Bishop McElroy, spokesman for the disruptive church

"If Church leaders embrace this kind of politically driven radicalism, we are in deep trouble"

McElroy photo-op at the Mexican border [photo by Chris Stone]

In 1970, I took part in an early anti-abortion protest in Washington D.C. at George Washington University Hospital. It was intended to be a sit-in at the offices where hospital employees interviewed women seeking abortions. The hospital was violating the laws of the District of Columbia, which back then still prohibited abortion. But abortions were being performed at the hospital nonetheless.

Our purpose was simply to demand that the hospital comply with the laws of the District of Columbia. Protesters never got beyond the entrance to the office building and were hit with pepper spray to force them from the entrance. Several of us were arrested (I was not) for trying to prevent ourselves from being sprayed, another example of the victims being arrested while the perpetrators went free. The case against the protesters was extremely weak and eventually was dropped.

What was notable about this incident was the way the Catholic bishops responded at the time. Most took no notice at all, but the bishops who did respond were obviously embarrassed that Catholics would be involved in such disruptive behavior. It was one thing to resist abortion by words, but quite another to actually engage in actions that disrupted public order.

Since this was a peaceful protest, they were not criticizing violent attacks, but nonviolent actions that would shut down a public institution, even if that institution was engaging in taking the lives of the unborn. Not only did we get no financial help with fines and legal fees resulting from the arrests, but we were clearly designated the black sheep of the Catholic Church.

How things have changed. Now we have San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy advocating “disruptive” actions to accomplish his favored political goals. So far as I know, he has never suggested we should take disruptive action to end the slaughter of the unborn in places like Planned Parenthood, nor to check a government that supports this mass murder. But in his address to the U.S. regional gathering for the World Meeting of Popular Movements in California, this activist bishop said that with the election of President Trump, “Well now, we must all become disruptors.”

He then went on to give a series of misleading accusations against the new administration, which included the following, “We must disrupt those who would seek to send troops into our streets to deport the undocumented, to rip mothers and fathers from their families. . . .who portray refugees as enemies rather than our brothers and sisters in terrible need. . . .who train us to see Muslim men, women and children as forces of fear rather than as children of God. . . .who seek to rob our medical care, especially from the poor, who would take even food stamps and nutrition assistance from the mouths of children.”

These are the kinds of “fake” accusations that we have seen from leftist activists and their media supporters who quite literally want to overthrow a validly elected government.

Words often take their meanings from context, and the word “disrupt” in today’s political context means “bring down’ and “overthrow.” It’s a buzzword widely used by people like Michael Moore and other left-wing revolutionaries, Saul Alinsky types who want to see the present government overthrown. Bishop McElroy may argue that this is not his intention. But when he adopts the language of revolution, he cannot avoid the implication that he approves of such aims.

If we had used such language back in 1970, it would have been clear that we were implicit revolutionaries. And it would’ve been quite appropriate for the bishops to call us out and warn Catholics that overthrowing the government was not the position of the Church. I’m waiting for some such rebuff to Bishop McElroy, but I won’t hold my breath.

The Modesto meeting was co-sponsored by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Integral Human Development and the U.S. Bishops’ Conference. Indeed, the annual World Meeting of Popular Movements is the result of an initiative of Pope Francis himself according to their web site. But such movements, though well-intentioned and professing noble goals, have sometimes been turned into a movement that co-opts the Church.

The problem we face today is that we cannot replace the Church with a new movement. If Church leaders embrace this kind of politically driven radicalism, distorting the truth while calling for disrupting a legitimate government, we are in deep trouble.

Truth makes strict demands, and distorting the truth by distorting the facts is equivalent to lying. Politicians and the press do it all the time, but it cannot be tolerated in the Church, especially not among Church leaders. Trump may not be your ideal president, but it’s simply calumny to suggest that he is in favor of, or has a plan to “send troops into our streets to deport the undocumented, to rip mothers and fathers from their families. . . .portray refugees as enemies. . . .train us to see Muslim men, women and children as forces of fear rather than as children of God. . . .rob our medical care, especially from the poor. . . .take even food stamps and nutrition assistance from the mouths of children.”

This is raw, dishonest, political rhetoric – the most dangerous disruption of all, the suppression of truth for political ends, which can easily lead to violence, regardless of the intentions of those who use such language.

