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Bishop cites "national impact" of denying politicians Communion
Catholic News Service ^ | August 18, 2005 | Jerry Filteau

Posted on 08/18/2005 2:23:50 PM PDT by NYer

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Anytime a local bishop denies Communion to a politician because of his stand on abortion, the decision can have "national ramifications," Bishop Donald W. Wuerl of Pittsburgh said in a statement exploring ways the U.S. bishops could reach a more united approach to such decisions.

"There must be some way in which the bishops can establish a process, mechanism or procedure" for appropriate national consistency, he said.

"Given the mobility of the population and the ubiquity and influence of the means of social communications," he said, "actions taken by one bishop within a diocese can have immediate national impact and affect the bishops of the rest of the dioceses throughout the country, especially neighboring dioceses which share the same media market."

Bishop Wuerl released his 2,800-word statement to Catholic News Service in Washington in mid-August. He said the issue was highlighted "in last year's election and the controversy surrounding (Democratic presidential candidate) Sen. John Kerry," a Catholic who has consistently opposed legal restrictions on abortion.

Each bishop has the proper power and responsibility for pastoral ministry and church order in his own diocese, Bishop Wuerl noted. But he stressed that, in the words of the Second Vatican Council, "All the bishops, in fact, have a duty to promote and defend the unity of faith and discipline common to the whole church."

Commenting on that passage, he said, "There are often specific issues of a doctrinal and moral nature which are current in a territory that, because of the nature of the subject and the wide spectrum of peoples and circumstances that will be affected, necessitate a greater cooperation among the bishops of a given territory."

In January 2003 the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said Catholics in public life have a grave obligation to oppose legislation that contradicts fundamental moral principles such as the evil of abortion and euthanasia.

That fall the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops formed a task force to study how U.S. bishops should deal with such politicians.

The task force, headed by Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, originally was not to report back to the bishops until mid-November of 2004, after the presidential election was over.

Controversy over the Kerry candidacy forced the issue, however. Partisans on one side berated bishops who would not deny Communion to Kerry or similar politicians as cowardly. Partisans on the other side accused bishops who would do so of crossing church-state lines or politicizing the Eucharist.

It became national news each weekend whether Kerry attended Mass and received Communion. Reporters across the country began pressing bishops for what they would do about giving Communion to Kerry or other Catholic politicians with similar positions.

The McCarrick task force gave an extensive interim report to the bishops in June and the bishops issued a statement warning politicians who act "consistently to support abortion on demand" that they risk "cooperating in evil and sinning against the common good."

The statement went on to say, however, that "given the wide range of circumstances involved in arriving at a prudential judgment" in each case, decisions concerning the fitness of a particular person to receive Communion "rest with the individual bishop."

Bishop Wuerl described the importance of bishops' conferences in promoting the unity of bishops among themselves and with the pope and fostering collaboration and collegial planning and decision-making among the bishops. But he said that in light of church teaching and law on the responsibilities of diocesan bishops and the limits on the authority of bishops' conferences, the conference "does not act as a substitute for the diocesan bishop, but, rather, as a help to him."

Since "there are always going to be national ramifications" to any individual bishop's way of handling the abortion-and-politicians issue, however, "one may understand the benefit of consultation among the bishops of the episcopal conference for a more effective unity in handling such a matter," he said.

He proposed two possible ways for the bishops' conference to find "a practical pastoral manner to express the collegial spirit that is to be the hallmark of episcopal pastoral ministry."

"One such approach would be an actual mechanism of the conference to facilitate some consensus and unified pastoral practice," he said. "Another approach, which would be less formal but perhaps more effective, would be the commitment on the part of all the bishops to discuss beforehand, through some conference structure, decisions that will impact all of the bishops and the church as a whole."

He said a formal mechanism of review by the conference before barring a politician from Communion would require either a two-thirds vote of the bishops and a mandate from the Vatican or a completely unanimous decision by the bishops.

The less formal approach would require all bishops to agree not to make such decisions without prior consultation through procedures agreed by the conference. "The advantage of the second option is found in its ability both to recognize the responsibility of the individual bishop within his diocese and also to provide a context for the communal exercise of that episcopal responsibility," Bishop Wuerl wrote.


