a glimpse of what will become of the entire nation in another 20 years or so. Because of that, I think we need to take a closer look at the most liberal state in America, to find out what went wrong, and how to prevent it from happening elsewhere.

I think what caused Massachusetts to fall off the deep end was two major factors, and both of them involve the role of the Catholic Church in that state. The first factor is liberalism, and I don't mean the political kind. Yes, it's true that Massachusetts is probably the most politically liberal state in the Union. (California, Oregon and Washington trail not too far behind.) I would contend, however, that Massachusetts' liberal sway in politics is built upon the Church's liberal toleration of unorthodoxy and immorality. I think it's important to point out that the states' two U.S. Senators, (the most liberal in the U.S. Senate), also happen to be professing Catholics who have never been censured by the bishops of their state or the archdiocese of Boston. The Code of Canon Law n. 1369 instructs all bishops: "A person is to be punished with a just penalty who gravely harms public morals." I can't think of two characters in the United States Senate who fit this description better than Senator John Kerry and Senator Ted Kennedy. With their public support of abortion-on-demand, embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning and homosexual "marriage," (based on their own statements and voting records:, there really is no doubt about this. Both are already excommunicated de facto from the Catholic Church by virtue of the fact that neither can lawfully receive communion in the Church anymore, because of their public stand on abortion. But this action was taken by the Vatican, not the archdiocese of Boston or the bishops of Massachusetts, and it was general toward all Catholic politicians who support abortion. Kerry and Kennedy where never mentioned by name. Yet even though these two high profile men already fall under a de facto excommunication, neither has received censure from their local bishops. I think this says something about the state of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts. It's broken. Further more, it would appear that it's been broken for a long time now. Even worse, it would seem that it doesn't look like it's going to be fixed anytime in the near future. The nature of the first factor leading to the decline and fall of Massachusetts is the Catholic Church's absolute and complete failure to do it's job in this state. The Massachusetts bishops have not only been negligent in their duty, but one could argue they've been completely derelict in their duty all together. The purpose of a bishop is to teach, correct, reprove and when necessary -- discipline. Obviously, there just hasn't been enough of that going on in Massachusetts. Politicians like John Kerry and Ted Kennedy shouldn't be able to even use the word "Catholic" in reference to themselves, without some kind of rebuttal from the Massachusetts bishops. That's because they're not Catholic by any stretch of the imagination. They forfeited that designation years ago with their public support of abortion on demand. Yet the Massachusetts bishops stand by and do nothing. That is problem number one folks. Take this as a lesson on "how NOT to run a church." Such lack of disciplinary action sends a permissive message to the laity. While the Church in Massachusetts speaks out against the evils of abortion, human cloning and homosexual "marriage," it does absolutely nothing to discipline those who publicly contradict the Church in all of these teachings. So while the Church says one thing, it effectively winks and nods at the other. That may not be the message the Massachusetts bishops intend upon sending, but it is nevertheless, the exact message the Catholic laity in Massachusetts is receiving. How else could so many Catholic voters consistently and repeatedly reelect politicians like John Kerry and Ted Kennedy -- over and over again? Of course the two U.S. Senators from Massachusetts are just the tip of the iceberg so to speak. We see the results of this same problem permeated through the entire state government of Massachusetts -- including its judges.

The second factor is of a more recent origin, and while it probably played little role in the decline and fall of Massachusetts, it is however playing a huge role in Massachusetts' chance of reform anytime in the near future. For the time being anyway, Massachusetts is adrift in a sea it cannot be rescued from. It will continue to decline and fall for an indefinite period of time. The factor I'm talking about is the recent sex-abuse scandal that rocked the archdiocese of Boston and sent shock waves throughout the Catholic Church all over America. To make a long story short, the bishops of Massachusetts have lost their credibility -- almost completely. An entire generation of Massachusetts Catholics have lost confidence in them, and it's a confidence that will probably never be restored in this generation. So the bishops can say whatever they want, but nobody is going to listen to them. The only hope the Massachusetts bishops have at ever restoring credibility is a course of action they are not likely to take. In today's liberal society, it's a course of action many people would consider draconian. It needs to be done, but we all know it's probably never going to happen. What is that action? It's a simple house cleaning. The bishops need to go back to the old days, when Catholics were expected to be Catholics, or face the consequences. The purging of the Massachusetts Church needs to start from the top down. Liberal and permissive priests need to be put on notice. Abusive priests need to be laicized (defrocked) without delay. Catholic politicians who publicly endorse abortion need to be formally excommunicated -- immediately! While the Catholic laity needs to be regularly and consistently educated on the evils of abortion, human cloning and same-sex "marriage." They need to be told that their Catholicism hinges upon these things, that failure to resist these things puts one in "bad standing" with the Church. Finally, the bishops need to make it clear that those Catholic laymen who go public with support for these things, will run the risk of suffering formal excommunication as well. Yet even if all of these things are done, I believe there still is no hope at restoring confidence for Massachusetts bishops among the members of this generation. I believe the fruit of these disciplinary measures will not be seen until the next generation comes of age, but that's only if the Church starts today, and yet we still have not seen any indication that these things are scheduled to begin anytime soon.

So what's the moral to this story? Simple. If you want to learn how NOT to run a church, look no further than the Catholic Church in Massachusetts. If bishops want to see strong Catholic intervention in the policies of state and local governments, they're going to have to start disciplining those who knowingly work against it. This was not done in Massachusetts, and now just look at the mess.