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Norbert Bufka

Author  ·  Historian

Published Articles, Letters, and Blogs

Dangerous times

We are living in the most dangerous time in the history of the United States since 1860 when southern states decided to secede from the union. President Abraham Lincoln rose to the challenge but it cost the lives of more than 600,000 americans in the bloodiest war of our history. Today we are facing the opposite challenge. We have a President who refuses to accept the results of a legitimate election. More than 73 million voted for him And seem to believe in his wild accusation of voter fraud.

Our President is acting as if he is above the law or rather that he is the law. He thinks whatever he says or does is okay because he is the President. The truth and reality are of no concern to him. Nor does it seem that the country is of any concern to him. For four years he has tweeted conspiracies and election fraud without ever producing any evidence.  His lawsuits to overturn election results have nearly all been rejected when the judge asked for evidence. Two cases which were accepted were of minimal consequence.  His autocratic style is right out of Mein Kampf by Adolph Hitler.

He called in to his office two Republican election board members and two Republican legislators to seek ways to overturn the Michigan election. Lindsay Graham apparently has fallen for Trump’s election fraud conspiracies and is supporting them by asking the Georgia Secretary of State to throw out some ballots. Rudy Juliani and other Trump lawyers are making the claim that the election was so fraudulent , they want it to go to the House of Representatives or the Supreme Court. This is one reason Trump was so anxious to have a new appointee to the Supreme Court. He believes they will be loyalists, like his other appointments have been I believe the Justices will not beholden to Trump however because he cannot fire them.  These actions appear to be violations of federal law which bars anyone from interfering with an election.  Even Trump has called on the Governor of Georgia to overturn the results in Georgia. The strange thing is that the Secretary of State oversees elections in Georgia and has already certified the results.

Enough states have now certified their results so that Biden has the needed 270 electoral votes to be declared the winner by the Electoral College when it meets next week.


“A rigged election ” is fake news

Donald Trump continues to do what he does best: create chaos and diversion. He has maintained that the election was rigged, but this is not new of course. He claimed the 2016 election was rigged, that he actually won the popular vote then and that he won it again in 2020. He is relying on the old adage that if you repeat something often enough and loud enough people will believe you. this is a very poor way to lead our country. Stalwart supporters believe him and are unwilling to admit that Biden is the president-elect.  Yet, the peaceful and orderly  transition is in jeopardy because of his recalcitrance.

Christopher Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, declared that the election was “the most secure in American history.” Of course, , Trump fired him.

the cynic in me says Trump is arguing so vehemently that he won is because he is in charge of rigging the election and  so knows how it was rigged, but it failed to win him the election. If he offers proof it will convict him. There are of course ways to rig an election and I hope the biden administration will have election and voting reform as one of his agenda items.  Let us, for example, make it easy for all voters to cast their ballot.


10 Lessons from the Election 2020

The 2020 election is over. We must learn several important lessons from this election.

  1. If we are to continue as a democracy we must face our differences and polarization with a bond of love for our country and each other.
  2. Our republic will continue only if all citizens are allowed to take an active part   in the process of voting and civic duties.
  3. We must all become better educated about issues and work to form a conscience in keeping with our faith traditions.
  4. The Catholic bishops must accept responsibility for their role in the division in our country and in the Catholic Church. They have taught a divisive moral ethic based on the single issue of abortion. They need to teach the meaning of the common good not only in faith context but American context.
  5. Other faith traditions who teaching division and fear must also examine their consciences and find a path to wholeness.
  6. Narrow ideology, whether faith based or political, must be challenged and resisted. This applies to both socialism on the left and fascism on the right.
  7. Fascism is alive and well in this country and has been given a place alongside aminstream thinking with the presidency of Donald Trump. This includes the fostering of a “Christian nationalism”, white superiority, and authoritarian leadership.  Fascism must be named and rejected as vigorously  as socialism.
  8. Socialism, while vigorously attached to the Democrats by the Republicans, has not been a serious movement in this country for nearly 100 years. Social benefits, like access to health care and social security are not socialism. The public ownership of production is socialism. No Democrat is promoting this.
  9. We spend far too much money on political campaigns. Reform of the political process must be at the top of any list of laws to be lpassed.
  10. Civility, telling the truth, and trust in science must replace the fear, disinformation, and reliance on one person’s narcissistic intuition.


Originalism is not good for our country

   The United States Senate confirmed the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Monday October 26, only six weeks after Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away.  The speed of the confirmation is not the only problem with this nomination,  it is Barrett herself. She is an originalist and a Catholic traditionalist, both of which protend   regressive court decisions in the years ahead.