TOPICS: Activism; Catholic; Current Events; General Discusssion; Ministry/Outreach; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: cino; communion; kerry; politics; wuerl
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1 posted on 08/18/2005 2:23:56 PM PDT by NYer
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To: american colleen; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; ...


2 posted on 08/18/2005 2:25:32 PM PDT by NYer ("Each person is meant to exist. Each person is God's own idea." - Pope Benedict XVI)
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To: american colleen; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; ...


3 posted on 08/18/2005 2:25:59 PM PDT by NYer ("Each person is meant to exist. Each person is God's own idea." - Pope Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer

**Bishop cites "national impact" of denying politicians Communion **

Haven't read the article, but I chuckled at the headline. Good heavens, I would certainly hope there would be a "national impact" with many more babies living and not being aborted! Politicians will need to listen.

(Now, I'll read the article.) LOL!


4 posted on 08/18/2005 2:26:45 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer

&&"One such approach would be an actual mechanism of the conference to facilitate some consensus and unified pastoral practice," he said.

"Another approach, which would be less formal but perhaps more effective, would be the commitment on the part of all the bishops to discuss beforehand, through some conference structure, decisions that will impact all of the bishops and the church as a whole."**

Which ever approach they take may the bishops grow spines of iron!


5 posted on 08/18/2005 2:29:30 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer
>> "There must be some way in which the bishops can establish a process, mechanism or procedure" for appropriate national consistency, he said.

It has existed for centuries, it is:

excommunication

n 1: the state of being excommunicated [syn: exclusion, censure] 2: the act of banishing a member of the Church from the communion of believers and the privileges of the Church; cutting a person off from a religious society [syn: excision]


Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University
6 posted on 08/18/2005 2:34:49 PM PDT by mmercier (for such there is no home, no refuge anywhere)
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To: NYer
I've got a great idea. How 'bout they listen to the Holy Father in Rome and cut the RINO's off.....
7 posted on 08/18/2005 2:36:30 PM PDT by WilliamWallace1999
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To: NYer
Bishop Wuerl's hope for a solution is illusory.

A few of the bishops are true shepherds of the Catholic faith, with the concomitant courage to stand squarely for the faith.

When the chips of the faith are down, these 2 groups will never unite.
8 posted on 08/18/2005 2:46:21 PM PDT by jobim
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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

To: NYer

>>>>He said a formal mechanism of review by the conference before barring a politician from Communion would require either a two-thirds vote of the bishops and a mandate from the Vatican or a completely unanimous decision by the bishops.

Bishop Hurl referred to this proceedure as the "no politician left behind" measure, as it would ensure that no bishop anywhere could ever deny communion to anyone.

patent


10 posted on 08/18/2005 2:48:32 PM PDT by patent (A baby is God's opinion that life should go on. Carl Sandburg)
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To: NYer
Sorry for this double post. Wrong html kept my middle paragraph out.

Bishop Wuerl's hope for a solution is illusory.

A few of the bishops are true shepherds of the Catholic faith, with the concomitant courage to stand squarely for the faith.

Many more bishops are Woolsey-ite bureaucrats, who either don't accept the teachings of the faith, or who are unwilling to suffer secular chastisement for standing firm for the faith.

When the chips of the faith are down, these 2 groups will never unite.
11 posted on 08/18/2005 2:48:46 PM PDT by jobim
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To: NYer; Romulus; eastsider; Maeve; sandyeggo; sockmonkey; patent; Desdemona
Bishop Wuerl makes me want to hurl.

Could it be that he really thinks we are all such dumbed down idiots? Yes, why of course he does. His contempt for the laity has been as consistent as his contempt fot the Magisterium and his contempt for the occupant of the Chair of St. Peter.

I think it is time for some of us, citing Christifideles laici to issue counter statements to this 'garbagy' nonsense from the USCCB.

Remonstrations R Us.

