I recently thought of the Christian Crusades when I read that Russian Patriarch Kirill I gave full blessing to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
In the 12th and 13th centuries, various popes offered all sorts of spiritual benefits, including the forgiveness of sins, to men who agreed to participate in one of the many armies marching east to defeat the Muslim forces occupying Jerusalem.
These crusading wars represent a shameful part of Christian history, generated by a fundamental misunderstanding of the central message of the gospel. Leaders wearing cassocks and mitres urging their followers to slaughter members of a different religion convey Roman leadership at its worst.
In March this year, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill consulted, thanks to the power of Zoom. It didn’t go well!
Kirill read a 20-minute diatribe against the West, justifying Russian chaos in his neighboring country. He called Putin’s long tenure a “miracle of God”, praising his strong defense against liberal conspiracies that allegedly promote “gay parades” in Kyiv and other cities.
Francis tried to inform him that as church leaders they should not act as deacons for a belligerent government, certainly not to support a country attacking a neighbor. Kirill was unimpressed and left Francis wondering why his counterpart in Moscow was acting like “Putin’s altar boy”.
A patriarch blessing the Russian planes that strafe the villages and towns of the Donbass region is just one of many events and events that remind us of what an upside-down world we inhabit. Our systems are in disarray, devoid of rhyme or coherent reason.
Doug Mastriano easily won the Republican nomination for governor of Pennsylvania, a swing state that has alternated between the two parties in presidential elections for the past half-century.
Mastriano is still promoting the Big Lie that Donald Trump has somehow won Pennsylvania and the 2020 presidential election. He expects Trump to be the Republican nominee again in 2024 and, with a clear glimmer eye to eye, he assured a recent audience that regardless of the popular vote, as governor he will appoint the secretary of state who, in turn, will appoint the president. voters, so there will be no repeat of the “theft” of 2020.
Keep in mind that there is no subterfuge here. Mastriano publicly announces his intention to disregard the legal outcome if the need arises.
This approach is not without precedent. In the months leading up to the November 2020 election, Trump, who trailed Joe Biden by a few points in most polls, said only he could win the November showdown, but any other results would be fraudulent.
More recently, Trump urged Dr. Mehmet Oz to claim victory in the Republican Senate primary in Pennsylvania before all the votes were tallied.
Mastriano is not an isolated voice. The New York Times published a review of legislative votes, accounts and official statements from Republican leaders in battleground states. The results of this study revealed that 357 party leaders used the power of their office to seek to overturn or, at least, discredit the results of the 2020 presidential race.
In Arizona, that applies to 81% of those top Republicans; in Pennsylvania just under 78%. Wisconsin scored 73% and Michigan just under half with 48% of local lawmakers, all of whom favor overturning the official results.
Just over 18 months ago, Trump and his docile Vice President, Mike Pence, were campaigning for re-election. They lost.
The Vice President did his ceremonial work by certifying the results. Trump urged him not to fulfill his important legal obligation, but instead to send the results back for reassessment by state lawmakers.
Pence correctly ignored his boss’ pleas and Joe Biden’s victory was confirmed. The rioters of January 6 turned against their vice-president by hanging his effigy.
Today, the former president and vice president no longer engage in civil conversation and, in fact, each campaigned for different Republicans vying to become governor of Georgia. Pence backed current Gov. Brian Kemp, who defied Trump’s insistence to invalidate the election, while former Sen. David Perdue, at Trump’s behest, spent millions promoting the coup. State in order to override the actual results.
Kemp won by more than 50% while Brad Raffensperger, the Georgian secretary of state who more than anyone drew Trump’s ire by refusing to “find” the 11,780 votes he wanted for victory, also hammered his Trump-backed opponent, Congressman Jody Hice.
America’s Catholic leaders also seem to have gone astray. The saying spoken in every seminary, Roma locuta east, Causa finita east (Rome has spoken, their decision is final) no longer holds.
Pope Francis has strongly advised against using the Eucharist as a disciplinary tool. He stressed that Communion should not be seen as a reward for saints but as sacred nourishment for sinners.
He greeted President Biden at the Vatican calling him a good Catholic, despite his endorsement of the Roe v. Wade on abortion. He acknowledged that Biden’s policies on poverty alleviation and environmental protection are much closer to his teaching as set forth in two encyclicals than to Republican ideas.
Archbishop John Cordileone has moved to politicize the abortion issue by banning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from the altar rails of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. This extreme and unprecedented punitive act, based on his support for a woman’s right to choose, has been hailed by some church extremists, but most Catholics side with Francis who would have no problem asserting Pelosi , a woman who defines herself as a devout Catholic who always attends to her weekly Mass obligation.
The most damning contradiction between a sane society and its opposite is on display once again after 19 children and two teachers were gunned down by a frustrated and angry 18-year-old in Uvalde, Texas. This horrific incident was a follow-up to another young man of the same age who had executed 10 black people in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, days before. Both killers had easy access to deadly weapons.
Repeated opinion polls show that nearly 90% of Americans support mandatory background checks on all firearm applicants, with possession of automatic weapons restricted to members of law enforcement. Other reasonable and popular requirements call for minimal training in the use of firearms followed by a basic test, such as applies to obtaining a license to drive a car.
The powerful and wealthy National Rifle Association (NRA) says 18-year-olds should have the right to carry weapons, including rapid-fire semi-automatic weapons. Republicans support them, and so in the past two years alone, sensible laws restricting gun ownership have passed the House but failed in the Senate.
The screams of a helpless class of fourth graders and their teachers touch a new depth of rage among ordinary people. How could they compete with a frustrated, armed brute? Where will the next outrage be?
Are we closer to legislation that would curb this madness? Or are we doomed to continue in a shadowy system where a clear majority of citizens say owning guns requires a background check, but nothing happens and we wait for the next school massacre?
(Gerry O’Shea blogs at wemustbetalking.com)
*This column first appeared in the June 1 edition of the weekly Irish Voice, sister publication to IrishCentral.
This article was submitted to the IrishCentral Contributor Network by a member of the global Irish community. To become an IrishCentral contributor, click here.