From The Catholic Thing; by Fr. Mark A. Pilon.

 

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  1. drewelow says:

    the abortion protest alluded to by fr pilon is considered to be possibly the first ever, organized by L Brent Bozell. bozell received terrible head injuries from police nightsticks from which he never really recovered, shortening his life. an extensive account of the gwu abortion protest can be found in Life onfire, by daniel kelly. bozell was a rising star in catholic lay leadership until this event. the hierarchy was wary of any association with public protests that might suggest to the nation an ‘unamerican’ agenda.the election of president kennedy still had not dispelled all the suspicions about the catholics and the depth of their loyalty to america.

  2. I am so fed up with Bishop McElroy that I do not know just what to do. I own my home is in the Diocese of San Diego. I have many friends there. I have been active in the community, and in my local parish. The only thing I can think of is to withhold all financial contributions both to the parish and to the diocese. But I want to do more. Bishop McElroy is so convinced that he is right, that it is a waste of time to try and reason with him. At this point I have more respect for an ant or a spider than for the Bishop. I am considering moving to another diocese, but the only Bishop in the entire State of California with any common sense is Archbishop Cordileone. On the other hand I could happily live in the Diocese of Phoenix, or the…

  3. or the Archdiocese of Portland, as both Bishop Olmstead and Archbishop Sample are reasonable and intelligent Shepherds. But why should I have to move to get away from Bishop McElroy? I would like to undertake some disruptive actions of my own. I can picket various functions where I know he will be present; or I can ask disruptive questions during the Q&A of Conferences/Meetings. Does anyone else have any other suggestions for me of how I bring a little disruption of my own to McElroy?

  4. Jim Grisafi says:

    We should not politicize our spiritual life nor our Church ministries.

    The Bishop of San Diego is harming the Church by allowing his partisan feelings to interfere with Church life.

    It is fine to speak on issues of public policy and the social teachings of the Church but very harmful to bring partisanship and ideology into this discussion.

  5. Bp McElroy has outed himself as a radical far -Left Democrat.

    San Diego Catholics must withhold their donations.

  6. Bob One says:

    It is fine to speak on issues of public policy and the social teachings of the Church but very harmful to bring partisanship and ideology into this discussion. So, what is the role of the Church when the government says it is contemplating separating children from their mothers at the border? When it says that it is contemplating using the national guard to help round up illegal immigrants, Posse Comitajtus be damn? When it wants to take health care away from millions of people? When it wants to slash $1.3 billion from coastal protection to build a wall that won’t keep people out of the country? That is not meddling in politics, that is being Catholic.

    • Parents who are in the USA illegally and subject to deportation can and should take their children with them back to their country of origin. Children are parents’ responsibility, not the federal government’s; that is Catholic teaching.

      America’s immigration laws are just. Just laws should be enforced; that is Catholic teaching.

      Catholic doctrine does not mandate any particular means of providing health insurance or health care.

      Catholic doctrine teaches that nations may secure their borders.

      Bob One, you and McElroy aren’t being Catholic; you’re being Leftist.

      • Bob One says:

        Sawyer, I always enjoy discussions about what it means to be Catholic, American, rightist or leftist. Our laws regulating our borders are to be enforced, No question about that. It’s the how that is up for discussion. If we catch people coming across the border, do we send them back? Sure. But we don’t take the kids away from the mothers. Do we deport American citizens because their parents came across the border years ago? Can’t do that. Do we send the parents back without the kids? Doesn’t sound right does it? Do we not believe that every human being deserves good medical care regardless of ability to pay? Of course we do. Finding a way to pay for it is what we should be talking about, not taking it away for 10-20 million…

      • Bob One says:

        Sawyer, we need to keep in mind that a large majority of people who come from Central America are coming to escape poverty and government sponsored brutality. They are refugees.”Bring us your tired, your poor..;. yearning to live free.: Many are coming to work the fields, jobs Americans won’t take. If it were not for the immigrants, we would not eat as well as we do. These, with some exceptions, are not evil people, but our brothers and sisters.

        • Ann Malley says:

          True enough, Bob One. But we must also “all” respect the rule of law. We must also, in truth, try to aid our neighbors by promoting peace in those countries wherein poverty and government sponsored brutality rule the land. Why aren’t the Bishops of Mexico decrying that countries draconian immigration policy? Why are they tolerating this egregious brutality? Why are they not tending their flock and agitating against unfair laws, the very same that would force the indigenous people to flee?

