When Christ’s Own Ministers Refuse to Speak of Christ,
Who Will Speak for Him?
by Christopher A. Ferrara
January 23, 2017
The ceremony for the inauguration of Donald Trump included a record number of prayers by clergy, six in all: New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, four Protestant ministers of various sorts and a rabbi. Tellingly, a politically correct Muslim imam was not on the roster. Yet another reason for optimism about the coming administration.
Dolan’s appearance on the dais, however, conformed to the pattern of clerical behavior we have seen from Catholic prelates speaking in public venues since the Second Vatican Council: a resolute refusal to mention the name of Christ, the very founder of their Church, Who issued a divine commission which the current successors of the Apostles are supposed to be advancing, under pain of martyrdom if necessary: “Go forth and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded thee.”
Dolan’s invocation consisted of a one-minute reading from Chapter 9 of the Book of Wisdom wherein Solomon prays that God “send her [i.e., Wisdom] forth from your holy heavens. From your glorious throne dispatch her, that she may be with us, and work with us, that we may grasp what is pleasing to you. For she knows and understands all things and will guide us prudently in our affairs and safeguard us by her glory. Amen.”
From Dolan not a word, not even the barest allusion, to the Christ Whose mission he is charged to carry out and without Whom he is nothing but a man in a clerical outfit. There was only a safely feminine reference to Wisdom. From listening to Dolan, one would never know that Christ, the Lord of History, has any role whatever in the blessing of nations and their leaders — or, for that matter, anything to do with Dolan!
But another familiar pattern at these events was also repeated: the Protestant ministers, none of whom is a successor of the Apostles, did boldly invoke the name of Christ before a world that is in open rebellion against the Law of the Gospel. They did so even though their own understanding of the Gospel is corrupted in various ways:
• Samuel Rodriguez read from Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount and concluded: “Respectfully in Jesus’ name.”
• Paula White-Cain prayed: “We come to You, heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus… Glory to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.”
• Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, read from the First Epistle of St. Paul to Timothy: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself as a ransom for all people. Now to the king eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and Glory in Jesus’ name, Amen.”
• Wayne T. Jackson invoked “the wisdom of Solomon, the vision of Joseph, and the meekness of Christ,” concluding: “May Our Lord bless and keep America, make His face shine upon us and be gracious unto us and give us peace in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.”
In fairness to Dolan, it must be said that he was only hewing to the “new orientation” of the Church since the Council, which can be described with only minimal irony as “post-Christian Catholicism,” whose approach to the world ad extra is now reduced to “dialogue” and generic references to “transcendence,” “values” and the “need for religion” of some sort.
Thus, Francis, the Vicar of Christ, likewise studiously avoided any mention of Christ during his speech (in September 2015) to the United States Congress, where he invoked only Moses and the Golden Rule. Nor did Christ’s name find its way into his equally bland address at the White House and before the United Nations General Assembly.
As Edward Pentin has noted: “In common with Pope Francis’ addresses at the White House and to Congress, the Holy Father chose not to mention Jesus Christ in his speech this morning to the United Nations. It’s understandably causing quite a bit of head-scratching among some Catholic commentators who are keen to point out that the Pope speaks in the name of Jesus, and should therefore explicitly invoke his [sic] name in order to direct national and world leaders to the light of Christ and His teaching.”
Pentin further notes the downward trend in this regard: John Paul II made six references to Christ in his 1995 address to the UN, whereas Benedict made only one. So Dolan’s refusal even to mention the One to Whom he owes his very authority should surprise no one after half a century of the Church’s self-inflicted decline into utter irrelevance in the guidance of men and nations. No longer does the world hear of the only thing that makes the Church’s participation in social discourse different from that of any merely human organization: the Social Kingship of Christ the King, vigorously defended by Pius XI only a few years before Vatican II inaugurated its de facto abandonment.
What can one say when prelates commissioned by God to accomplish His salvific mission in the world refuse even to mention the name of His Son, Who personally gave the Catholic Church that divine commission? What can one say when it falls to Protestant ministers, who have no such commission, to invoke His name before an unbelieving world?
We can say what Our Lord Himself said of such shameful silence: “For he that shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him the Son of man shall be ashamed, when he shall come in his majesty, and that of his Father, and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26)
And we can also say that this shameful silence of His appointed ministers is but another sign of a crisis like none other in the history of the Catholic Church.