In the small township of New Waterford, Nova Scotia six Catholic parishes have consolidated into one.

“The process is extremely difficult, as you might expect,” said Antigonish Bishop Brian Dunn. “It is extremely difficult because people are connected to their own buildings and their parishes.”

At least two of the town’s five other parishes have closed. St. Joseph’s and St. Alphonsus, affectionately referred to as the Stone Church by locals, are slotted for demolition.

Donald McGillivary, Director of Pastoral Planning for the diocese, says parishioners have been fighting to save their local churches:

“It is like a perfect storm,” added McGillivary. “We have less clergy to do the work, we have less of an ability to finance the infrastructure that we have, so that is what we have to deal with and that is what we are responding to. What we are trying to do is to keep or develop or maintain viable parish communities where there are enough resources to be able to do what a parish needs to do.”

I don’t enjoy watching the Ann Coulter television persona and it’s discouraging to see such a talented person line up with painfully dishonest establishment candidates at times, but Ann Coulter can be brave, and being critical of the Pope is not something American conservatives are comfortable doing openly.  Why?  I suppose it’s guilt and some ignorance of Church teaching, but they should start.  Conservative Americans, even Protestants, should criticize the Catholic hierarchy today because there is nothing good or Catholic about liberalism, and when they critique left-wing ideas in the Church they are not attacking the Church itself.

In this latest piece Coulter only mentions the Pope once. In fact the article isn’t even directed at Catholics, but it addresses a deficiency that is common to all denominations and is exploding in the new Church of Francis, namely a hollowed-out worldly focus on so-called good deeds which, since they are basically liberal interventions, are unjust and destructive in the end.

Coulter writes:

I wonder how the Ebola doctor feels now that his humanitarian trip has cost a Christian charity much more than any services he rendered.

What was the point?

Whatever good Dr. Kent Brantly did in Liberia has now been overwhelmed by the more than $2 million already paid by the Christian charities Samaritan’s Purse and SIM USA just to fly him and his nurse home in separate Gulfstream jets, specially equipped with medical tents, and to care for them at one of America’s premier hospitals. (This trip may be the first real-world demonstration of the economics of Obamacare.)

There’s little danger of an Ebola plague breaking loose from the treatment of these two Americans at the Emory University Hospital. But why do we have to deal with this at all?

Why did Dr. Brantly have to go to Africa? The very first “risk factor” listed by the Mayo Clinic for Ebola — an incurable disease with a 90 percent fatality rate — is: “Travel to Africa.”

Can’t anyone serve Christ in America anymore?

No — because we’re doing just fine. America, the most powerful, influential nation on Earth, is merely in a pitched battle for its soul.  the key word, ‘soul.’

About 15,000 people are murdered in the U.S. every year. More than 38,000 die of drug overdoses, half of them from prescription drugs. More than 40 percent of babies are born out of wedlock. Despite the runaway success of “midnight basketball,” a healthy chunk of those children go on to murder other children, rape grandmothers, bury little girls alive — and then eat a sandwich. A power-mad president has thrown approximately 10 percent of all Americans off their health insurance — the rest of you to come! All our elite cultural institutions laugh at virginity and celebrate promiscuity.

So no, there’s nothing for a Christian to do here. In what we call the third world, Catholic parishes are often much more faithful, despite the fact they are poor and their lives are often in danger.  Their Church attendance, attitudes toward homosexuality, abortion and contraception, are much more Christian than in the first world.  They may be more rural, but they are more civilized than the distracted and herded beings we’ve become in America.  Consider Ireland during the diaspora.  They had so little, but they were good Christian people and wise.  The most faithful and well-formed priests in the world come from Africa today.  I’m sure they shudder to think what may have happened to them if they grew up here. 

If Dr. Brantly had practiced at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles and turned one single Hollywood power-broker to Christ, he would have done more good for the entire world than anything he could accomplish in a century spent in Liberia. Ebola kills only the body; the virus of spiritual bankruptcy and moral decadence spread by so many Hollywood movies infects the world.  This is what’s so discouraging and frustrating about the Pope Francis papacy.  Where is it going? – always somewhere material, as if doing good was all that was needed for Heaven, as if Our Lord didn’t walk the earth looking for signs of Faith, and as if truth Faith would never bear material fruit.  