12 posted on 08/18/2005 3:02:00 PM PDT by Siobhan ("Whenever you come to save Rome, make all the noise you want." -- Pius XII)
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To: Siobhan
The McCarrick task force gave an extensive interim report to the bishops in June ...
Extensive interim report!!?? What alternate universe does Catholic News Service live in? Cardinal McCarrick totally misrepresented the instructions from then-Cardinal Ratzinger.
13 posted on 08/18/2005 3:09:48 PM PDT by eastsider
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To: eastsider

Repeat a lie often enough...


14 posted on 08/18/2005 3:10:48 PM PDT by Siobhan ("Whenever you come to save Rome, make all the noise you want." -- Pius XII)
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To: NYer

What the Bishop is proposing, it would appear, is a set of mechanisms to insure that the chance of *any* politician actually being denied communion is slim to none. From the article:

"One such approach would be an actual mechanism of the conference to facilitate some consensus and unified pastoral practice," he said. "Another approach, which would be less formal but perhaps more effective, would be the commitment on the part of all the bishops to discuss beforehand, through some conference structure, decisions that will impact all of the bishops and the church as a whole."

"He said a formal mechanism of review by the conference before barring a politician from Communion would require either a two-thirds vote of the bishops and a mandate from the Vatican or a completely unanimous decision by the bishops."

To translate. If I read this correctly, one alternative is to make sure that before any politician is actually denied communion, a Bishop or group of Bishops would have to secure a 2/3 majority of Bishops (presumably the USCCB) before acting.

Given the current cast of luminaries on the USCCB, what do you think the chances are of getting a majority, let alone a supermajority? About the same chance of winning the Powerball lottery perhaps?

The other alternative is not much better. To quote the article: "The less formal approach would require all bishops to agree not to make such decisions without prior consultation through procedures agreed by the conference."

OK. The USCCB meets I believe twice per year. I can see how this "procedure" is going to work. Proposed denial of communion would have to be presented at conference number one. There would probably be a delay of action until the offending politician had a chance to respond. So we're at conference number 2. There would of course be a time of deliberation, so it would probably stretch to conference number 3. Those of you counting months will note that any action under this scenario wouldn't be taken until 12 if not 18 months after the fact. And election cycles last how long in the U.S.? A few months perhaps?

Appropriate national consistency? No. What this set of proposals looks to be is a way to insure that NO pro-abortion politician will ever actually be denied communion in the U.S. This sudden concern for "consistency" is a sham I fear.

And you know what, it won't just be the more liberal Roman Catholic Bishops imposing their lack of intestinal fortitude solely upon their Roman Catholic bretheren. It will be the liberal Bishops imposing this on ALL Catholic Bishops in the U.S., given that the USCCB includes the eastern churches as well.


15 posted on 08/18/2005 3:11:46 PM PDT by RKBA Democrat (Eastern Catholics out of the USCCB! USCCB out of the Eastern Catholic churches!)
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To: seamole

**So what will happen to Jesus while they're consulting?**

Excellent question.............Profaning the Blessed Sacrament for instance................


16 posted on 08/18/2005 3:14:43 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer
for the communal exercise of that episcopal responsibility," Bishop Wuerl wrote.

Surely Wuerl and the minions don't mean the communal exercise of that episcopal responsibility in communion with the Pope -- without which communal in Wuerl's statement is just empty, Episcopalian claptrap.

17 posted on 08/18/2005 3:21:45 PM PDT by Siobhan ("Whenever you come to save Rome, make all the noise you want." -- Pius XII)
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To: RKBA Democrat
I see that you understand completely what the good bishop is trying to do. We must rein in those independent minded bishops, mustn't we?

BTW, can the Western Catholics join you in leaving the USCCB?

18 posted on 08/18/2005 3:27:54 PM PDT by Petrosius
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To: NYer

Change must come from the grassroots and it will happen, like anything positive in American Catholicism, over the heads of the bishops.

The score form the last US bishop conference when the pro-death "Catholic" politicians were discussed was something like 7 honest bishops out of 200. So it is clear who this plea for unity designed to help.

When lay Catholics get tired of the Eucharist being profaned, things will change.


19 posted on 08/18/2005 3:40:58 PM PDT by annalex
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To: Petrosius

"BTW, can the Western Catholics join you in leaving the USCCB?"

