I. I've been monitoring the current canonization process of one recently deceased Asian massage parlour aficionado Jack Layton and, consequently, I'm now at the point of considering that, perhaps, Paris Hilton is the greatest explicator of Aquinas since Cajetan composed his commentaries on the Summa Theologica. I've also been monitoring some "official" reactions to the near-concurrent death of Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic and, frankly, I'm now desperately in need of a gin martini - three olives, dry and a little dirty. That's right, Catholic Canucks, time now for some contrasting and comparisons. Omission is my name and pretense is the game... We ride!
II. With regard to Blessed John Gilbert Layton of Toronto-Danforth, the secular press and its allied cultural-political elites have collectively adorned themselves with a black dress like the mamas from the old country. They are in mourning. You could see that coming from 20 parsecs away. But the degree of wailing and post hoc adulation for someone who was at best a third-rate politician and at worst a spotlight-craving opportunist has gone completely over the top. Unprecedented. And a state funeral?!? What this whole spectacle does show is that our secular press are a bunch of religious fanatics. The vacuum of their godlessness has simply been filled with substituting religiosities to which Layton's immanentist hopes can be fulfilled: redemption of the natural world by "saving the climate", feminist liberation with abortion, government-ordained "social justice", or whatever else their newly appointed secular saint extolled. This religion construction really is pathetic, analogous to the way Auguste Comte attempted fashion his "religion of humanity". Old story. New characters. Let alone that Layton was a enemy of Catholicism. Well, let's not because apparently there are Catholics who think he was not.
III. First up is Ted Schmidt at New Catholic Times. His piece is entitled "The Gospel Layton". An extract:
Second up is the CEO of the Salt and Light Media Foundation:Catholics have been late to understand Layton's gospel orientation... Jack Layton stood as a justice beacon for many Catholics. When so many bishops had forgotten that the cry of the victim was the cry of God, the leader of the NDP mercifully was present to keep the vision of the Galilean alive in the public realm. In this regard believers owe him a great debt.
I always found him to be a kind gentleman in his dealings with others. He listened attentively to others, especially those who had differing opinions, and showed much respect for people.Third up is CCCB President Bishop Pierre Morissette:
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops joins all Canadians in offering condolences and sympathy to the family, friends and political colleagues of the late Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Jack Layton, who died earlier today. He was a dedicated politician who served his country with devotion and generosity, was concerned for the common good, and gave a wonderful example of courage and hope, especially during recent months when struggling against cancer. May he rest in peace, and may Our Lord comfort all those in mourning.Now I read this stuff and think "Okay, the man just died and some acknowledgement must be given since he was a relatively influential public figure". Yet here was someone that advocated views in direct opposition to Catholic teaching - not quietly in private, but in the public square as a prominent power player for all to witness. A secular humanist worldview where State intrusion and control are preponderant. Pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, pro-sodomy, anti-family. These were celebrated, flaunted, worked to put into policy, however circuitously. Accordingly, measured responses from Catholic representatives would be the expectation. But is this occurrent in abovementioned quotations? If you have answered affirmatively, then perhaps this video might be watched, likely more amenable to your sensibilities.
IV. You see, Catholics are known for making distinctions and they love to do so. There is always the "but" in this context. For example, "we pray for the soul of" so and so yet there is no absolute guarantee that so and so is now in Heaven. We do not know the disposition of a soul. To claim otherwise is an infringement upon Divine Justice. And, yes, there is no absolute assurance that Hitler, Stalin and Mao are in Hell. Otherwise it would be an anthropomorphic restriction on Divine Mercy. Granted, there are situations so complex and nuanced - theological, moral, sociological or whatever - that distinctions are difficult to make. This is why there are canonists to resolve such issues. But you need not be a distinction monger to apprehend the division, the crevasse (not distinction) between what "Smiling Jack" endorsed and what the Magisterium teaches. No grey shades there.
V. It took Fr. Alphonse de Valk just two sentences to override the muddled-headed blather quoted above and make this evident: "As a Toronto City Councillor, Layton stood among the crowd who mocked and physically abused pro-life activists who peacefully witnessed to the dignity of all human life before Morgentaler’s Toronto abortuary in October 1988. He urged the police to arrest the pro-lifers and complained that they had not already done so before he got there". Is this the "kind gentleman in his dealings with others", as Salt+Light's CEO said? Is this the "wonderful example of courage and hope", as +Morissette said? Is this "the vision of the Galilean alive in the public realm", as Teddy said? Well, the crew at NCT are enchanted by Marx. So any misdeed committed by Layton the NDPer is overshadowed by his public persona and political philosophy. Marx, you might recall, never stepped into a factory. He also kept an 8 year old girl as a servant and mistress. Facts which the luvvies on the Left avoid mentioning.
