The bishops have a DUTY to publicly rebuke politicians who seriously violate the teachings of the Church. That doesn't mean that a bishop can instruct a politician how to vote. Most issues are prudential, and a bishop be sure which way to vote any more than anyone else. Buton some supremely important issues he can and should tell a politician that he has a choice whether or not to remain in the Church. He can vote as he thinks best, but if he votes completely contrary to Church teaching he is no longer a Catholic in communion with his Church.
As it happens, "procuring an abortion" results in automatic excommunication, according to current Papal teaching. A Catholic politician like Kennedy who regularly votes in ways that result in the killing of babies will presumably end up in hell unless he repents before dying. And it's not a good idea to say, "Well, I'll do anything I like and then repent just before I die," because few people other than condemned criminals know exactly when they will die.
By publicly excommunicating Kennedy, the Archbishop of Boston would only be making public what Kennedy has already done to himself. In fact, it would be much more charitable to Kennedy to chastise him publicly than to let him go on as he is now. Public excommunication might constitute a wakeup call that would finally get Kennedy to think about repenting his ways.
The same goes for many other nominally Catholic politicians.
posted on 11/30/2003 3:54:57 PM PST
".... unless he repents before dying..."
That's antimonianist belief, not Catholic doctrine at all.
There really isn't any chance at all for Kennedy to "truly repent" anyway. His soul is already fully in the grasp of Satan, and that's just the way Ted likes it!
posted on 11/30/2003 4:25:34 PM PST
"Well, I'll do anything I like and then repent just before I die," because few people other than condemned criminals know exactly when they will die.
Of course not. That's why you have Purgatory.
posted on 11/30/2003 5:10:27 PM PST
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