   Originalism, as I understand it, means that the person tries to interpret the Constitution the way the writers meant it. I am not a lawyer, but that appears to be a flawed view for several reasons.

The first is that the writers did not agree on the meaning of the Constitution, when they wrote it. this is why they compromised over several issues. This is why there was so much animosity between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson in the Wahsington administration. From this division soon came two political parties.

    The second reason this is a flawed view of the Constitution is that originalists oppose “judicial activism”, which is a fancy phrase to indicate the Court is making laws instead of interpreting them. Usually this argument is used agains progressive decisions or those supporting human rights. They don’t bother to point out that the most egregious “judicial activism” in recent years was the Citizens United decision which declared that corporations have the  human rights of the First Amendment. Soon followed the Hobby Lobby decision which gave the corporation religious freedom.

If the originalists are sincere about their quest of the understanding of the founders, then they wills surely crack down on the abuse of the Second Amendment, which clearly states that ownership of guns is for the purpose of forming state militias, not the right to establish a personal arsenal.

   Will the originalists on the Court now declare our electoral system unconstitutional because states have mandated that the electors vote for the candidate who won the popular vote? This is not in  the Constitution.  If so, the result will be an elite of 538 people choosing our  president rather than the people.

   The confirmation of Barrett to the Supreme Court presents us with a serious problem on the Court with six members being originalist and six being Catholic. Just as the originalists do not reflect American values regarding the Constitution , the six Catholics do not represent the main values of Catholicism nor core American values of equality and democracy. Together these six Catholics represent a minority of Cathollics among a minority of Americans, yet they hold a majority vote.

   Finally   the writers of the Constitution knew that it was not aperfect document and included two ways to amend it. so far, it has been amended 27 times. Do originalists want to take away these amendments which include freedom of speech and religion, freedom of the press, the right to assemble, right to protest, women’s right to vote and prohibition of  slavery?



What is a Faithful Citizen?



Since 1975, the United States Conference of Catholic bishops (USCCB) has been issuing a document every four years to help Catholic citizens be responsible voters. It is called Forming Conscience for Faithful Citizenship. It can be downloaded here:

 . This document can be very helpful in making a choice for President and other offices, if read completely and carefully.  

The bishops point out very clearly that the Church supports life from conception to natural death  while in their introductory letter they state, “The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority.”  

They state in #25 that “the erosion of respect for the life of any individual or group in society necessarily diminishes respect for all life.” The bishops make it clear that the right to life includes the need for food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, meaningful work, and necessary social services.” In #91, they write,   “We focus on what protects or threatens the dignity of every human life.” “As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate's position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter's support.” (#42)  

The Bishops go on to say, “Catholics have a serious and lifelong obligation to form their consciences in accord with human reason and the teaching of the Church. (#17) The most important teachings of the Church in conscience formation are “the four basic principles of Catholic social doctrine: the dignity of the human person, the common good, subsidiarity, and solidarity.“ These teachings will help the voter evaluate a candidate’s views and a party’s platform, the bishops write.  The goal in all cases is to “build a better world.” (#5) Catholic voters should use Catholic social teaching to examine candidates' positions on issues affecting human life and dignity as well as issues of justice and peace, and they should consider candidates' integrity.#41


After having done all this serious study and reflection, a voter’s conclusion might well be one of confusion rather than clarity. The bishops are aware of this and so write, “the conscientious voter may decide not to vote, or  “after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance … a morally flawed position and” more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.” (#36)


Keep in mind that priests and bishops who endorse or condemn a specific candidate are vilating the intent of Canon 287, although it has not been widely enforced.

I must challenge two statements in this document. The bishops label some actions (abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, gay marriage, and destructive use of embryos.) as “intrinsically evil”, They use this phrase ten times, but the Catechism of the Catholic Church does not identify any actions using this phrase.  I question the motive for using such language.

.  Pope Francis shared his perspective on life issues in his letter on holiness, Gaudete et Exsultate,” No. 101: “Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm, and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection.“ Some bishops  proposed this language be inserted in the document, but the majority rejected its inclusion.


The second statement that must be examined is that conscience must conform to Catholic teaching.

In the formation of conscience, the Catechism teaches that a person is to reflect on the Scriptures, kneel before the Cross, be aided by the Holy Spirit and others,  “and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church”. (#1785, emphasis mine) It does not say one’s conscience must conform to Catholic teaching. I, Norbert, believe that freedom to explore moral questions enriches the Church’s teaching, not threatens it.