          Better that we help our brothers and sisters to retain their patrimony and their homeland than to encourage yielding it to the devil under the auspices of America being the only safe place for people to live. We are called to subdue the earth, not…

          • Ann Malley says:

            … to pretend there is only one safe haven. That is often false pride talking and the desire to appear charitable.

            That said, I take grave issue with your assuming that we must “help” our neighbor by giving them the dregs of jobs we supposedly believe ourselves too good for. Better to get our own kids back out into the fields where they can learn a solid work ethic, not exploit refugees for cheap labor. Or suffer delusions of grandeur in supposedly helping others while not even helping themselves.

    • Catherine says:

      Bob One is “meddling” in a desperate attempt to bait and switch, and thendistort, Revealed Truth and he is not telling the truth! Lying, does NOT serve God. Bob One is a mouthpiece for setting up a false premise to implement the very same goals as George Soros’s agenda. Many, have infiltrated Holy Mother Church to pillage and use the Catholic Church as their own vehicle to spread destructive errors. The gates of hell are rattling but they will not prevail. God IS ALWAYS in charge!

      continued,

      • Catherine says:

        continued,

        Bob One’s idea of being Catholic is to joyfully mock a faithful cardinal (IOW mock another Christ) as well as the beautiful vestments and traditions that go with the TLM. This inability to mask his repulsion for a faithful cardinal and things that are held as sacred and holy, speaks volumes. Don’t forget… The father of lies hates and mocks all of these things too!

        Pray the powerful of the rosary to defeat evil!

        Pray the Glorious Mysteries with Father Patrick Peyton, CSC – YouTube

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2SnQhWhcJc

        • Catherine says:

          Thank you, Father Mark A. Pilon! You, are a good shepherd! May God continue to bless you for your courage and faithful leadership!

          John 10:14-15 “I am the good shepherd; and I know mine, and mine know me. As the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father: and I lay down my life for my sheep.”

          • Catherine says:

            Bishop McElroy will be held accountable by God for promoting the disruptive behavior that led to this kind of violence. See link below. A woman was hit in the head by a smoke bomb. There were also fireworks used among the people attending a peaceful rally. Families and children were gathered. Someone could have been burned severely, or killed. In a court of law, a person who plots and encourages and enables a crime, will also be held accountable even if they were not present at the commission of the crime.

            continued,

          • Catherine says:

            Bishop McElroy needs to immediately retract his dangerous words for his words do not represent what the Catholic Church teaches. Bishop McElroy has just unleashed a terrible weapon of encouragement that will surely have the potential to lead to someone getting killed. Yes, it is true. We do know that we are in very serious times when our very own Catholic bishops choose to disobey God by encouraging and enabling “disruptive” violence.

            3 cops, pepper spray used in arrest of Sen. Tim Kaine’s son near Trump rally at Capitol

            http://www.twincities.com/2017/03/07/son-of-sen-tim-kaine-one-of-six-arrested-during-trump-rally-at-state-capitol-last-weekend/

    • Steve Seitz says:

      Bob One,
      I’ll give you a hint that I learned a long time ago.

      If you’re in a group and you’re in a tiny minority [such as being a liberal on Cal Catholic], you must confine yourself to making statements that are highly defensible. Not only will you advance your cause and truth, but you’ll also help engender civil dialogue.

      As it is, though, you used an inflammatory argument that can be easily attacked.

  7. A reminder of the words spoken by the late great Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen:

    “WHO IS GOING TO SAVE OUR CHURCH? NOT OUR BISHOPS, NOT OUR PRIESTS AND RELIGIOUS. IT IS UP TO THE PEOPLE. YOU HAVE THE MINDS, THE EYES, THE EARS TO SAVE THE CHURCH. YOUR MISSION IS TO SEE THAT YOUR PRIESTS ACT LIKE PRIESTS, YOUR BISHOPS, LIKE BISHOPS, AND YOUR RELIGIOUS ACT LIKE RELIGIOUS.”

  8. Steve Phoenix says:

    Watch out, Fr. Mark Pilon (writer of this opinion piece):

    The long arm of Frankenkirche will reach out for you, just as it did for Fr. Perozich in San Diego. And anyway, criticizing McElroy (not matter how justified) is sure to be commendatory to P Francis’ cardinal-talent-search process.

