Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., is basking in the praise of the mainstream media. Reports of his elevation to cardinal have generated such gushing headlines as “Archbishop Gregory stood up to Trump. Now he’s about to be the first Black cardinal in U.S.”
In June, Gregory blasted Trump for trying to “silence” the mob during the riots outside the White House. Gregory’s criticism conformed perfectly to the media’s line. He accused Trump of clearing the mob for a mere “photo op.” After Trump visited the St. John Paul II shrine in Washington, Gregory excoriated his hosts, the Knights of Columbus: “I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles.”
Can anyone imagine Gregory making such a harsh statement during the Biden presidency? Not a chance. Gregory “stood” up to Trump. But he won’t stand up to Biden, despite the starkly anti-Catholic agenda Biden has promised to unleash, an agenda that cuts across every moral issue the Church considers non-negotiable.
Gregory opposed Trump not on “religious principles” but on his own left-wing political predilections. A protégé of the late uber-liberal Chicago Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, Gregory hews closely to his politics and theology. It was Bernardin who played such a large role in normalizing Catholic pols like Biden by downplaying their opposition to abortion and other issues of Christian morality. Barack Obama still sings Bernardin’s praises, recalling warmly the help he received from him during his rise in Chicago as a community organizer.
Notre Dame’s honoring of Obama didn’t elicit from Gregory any sputtering about the misuse of a “Catholic facility.” Should Biden receive similar honors, we can expect more silence from him. Gregory has let it be known that he will not withhold Communion from Biden despite his defiance of Church teaching on multiple issues of importance. Biden has even presided at a gay wedding, which is a Catholic scandal of the first order. It is the disuse of canon law in the face of such outrages that explains the rise of the defiant Catholic pol, a category that grows larger with each passing year.
In other Church eras, such defiance would have been unthinkable. But now it is commonplace, and a Biden presidency will only exacerbate the problem. The previous pope had tried to address the scandal of the anti-Catholic “Catholic” pol, telling the U.S. bishops in a 2004 memo that support for abortion constituted “formal cooperation” in grave evil and that such pro-abortion Catholic pols should “be denied the Eucharist.” Gregory, along with the now-defrocked Theodore McCarrick, famously ignored that instruction from then-Joseph Ratzinger.
Under Pope Francis, that memo has gathered even more dust. The issue is no longer even debated at the meetings of the U.S. bishops. Biden can expect little to no resistance from the bishops as long as Francis is pope. “I want to begin whatever conversations ensue in a positive vein, rather than in an adversarial mode,” Gregory has said.
The head of the U.S. bishops’ conference, Archbishop Jose Gomez, was undermined by Francis-friendly bishops after saying that a Biden presidency posed some “challenges” for the Church. “There are some voices that urge the conference to move toward a more confrontational stance toward Biden and the new administration,” San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy said to National Catholic Reporter. “I think that’s really contrary to the tradition of our conference and is going to be counterproductive if a move is made in that direction. The conference has operated on the principle that the church has no political mission in the public order, but it does have a moral mission in the political order.”
That’s a rich comment coming from McElroy, who is one of the most politicized bishops in America. It is the project of the Francis-aligned bishops to blur the distinction between moral and political issues, to the advantage of Democrats. The game of these bishops is to treat political issues — prudential matters involving climate change, illegal immigration, and the like — as moral, while treating moral issues that touch upon the natural moral law as political. (Hence, McElroy has said Catholics can disagree about abortion law, even as he presents his support for amnesty as “Catholic teaching.”)
Gregory’s blatantly political intervention against Trump took place under this deliberate confusion of moral and political issues. Trump’s visit to the St. John Paul II Shrine had in no way violated the “religious principles” of the Church. That Gregory would even make such an outlandish claim indicates the extent to which he defines his own left-wing politics as “Catholic.” It is no accident that this hour of open and rewarded left-wing clericalism (Cardinal Joseph Tobin’s elevation was in part aided by his “standing” up to Mike Pence in Indiana) coincides with a destructively “Catholic” presidency.
Gregory is Biden’s kind of bishop, hostile to politicians who preserve the Church’s religious freedom, welcoming to those who seek to crush it.