Sure. But please be sure and leave the canon lawyers and radical feminists behind if you would.


20 posted on 08/18/2005 3:42:19 PM PDT by RKBA Democrat (Eastern Catholics out of the USCCB! USCCB out of the Eastern Catholic churches!)
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To: RKBA Democrat
Sure. But please be sure and leave the canon lawyers and radical feminists behind if you would.

And I was hoping to have a good old fashioned Auto de Fe.

21 posted on 08/18/2005 3:45:10 PM PDT by Petrosius
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To: annalex

"When lay Catholics get tired of the Eucharist being profaned, things will change."

I must respectfully disagree. Things will change when enough Catholics vote with their feet and their pocketbooks. The problems in the Catholic church are primarily in the institutional churches, not with the community in worship.

I just hope that when Catholics do choose to vote with their feet and pocketbooks, that they'll choose to treat themselves to a nice, long vacation on the eastern shore of the Tiber.


22 posted on 08/18/2005 3:51:19 PM PDT by RKBA Democrat (Eastern Catholics out of the USCCB! USCCB out of the Eastern Catholic churches!)
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To: Petrosius

"And I was hoping to have a good old fashioned Auto de Fe."

Naaah. Not an eastern tradition.


23 posted on 08/18/2005 3:57:31 PM PDT by RKBA Democrat (Eastern Catholics out of the USCCB! USCCB out of the Eastern Catholic churches!)
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To: RKBA Democrat

If all serious Catholics left the Latin Rite, the Latin Rite will be a playground for fake Catholics like the Kennedys. That will help the Eastern Rites to gain prominence in the West, but it will exacerbate the problems in the Latin Catholicism.

The necessary voting with feet and pocketbooks is already happening and it will continue. This is the outflow away from liberal parishes toward parishes that treat Catholicism seriously. One does not need to switch rites to do that. One does not even have to look for an indult traditional parish, although that is a big part of the message. This is America, folks. We got cars. Find a parish that does not insult your religion. The bishops will get the message.


24 posted on 08/18/2005 4:01:15 PM PDT by annalex
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To: Petrosius

One immense merit of the Holy Inquisition is that it works over the heads of the heterodox bishops.


25 posted on 08/18/2005 4:02:17 PM PDT by annalex
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To: NYer
Well, they could also form a committee which would appoint a task force to study the multi variant relevance and implications concerning a second task force to study the situation and interject advice about writing an initial report by a subcommittee which could then....
26 posted on 08/18/2005 4:42:27 PM PDT by TotusTuus
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To: annalex
The thing that sticks in my head is that every one of these pro-abortion Catholic politicians is a spiritual son or daughter of the Bishop -- a spiritual son or daughter in Christ WHOSE SOUL IS IN MORTAL DANGER. Have these Bishops any love in their hearts? Have they no manly sense of responsibility for the souls entrusted to their care?

This let's-get-a-consensus-of-the-USCCB stuff is a contemptible and cowardly strategem. Where is the zeal for souls? Where is the love?

Where is the Bishop who will pick up a phone, call John Kerry (or-- insert name here) and say,

"Listen, you and I need to have a serious talk about some very grave spiritualp and moral matters. I'm here to help you form your conscience in conformity with the mind of Christ.

Canon 915 of the Catholic Church's Code of Canon Law states:

Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or the declaration of a penalty as well as others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to communion.

You are in danger of being barred from Holy Communion. As your spiritual father, I am telling you under holy obedience that you must not receive Holy Communion until you and I have a serious confidential conference about your spiritual and moral state."

So, should I print this off and send it to my bishop?

27 posted on 08/18/2005 5:03:16 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (No mas.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o
should I print this off and send it to my bishop?

I think, catechizing the bishops is our major responsibility.

28 posted on 08/18/2005 5:34:22 PM PDT by annalex
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To: NYer
especially neighboring dioceses which share the same media market."

Parishioners see one bishop doing his job, all of a sudden they're gonna expect other bishops to do theirs. Lord knows what would happen then!

29 posted on 08/18/2005 6:08:27 PM PDT by JohnnyZ ("I believe abortion should be safe and legal in this country." -- Mitt Romney)
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To: Petrosius
We must rein in those independent minded bishops, mustn't we?