    It appears certain that McElroy is destined for the red hat—just like Joseph Tobin, now in Newark or Cupich in Chicago. He might even get it in San Diego. But more likely, Sean O’Malley in Boston is 72—McElroy and his radicalist leanings are a perfect match to be his replacement in Kennedytown.

    • Steve Phoenix says:

      But best choice of all, Card. Donald Wuerl (Wash DC) is 76 years old and no certain replacement has yet been named. There is no one else as well-known now in Amerikakirche as McElroy.

      With McElroy’s past connections to Washington DC, and his political activist leftism, what better place for him than to be P Francis’ “man in DC”, inciting riots and protests against the newly elected administration, an administration PF has made his distaste for well-known.

  9. Stephanie Hart says:

    We were given his statement in our bulletin a couple of weeks ago as an insert. It was insulting to read it. He more or less accused of anyone who wants a safe country and against illegal immigration to be a bigot.

    The president’s executive order, he wrote, is “rooted in xenophobia and religious prejudice” instead of a careful consideration of national security.

    How would he know what I am thinking? I am tired of this crap.

  10. ‘Chris in Maryland’ response to an article in CWR on immigration.
    “Bishops [like McElroy] are base cowards. They do nothing to fight against the sexual revolution, even though that is their job, because they are either to cowardly to fight, or part of the revolution itself, or indifferent to the devastation it has wrought.
    Instead of doing their hard job as moral leaders, they prefer the easy job of left wing politics, because they get fawned over in the anti-Christian press, whose adulation they crave the most.
    As [Father] Schall said their real job exposes them to risks – they prefer the political life – which poses no risks to them at all – and rewards them handsomely with money and flattery from those who hate Christianity…

  11. drewelow says:

    to accuse trump’s executive order of xenophobia and religious prejudices is to claim special psychoanalytical insight without having met the ‘patient’ firsthand. it’s fauly and unfair to pass judgment in this way. this is where the words ‘who am i to judge’ should apply, because judgment requires facts and context, witnesses, cross-examination and review. sadly, it is true that the executive order will thrill true xenophobes and people with religious prejudice. malik obama once said ‘ just because i lock the doors to my house doesn’t mean i hate the people outside. it simply means i love and protect the ones inside’.

  12. Anyone catch Bp McElroy’s Annual Catholic Appeal video presentation a couple weeks back–in lieu of sermon? No Disruption rhetoric, no Climate hysteria, not even a peep about “Welcoming.” Just a winning smile, smooth delivery, and some of that good old time religion. It lacked only a pipe, a fireplace, an easy chair, oh, and Uncle Albert’s maroon cardigan.

    I wonder how many Catholics bought into it.

    • Steve Phoenix says:

      You are right, Hymie:

      PJ McGrath (San Jose) also returns to the “good old time religion” language at this time of year for the Annual Diocesan Appeal; Also when he performs as celebrant at big get-together annual special-organization liturgies where possibly he suspects he will get some nice financial support:

      Then the Bl. Virgin Mary and Marian devotions are pulled out—something usually furthest from his standard social-action, modern-Church rhetoric. If you didn’t know better, you would think he was a follower of the late Fr. Nicolas Gruner (Fatima Center).

  13. Here is a quote from the Bishop’s speech at the conference, a little different than the article: “we must all become disruptors. We must disrupt those who would seek to send troops into our streets to deport the undocumented, to rip mothers and fathers from their families. We must disrupt those who portray refugees as enemies rather than our brothers and sisters in terrible need. We must disrupt those who train us to see Muslim men, women and children as forces of fear rather than as children of God. We must disrupt those who seek to rob our medical care, especially from the poor. We must disrupt those who would take even food stamps and nutrition assistance from the mouths of children.”

  14. The congress is trying to come up with a new approach to health insurance. The current system needs revision, I think we can all agree. The problem is that the entire “fix” that is being proposed is about health insurance, not about health care. It does not guarantee that all people will get good medical care unless they can afford it. Anybody with a “preexisting condition” will go into a high risk pool. That includes anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes, a heart condition, seen a psychologist or counselor in the last ten years, had treatment for sciatic nerve pain, etc. Just about anyone over 50 years old. Health care will only be available to those who can afford it. That is immoral. It is against the teachings of the…

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