BY The Editors
September 9-22, 2012 Issue | Posted 8/31/12 at 11:05 AM
I write in response to the column "Excommunication as a Restorative Measure" by Father Brian Mullady (In Depth, July 1).
It is good to see someone finally realizing the need for discipline in the Church. Excommunication has become virtually non-existent in the last 50 years since the end of the Vatican Council. During that time, the Catholic flock has run wild and dispersed.
Blatant disregard of Catholic moral teaching regarding contraception, abortion and so-called same-sex "marriage" has become the norm for many Catholic politicians, especially those in the Democratic Party and in the Northeast, previously a stronghold of Catholicism — but no more.
The officers charged with maintaining discipline in the Church are the bishops. Sadly, they have not been up to the task.
Catholic politicians who blatantly disregard the bishops’ endless warnings now apparently view those warnings as toothless. Excommunication should have been used starting years ago.
It is the Church that has dominion over faith and morals, not the state. It is the state that has crossed the line out of its domain into that of the Church.
The last 50 years have seen Catholic politicians undermine the Church without any personal correction. The list is seemingly endless: the Kennedys, Kerry, Dodd, Leahy, Mikulski, Murray, etc. — and that’s only the U.S. Senate. If our bishops had used excommunication as the tool that it is 30 or 40 years ago, the Church would not be looking at the Obamacare mandate, which threatens us today. It is the bishops’ responsibility to guard Catholic teaching. Failure to take action after such extended and vicious attacks by members of the Church against the Church, in my view, constitutes a sin of omission.
It is grave irresponsibility and dereliction of duty. If you love the Church, you must stand up for it. The bishops have this responsibility regarding discipline of individual Catholics in their dioceses.
Finally, despite general agreement with Father Mullady’s article, which at least raises the point of excommunication, I must take exception to two of his comments. First, he maintains that excommunication could be counterproductive in that it might cause a backlash in favor of the erring politician.
Yes, it might be counterproductive in that sense, but the Church must stand for the integrity and truth of its doctrine, as it has since its beginning, and not worry about the possibility of a backlash by an uninformed or rebellious portion of the public.
Second, he says that the bishops must act in unison if excommunication is to be applied to rebellious Catholics. He believes or implies that an agreement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops should first be reached before excommunication is applied anywhere in the United States.
Each bishop has authority and responsibility in his own diocese. The problems in his jurisdiction are his to consider and act upon.
This is the effective way that the Church is structured. If a particular bishop exceeds his authority, he is subject to papal correction.
Bishops’ conferences do not substitute for the primary responsibility of the bishop acting as the authority of the Church in his diocese. This bureaucratic notion of democratic approval by a bishops’ conference only serves to stifle needed action.
What we need is a courageous bishop somewhere in our country who will take action on his own to excommunicate wayward and unrepentant Catholic politicians. If one can be found, others will follow, you can be sure, and the Church will again be functioning to protect the truth and provide clarity for a flock sorely in need of clear and decisive action.
In the July 29 issue of the Register, there was an article on the Melinda Gates summit ("Gates Summit Raises Billions for Birth Control," front page) on expanding artificial contraception and abortion across the globe.
Within that article, there was a comment by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron on the Holy See’s position on contraception that I found enlightening. He said, "I think it is an outrage that we will have to put up with these totally unnecessary, outdated and unacceptable practices."
I saw within his comment the same attitude that was in a line in a book I had taken out of the library a number of years ago to use as a reference for a comparative English paper I was writing.
I was comparing the Nazi mindset to the pro-abortion mindset. The book was on Nazi Germany. The line was: "Each generation considers itself to be at the apex of civilization."
We are repeating history. We do so at our own peril.
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Birth Control & Population
Pertinent to "Gates Summit Raises Billions for Birth Control" (July 29):
We recently had a guest celebrant at Mass. He was a missionary priest from Cross International, and he was asking for donations for his missionary work. He mainly mentioned the Caribbean area and Haiti, where he had been working.
In support of his cause, he stated that 23,000 children under the age of 10 died every day from hunger; that number is for the whole world, and it is increasing.
As I left the church, I picked up a copy of the Register. Anti-birth control dominated this issue, about Obamacare and the Church, about Melinda Gates and her donation in support of worldwide birth control, about "Nuns on the Bus" — which I understand is mostly about the nuns’ interest in practicing the corporal works of mercy and going light in proclaiming the Church’s stand on abortion and birth control — and about Planned Parenthood.
The Sunday morning issue of the Dallas Morning News had a lengthy article about the increasing world population and about the pressure it has placed on the world’s resources, especially in undeveloped areas — and with increasing population, human conditions are projected to get worse.
The Catholic Church’s position on birth control seems to be in direct opposition to the dangers faced by future humanity, caused by an overpopulated earth. People know I am a Catholic, and I constantly get questions regarding the Church’s position. And sometimes the subject is disgust with fellow Catholics, and we all seem somewhat confused on the issue.
Surely, the Church has an explanation for its stand on birth control. It would be nice if we Catholics in the pew were told what that explanation is.
The editor responds:
Anyone need go no further than the Catechism, which states: "Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, ‘every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible’ is intrinsically evil" (2370). As well, the myth of the earth’s overpopulation has long been debunked.
Sister’s Refreshing Support
In the July 1 edition of the Register, Sister Carol Keehan expresses her change of heart regarding the U.S. bishops and the contraception mandate ("Course Correction: Sister Carol Keehan Now Opposes Obama ‘Accommodation’ for HHS Mandate").
Doesn’t she know that her present muddled thinking (see the Cardinal Newman Society’s comments) is too little, too late?
She failed to stand with the U.S. bishops in 2009, choosing instead to support a health-care bill that was seriously flawed regarding the life issues. It’s one thing to accept 30 pieces of silver for a betrayal, but to accept mere accolades and a pen from the president of the United States is quite another.
Perhaps Sister Carol can learn from Sister John Mary Fleming ("Dominican Sister Will Lead Bishops’ Education Office"), who "applauded the U.S. bishops’ campaign to oppose the federal rule mandating contraception, sterilization and abortion drugs in private employee health plans."
It is quite refreshing to hear a religious sister publicly support the bishops and the moral teachings of the Church.
In the current culture and political landscape, the Church needs leaders and spokesmen who are courageous in defense of the magisterium and who stand, not side by side with a president who is hostile to our public-square religion, but, rather, side by side with the bishops of the Church.
We need more "rocks" upon whom our Church can stand. A word to Sister Carol — please just quietly go away and make room for faithful, orthodox Catholics willing to speak the truth about the moral teachings of the Church, especially regarding health and life issues.
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