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   by Un Fils de Notre–Dame  •  •  September 8, 2021    

The United States needs the Church

recent Vortex about the “blundering bishops” and our national government featured the following statements:

  • “The Catholic empire has fallen just as surely as the American empire has; in fact, the American empire has fallen because the Catholic empire fell first”
  • “The U.S. hierarchy led the way, all the way back to the 1960s, publicly and in private”

But, it was not always that way. The contrapositive of these statements is also true:

  • The United States experienced its historic success because the American Catholic Church hierarchy was successful first
  • The U.S. Catholic hierarchy led the way for the American republic for the first century and a half of U.S. national existence

The Catholic hierarchy of the United States was the original foundation of “American exceptionalism” — that unique excellence of our government and our people that makes the United States stand out from the rest of the world’s nations. Indeed, the Catholic hierarchy played a key role in the emergence of our republic from the throes of the Revolutionary War.

Our Founding Bishops

At the outset, we can say that the United States would not have persisted and defeated the British Empire without a papal intervention initiated by John Carroll, our first bishop. In 1781, Bp. Carroll persuaded Pope Pius VI to prevail upon the Catholic French King Louis XVI to order the French naval fleet to confront the British fleet at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, thus isolating the British Army at Yorktown, Virginia and forcing the surrender by Gen. Charles Cornwallis to Gen. George Washington.

We know of this because the British king, George III, actually acknowledged — in a conversation with the British prime minister William Pitt (the Younger) — the key role Pope Pius VI played in influencing the King of France. So the United States would likely not exist without the Catholic hierarchy’s inducement of the King of France to aid the Continental Army of Gen. Washington in its definitive defeat of the British at Yorktown.Vortex: Blundering Bishops and Biden

Of course, Bp. Carroll was quick to latch on to the Blessed Virgin Mary — honoring both the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Our Lady before any pope declared these doctrines infallibly. Bishop Carroll consecrated the United States to the Immaculate Conception and named our first cathedral at Baltimore for the Assumption.

In fact, after Bp. Carroll’s example, other U.S. bishops continued the trend of Marian piety by consecrating the nation to the Immaculata and by instigating the dogmatic declaration of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX on Dec. 8, 1854.

Consider just some of the first generation of bishops who unanimously endorsed this dogma in the 1846 Provincial Council of Baltimore — including John Baptist Purcell and Richard Pius Miles. Note well that the bishops of the nascent republic helped advance the dogma of the Immaculate Conception over the course of the decade following the council.

Pilgrims gather at Holy Cross-Immaculata Church 

Bishop Purcell of Cincinnati, years before the dogma was proclaimed, bought the land where he ultimately erected the Church of the Immaculata, a famous landmark on Mount Adams in Cincinnati and a virtual “lighthouse” for the Ohio River. This parish church became a widely recognized shrine to the Immaculate Conception, venerated long before the U.S. bishops built the shrine church by that name at our national capital.

Bishop Purcell also successfully nudged the local secular authorities to declare an official holiday on Dec. 8, 1854 closing businesses in Cincinnati, in order to honor the papal declaration of the dogma on that day.

Richard Pius Miles (the first bishop of Nashville and a native of Maryland who grew up in Kentucky) participated in advancing recognition of the Immaculate Conception dogma, both at the Sixth and Seventh Provincial Councils of Baltimore (held in 1846 and 1849, respectively). When the diocese of Nashville, in 1972, sought to move his tomb from under the main altar at the former cathedral, the Church of St. Mary of the Seven Sorrows — after 112 years — his body was found incorrupt.

While John Nepomucene Neumann was not named a bishop until 1852 and thus did not participate in the Provincial Councils, he did play a prominent role in the actual papal proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. He was personally selected by Pope Pius IX (alone among all of the bishops and cardinals present that day) to hold the original document while the Pope read aloud the apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus in the Vatican Basilica of St. Peter on Dec. 8, 1854.

Subsequent Prelates

America continued to produce distinguished Catholic bishops even after the founding generation. Before World War I, the U.S. bishops — through the effort of Msgr. Thomas J. Shahan, rector of the Catholic University of America — obtained papal approval for a national shrine church at Washington, D.C. honoring the Immaculate Conception. There had been discussion about such a monumental church as early as 1846 (when the Sixth Provincial Council dedicated the nation to the Immaculata). Monsignor Shahan proposed the shrine church in 1910 and obtained the personal approval of Pope Pius X in 1913.

  Bp. John Francis Noll and Abp. John T. McNicholas 

The pope named Shahan a titular bishop in 1914, and the monsignor continued as head of Catholic University until 1928. Along with many other bishops (such as John Francis Noll of Fort Wayne, Indiana), this early-20th-century episcopal generation advanced the construction of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. With its cornerstone laid in 1920, by 1931, a crypt level was opened and a distinct chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes was built.

Despite being impeded by the Great Depression and World War II, the bishops persevered, and under the leadership of Bp. John Francis Noll, construction of the national Marian shrine church began by 1954. The completed structure was dedicated in 1959. In the interim, the U.S. Catholic bishops formed a vanguard of prominent leadership throughout the nation. In 1934, another Cincinnati archbishop, John T. McNicholas, founded the National Legion of Decency to combat pornography, especially in motion pictures.

