Skip to comments.Dolan lauds result of bishop's actions against lawmakers
Posted on 01/25/2004 5:50:30 AM PST by ninenot
Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, a firm supporter of sanctity-of-life teachings and a friend of La Crosse Bishop Raymond L. Burke, is happy that Burke's disciplining of Catholic politicians who support abortion "front-burnered" that issue.
But Dolan, who was installed as archbishop a year and a half ago, is waiting for a task force from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to propose guidelines for bishops this fall before deciding whether he will emulate Burke.
He shared those thoughts - his first public comments on the Burke controversy - in an interview with Journal Sentinel reporter Tom Heinen last week after celebrating a Mass for Life with several hundred people in Gesu Church on the Marquette University campus to mark the 31st anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
Dolan said he had not sent letters to Catholic politicians regarding their position on the abortion issue, nor has he sought them out specifically to bring it up in conversation.
Burke got national attention in December when it became known that he had sent a number of letters to three Catholic Wisconsin politicians, warning that they were endangering their spiritual lives and scandalizing others if they persisted in supporting abortion rights.
He refueled the ensuing national church-state debate on Jan. 8 by publishing a notice telling Catholic politicians - in his diocese - who support abortion and euthanasia not to receive Holy Communion, and ordering his priests not to give it to them if they try.
That prompted the American Life League in Stafford, Va., which Dolan supports, to urge other bishops to follow Burke's unprecedented, broad action in a newspaper ad campaign last Thursday titled "The Way of La Crosse." The group's Crusade for the Defense of Our Catholic Church has targeted a large number of Catholic politicians nationwide for action, including some in the 10-county Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
Burke will be installed Monday as archbishop of St. Louis. Here are excerpts from the interview with Dolan:
Q. You are known for your strong, pro-life stance. What's your position on Bishop Burke's actions?
A. In my book, it's that classical distinction between principle and pastoral practice. And, you know, Bishop Burke and I go way back. I've known him since 1972, and I have tremendous admiration and respect for him. Boy, his intellect, his piety, his wisdom have been a blessing to me.
So, what's come of this, I think, which I'm happy for, is what you might call we front-burnered this issue again. And no matter where you stand on the particular style of what he's done, I think all of us - certainly as bishops, Catholic leaders, people committed to a pro-life cause - are glad that it's front-burnered. And we're saying this is a principle that we can't waffle on. This is a cause that for us is the premier cause of social justice in America today.
(Dolan said Burke's actions had prompted him to examine his own conscience, to see if he had been as "effective" and "cogent" as he should have been in presenting church teaching.)
I know that Bishop Burke himself has said, "I'm not saying every bishop should do it this way." He's said, "This is the way that I prudentially made up my mind as pastor of the Diocese of La Crosse, that I need to do this." And I would respect his pastoral judgment. But I know every bishop's just got to kind of make up his mind prudentially as to the way, the style he's going to do it in his own diocese.
Q. Have you decided how you're handling it?
A. I'm pretty much at peace with the way I've been handling it.
Q. And how is that?
A. I think being very strong in preaching, being very clear in the message, keeping it alive in peoples' minds and hearts. It's rare that I would give a homily that I wouldn't mention the particular pastoral urgency of the pro-life cause.
Q. What's your approach to Catholic politicians, as opposed to more general speaking?
A. I think we've got to be much more vigorous in promoting the pro-life cause with everybody. It bothers me if any politician, Catholic or not, is for abortion. Because in my mind, we're talking about a civil right, we're not talking about a matter of Catholic Church discipline. We can't allow the noble pro-life cause to be reduced to a denominational issue.
Q. You are new in your episcopacy. The U.S. bishops are still formulating guidelines. So, it's in flux. Do you know how you are going to handle individual Catholic politicians?
A. I don't. I can honestly say that. I don't know. I think what the bishops collectively decide, I would take very seriously. But ultimately, it's something I'm going to have to say, how best can I lead, and guide, and form, and challenge my people to live up to all of the demands of the church. And I don't know, to be honest with you. And nor does Bishop Burke. I mean, it took him 10 years and a lot of dialogue and a lot of overtures before he came to that.
(Dolan, a native of St. Louis, who has a doctorate in American church history, added some thoughts about faith and conscience.)
Can you remember back in the early 1960s, in New Orleans, when Archbishop (Joseph) Rummel excommunicated those Catholic politicians and judges who were segregationists? And, of course, he was held up as a hero on every editorial page.
Or in St. Louis. We had the famous Archbishop (Joseph) Ritter, who came after the Second World War, and he announced the integration of the schools. And a lot of people - politicians, prominent business leaders - stood up and said, "This can't be." And he said, "Cease and desist. You're risking the health of your soul, and you're risking the imposition of an ecclesiastical penalty." He's held up as a hero. I mean, every textbook now says what a brave, courageous man.
Q. What about, in a democratic society, the principle of an elected official representing everyone? That's where the rub is.
A. That's where it comes down, doesn't it. That's where the delicacy of the whole issue is, when he says, 'Well, I'm elected but . . . ' That was used, of course, to justify opposition to civil rights. That was used for slavery. That was used for segregation.