It is my understanding that a process like Wuerl is proposing is directly contrary to the duties and responsibilities of the individual bishops. As in, they can't legitimately agree to something like that, putting their pastoral duties up for a vote of the national conference.

It's something that would have to be accepted unanimously and voluntarily if at all.

In short, it's bizarre.

30 posted on 08/18/2005 6:19:19 PM PDT by JohnnyZ ("I believe abortion should be safe and legal in this country." -- Mitt Romney)
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To: NYer; annalex

Matthew 18: 5-9:

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come!

If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into eternal fire.

And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into fiery Gehenna."

Wonder what part of this text from Matthew the good Bishop does not understand? I don't see any allusions to a Roper poll.

Frank


31 posted on 08/18/2005 6:27:00 PM PDT by Frank Sheed ("Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions." ~GK Chesterton.)
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To: Frank Sheed
Wonder what part of this text from Matthew the good Bishop does not understand? I don't see any allusions to a Roper poll.

Thank you for posting those passages from Matthew. Here's one that should be added to the list ....

"To whom much has been given, much is expected".

32 posted on 08/18/2005 6:49:25 PM PDT by NYer ("Each person is meant to exist. Each person is God's own idea." - Pope Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer

Bisho Wuerl is a committed Democrat.


33 posted on 08/18/2005 7:37:27 PM PDT by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: RKBA Democrat
To translate. If I read this correctly, one alternative is to make sure that before any politician is actually denied communion, a Bishop or group of Bishops would have to secure a 2/3 majority of Bishops (presumably the USCCB) before acting.

You're misreading it. This idea would be the setup of a legally binding mechanism - which would bind all the bishops of the United States. The law setting this mechanism up would require a 2/3 vote - he's not referring to the mechanism itself.

34 posted on 08/18/2005 7:59:56 PM PDT by gbcdoj (Let us ask the Lord with tears, that according to his will so he would shew his mercy to us Jud 8:17)
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To: 2ndMostConservativeBrdMember; afraidfortherepublic; Alas; al_c; american colleen; annalex; ...


35 posted on 08/18/2005 10:33:06 PM PDT by Coleus (Roe v. Wade and Endangered Species Act both passed in 1973, Murder Babies/save trees, birds, algae)
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To: gbcdoj
The law setting this mechanism up would require a 2/3 vote

AND a mandate from the Vatican. Fat chance of that!

36 posted on 08/19/2005 6:40:57 AM PDT by JohnnyZ ("I believe abortion should be safe and legal in this country." -- Mitt Romney)
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To: gbcdoj

The USCCB doesn't have the canonical authority to set up a legally binding mechanism --- does it?


37 posted on 08/19/2005 6:50:50 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (No mas.)
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To: NYer

Bp. Wuerl needs to:

1) Read the Canon Law. The individual Bishops are the ONLY ones empowered to rule in their Dioceses--and are REQUIRED to rule therein.

2) Spend a few days on retreat, preferably in a testosterone-enhancing environment. Basic Combat Training comes to mind.


38 posted on 08/19/2005 7:05:13 AM PDT by ninenot (Minister of Membership, Tomas Torquemada Gentlemen's Club)
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To: Petrosius; BlackElk; Hermann the Cherusker

You called???


39 posted on 08/19/2005 7:07:44 AM PDT by ninenot (Minister of Membership, Tomas Torquemada Gentlemen's Club)
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To: Mrs. Don-o
Can. 455 §1 The Episcopal Conference can make general decrees only in cases where the universal law has so prescribed, or by special mandate of the Apostolic See, either on its own initiative or at the request of the Conference itself.

§2 For the decrees mentioned in §1 validly to be enacted at a plenary meeting, they must receive two thirds of the votes of those who belong to the Conference with a deliberative vote. These decrees do not oblige until they have been reviewed by the Apostolic See and lawfully promulgated.


40 posted on 08/19/2005 7:09:04 AM PDT by gbcdoj (Let us ask the Lord with tears, that according to his will so he would shew his mercy to us Jud 8:17)
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To: NYer

I think the Reader's Digest version of this article is that this Bishop wants to bury this issue in committee rather than follow the Holy Father's direct instructions.


