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Unholy Trinity: President, Pope and Prodigal Brother

Reported by Marie Therese - April 22, 2005

On Wednesday (4/20/05), host Bill O'Reilly and Father Gerald Murray, canon law expert and pastor of St. Vincent's Church in NYC, discussed the new Pope's attitudes toward liberal Catholic politicans like John Kerry and Mario Cuomo. It would seem, if Pope Benedict XVI had his 'druthers, the Catholic Church will be exerting pressure on Roman Catholic legislators, possibly forcing them to choose between their religion and the best interests of their constituency. Additionally, according to a report discovered by News Hound reader Dee Pb.D., it seems that the tentacles of the Bush family reach to the highest echelons of the Catholic Church.

O'Reilly began the segment by reading a portion of a letter then-Cardinal Ratzinger sent to the American bishops last summer: "Regarding the grave sins of abortion or euthanasia, when a person's formal cooperation becomes manifest, [as in the] case of a Catholic politician consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws, his pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church's teaching, informing him he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings an end to the objective situation of sin and warning him he will otherise be denied the Eucharist."

[N.B. It would appear, from this letter, that female Catholic liberals are exempt from the ritual "shunning"! What a relief!]

Father Murray approved of the content of this letter stating that "abortion is always gravely evil and those that vote to legalize it or to pay for it are doing something gravely wrong." O'Reilly seemed genuinely surprised that it was Cardinal Ratzinger - now Pope Benedict XVI - who authored the letter, which FOX News and the right wing media machine gleefully used to corral American Catholic voters into the GOP camp prior to the last election.

O'REILLY: ... And then Ratzinger said he didn't want people to be excommunicated - politicians to be excommunicated ... The American bishops, a lot of them, said "Phooey! We're not gonna do that!" And they did give John Kerry communion.

MURRAY: Well, that's something I'm not too happy about. I think Cardinal Ratzinger was right. Those in Congress who vote to keep abortion legal or to pay for it are doing something gravely unjust.

O'Reilly asked about the polticians who say "I'm personally against it, but I can't impose my religious belief on other Americans and Roe v Wade is the law of the land."

MURRAY: If - I say they're wrong because slaveholders said "I'm personally against slavery, but since it's legal, I want to keep my slave property," I'd say you're a fraud. You're telling something that's not true. If you're really against something, you fight against it. And the "personally opposed" thing is always used by politicians when it's about about abortion. But if it's about capital punishment, it's the other way around - "My religious faith inspires me to fight what I consider to be unjust."

O'REILLY: Do you think that the new Pope is going to excommunicate all Catholic politicians who support abortion rights in this country?

MURRAY: The issue is not excommunication, really. Really, the issue is to get them to change their minds.

O'REILLY: Well, is he gonna threaten them? 'Cause that'll cause really big problems. Church and State problems. Image problems for the Pope. You know, that would be a disaster.

MURRAY: I don't think it's a disaster when we restate Catholic teaching and then ask Catholics to follow it. I think in fact that inspires the faithful and, remember, the eternal salvation of Catholic politicians is in play here. You oppose God's law, you're putting your soul at risk.

O'REILLY: Are you saying, then, any Catholic politicians - Kennedy, Kerry, Cuomo - they're goin' to hell? Are you sayin' it!

MURRAY: No. What I'm saying is you risk going to hell if you commit gravely objective sins ...

O'REILLY: Yeah. But you - these guys are all supporters of abortion rights.

MURRAY: They are doing something very wrong and they will be judged harshly. You know, the Lord said "What you do to the least of my brothers, you do to me." So ...

O'REILLY: What about the other priests and bishops who don't see it your way? Remember - John Kerry was given communion, alright, in Boston by the Paulist Fathers among others. What about your own brethren who say "No, you're wrong, Father" and the Pope - I don't know what Pope Benedict is going to do but I will tell you this - if Pope Benedict point fingers at American politicians who are pro-choice, there's gonna be an uproar that you've never heard.

MURRAY: Well, that's the kind of fight I'd like to fight.

O'REILLY: Really?

MURRAY: Catholic bishops ..

O'REILLY: You're up for it, huh?

MURRAY: Sure. Catholic bishops telling Catholics to believe and practice their faith. That's the kind of fight we need.

O'REILLY: Would you go so far as to say Pope Benedict says all Catholics who practice birth control can't receive the sacraments. I mean, you'd have a deserted church!

MURRAY: Look, any mortal sin is an offense against God and you have to confess it before you can receive communion. So, people, who use birth control and know it's wrong, should go to confession.

O'REILLY (overtalks last 5 words): Yeah. But that's the key. "And know it's wrong." Most Americans ...

MURRAY: But, of course....

O'REILLY: ... don't believe it's wrong. See, abortion I understand. That's a very, very huge decision. But again, you're almost dodgin' the question here. Do you expect Pope Benedict to interfere in American politics at that level?

