CARDINAL TOBIN OF NEWARK
July 8, 2017
By CHRISTOPHER MANION
When USCCB’s “Convocation Of Catholic Leaders” adjourned on July 4, some observers cheered that the event was happily nonpolitical.
Well, that didn’t last long. Just hours after the conference adjourned in Orlando, America’s newest cardinal used the occasion to insult tens of millions of Americans with whom he disagrees politically.
Conference attendees were sent forth “to convey ‘the joy of the Gospel’ to the peripheries,” but Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Newark, N.J., made it perfectly clear that Trump supporters need not apply.
In an interview with La Croix, a widely read French Catholic newspaper, Cardinal Tobin commemorated Independence Day by condemning what he called “an exaggerated patriotism in the United States,” resonating the tone of Barack Obama’s denunciation of America’s “aggressive nationalism” just two days before.
The cardinal used the interview to broadcast his sustained vilification of voters who opposed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. “I think President Trump is appealing to the dark side of Americans,” he insists. In fact, his disdain goes so far that, just after the election, he detoured from his text at Notre Dame pointedly to mock personally the evangelical faith of Vice President Mike Pence, a fallen-away Catholic.
At least one can appreciate Cardinal Tobin’s candor: Before Pope Francis, he explains, the backward leaders of the American Church “were very marked by John Paul II,” and as a result “many Americans have moved away from the Catholic Church or do not find the meaning they seek because they perceive it as rigid.”
After this curious interpretation of post-Vatican II history, America’s newest cardinal lost no time making it clear just what peripheries he was open to in what his fans at The New York Times cheered as the “shifting church.” In May, he convened a special celebration to welcome “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Catholics” to his cathedral.
One wonders: Does this outreach really mean that “all are welcome”? Not necessarily; in fact, some Trump supporters might be downright irredeemable. America’s “exaggerated” patriots are “idolaters,” Cardinal Tobin insists — but, after dabbling in what one might call his own “dark side,” he quickly pivots, insisting that his unfettered scorn has a bright side.
In the interview, the cardinal magnanimously dismisses any notion of rancor for those he condemns. After all, he says, “as disciples of Jesus, we have to be careful not to exclude others.”
(As we go to press, we learn that others were indeed excluded: Michael Voris from Churchmilitant.com reports that his news team was thrown out of the conference by the USCCB’s chief of security less than a minute after their arrival. Voris’ network defends Humanae Vitae, the integrity of the sacraments, and the Ten Commandments, which the bishops intentionally left off the agenda to be “inclusive” — except, of course, when they weren’t being inclusive.)
On USCCB Funding
Michael Hichborn, founding president of the Lepanto Institute, recently delivered a significant address to Catholics in Front Royal, Va. The intrepid pro-life investigator delivered a fact-filled presentation that was stunning in its findings.
“For all intents and purposes,” Hichborn explained, “the USCCB is little more than a political lobbying organization that implements certain government-funded civic projects. The vast majority of its actions are directed at obtaining government grants for social projects, and lobbying Congress [to influence] its funding and legislative decisions.”
Hichborn’s interest in the USCCB began years ago, when the late Francis Cardinal George, OMI, was conference president. As soon as the cardinal discovered that Hichborn was investigating radical groups funded by the bishops, he erupted: “There it is. You view the USCCB as your enemy. Let me tell you something…if you view the USCCB as your enemy, it will view you as its enemy.”
The reader should note that this subliminal hostility came from one of the most charitable, able, and orthodox princes of the American Church. Yes, Cardinal George was an “organization man,” but also a gentleman, so he agreed to meet with Hichborn in person in Chicago. Apologizing for being late, Cardinal George explained that he had just gotten off the phone with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, discussing the Obamacare legislation that she was about to ram through the all-Democrat House majority.
In fact, Hichborn recounted, from January of 2009 through May of 2010, the USCCB issued over 70 letters to Congress, action alerts to Catholics, bulletin inserts, backgrounder papers, prayer petitions, and public statements pushing for the passage of Obamacare.
“The end result of the USCCB’s efforts was to create a massive amount of momentum from Catholics across the country in support of the Affordable Care Act, only to slam on the brakes at the 11th hour because they didn’t get the abortion neutral language they hoped for,” he said.
The Wanderer reported at the time that the bishops, smug in their assurance that Obama wouldn’t lie to them, had diverted their efforts from health care to a national campaign advocating amnesty for illegal aliens, a high priority for Obama and an important ingredient in the revenue that the bishops received from the government every year.
The campaign was designed to reach down to the level of every parish in the country — so Obama’s betrayal on health care caught them flat-footed and, in Washington’s political vocabulary, they were “rolled.”
And They’re Still Rolling. . . .
Obamacare would never have passed, had the bishops firmly opposed it. Once it passed, and the faithful were burdened by the vile “HHS Contraceptive Mandate,” the bishops realized they hadn’t taught Humanae Vitae for decades. Timothy Cardinal Dolan, who succeeded Cardinal George as conference president, admitted to The Wall Street Journal that bishops had had “laryngitis” on Humanae Vitae since the 1960s.
So the bishops, bereft of moral arguments, did not even once object to Obamacare’s expansions of coverage for contraception.
Hichborn then bored into the particulars of the federal government’s billions of dollars of support for population control, focusing on the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), a USCCB subsidiary that receives two-thirds of its funding from the taxpayer — well over half a billion dollars a year. The taxpayer money comes from the Agency for International Development (AID), the “foreign aid” agency that is the most diehard pro-abortion, anti-life agency in the entire federal government, no matter what party is in power.
The dependence on federal funding explains why the bishops who supposedly run CRS are so reluctant to criticize its funding of contraceptives, abortifacients, and abortions (the latter funding has been terminated by the Trump administration). Doing so would amount to “biting the hand that feeds them,” and diehard radical bureaucrats can get very testy when challenged on moral grounds about how they spend other people’s money (known in Washington as OPM).
Hichborn’s research sheds a new light on why CRS and USCCB officials have mounted a sustained attack on President Trump’s proposed budget, which includes serious reductions for foreign aid, abortion, and population control. The Catholic welfare agencies insist that their only goal is to “help the most vulnerable,” but in fact their leaders privately admit that the cuts would mean laying off thousands of bureaucrats, “experts,” and welfare workers that staff church agencies.
“If you view the USCCB as your enemy, it will view you as its enemy,” warned Cardinal George. Today, the USCCB is totally dependent on its indispensable lifeblood of federal funding. It thus views President Trump’s budget cuts, and thus President Trump, as “the enemy.”
The president has reversed Obama’s HHS Mandate, canceled Obama’s billions for abortion internationally and Planned Parenthood domestically, has reversed Obama’s attacks on religious freedom, has appointed a brilliant constitutional expert to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, and has saved Catholic education from the savage attack that Hillary Clinton had planned to direct, using her “Catholic” Vice President, Tim Kaine, as her stooge.
Are the bishops grateful? You decide.