You know, we American bishops - again (speaking as) the church historian - I look back to our stance on slavery, and it wasn't a good one. And we look back and say, 'Darn it. We missed an opportunity to be prophetic.'
And I guess that's something we bishops have to ask ourselves now. Are we missing an opportunity to be prophetic?
Indeed. Let's hope the power of the Holy Spirit continues this offensive against the organized evil and pseudo-medical barbarism of the culture of death. It is time for the heroes of the Church to come forward.
The correct interpretation of "social justice" and not what those kooky nuns have been moralizing about for 30 odd years.
Not quite sure I liked the statement about waiting on what the USCCB decides... is some wacky no named "ad hoc" subcommittee going to decide how to handle something that is best left to each individual bishop? Part of the problem with the USCCB is that it stifles bishops like Burke (kind of hogties them) although on the other hand that's true for bishops like Mahony and Weakland too.
Bishop O'Malley out of Boston is starting to come alive on this issue as well. Praise God!
I agree... Boston has recently completed the settlement and this week O'Malley sez:
Boston Archbishop Says Pro-Abortion Politicians "Shouldn't Dare Come to Communion"
WASHINGTON, DC, January 23, 2004 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In an interview with LifeSiteNews.com following the Vigil for Life Mass in Washington Wednesday, Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley expressed his great desire for a renewal of faith among Catholics. Asked about the problem of Catholic politicians promoting abortion, the Archbishop noted that the problem "is not only politicians but those (Catholics) who vote for them." He stressed repeatedly the "great need for adult catechesis among our people."
"These politicians should know that if they're not voting correctly on these life issues that they shouldn't dare come to communion," the Archbishop told LifeSiteNews.com.
Archbishop O'Malley noted that beyond pro-abortion politicians, that reception of Holy Communion by those not in a state of grace is sadly commonplace. "I think it's in the context of a greater problem - Catholics feel that everyone is entitled to go to communion all the time. That has to be addressed. You know if a (pro-abortion) politician asked me I would say you shouldn't go to communion, I wouldn't go to communion. They don't understand why." He explained, "At a funeral sometimes they will announce that communion is for Catholics and people get all offended, so we've lost the notion of the sacredness of communion and the kind of disposition we need to have."
Aside from his stressing the "great need" for adult catechesis, the Boston Archbishop said the solution lies in holiness. Catholics must "be willing to live their faith heroically, the testimony of holiness is the only thing that's going to be able to convince people. Mother Teresa could speak about life issues in a way, because of the ethos of her life, that was much more powerful than the most eloquent preacher or teacher. We have to live our faith very deeply in order to draw people."
Rembert Weakland lives on in the hearts of his minions.
Every rosary I say is for the Church and the bishops in particular. They have a herculean task ahead of them, some more than others.
Notice that the media is focusing on the orthodox bishops and not the liberal ones? They know the mavericks.
You could add Hughes in there as well. Plus he was pretty impressive in his verbal distain for the catechism books in our Catholic high schools. The bishop from Fall River - George Coleman - he's pretty good too.
I think the laity is driving the abortion issue - you can't ignore tens of thousands of people who brave the cold and uncomfortable transportation/sleeping accomodations who are there in Washington as tangible evidence that there are many Catholics who oppose the culture of death (Terri Schiavo is another good example) - it forces the bishops to act. Another tip of the stocking hat to Mother Angelica and the good people at EWTN for providing full (and therefore honest) coverage of this event.
Just more hot air. Why did O'Malley not only invite John Kerry and Ted Kennedy to his installation Mass, but passively watch John Kerry receive Holy Communion at that same Mass?
O'Malley has no more of a spine than Dolan does; all talk, no action.
Things didn't get broken overnight and they won't be fixed overnight, however much we wish they would be.
So you admit things are broken?
As I said, it sounded as if Coyne was speaking for himself; he doesn't want to rock the boat, upset the apple cart, whatever. He's not very honest. (Remember, when they decided to close St. Augustine's school -- a very poor parish -- Coyne said for public consumption that it had been the pastor's decision, conveniently omitting to say that the archdiocese had cut something like $100,000 from St. Augustine's annual grant.)
I didn't see the story in post #8 anywhere, but there was a headline in Friday's Herald about O'Malley praising pro-life politicians (prominently displayed midway down page 18, of course):
Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley yesterday praised lawmakers who oppose legalized abortion in the face of political opposition.
"I think we need to call all Catholics and all Americans to see the importance of this issue," O'Malley said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C., after taking part in is 31st consecutive "March for Life."
"Obviously politicians are going to act independently," he said. "But we hope that they will follow their conscience and inform their conscience correctly on these issues.
"I think that some politicians start off as being pro-life and sort of lose their nerve, as it were," he said. "On the other hand, I think politicians who are faithful to their ideals and their convictions about the sacredness of life give a very special witness."
Politicians who used to be pro-life, hmm, there's Kennedy, Gephardt, Daschle . . . . There must be more; it seems any Dem who wants a role in the national party has to toe the line here.
I view that as one of the highest compliments I've ever received on this forum.