MURRAY: I expect he will teach Catholic doctrine and apply it to Catholic politicians.

O'REILLY: Pope John Paul didn't interfere at that level.

MURRAY: Cardinal Ratzinger was acting as the delegate of Pope John Paul II.

O'REILLY (overtalks last 4 words): [indecipherable] wrote the letter and he didn't say anything about that, directly.

MURRAY: He did say in Evangelium Vitae, the Gospel of Life, that Catholic politicians have a grave obligation never to cooperate in abortion and euthanasia. So this is just an affirmation of that ....

O'REILLY (interrupts): But they'll say they're not cooperating, they're just not imposing their religious view on other Americans who are not Catholic. You know it!

MURAY (smiling): I know, I know.

O'REILLY (louder): You know what they say!

MURRAY: I know and guess what? The verb "impose" is always used in a negative sense. I'm gonna say we're not imposing our religion on a person who already belongs to it. A Catholic is someone who is supposed to follow the Church ...

O'REILLY: Alright. One more time. If you could make a prediction, do you see the Pope telling American politicians they cannot support abortion?

MURRAY: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: You do.

MURRAY: I think he will and I think it'll be ...

O'REILLY: Wow!

MURRAY: ... because this issue's not going away.

O'REILLY: That'll ..

MURRAY: It's not just abortion, it's euthanasia.

O'REILLY: That would be huge. That would be huge.

MURRAY: That would be great. That would be wonderful.

O'REILLY: Aw, boy!

MURRAY: Yeah!

O'REILLY: Alright, Father. We appreciate it. Thank you.

COMMENT

If Father Murray is correct and Pope Benedict XVI threatens pro-choice American Catholic politicians with religious punishment and possible excommunication, it would clearly precipitate a clash between Church and State.

The Republican Party Platform states "Ban abortion with Constitutional amendment. We say the unborn child has a fundamental right to life. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation that the 14th Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. Our purpose is to have legislative and judicial protection of that right against those who perform abortions. We oppose using public revenues for abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect the sanctity of innocent human life." ((Adopted in the year 2000)

It would appear that there is an alignment of ideology here between the Bush administration and the Catholic Church that works against the Democratic party. Rome may be contemplating entering American politics on the side of the Republicans and, by threatening Catholic Democrats with the fires of hell, the Church may serve the purposes of Bush and company by forcing devout, believing Catholic Democrats to leave politics rather than leave their Church. Imagine the DNC without Kennedy, Kerry, Richardson, Cuomo et al.

But, as is so often the case with this administration, there is another, more tangible connection between the Holy See and the Bush family.

Dee Pb.D., one of our legion of intelligent and perceptive readers, has uncovered an article in Newsday, April 21, 2005, that links Bush family prodigal son, Neil, to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI).

According to Newsday:

Neil Bush, the president's controversial younger brother, six years ago joined the cardinal who this week became Pope Benedict XVI as a founding board member of a little known Swiss ecumenical foundation.

The charter members of the board were all well-known international religious figures, except for Bush and his close friend and business partner, Jamal Daniel, whose family has extensive holdings in the United States and Switzerland, public records show.

The Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue was founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1999 to promote ecumenical understanding and publish original religious texts, said a foundation official.

Besides then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, founding board members included Rene-Samuel Sirat, the former chief rabbi of France; Jordan's Prince Hassan, a Muslim dedicated to religious dialogue; the late Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, another prominent Muslim; Olivier Fatio, director of the Institute of the History of the Reformation; and foundation president Metropolitan Damaskinos, a Greek Orthodox leader.

Gary Vachicouras, a theologian and foundation official in Geneva, would not explain in a telephone interview yesterday why Bush, who has no clear public connection to religious causes, was on the first board.

Later:

The foundation, based at the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Geneva, is listed by Dun & Bradstreet business credit reports as a management trust for purposes other than education, religion, charity or research. But Vachicouras said the designation must be a mistake of translation to English because the foundation is a private nonprofit established under Swiss law. He said the foundation is being "relaunched" on its mission to publish the original text of the Bible's Old Testament in Hebrew, its New Testament in Greek and the Quran in Arabic.

Fatio, who left the board three years ago, said the foundation "never had any money." Vachicouras declined to discuss finances.

He said, "We keep a low profile because that makes it easier to get work done."

Is there any significance to the fact that this organization appeared in 1999, just prior to Election 2000? What kind of work were they doing? Why was Neil Bush - a notable playboy - involved with this shadowy organization? What role did Cardinal Ratzinger, trusted advisor to the ailing Pope John Paul II, play in this group? Should we be using words like "cartel" or "conspiracy" here? Why are they listed on Dun & Bradstreet as other than what their name would suggest?

Is there a rat(zinger) hiding in the bushes here?


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