I was going to title it “We have two disappointing bishops on our hands,” but then I noticed the Facebook meme for “Blackout Tuesday” and got distracted.
The two disappointing bishops are, pardon me I mean no disrespect but I must say it, Bishop Barron and our own good Cardinal Cupich. The excellent and hardworking Bishop Barron concludes at the end of a longish article, “Pentecost and the fires in our streets,” essentially that all the looting is owing to “400 years of racism,” which by the way is Antifa’s own trope. Yes, so that’s why Antifa would try to burn down a historic Episcopal church in Washington D.C., and that’s why my employer has had at least five stores of its retail chain in Chicago looted, and one essentially destroyed, even to the warehouse, the IT room and all the cash registers.
And our good Cardinal Cupich writes a letter to the Archdiocese saying essentially the same thing. “It all started when the first slave ship docked on our shores,” etc. “And the fix begins when we stop talking about the proportionality of ‘their’ response and start talking about the proportionality of ‘ours’ ” (italics mine). To be fair the good Cardinal’s people wrote this before “civil unrest” really got out of hand, you know — the shooting of police officers from behind in Las Vegas and the “ransacking” of Macy’s flagship location in New York, and such.
Nevertheless here we have two prominent princes of the Church, shepherds of their flock, who see violence playing out before their eyes and breathe not a word about bringing Christ to the poor lost white kids of Antifa, smashing windows because racism. The two princes speak not a word about bringing Christ to the poor lost black kids prancing delightedly on their way out of shoe stores and liquor stores, laden with treasures. I should guess chances are the blacks will end up in prison and the whites won’t, because if law enforcement follows through on any video evidence, the white kids will in the end have parents who can afford to bail them out, and the blacks won’t.
This amoral tone-deafness, the failure to think it through, makes both bishops’ letters seem handed down from on high. As in, they got the memo. If either of these men ever ministered to elderly black people in the inner city, who now can’t get groceries because those stores have been wiped out too, they have forgotten it. And they say not a word in recollection of that hoary old quote, what was it? — “Thou shalt not steal.”
And now of my handful of Facebook friends, a few are putting a black square on their timelines for the day, or even making a black square their profile picture, in solidarity with black suffering, or because racism or something. Here are more lost souls whom our bishops could attempt to reach with a question or two. As in, why do you think putting a black square on your Facebook page is somehow an announcement or an act of piety? Do you agree black lives matter inside an abortion mill? Suppose you might have an immortal soul, will a fashionable Facebook signal do to keep it safe?
Our bishops might even, heaven forfend, try a little bit of catechism. As in, Christ changed the world once, it cannot be done again. The way to do what is right in this world is to follow him, and that won’t mean doing evil that good may come. (Tinkering with your Facebook page isn’t evil, but the untruth behind your posturing is. So is looting and shooting.) Bishop Barron only just said you can’t do evil for the sake of good, three weeks ago. When the righteousness of Antifa trumps Christ, wow, it happens quickly and no backtalk.
The idea has occurred to me recently that it doesn’t make sense that, in this depraved world — maybe it always was but we are really recreating ancient Rome it seems — it doesn’t make sense that the Church should not be undergoing persecution. It doesn’t make sense that the Church should be comfortable and respected. You might laugh and say well of course it isn’t comfortable and respected at all, have you heard of the sex abuse scandals and the bankruptcies? But what I mean is, the church should not be in sync with this society hardly at all; I’m glad the conference of bishops voted to place abortion at the top of the list of their concerns some time ago, but when two big ones also cannot respond to exploding events in any other way than as aggrieved social studies teachers in a high school classroom in 1978, something is still wrong in a big way. They can’t satisfy Antifa on race matters for very long. Antifa’s flag bears no cross, and they will always circle back.
Mind you I come here to say my piece, because if the bishops are not brave, I’m not either. No one will notice me here. I could say something on Facebook about all the stupid black squares, but I’ll have to see some of these people next Christmas and they all think they’re morally superior. They seem to stiffen in one’s presence, as if they feared a monster who must be treated gingerly because the monster is so stupid. If it should come to anything worse than that, if we should be talking about the persecution which seems almost artificially absent, well, who knows. One doesn’t look forward to the lions, although in the old stories, the martyrs went to the lions with great peace, and the recanters lived sadly the rest of their poor lives.
Chicago’s previous cardinal archbishop, Francis Cardinal George, supposedly prophesied that the times were a-changin’ enough that, while he would die in his bed, his successor would die in prison, and his successor would die a martyr in the public square. And then his would begin to pick up the pieces of a shattered civilization and repair it again, with Christ again, the way, the truth, and the life. Who said, “Love one another,” and “Thou shalt not steal.” I wonder if our two good bishops and all of us are, even in the back of our minds, much too close in time to the late Cardinal George for anyone’s comfort.