Review of moral teaching (Norb)

The bishops very clearly talk of many moral issues as I indicated in my brief overview. They also emphasized that some values are more important than others and some cannot be violated by voting for someone who supports moral evil. this makes one complicit in that evil, they write.

The Bishops tell us to use the four fundamental social doctrines of the Church to evaluate a candidate. These have both an individual and corporate or systemic dimension.

The inherent dignity of the human person is rooted in Genesis 1:31 where God says that all creation is good. That goodness must be respected. Killing a person is an obvious example of breaching this respect. The Church deems an embryo is a person and so must be respected and protected.  An abortion is an individual decision, not a systemic one.  Yet the Bishops have for decades treated it as a systemic decision.  No government is telling or commanding anyone to have an abortion.

State executions are also killing a person. These deaths are not individual decisions but the government, which is acting on behalf of all citizens. It is a systemic decision, not a personal one.

Policies regarding access to health care, education, clean environment, and even access to socials ervices are both systemic and personal. When the system denies access to health care or bars children from a good education as in segregated schools, the decision is no longer personal but systemic.

Systemic values are higher than personal values and so must influence our thinking in regard to voting for or against a particular candidate.

The Bishops tell us that “The common good is ‘the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily’" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1906).

"Solidarity is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good", they remind us in #90.

The principle of subsidiarity, they tell us in #48,means that local institutions, like the family or city, is the preferred group to deal with issues but the larger institution must step in whenthe local is unable to handle it.



What the bishops failed to address is the constitutional crisis that President Trump is creating by casting doubt on our voting process and very openly wanting to be dictator of the country for life. Trump has said he will not allow a peaceful transition of power if he loses the election.  This is a far larger life issue than any discussed by the Bishops.

The bishops also did not address the danger of global climate change which threatens all life in the world, also a far more serious life issue than any addressed by the bishops. Trump denies the climate change issue and removed the United States from the Paris Accords.

The document was published before the pandemic so that issue is not discussed at all but is a very relevant and serious life issue, which Trump has badly mismanaged.  The most telling example is his own contraction of the disease and exposing many others because he refused to follow the guidelines of the CDc.


Now it is time for a decision. Donald Trump has never expressed any interest in the lives lost by the pandemic, killed by police, or died in war.  In fact, he calls those killed in war “losers”. At the debate” on September 29, he refused to denounce white supremacists and fueled the fear of a fraudulent election.

He supports a lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act, which would mean the loss of insurance for 20 million people.

He has locked immigrants in cages, separated children from their parents. He bullies and belittles those who disagree with him. He blames everything that is wrong on others, especially people of color.

A life issue which doesn’t get much media coverage is execution of criminals by the fedral and some state governments. There were no federal executions between 1963 and 2001. There were three in 2001-2003 Under George W. Bush.  There wre none from 2003 until July 2020when the Trump administration started executions again. Seven have been executed since July my opinion, government executions are premeditated murder and to use the Bishops’ language, are intrinsically evil. 

On the other hand, Joe Biden’s statements during the “debate” show he has integrity, honesty, and concern for the common good of all people.   He is guided by the social teaching of the Church.  He will also address the challenges of voting rights, the pandemic,  racism, and global climate change.  In addition, he has 47 yers of public service and knows how government works and believes n our democratic institutions.  he is pro-choice on abortion but he does not support abortion. He rather supports programs and policies which would help pregnant women so they don’t feel the need to get an abortion.

Now it is your decision. Who has the better pro-life position in keeping with the teaching of the catholic Church?


Thank you for reading the entire essay. Feel free to pass it on. You may be interested in my latest book, Crisis in the Catholic Church: What It Is and a Path to Recovery. It discusses the very deep division in the Church that is caused by the rampant clericalism, which was much of the culture that allowed clergy to sexually abuse children. Another book that may interest you is Being Catholic Becoming Faithful. In this I begin with a long discussion of faith followed by different aspects of Catholicism. Both are in the Faith Journey category on my website


Norbert Bufka has a Master of Pastoral Studies degree and is the author of more than  20 books, nine of which are faith oriented ( 


A Lesson from History

I recently read Mein Kampf by Adolph Hitler which he wrote in 1924.  He had two fundamental beliefs: the first is that the German (Aryan) race is superior to all others and must be preserved in its purity for the world to advance. His second belief was that the Jews were responsible for everything wrong not only in Germany but in the world.

He believed that he as the leader had absolute power and was above the law.  He believed in using propaganda (this includes lies) to convince the masses of his goals.

