Biden’s New Bishop, Bishop Stika Redux, and the Karma of Andrew Cuomo

The Friday Pillar Post

Happy Friday friends,

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Joe Biden has a new bishop. Pope Francis this morning accepted the resignation of Bishop Francis Malooly, 77, of the Diocese of Wilmington. Biden’s new hometown shepherd will be Monsignor William E. Koenig, a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre in New York.

The president actually has two local ordinaries, as it happens, since he maintains canonical domicile and quasi-domicile in both the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. and in Wilmington.

You can expect the media to immediately start asking Msgr. Koenig where he stands on the question of pro-abortion politicians receiving Communion. You can also expect that Rome would never have made the appointment if they didn’t already know the answer, so don’t expect any surprises there. 

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Bishop Richard Stika is facing ongoing criticism from his clergy over his governance of the Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee.

Yesterday, we reported that in 2017 Stika accepted a deacon for ministry in the diocese who was dismissed from seminary for sexual misconduct, and deemed to have a “manipulative style, sexually predatory nature, and lack of empathy” by several experts. While his own bishop was unwilling to ordain him, Stika reportedly pushed back against psychological experts and advisors over the deacon’s suitability for ministry.

We reported last week that a number of complaints have already been made against Bishop Stika under the provisions of Vos estis lux mundi. Those complaints, including some senior clergy in the diocese, concerned his alleged unwillingness to alleged a full investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against a different seminarian, who lived in the bishops’ house after he was dismissed from seminary. 

This case seems almost certain to face a full-fledged investigation, and soon. Read the latest.

In Africa, a recently appointed bishop-elect in South Sudan was attacked on Monday, shot in both legs. 

Fr. Christian Carlassare, an Italian Comboni Father, was due to be installed as bishop of Rumbek next month. He’s now recovering in hospital in Kenya. Among those arrested in the attack, in which some 13 shots were fired at the bishop-to-be, were members of the local clergy.

It’s also been a big week in Vatican finances. 

The former Vatican Auditor General Libero Milone gave a rare interview this week in which he confirmed that APSA, the Holy See’s sovereign wealth manager, had, for years, maintained a stake worth millions of euros in pharmaceutical companies which produced abortifacient drugs

We talked to a former senior official at the Secretariat for the Economy, who told us that during his time at the department, Cardinal Pell had tried to create a framework for ethical investing by Vatican institutions, ensuring that the Church put its money where its mouth is on Catholic social teaching. Pell’s efforts were blocked.

Like so many reforms which were first proposed (and blocked) during the Pell’s years at the Secretariat for the Economy, ethical investing is now the law in the Vatican Pope Francis issued on Thursday a new, sweeping change to Vatican law on financial matters which appears “ripped from the headlines,” to put it mildly

The law came ahead of a much-anticipated report on the Vatican from international anti-money-laundering watchdogs, which is expected to be released any day now. 

It bans the “envelope culture” of cash gift-giving to senior figures, and brings in tough new disclosure rules for the personal finances of curial officials. Libero Milone was, by the way, forced out of his post by Cardinal* Becciu in 2017, who threatened him with criminal prosecution for “spying” on his private finances.

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Our old friend, Cardinal* Becciu was himself back in the news this week, after Italian media ran a report on his approval of banking privileges for Iranian diplomats at a Vatican bank back in 2011. At the time, Iran was under serious international financial sanctions. 

The report itself was something of a nothing-burger, in my opinion. Far more interesting was the fact that private correspondence was leaked either from the IOR or the Secretariat of State with what appears to be no intention other than to gin up media criticism of Becciu. 

Probably the biggest story touching His Eminence* this week was the surprise publication of a second change to Vatican law by Pope Francis, issued Friday morning. The new norms pave the way for “Most Eminent Cardinals” to stand trial in Vatican City court with the prior consent of the pope. 

I wonder what prompted that?

Karma, Cuomo, and the culture of death

Back in the news this week is New York’s Andrew Cuomo. The tactile governor is demanding a recount after the most recent census figures showed a significant enough drop in his state’s population to deprive it of a seat in the House of Representatives. 

Cuomo has asked his state AG to help him grasp New York’s legal options after the state fell just 89 human heartbeats short of keeping its number of congressional delegates. 

It remains to be seen if Cuomo deems this a “leather jacket” level crisis, but the governor has become, perversely, a victim of his own success. 

Cuomo was, after all, the man who lit up the skyline in 2019 to celebrate the passage of the nation’s most permissive abortion law, allowing for children to be terminated for, effectively, any reason or none at all. I have tried to do the maths to calculate how long New York City’s Planned Parenthood clinics would have needed to close to make up the 89 lives Cuomo now misses but come up short of any answer better than “probably a matter of hours.”

Of course, Cuomo may choose to credit the loss of the House seat to the failures of his administration, rather than its macabre “achievements.”

It was also America’s Most Decisive Governor™ who ordered the state’s nursing homes to take in COVID positive patients at the height of the pandemic, causing thousands of otherwise preventable deaths among the most isolated and most vulnerable of his constituents. Cuomo’s staff reportedly did their best to hide the stomach-churning death toll of that policy, but, I guess, not well enough to goose the state’s residential numbers for the census bureau.

If the loss of a House seat by such a thin margin isn’t enough to convince him that every unborn and elderly life has real human value, perhaps it will at least help him put his hands on two immutable truths: demographics are destiny, and karma is a bitch.

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Extra Innings

I regret to inform you that Major League Baseball is at it again, again.

Not content with destroying the majors with runners-on-second for extra innings play and attempting to force the DH down the throat of the National League like a Normandy goose, or with mugging the players in the affiliated minor-league system for their wages and dignity, the deranged lunatics on Madison Avenue have increasingly turned their attentions to ruining independent leagues, too.

This season, the Pioneer League, an MLB “partner league” (which seems to mean they’re a client state, rather than outright chattel), has agreed to test out home run derbies to decide games tied after 9 innings of play. 

I wish I was kidding, you’d think I was kidding.

I’m not kidding.

It’s the latest bid by MLB to inject its poison into the arm of the independent leagues which have become one of the few places real fans can watch real baseball without being sold sushi or having the game sabotaged by limited mound visits or minimum batter counts for pitchers. Last season, they bought the soul of the “independent” Atlantic League, where I used to be a season ticket holder, and had them test drive robot umpires.

No one asked for these absurd changes to a game which is all about pace of play and the ebb and flow of tension. 

The League is hell-bent on trying to grab as many TV viewers as possible, instead of letting fans actually enjoy the game they paid to see. Ironically, between TV blackout restrictions and morally repugnant rule changes, their strategy seems to be to make baseball unwatchable in the process.

Last year, in another publication, I compared the MLB to a drug cartel, stepping on their product, shivving the competition, and poisoning their customer base to squeeze extra bucks. Looking back, I now rather worry the comparison was unfair to the Escobars.

I live in hope that one of the independent leagues will tell MLB to take its 30 pieces of silver and pound sand. There is a market, and a growing fan demand, for real baseball, unhurried, unpolluted, uninterrupted; for it’s money they have and peace they lack.

See you next week, and believe me, if they built it, I’d come.

Ed. Condon

Editor

The Pillar