In November 1947, the U.S. bishops, in their National Catholic Welfare Conference annual meeting at Washington, issued a valiant statement: “Secularism — Root of World’s Travail.”  Consider these brief excerpts from that landmark document:

  • “No man can disregard God — and play a man’s part in God’s world. Unfortunately, however, there are many men — and their number is daily increasing — who in practice live their lives without recognizing that this is God’s world.”
  • “This, in essence, is what we mean by secularism. It is a view of life that limits itself not to the material in exclusion of the spiritual, but to the human here and now in exclusion of man’s relation to God here and hereafter. Secularism, or the practical exclusion of God from human thinking and living, is at the root of the world’s travail today.”
  • “Secularism, in its impact on the individual, blinds him to his responsibility to God. All the rights, all the freedoms of man derive originally from the fact that he is a human person, created by God after His own image and likeness. In this sense, he is ‘endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable rights.'”
  • “Secularism has wrought havoc in the family. Even the pagans saw something sacred in marriage.”
  • “In no field of social activity has secularism done more harm than in education.”
  • “In the international community, there can be only one real bond of sane common action — the natural law, which calls to God, its Author, and derives from Him its sanctions. There is objective right and objective wrong in international life.”
  • “Secularism, which exiles God from human life, clears the way for the acceptance of godless subversive ideologies — just as religion, which keeps God in human life, has been the one outstanding opponent of totalitarian tyranny. Religion has been its first victim; for tyrants persecute what they fear.”
  • “In the dark days ahead, we dare not follow the secularist philosophy. We must be true to our historic Christian culture.”

(The famous Peter John “Fulton” Sheen, ordained a bishop in the spring of 1951, was a junior member of this generation.)

Imagine, 20 years later, the two clerics named “Theodore” — Theodore McCarrick and Theodore Hesburgh — engineered the Land O’ Lakes Statement, a contradiction of this solid 1947 bishops’ statement against secularism.

Private Revelation and Spiritual Putrefaction

Beginning in 1956, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a Catholic religious sister in Indiana and in Ohio, revealing her title and mission as “Our Lady of America.” These private revelations were approved by Cincinnati’s archbishop Paul Francis Leibold. In these revelations, Our Lady asked in her first spoken words (on Sept. 26, 1956), that the American bishops honor her in a specific way. “I am Our Lady of America,” she said. “I desire that my children honor me, especially by the purity of their lives.”

The sister wrote on Nov. 15, 1956:

Our Lady taught me this little prayer: “By the Holy and Immaculate Conception, O Mary, deliver us from evil.” Our Lady then asked me to draw a picture of her first appearance. She also requested a statue made according to this likeness and placed, after being solemnly carried in procession, in the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. She wishes to be honored there in a special way as Our Lady of America, the Immaculate Virgin.

On Oct. 7, 1957, the religious sister recorded that Our Lady confided to her:

Making the Rosary a family prayer is very pleasing to me. I ask that all families strive to do so. But be careful to say it with great devotion, meditating on each mystery and striving to imitate in your daily lives the virtues depicted therein. Live the mysteries of the Rosary as I lived them, and it will become a chain binding you to me forever. They who are found in the circle of my Rosary will never be lost. I myself will lead them at death to the throne of My Son, to be eternally united to Him.

On Feb. 23, 1959, the sister recorded:

Our Lady came to me and admonished me to work on the “message” as soon as possible so that it might be placed in the hands of the bishops who would be responsible for its fulfillment. In a very serious manner, Our Lady warned me that I must not delay any longer to do this, as the time is now.

What happened to this pointed request directed at the U.S. bishops by “Our Lady of America,” made in a private revelation approved by Abp. Leibold? Her request, the advice of the Blessed Virgin Mary herself, intended to foster purity, was apparently ignored while the bishops allowed or entertained such anomalies as a widespread sodomitic subculture among the hierarchy; Holy Communion chaos (e.g., permitting adulterers to receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord); the rejection of Humanae Vitae; cashing in on immigration crimes; bad liturgical music with heretical or Protestant lyrics; dancing Masses, clown Masses and accordion Masses; etc.  

Perhaps the years of inaction by U.S. bishops in addressing the singular request of Our Lady of America regarding her statue and the recent decree of the bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend abnegating the supernatural origins of the Our Lady of America apparition have brought the United States to a definitive fork in the road.The Blessed Virgin Mary intended to foster purity but was apparently ignored.GabTweet

Why wouldn’t Our Lady of America reasonably expect the Catholic bishops of this new nation to hold that solemn procession and grant the permanent emplacement of her likeness (one in which she displays her sorrowful and immaculate heart and holds out the Lily of Purity)?

Undoubtedly Our Heavenly Mother had some knowledge from her divine Son about the onslaught of temptations, mental blindness, immorality and impurity that was just over the horizon. She knew that purity as the gateway to the realization of the indwelling Trinity in U.S. citizens would mark a great turnaround — beginning in the American republic and spreading like wildfire throughout the face of the earth. Free clip from CHURCH MILITANT PremiumWATCH MORE LIKE THIS

Time is short. Led by the bishop who is supposedly the USCCB leader on doctrine, a small group of bishops has stymied this devotion to Our Lady of America with a tendentious “singular decree” and related statements. This bishop, Kevin Rhoades of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, is the same local bishop who abides the University of Notre Dame — a fountainhead of intellectual blindness, moral filth and spiritual putrefaction that continuously spreads daft ideas about Catholic theology and sacred liturgy. He is apparently now in charge of the USCCB doctrinal inquiry into “Eucharistic coherence,” which is slated to discuss the issue of whether and how pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians may receive the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Let us pray that the seeming handful of remaining good Catholic bishops get this whole mess straightened out. Perhaps they could start by advancing that solemn procession and permanent emplacement of an Our Lady of America statue in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception!

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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