Disclaimer: this is my opinion only, and I have no way of verifying this:
Most Catholic bishops have a bureacracy they use when "writing" a letter such as this, i.e., a canon law expert (usually a priest but sometimes a layperson), a personal secretary (sometimes a priest, sometimes a layperson), advisers, etc. The bishop tells them what he "wants to say" and they draw up the draft letter, and he signs it.
I feel certain it was one of these ancillary personel that "leaked" this letter, NOT the bishop himself. Either way, I think we would all agree that spiritually it was imprudent, but on the whole it has given pro-life Catholics something for which to be thankful.
Any comments from an "insider"?
The one part of this I don't get is that it DOES appear that a member of the Catholic clergy DID violate the confidential relationship he is supposed to have with (shudder) Daschle. I'm not Catholic, but if my LDS bishop did this--aired his opinion about one of my positions on something, so very publically--I'd have a HUGE problem with that. And I think my church would too.Well, how do you address it when the problem is that Daschle is publically claiming to be Catholic as part of his campaign pitch. If he refuses to stop, and refuse to stop endorsing abortion, you are forced to make your disagreement public.
In Catholic theology, Daschles actions give what is called scandal. It makes it look like the Church doesnt mean it when they say they are pro-life, if they allow a notorious pro abort to claim he is a good Catholic to get votes. The faithful are scandalized by that, and are often confused about just what the Church really teaches.
To address that, you have to do it in the public sphere. Daschles sin isnt just a personal act, it is deeply and inextricably intertwined with his public acts of governance and electioneering. The only way to cure that harm, is to do so publicly, as a last resort. Given the length of the dialog it is fair to call this a last resort.
However, I don't think any bishop or stake president in our church could or would go public condemning any particular member like this, or attempt this kind of...extortion.What would happen if, after the excommunication, the man kept claiming to be LDS in good standing, even if he didnt participate because he was excommunicated? Would they just let those claims stand uncontested?
I'm just uncomfortable with a member of the clergy doing it. There's supposed to be a private relationship there.There is, but one of the explicit purposes for excommunication in the Church has always been to cure public scandal, and to protect the faithful from a wolf in sheeps clothing.