If you're Irish and you're Catholic?

By Jim Bowman

Opinion

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SWEARING IN?The installation of the new St. Edmund's pastor on Oct. 24 was a thing of beauty and a joy for all concerned. Bishop Thomas Paprocki preached, reading at length from a recent statement in which the Pope emphasized holiness?#34;which came as no surprise to many but was still OK to say.

After everyone recited the Creed, the new pastor, Fr. John McGivern, recited a special pledge of his own as pastor, about which more later. Then in a sort of welcoming ceremony, the parish's non-priest staff and parish pastoral council members came one after the other to deliver brief hugs. One mature woman planted a motherly kiss on his cheek. (Ordained in 1991 and so probably under 40, he looks no older.)

Ushers brought empty collection baskets as part of the ceremony?#34;to be filled later, noted the bishop, ad-libbing nicely.

The people were asked to accept Fr. John as pastor: "We will," they said. All extended hands in blessing him, then applauded, and church bells rang.

The baskets were passed and filled as the song leader led. She looked out at the congregation, of course, as did the priests. There were two others besides Fr. McG and the bishop. Indeed, Fr. McG at one point, apparently catching the eye of a friend, grinned briefly, then caught himself.

Mass over, he thanked everyone. In four months, he had found the church "beautiful," ditto the people. He noted that his mother and the bishop's mother, members of the same Evergreen Park parish, know each other and chat now and then, turning and admonishing the bishop, "So let's both be careful."

He had earlier been careful to say the new-pastor's pledge of allegiance, which included his intention to go along with what bishops say as a group even when they are not pronouncing doctrine. "Religious submission of will and intellect" is what he promised.

SWEARING OFF?Meanwhile, at Ascension Church a mile away, the pastor, Fr. Larry McNally, was rejecting U.S. bishops' instructions to make standard pro-life issues a voter's prime concern?#34;something the bishops had done by classing abortion and euthanasia as "preeminent threats to human life and dignity."  Chicago's Cardinal Francis George had also put his own oar in, calling "the defense of every human life?not just one of a laundry list of moral concerns" but "key to pursuing the common good." Indeed, Cardinal George has said he refrains from refusing communion to pro-choice politicos "primarily because?it would turn the reception of Holy Communion into a circus."

Fr. McNally, on the other hand, rejected "one issue" voting and called heretical those (unnamed) bishops who say it's a sin not only to be but also to vote for pro-choice candidates. He also impugned bishops' authority in general because they "looked the other way while some?priests hurt so many little children."

It was courage and integrity on display, said this newspaper, though in today's climate it's doubtful much will come of it. Won't it be something, on the other hand, when a pastor at his installation refuses to make his promise of "religious submission" in the first place?

As for Ascension parishioners, some had been instructed in voting their consciences by loop lawyer John J. Gearen at a mid-October Adult Formation meeting?#34;which unfortunately was a version of asking a Chevy or Toyota dealer what car to buy. Gearen was to provide "a well formed and informed Catholic perspective," according to the parish bulletin, but he already had given $3,000 to Kerry, as reported in this newspaper. His wife Ann gave another $4,000, which made them Oak Park's family with the mostest for the (pro-choice) man from Massachusetts. Gearen also is finance chairman for state's attorney Dick Devine, a Democrat.

This with other evidence too extensive to mention has led me to compose the following lyric, sung to the popular pre-K tune, "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands."

If you're Irish and you're Catholic, you're a Dem; If you're Irish and you're Catholic, you're a Dem; If you're Irish and you're Catholic, then you sure as heaven know it; And no bishop has to tell you how to vote.

Amen!

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