An issue worth a challenge by the U.S. bishops and conservative staff

Next week, an extraordinary sporting event, the Masters Tournament, will begin with practice rounds April 2-4, inclusive, and round one will begin on April 5.

I'll be watching the whole tournament live or on replay. I just love it.

However, my conscience is not clear, because "since its founding in 1933, Augusta National [Golf Club] has had only male members."

Finally, in 1990, an African-American was admitted into the club.

According to Wikipedia -- with all its flaws -- the following high-flyers are members:

  • Bill Gates, co-founder and chairman of Microsoft

  • Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

  • Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric

  • Pete Coors, former chairman and CEO of Coors Brewing Company, current chairman of Molson Coors Brewing Company & MillerCoors

  • James D. Robinson III, former CEO of American Express

  • Harold "Red" Poling, former CEO of the Ford Motor Company

  • Carl Sanders, former governor of Georgia

  • Sam Nunn, former United States senator from Georgia

  • T. Boone Pickens, Jr., oil tycoon

  • Hugh L. McColl Jr., former CEO of Bank of America

  • Lou Holtz, former college football coach

  • Lynn Swann, former NFL player

  • Pat Haden, former NFL player and current athletic director at the University of Southern California

But now we have yet another not-unexpected controversy where the new female CEO of IBM, Ginny Rometty, is "in line" to become the first female member of Augusta National Golf Club, like her three IBM white, male predecessors.

According to ESPN:

On Jan. 1, Rometty became the CEO of IBM, succeeding Sam Palmisano, who is a member of the club -- as were the three CEOs before him, according to Bloomberg.
Augusta National declined to comment, saying it does not discuss membership-related issues, Bloomberg reported. IBM also declined comment.
Tournament chairman Billy Payne, who has said in the past there is "no specific timetable" for ending the club's all-male membership policy, traditionally holds a news conference the day before Masters play begins. This year, it will be April 4. The former head of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic committee is certain to be asked about Rometty's membership chances.
The CEOs of the tournament's two other major sponsors, Exxon Mobil and AT&T, are both members of the club.
IBM runs the tournament's website, plus technology in the media center and for broadcast partners (ESPN covers the first two rounds of the event, set for April 5-6; CBS covers the weekend play).
Rometty, 54, is a golfer, according to Bloomberg, though she is more likely to scuba dive.
At the time, an IBM spokesman said: ''The Masters and Augusta are separate and we're a sponsor of the Masters, which is open and public. We're not a sponsor of Augusta.''

In 2002, a protest led by activist Martha Burk over the lack of women members at Augusta National caused the Masters to run without sponsorship.

The fundamental problem for Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and archbishop-delegate William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, and all of the U.S. bishops is that they lack the constitutional fortitude to "go to the mattresses" on behalf of African-Americans, Latinos and women for full membership at Augusta National Golf Club.

Both of these ordained white men accept big donations from members of Augusta National Golf Club and their friends. It's not complicated. The U.S. bishops conference could exert an enormous amount of pressure on the Masters Tournament, and I'd support it, but I don't count on it.

These white, ordained, celibate men are enthusiastically willing to attack with extraordinary vitriol, nastiness and lawsuits the first African-American Christian president of the United States, Barack Obama, and allow the national sporting treasure, the Masters Tournament, a free pass.

Is this the "schizophrenia" that Pope Benedict XVI was talking about during his trip to Mexico and Cuba this week? How do those ordained guys (and their mouthpiece, Sr. Mary Ann Walsh) sleep at night?

Why are millions of Catholics leaving the church of their birth? Go figure. Do the math.

Watch the behavior of the cardinals, archbishops, bishops and their compatriot conservative, Republican-friendly conference staff (Anthony Picarello, Richard Doerflinger and Walsh). Why don't the Georgia bishops and the entire U.S. bishops conference organize a massive demonstration in Augusta?

Today's U.S. bishops, in general, and their staff lack authentic Catholic zeal to be counter-cultural and walk the walk for all Catholics in all of their dastardly circumstances.

Where is Jesus when we need him?

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