41 posted on 08/19/2005 7:09:37 AM PDT by kidd
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To: annalex
One immense merit of the Holy Inquisition is that it works over the heads of the heterodox bishops.

Sometimes it's because those heads have become irremediably separated from the REST of the heterodox--Bishop or otherwise.

42 posted on 08/19/2005 7:09:54 AM PDT by ninenot (Minister of Membership, Tomas Torquemada Gentlemen's Club)
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To: eastsider; Siobhan; Salvation
Y'all are right about McCarrick's letter. Here's some background, in case anyone else has forgotten.

"Bishops at a Turning Point" (Fr. Richard John Neuhaus)

*********************************
A Beleaguered Cardinal

After the speeches by Cardinal Keeler and Archbishop Levada, Cardinal McCarrick spoke to the assembly. It had become obvious that the bishops were not prepared to wait until after the elections for his task-force report. The question, which had in prior weeks and months become publicly entangled with the John Kerry campaign, had to be addressed now and addressed clearly. McCarrick told the bishops that "the battles for human life and dignity and for the weak and vulnerable should be fought not at the communion rail but in the public square." (One conservative wag indicated his surprise and pleasure that there are still communion rails in Washington.) McCarrick declared that, while "life comes first," there are other issues that "demand our attention and action as well," such as "faith and family, education and work, housing and health care." He continued, "We must not allow ourselves to become used in partisan politics either by those who dispute our teaching on life and dignity or those who reduce our teaching to a particular issue or partisan cause." The reference to "our" teaching—as distinct from the teaching of moral reason, natural law, and the Church’s magisterium—struck an odd note. As did the suggestion that those who concentrate on protecting the unborn are somehow "reducing" the Church’s teaching to a partisan cause, while pro-abortion Catholics are innocent of partisan politics.

The unhappy and beleaguered Cardinal went on in this vein, bringing to mind familiar liberal abuses of the metaphor of a "seamless garment" of moral urgencies. "The fundamental issue is human life and dignity," he asserted, "which is threatened in so many ways—preeminently by abortion, but also by euthanasia, cloning, widespread hunger and lack of health care, by war and violence, and by crime and the death penalty." The list can be readily extended in emptying "preeminently" of preeminence. "Our task is not winning elections," he said, but, with an eye to elections, he noted that attempts to impose penalties on Catholic politicians "have often been counterproductive." Things took an interesting twist when he told the bishops that he had been in contact with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, by letter and telephone. "He has offered some observations for our work," Cardinal McCarrick said, "which he specifically asked not to be published, but which I wish to share with you." According to McCarrick, the burden of Ratzinger’s message was that he has complete confidence that the American bishops know best how to deal with these questions, that the proper approach is one of dialogue and persuasion, not discipline, and that, not to put too fine a point on it, Cardinal Ratzinger agrees with Cardinal McCarrick. He did allow that Ratzinger recognizes that, "as in the case of a person in an invalid marriage, there are circumstances in which Holy Communion may be denied."

The Ratzinger letter and how McCarrick used it is the subject of lively discussion. No bishop wanted to say that McCarrick "misrepresented" Ratzinger’s message but, as one put it, "The charitable thing to say is that he did not tell us the whole truth." It appears, although it is not certain, that the letter was sent only to McCarrick and the papal nuncio, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, who was, of course, present at the meeting. At least a few bishops, however, were apprised of the full text and were less than pleased with McCarrick’s presentation of what Ratzinger had to say. When the full text was later made public, first in an Italian newspaper, McCarrick suggested to the press that there were other communications with Ratzinger that put the letter in context, justifying the interpretation he had offered the bishops. Back at the June meeting, the bishops had, despite McCarrick’s resistance, made up their minds. There needed to be a clear and firm statement that unmistakably underscored the utterly distinctive status of abortion and euthanasia in Catholic teaching, and that approved, but did not mandate, specific pastoral approaches, including the denial of Communion to the obdurate.