He demanded absolute loyalty from all around him.  He created a private army to enforce his decisions. An analysis of his talk and actions revealed that he was destructively narcissistic and blamed others for his failures and shortcomings.

George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Be sure to register to vote and then actually vote by mail or in person on November 3. 


This appeared in the Midland Daily News on October 2, 2020 as aletter to the editor.

Save the US Postal System

The Continental Congress in 1775 established a postal system which has been an integral part of our tradition and culture. It is now under serious attack by our President, who does not want it to deliver the millions of mail in ballots this fall.  In other words, he opposes the post office for his own political aims.  In so doing, he is also subverting our electoral system. This is unconscionable.

He must be voted out of office in November along with lal this
republican crosies who wont’ stand up to him.



Vigano’s letter to Trump is not Catholic

I was extremely distressed this morning when I read in NCR that Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former Papal Nuncio to the United States wrote an open letter to Donald Trump. In this letter he said “we have been witnessing the formation of two opposing sides that I would call Biblical: the children of light and the children of darkness.”  He praised Trump for leading the children of light and opposing the children of darkness.

A number of priests and bishops supported Vigano by posting the letter on their parish website or facebook. In at least one case, after a parishioner objected, the priest deleted it.

I am currently reading Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. It is absolutely amazing the similarities between Hitler and Trump. Both werenarcissistic at a pathological level.  Both blamed others for their mistakes and both took credit for things they did not do. Hitler appealed to the German masses because he played on their oppression by the Hapssburgs while Trump appeals to the supremacy of whites. Hitler did whatever he could to promote his agenda. Trump is doing that today.

Vigano supports Trump for his opposition to abortion, but Vigano and others fail to remember that Trump supported abortion until he decided to seek the Presidency. Vigano support Trump because Trump supports religious freedom of Christians. We live in a multi religious country and world. We can no longer think in terms of Christians vs. all the others,but must think in terms of the human family which is made up of many diverse siblings and cousins.



The killing of George Floyd is reprehensible

I am not sure what to write today about the video taped killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, but I feel compelled to say a word of support to my fellow Americans who happen to have a skin color different than mine and the majority of people in this country. Does this fact of minority make them less American? Or less human? Or less important?

The answer to those questions is a resounding “no”, but yet some whites ignore the reality before them or choose to look a different way or just plain deny what they see and know in their hearts of hearts. Without rendering legal opinion nor denying the right of a person to a fair trial, the video clearly indicated a brutal and deliberate killing. What makes it morehoreendous is that four policemen were involved. Policemen are an honorable profession and we need them, but we do not need ones who are so callous as to kill someone who is telling them, “I can’t breathe.”

As a result of this inhuman act, hundreds and thousands of people peacefully protested and are seeking justice, not just for George but for all people of color who have and continue to be mistreated by police and many others in our society.

Yet, our president used the military to clear out the protestors in DC so he could have a photo-op. this was disgraceful and shamefull. The Episcopal bishop of Washington was right to call him out for that. the president has not offered a word of compassion for the senseless killing nor a word of comfort to the family. Yet he was able to tweet denunciation of the looters and violent protestors with law and order slogans .

Jess Sessions, former U. S. Attorney General under Trump said he supported swit justice in all cases but 'We don't need to overreact. politically correct policing' will 'demoralize officers.” So are we to assume that protesting killing a man in the line of duty is just politically correct language? How absurd! I would think that all respectable policeman are demoralized by this very inappropriate behavior of a fellow officer.

Please, let us stand up to the rioters by all means, but let us listen to the cries of the peaceful protestors and not confuse them with the opportunistic rioters who could be from the extreme right or left.



Mail-in voting is necessary


Due to the pandemic we face a challenge in securing the right to vote by every citizen who wants To vote.   The solution is mail in voting and a secure postal system.

Five States already conduct elections entirely by mail: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. In the April 14, 2020 issue of the Atlantic,Priscilla Southwell Wrote in an article „In the Pandemic, Every State Should Vote by Mail” that  the process has been successful and secure. Oregon had only a dozen or so cases of proven fraud out of 100 million ballots since 2000.

Even without a pandemic, many voters face inflexible work schedules or lack adequate transportation to the polls.

The League of Women Voters and Surveys of people across all political persuasions show support for mail in voting.  Vote by mail should be the right of every citizen in every state, and we should let our legislators know that this option should be enacted soon, for every state.

In addition, no mail-in process can work without a functioning US Postal System. Currently the US Postal Service is struggling due to the pandemic. Voters should insist on full support for America’s mail and postal workers.  The time to act is now.



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