Local Priest Has Me Seeing Red

While glancing at this morning’s issue of our local newspaper, I saw red. Red as in Communism and red as in anger when I saw this headline: “Economic disparity calls for leveling.” It wasn’t from a news story and it wasn’t on the editorial pages. It was on the Saturday weekend section.

What? Someone here’s spewing Marxist rhetoric, I thought.

Then I saw the author’s name and almost choked. It was the priest at the cathedral I used to attend. That headline – and his strays from Catholic doctrine – are why I no longer attend the church where I was married and where my children were baptized and confirmed.

A little background. The first Sunday he preached he criticized the parish for prejudice against gays. It stuck out because there never seemed to be any such action taking place. In Midtown, you don’t find much interest in that topic. It’s not a big issue. We are a tolerant community. No one really knew what he was even talking about. Then, he tried to convince us that no actual miracle occurred with the loaves and the fishes. No, Jesus didn’t actually make more food; he just inspired the community that came out and shared with everyone else. That was shocking.

Next, he tried to take over the approved renovation of the cathedral built and paid for by Italian immigrants in the 30s. He wanted to replace the painting above the altar with a picture of Our Lady rejected by the Los Angeles cathedral depicting her as a young Mexican woman. Parishioners were flaming mad that they had donated money with certain images to remain, then were told they would not. Ultimately, the parishioners won that fight, but it showed the social justice side of the man.

Meanwhile in the school, his liberal teachings were causing a drop off in enrollment. At a meeting one parent complained that the whole semester did not see a Mass for the children except on Ash Wednesday. I noticed how the stance on abortion was pushed aside during elections to favor the Democrats. And, I know for a fact, that this priest voted Democrat in primaries when the platform of that party is pro abortion. I know this because I worked at the polls and saw his request for that ballot.

But back to his article. He praises the Occupy Wall Street protestors (yes, those who raped, attacked and caused economic hardship wherever they landed) for bringing “to our nation’s consciousness the widening income disparity between the wealthiest 1% and the remaining 99%.”

He continues that the U.S. is the most economically unequal nation in the advanced world. “Why have religious leaders been so silent about this economic disparity?” he asks. Well, maybe because it isn’t any of their business. Remember that “render to Caesar” quote? And, by the way, many haven’t been silent like Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farrakan, Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson. They mount a podium every day – with press coverage – don’t they?

“The Scriptures – especially Jesus in the Gospels – speak much more about money and the disparity between the rich and poor than they do about other important issues being raised in our nation these days,” he continued. I guess Jesus didn’t directly address abortion, the national debt, high gasoline prices or the attempt by the government to take over every aspect of our health care, so we should just chuck those.

He goes on to pooh pooh fasting, especially the Catholic practice of not eating meat on Fridays in Lent. Somebody email Pope Benedict and tell him to tuck into meat on Fridays. Father says it’s OK.

He outdoes himself with this next logical pirouette, however: “‘Glad tidings’ are truly the reversal of good fortune. Those at the bottom of the ladder find freedom and hope, Jesus says. And by mentioning ‘a year of favor from the Lord,’ Jesus was speaking of the Jubilee Year, spoken of in the Book of Leviticus. It teaches the Chosen People that every 50 years, all debts are to be erased. All land has to be returned to the original owner, and those trapped by financial bondage need to be released.”

Where to begin? At the dig to the Jews and the stereotype of them as mercenaries? In practical terms he’s calling for amnesty for illegal aliens, a forgetting of student loans, freeing deadbeats from paying mortgages and all the other giveaways we have. It struck me in particular since I had just heard from a friend who with her husband is buying homes and refurbishing them for rentals. They are doing it to have some income to supplement the pittance and maybe even doubtful existence of Social Security. The first house they renovated and rented procured one month’s rent for them and a tenant who refuses to pay the rest. A judge sided with the renter and is allowing her to live there for as long as she likes. Another court date awaits, but in the meantime they have lost money they could not afford. How can this be just? Another prospective tenant thought she was a good renter because she and her husband had enough welfare checks connived from the government to rent the house.

But, no, the Father insists that a “leveling” take place. “The rich are to give away their wealth to those who are poor.” I believe Jesus meant voluntarily and not, as he is suggesting, by a government redistributing it.

In fact, as he ends his piece, he writes “In Lent, we celebrate that Jesus truly ’emptied’ himself and voluntarily put himself on the side of the alienated and broken.” Really? I thought Easter was about Jesus dying to free us from sin and showing that he was God by rising again. I don’t think it was a call for the redistribution of wealth. Maybe he needs to be a follower of Marx or Lenin instead of Our Savior.

It’s shocking to me to see a priest so obsessed with material goods. Since when does Social Justice take precedence over the spiritual needs of the flock?

I guess it has since the 60s when the whole movement gained ground. Like the War on Poverty, mankind will never produce equality and justice. Those will only occur in heaven. It is presumptuous of him to believe he can force people to do it.

Somewhere free will and God just got thrown under the bus.

You can read his article here:http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2012/mar/17/guest-commentary-economic-disparity-calls-for/

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