The drafting of the statement was assigned to Cardinal McCarrick’s task force, but not before the bishops took the precaution of adding Cardinal George and Archbishop Chaput to the drafting team. McCarrick was manifestly unhappy with the turn of events, but the others stitched together a statement that, while hardly seamless, managed to take into account appropriate cautions while affirming an assertive course in dealing with offending public figures, including the denial of Communion when other measures have failed. One can only speculate on how the statement would have been different had Cardinal McCarrick more accurately communicated Cardinal Ratzinger’s message.

Striking Differences

The Ratzinger letter speaks decisively to those who misleadingly weave a "seamless garment" of Catholic concerns:

Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not with regard to abortion and euthanasia. . . .

Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation [i.e. knowing, free, and deliberate cooperation] becomes manifest (understood in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist [emphasis added].

Citing an earlier statement of the Holy See, Cardinal Ratzinger continues:

When "these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible," and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, "the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it." This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin [emphasis added].

In view of the striking differences between Ratzinger’s letter and what he had told the bishops on June 15, Cardinal McCarrick was in an awkward position. He did later elicit and make public a letter from Ratzinger, dated July 9, referring not to McCarrick’s position but to the statement actually adopted by the bishops. "That statement is very much in harmony with the general principles" set forth in his earlier letter which, writes Ratzinger, was "sent as a fraternal service—to clarify the doctrine of the Church on this specific issue—in order to assist the American bishops in their related discussion and determinations." This is a classic instance of observing what in the Vatican is called bella figura—in this case, reproaching by subtle indirection. How could Ratzinger’s earlier letter have assisted the bishops in their discussion and deliberations if it was not shared with them? Which is precisely what McCarrick did not do and claimed he was instructed not to do. There is also a nicety in the phrase "very much in harmony." If I ask whether you agree with something I have said, you might answer, "Yes, very much." Or you might answer, "Well, very much"—meaning to a large extent—and then you might go on to qualify that by referring to agreement in "general principles."

In fact, there are obvious differences between the bishops’ statement, "Catholics in Political Life," and Cardinal Ratzinger’s articulation of "the doctrine of the Church on this specific issue." Most notably, what is optional in the former is mandated in the latter. Nonetheless, the June statement is to be welcomed. It acknowledged the worries of the timid while affirming the course decided upon by the likes of Archbishop Burke and Archbishop Myers and emboldening others to follow their example. There is every reason to believe that the statement would have been more firm and coherent if, as Cardinal Ratzinger intended, the bishops had had the benefit of his letter. As several have pointed out, the connection between Communion and communio, which is addressed by the statement, involves much more than the current and necessary concern about errant Catholic politicians. In recent decades the practice has become widespread that everyone attending Mass receives Communion. The consistent Catholic teaching, however, is that only those who are in a state of grace and are rightly disposed spiritually should receive. Practice to the contrary has resulted in, among other things, a dramatic decline in recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a decline approaching desuetude in some parts of the Church. It is hoped that the clarification precipitated by the controversy about Catholic politicians might turn into a "teaching moment" with respect to the sacramental order of Catholic Christianity.

And so one may see the June meeting as a possible turning point in the leadership of the American bishops. As Cardinal George has underscored, it is not a turn against the bishops conference but a turn toward reconceptualizing the purpose of the conference and its supporting institution, the USCCB. The key to the turning is the readiness of bishops to be the teachers and shepherds they are ordained to be. After a few more meetings like that of Denver, there may be substantial reason to believe that a new generation of bishops is prepared to lead.

43 posted on 08/19/2005 8:16:48 AM PDT by bourbon (It's the target that decides whether terror wins.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Post #43 was for you too, but I left your name out of the To: line. Sorry.


44 posted on 08/19/2005 8:18:36 AM PDT by bourbon (It's the target that decides whether terror wins.)
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To: Siobhan; ninenot; sittnick; onyx; Salvation; ArrogantBustard; Tax-chick

Siobhan: "Remonstrations R Us." Very nice! Good for you!!!!


45 posted on 08/19/2005 10:40:00 AM PDT by BlackElk (Dean of Discipline of the Tomas de Torquemada Gentlemen's Club)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

No the USCCB does not have canonical authority to do that.