If he had provided health care for the uninsured editors, writers, videographers and pundits in Gotham and managed to open one set of eyes, he would have done more good than marinating himself in medieval diseases of the Third World.

Of course, if Brantly had evangelized in New York City or Los Angeles, The New York Times would get upset and accuse him of anti-Semitism, until he swore — as the pope did — that you don’t have to be a Christian to go to heaven. [This is much debated but I think we must take an honest look at the published text.] Evangelize in Liberia, and the Times’ Nicholas Kristof will be totally impressed.

Which explains why American Christians go on “mission trips” to disease-ridden cesspools. They’re tired of fighting the culture war in the U.S., tired of being called homophobes, racists, sexists and bigots. So they slink off to Third World countries, away from American culture to do good works, forgetting that the first rule of life on a riverbank is that any good that one attempts downstream is quickly overtaken by what happens upstream.  This is so important.  Apostles went all around the world, but St. Peter went to Rome.  The American Soul, whatever you say about it, has been transmitted to the entire world and it is ongoing.

America is the most consequential nation on Earth, and in desperate need of God at the moment. If America falls, it will be a thousand years of darkness for the entire planet. People will see jingoism here, but the damnable collapse in Iraq is case-in-point.  We had a role in permitting or enabling that situation and our absence now is cruel. Perhaps if we had a more Christian soul, we’d move to defend our brothers.

Not only that, but it’s our country. Your country is like your family. We’re supposed to take care of our own first. The same Bible that commands us to “go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel” also says: “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.'” This is just patriotism. There’s no excuse for neglecting the Christian spiritual needs of your own people.

Right there in Texas, near where Dr. Brantly left his wife and children to fly to Liberia and get Ebola, is one of the poorest counties in the nation, Zavala County — where he wouldn’t have risked making his wife a widow and his children fatherless.

But serving the needy in some deadbeat town in Texas wouldn’t have been “heroic.” We wouldn’t hear all the superlatives about Dr. Brantly’s “unusual drive to help the less fortunate” or his membership in the “Gold Humanism Honor Society.” Leaving his family behind in Texas to help the poor 6,000 miles away — that’s the ticket.

Today’s Christians are aces at sacrifice, amazing at serving others, but strangely timid for people who have been given eternal life. They need to buck up, serve their own country, and remind themselves every day of Christ’s words: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

There may be no reason for panic about the Ebola doctor, but there is reason for annoyance at Christian narcissism.

Cowardice, negligence, self-promotion and self-interest.  Material missions that cost much more than they’re worth, serve the actor first, and put the object second are wrong, and such show-offy good deeds are a waste of Christian contributions.

Spreading the true Faith where it can help the most is what’s needed. What happened to the Spiritual Works of Mercy?  I guess there’s enough of that already – judging by the results??

We need to take the log out of our own eye first, American churches.  There’s something wrong with that message?


Saying, “I’m no fan of bishops who bling for bling’s sake,” Patheos blogger JoAnne McPortland is urging CNN readers to take the American Bishops Lavish Living expose in context.  Bishops are really CEO’s of multimillion dollar corporations, McPortland explains. Their dioceses are different, their residences are different, the populations are different, and the bishops are different from Pope Francis too. He is extroverted. Some of them may be introverted, some belong to orders, etc.  The circumstances vary in every degree. After exploring them all, McPortland says:

Jesus told the rich young man that he must give up all that he had to serve God authentically. The rich man went away sad, because he was much attached to his possessions. But Jesus had very different answers for the wealthy followers whose generosity supplied his own ministry and gave him the forum to preach and heal. He had a very different answer for Judas, who chided the woman of Bethany for wasting precious ointment on Jesus’ comfort. In each circumstance, Jesus judges the heart and the intention of the individual, not the exterior circumstances.

So does Pope Francis. And so, my friends, should we.

The question is… if the government supports the Church with our taxes, and we have to take Central America into our towns and parishes, if New York and Boston are selling off our priceless Catholic patrimony and houses of God in order to invest in government projects and pay off abuse settlements, and the Pope orders priests to drive old cars; why is the Miami Archbishop living on key Biscayne, far from any office, in what appears to be a ten million dollar spread with a yacht?