VI. The same principle of omission is at work here. Despite the fact Layton's entire political life warred against what it is to be Catholic in Canadian society, despite the fact that recent revelations showed him to have less than a stellar personal/moral life, the "official" Catholic responses quoted above assert that he was a model citizen working for the common good and, unlike all human beings, had no real flaws that should make Catholics pause. For you see - or rather don't see - the hidden message conveyed to Catholics is a silent one: it really doesn't matter if a life lived is antithetical to Church teaching. Heck, if you're married and yet still satiate your hankering for Asian cupcakes, that's okay with us. Ancient Chinese secret, huh.
VII. More interesting than the responses to Layton's death was the "official" response to the death of His Eminence, Cardinal Ambrozic. Thus spake the Star Chamber:
His Eminence Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic, Archbishop Emeritus of Toronto, died on August 26, 2011, after a lengthy illness. He was 81 years old. The late Cardinal was a priest for 56 years and Bishop for 35 years. He served as the ninth Archbishop of Toronto, from 1990 to 2006. He was made Cardinal by Pope John Paul II at the Consistory of February 21, 1998... It continues with biographical details and provides links to the Archdiocese of Toronto website, to another biography and the telegram of condolence from Pope Benedict. One aspect is missing, however. No specific words of condolence or prayers are offered by the CCCB itself for the Cardinal. A subsequent posting gives notice that +Ambrozic's funeral was to be broadcast on Salt+Light TV, with this little advertisement:
An award-winning digital network that offers a variety of programs, event coverage, documentaries and other hope-filled content, Salt + Light TV is produced and operated by Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation, a charitable organization in Canada devoted to spreading the light of Christ to the world through television, documentaries, radio, Internet and other forms of social communication.Sheesh. You'd think that tooting one's horn on the death of a prominent Cardinal would be inappropriate. Where's the respect, people? Why the self-promotion? Viewership lapsing?
VIII. But let's get back to the CCCB's glaring omission of prayers/condolence for the Cardinal. For Layton, The Star Chamber sayeth "May he rest in peace, and may Our Lord comfort all those in mourning". Last July Archbishop Spence died, wherein the CCCB site reads: "It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of the Most Rev. Francis John Spence". These personalizing specificities are nowhere to be found for the Cardinal. Instead the Bishops perform some linguistic acrobatics, redirecting readers elsewhere, to extraneous sources: "Pontiff Mourns Cardinal Ambrozic" and "Additional information on Cardinal Ambrozic is available at..." (TH2 italics).
IX. Now why would les garçons du nord do this? Because there is a history of animosity between the CCCB and the Cardinal. +Spence was former CCCB president and Layton's left-wing politics certainly aligns itself with Star Chamber sensibilities, so of course special words there will be. His Eminence, however, was no kowtower and diplomacy was scant when it came to manifest dissent. Case in point was the March for Women 2000, whose stance included pro-abortion and pro-lesbianism. Participants included the Catholic Women's League and Canadian Religious Conference. Support came from - wait for it - Development and Peace, an arm of the CCCB. In response, +Ambrozic cut $15000 in D+P funding as a sign to shape up or ship out. The controversy was uncovered by LifeSite News, to which he was a donor. Reacting to +Ambrozic's action, the CCCB and D+P issued a public letter reiterating their support for the march.
X. So there you have it: praise and prayerful concern for the popular politician Jack Layton, whose life was devoted to an immanentist secular utopia, while disregarding his words and actions at stark variance with Catholic teaching - CONTRA - a mere acknowledgement by the CCCB (likely reluctantly done) of Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic, a loyal son of the Church, orthodox, stridently pro-life, whose words and actions were directed to the transcendent hope of Heaven. Accordingly, let's end on a pleasant note: "But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea".
NOTES / REFERENCES
1. T. Schmidt, "The Gospel Layton", New Catholic Times, August 5, 2011. The date stamp for this article is apparently incorrect. Layton died on August 22.
2. Quoted in D. Gyapong, "Jack Layton's spiritual side revealed during battle with cancer", Catholic Register, August 23, 2011.
3. CCCB, " Statement following the death of the Leader of the Opposition", August 22, 2011.
4. A. de Valk, "Leader of the New Democratic Party, Jack Layton, dead", Catholic Insight, August 25, 2011.
5. CCCB, "Death of His Eminence Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic, Archbishop Emeritus of Toronto", August 26, 2011.
6. CCCB, " Salt + Light TV broadcasts funeral Mass for the late Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic", August 30, 2011.
7. CCCB, "Death of the Most Reverend Francis John Spence, Archbishop Emeritus of Kingston, Ontario", July 29, 2011.
8. Cf. "Cardinal Ambrozic reacts to funding of abortion supporting march", LifeSite News, May 15, 2000; "Canadian bishops' organization contradicts Vatican policy", LifeSite News, May 18, 2000; J.H. Western, "Cardinal Ambrozic 1930-2011: a LifeSite News donor, and a complex relationship", LifeSite News, August 26, 2011.
9. Matthew 18:6.