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    Op-Ed
    Saturday, July 13, 2024

    Bishops lack credibility to lecture Biden on faith

    If your stock brokerage firm were run by all-but-penniless con men, would you believe your investments were in the right place?

    If the surgeon scheduled to operate on your heart, lungs, or liver was routinely named in malpractice lawsuits, would you feel you were in good hands?

    These are like questions Roman Catholics struggle with, except they are not wondering about their physical world. Catholics who love their faith are wondering how secure their religious and spiritual futures are, and with good reason.

    President Joseph Biden has been a “good Catholic.” Unlike the Kennedys who were professional “Catholics” led by mother Rose who regularly attended Mass and dutifully accepted Catholic laws and rules, Biden has privately and fervently practiced his Catholic faith

    Former President Jack Kennedy and his brother, Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, had enough extracurricular liaisons to script a dozen soap operas.

    Still, while Kennedy antics played themselves out, photos abounded of Kennedys visiting popes, hanging out with cardinals and pictured as “good Catholics” with Rome’s blessing.

    Ted Kennedy was an abortion rights supporter. He married, divorced, and remarried. Ted enjoyed the attention of other women, though he was publicly bruised after his Chappaquiddick accident that killed a female aide.

    The “conservative” U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, eager to deny communion to President Biden, debates whether his pro-choice views are reason enough for Biden to be denied communion. I wonder why the news media doesn’t publicly question why these hypocritical and arbitrary Catholic bishops toss out some Catholics, while turning a blind eye to others clearly guilty of breaking Church laws.

    About 40 years ago, as CEO of Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island, the first legal free-standing abortion facility in the smallest, most-Catholic state in America, I was publicly excommunicated from the Catholic Church. More hurtful and ridiculous, my pastor questioned whether our innocent teen daughter – by his own admission an excellent student — ought to receive the sacramental Confirmation she had studied for and excelled in.

    As the Catholic child of an immigrant Italian father and a first-generation Italian-American mother, I found all of this painful.

    Who made my heartache, my public scorn, my eventual loss of faith a reality? The same priests and hierarchy who were ignoring sexual predators in their ranks, accepting donations from parishioners who were known criminals, from corrupt politicians, and from others who routinely break any and all of the 10 commandments − and especially the greatest commandment “to love thy neighbor as thyself.”

    Today that commandment includes your neighbor of whatever color, whatever sexual preference or financial status. It means embracing those who believe in another god or no god. The mission is to love our neighbors whatever their physical condition, national origin, beliefs, or bank balance.

    Those are the commands so-called “conservative” Catholics are also directed to embrace, but instead they are obsessed with abortion and Joe Biden's support of women's rights.

    Catholic leaders and other religious clergy must defend what they know is right. “Liberal” bishops must confront their opposites every time they lash out at Catholics – like Biden— because they challenge a power-hungry and hypocritical Catholic hierarchy.

    “Pastor” means “shepherd.” Joe Biden — in many years of public service — has introduced, sponsored, and passed many important laws. The private human tragedies he has experienced make him more of a “pastor” than his accusers will ever be. Rational observers know this: it is up to those who have a voice to speak up when an accusatory and deceitful Catholic leadership attacks such good people.

    The questions we should be asking are not about what the bishops are saying, but about why their pronouncements should be given any credibility given the thousands of tarnished clergy whose crimes they have helped cover up for centuries.

    Bishops need to take their own advice, stated at the end of every Mass. “Ite missa est.” Go the Mass is over.

    When it is, Catholic clergy can just leave the altar and folks in the pews can speak to their God, one-on-one.

    Mary Ann Sorrentino splits her time between homes in Cranston, R.I. and Florida.

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