46 posted on 08/19/2005 12:35:16 PM PDT by Siobhan ("Whenever you come to save Rome, make all the noise you want." -- Pius XII)
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To: kidd

"I think the Reader's Digest version of this article is that this Bishop wants to bury this issue in committee rather than follow the Holy Father's direct instructions."

Bingo!


47 posted on 08/19/2005 2:48:42 PM PDT by RKBA Democrat (Eastern Catholics out of the USCCB! USCCB out of the Eastern Catholic churches!)
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To: annalex; NYer

First of all, thanks for the thought provoking post. I wanted to think about this for a bit before responding.

I agree with you in part and respectfully disagree with you in another.

From your post: "If all serious Catholics left the Latin Rite, the Latin Rite will be a playground for fake Catholics like the Kennedys."

I respectfully disagree. Faux Catholics are attracted to the institutional church. The pretty buildings, the treasure, the money, the power, the votes. If those things go away, most of the "sunshine Catholics" and other hangers-on will leave. If you'll forgive the biological analogy, parasitism assumes a host.

"That will help the Eastern Rites to gain prominence in the West, but it will exacerbate the problems in the Latin Catholicism."

I think you're misunderstanding my point of view on the eastern and western churches. As if you couldn't tell, I'm clearly in the eastern Catholic camp. Zeal of the converted and all, dontchaknow.

Anyhow, I'm not advocating and would not favor a wholesale exodus of latin rite Catholics to the eastern churches. For a couple of reasons. First, the selfish reason: I think the problems that the latin rite church is experiencing would follow into the eastern churches in short order. Second, as I learn more about eastern Catholicism and the underlying philosophies it becomes more and more clear to me that eastern Catholicism is very, well, eastern in mindset. Frankly, I don't think it's for all or even most latin rite Catholics.

So while I would love to see more latin rite Catholics take a liturgical "vacation" and visit us in the eastern Catholic churches and perhaps develop an appreciation for the liturgical treasures in their own midst, I don't believe that "heading east" is the answer for a lot of devout yet frustrated latin rite Catholics.


48 posted on 08/19/2005 3:07:36 PM PDT by RKBA Democrat (Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy)
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To: RKBA Democrat

Ah, OK. I indeed misunderstood your call to swim to the Eastern bank.

Regarding fake Catholics, they are two groups. We mostly think of the Kerrys and the Kennedys, but the bulk of them are very liberal rank-and-file. They are big on social causes, which they interpret in a leftist way, relaxed liturgical ways, women ordination, they are lukewarm if not hostile to pro-life movement, -- you know the type. They are not attracted to the institutional church. Those are the types to whom the Latin rite parishes will be ceded if the orthodox Catholics went East. Those parishes then will be happy to commune with the Kerrys.

But I agree, not many will actually switch rites, so it is a moot point.


49 posted on 08/19/2005 3:31:16 PM PDT by annalex
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To: RKBA Democrat; annalex
as I learn more about eastern Catholicism and the underlying philosophies it becomes more and more clear to me that eastern Catholicism is very, well, eastern in mindset. Frankly, I don't think it's for all or even most latin rite Catholics.

Agreed. One is either drawn into the depth and reverence of these liturgies, embracing its historicity or is left to ponder the experience. For Roman Catholics who complain that 45 minutes is too long for a Mass, the Eastern Churches would really eat into their "tee off" time.

I would love to see more latin rite Catholics take a liturgical "vacation" and visit us in the eastern Catholic churches and perhaps develop an appreciation for the liturgical treasures in their own midst, I don't believe that "heading east" is the answer for a lot of devout yet frustrated latin rite Catholics.

This is where one goes when they seek a deeper liturgical experience, through which to intensify their relationship with Christ. It's worth the visit ... in fact, it's worth 3 visits. Over the next decade, I tend to believe the Eastern Churches will blossom in the West. They do not seek to 'evangelize' other catholics. But as RKBA Democrat pointed out, all Latin Rite catholics should make an effort to experience the different Eastern Catholic liturgies.

50 posted on 08/19/2005 3:57:40 PM PDT by NYer ("Each person is meant to exist. Each person is God's own idea." - Pope Benedict XVI)
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