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In these portentous times, there are days when I feel as if I’ve strayed into the gloomy bits in a colorized version of Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In that Christmastime TV favorite, “an angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.”
I definitely had that feeling this week as I read an article about a Vatican meeting of Roman Catholic bishops with the headline “Africa Bishops Speak of Obama in Religious Terms.” According to that report:
The archbishop of Kinshasa, Congo, Monsignor Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, told the formal synod itself that it would be wise to not ignore what he called a “primordial event” in recent times.
“If the election of a black as head of the United States of America was a divine sign and a sign from the Holy Spirit for the reconciliation of races and ethnic groups for peaceful relations … this synod and the universal church would gain from not ignoring this primordial event of contemporary history which is far from being a banal game of political alliances,” he said in his speech.
As a black, pro-life Catholic, it’s hard to express the many levels on which this pronouncement tends to repudiate my very existence. I would resent the African bishops responsible if my own fellow citizens were not largely responsible for the situation that now leads them to risk a tragic version of the sin against the Holy Spirit. “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:31-32).
Yet the African bishops making these statements must bear responsibility for ignoring Obama’s dedication to the culture of death, for which he is at present the focus of evil in our world. On a matter that, according to Church teaching, objectively disrupts the soul’s life-giving relationship with God, they purport to “feel it our duty to meet him and find out what are the things that unite us more than divide us.” It’s hard to understand how clerics whose vocation calls for them to embody Christ’s unfailing unity with God can propose to seek unity with one whose one unfailing commitment has been to promote and protect the so-called “right” to murder children, born as well as nascent in the womb. Obama has steadfastly declared and without exception joined in waging inhuman war against mankind’s posterity. How does it contribute to “the reconciliation of races and ethnic groups for peaceful relations” to ignore the evil done to humanity on account of some good supposedly achieved for a particular race? Will the peace and harmony of the human community be achieved by accommodation with the cult of child sacrifice? By God, was Isaac spared for nothing? Was it for naught Christ came to us the perfect sacrifice, the Holy Lamb of God?
The Scripture portrays God’s engendering of human life as the work of His Holy Spirit. The war against God’s loving will with respect to innocent life is therefore directed against the Holy Spirit. By what perversion of moral and spiritual logic can it be “a sign from the Holy Spirit for … peaceful relations” when some people elect to follow the man who has volunteered to be the commander in chief of the forces whose hardened hearts are armed with this murderous intent? How could it be other than grievous scandal to the faithful and the entire world for high clerics of the Catholic Church to seek to be unified and reconciled with this evil? To meet with sinners and workers of iniquity in order to reprove their sin and call them to repentance is the work of Christ. But how can the faithful see the elevation of such people to power as a sign from God and the Holy Spirit for good, when the words of Scripture inspired by the Holy Spirit clearly declare a nation’s subjection to evil government to be a sign of God’s judgment and the harbinger not of peace but of restless woe and painful suffering?
Barack Obama is a dark-skinned man. But how can it be anything but the worst kind of racism to suggest that his skin color has greater significance for good than his dedication to the culture of death has for evil? Whatever significance we attach to the characteristics of the flesh, don’t the teachings of Christ, preserved for us in the faithful storehouse of the Church, clearly ascribe essential significance to the characteristics of spiritual life, realized first and foremost in the relationship with God through Christ? Are we now to believe that God is a respecter of skin color, judging good and evil according to the incidental qualities of the flesh, and ignoring the essential qualities that He can see and measure rightly even when the human eye does not?
When the University of Notre Dame’s president and other officials honored Obama, they put worldly power and prestige above respect for God and His Holy Spirit of life. Do these African bishops now believe that skin color, too, takes precedence over God’s protection of innocent life? Would that they could see with the eyes of the blind, for then, as the blind man looked to Jesus for healing, so they would seek unity and hope and reconciliation in Christ, where, by their profession of faith, they proclaim it is to be found. Then they would know that their vocation calls them by prayer and faithful example to preach to Obama and all his errant followers the way to Christ, who unites us with God, rather than to seek, on account of the idolatry of race, a way to “things that unite” them to Obama, though he wars unceasingly against God’s will.