In what has become the defining event in American Constitutional Law, arrests of Catholic Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Religious, and laity have continued into a second day, and will surely cast a pall over President Obama’s second term in office, as well as his legacy.
After the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the petition of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on Monday, the Justice Department moved forward with the seizure of all Roman Catholic Properties for failure to pay taxes for a second year in a row. On Thursday, Cardinal Dolan took to the pulpit in a packed St. Patrick’s Cathedral to denounce the tactics of the Federal Government, while calling on his congregation to treat the police with the utmost courtesy and respect.
When the Cardinal refused to order his congregation to disperse in compliance with the 12 P.M. deadline to vacate the premises, Federal officers mounted the altar and handcuffed the Cardinal, leading him out of the Cathedral through the entrance to his residence behind the altar.
Auxiliary Bishop Mark Valente and Cathedral Rector, Msgr. Justin O’Reilly were each led away in handcuffs after also refusing to give the order to disperse. The officers then set about placing plastic restraints on the wrists of the more than 2,000 congregants, many elderly nuns, who refused to leave. Among those arrested were several leaders of other faith communities here in New York who fear a similar fate for their churches.
The choir led the congregation in singing hymns of praise, such as Lift High the Cross, and Holy God We Praise Thy Name.
Similar scenes have been playing themselves out at Catholic churches all over the nation. Not since the civil disobedience of Gandhi has the world seen anything approaching this scale.
President Obama will address the nation tonight at 9 P.M. from the Oval Office. Confidential sources say the President plans to explain why the USCCB cannot use their political muscle to violate the law with impunity.
In Rome an increasingly frail Pope Benedict XVI thundered condemnation for the assault on his Church, and expressed his solidarity with his brothers and sisters, “persecuted for righteousness’ sake”.
Meanwhile, the USCCB has been gaining traction with its 60-second ad campaign showing no fewer than thirty Democrats campaigning from pulpits in Protestant Churches, as well as over fifty Protestant Ministers openly advocating DNC policy from their pulpits. Cries of “double-standard” continue to inflict damage on Obama’s standing in the polls, with the latest Gallup Poll showing the President’s approval rating sliding twenty-two points to 27% since his reelection just four months ago.
Since the Bishops lost their bid in early 2010 to keep Federal Funding of abortions out of the health care legislation, they have stirred themselves into an activism never before seen. The current crisis began when the Bishops, in conjunction with the RNC, disseminated voter guides in church to the faithful.
Most analysts agree that this contributed in no small measure to the Republican landslide that won them the House and Senate in 2010, and even larger majorities this past November. But for the untimely death from a heart attack of Mr. Obama’s opponent three weeks before the election, a Republican rout was all but certain.
Many see the actions of the IRS in early 2011, and the subsequent court battles as retribution from Obama for effectively making him a lame duck in his first term.
Meanwhile, arrests have slowed as police set up makeshift detention centers in armories and school gymns in the large cities. The detained are refusing to post bail and refusing to leave the detention centers. If forced to do so, they claim to be resolved in their determination to return to their churches, schools and diocesan centers to attempt entry and force a re-arrest.
It is becoming clear that the IRS threat of losing 501(c)(3) status was never a viable strategy in the face of a determined opposition.
UFT President Adrian Moore has blasted the Obama administration for emptying Catholic schools in the seizure and forcing these students on classrooms already overcrowded and on school systems that are bankrupt after the sex abuse lawsuits against public school teachers, most going back decades, that were the result of the courts mandating that public schools had to also open a one year window for claims no longer covered by the statute of limitations.
This was another in a series of unintended consequences, as Democrats tried to destroy nonprofits by passing legislation aimed only at them, opening the one year “look-back”, as it is called. Upon challenge, the courts decided to apply the standard to public schools as well, rather than striking down the lopsided legislation.
For now, neither the President, nor the Bishops will back down. The issue may be decided on Capitol Hill, as talk of impeachment begins to gain momentum.