Friday, April 30, 2004

Bishop Joseph Galante, Diocese of Camden, NJ

Bishop Joseph Galante, incoming leader of the Camden Catholic diocese, said yesterday that he would deny communion to Gov. McGreevey if he sought it at Galante's installation Mass today. "If he comes to communion, I'd give him a blessing," Galante told a news conference in Camden. "In his case, he can't go to communion." Galante said he was taking the stance primarily because the divorced governor, who is Catholic, remarried without receiving a church annulment. Also, he said, McGreevey's record of "pushing" for legalized abortion, stem-cell research, and other positions the church views as immoral "is almost like he throws the gauntlet down." Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, Phoenix AZ

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted privately has ordered nine Catholic priests to withdraw their support from an interfaith statement supporting gay rights. Two of the nine priests who signed the Phoenix Declaration in January 2003 confirmed they received "personal and confidential" letters from the bishop last week. In the letter, Olmsted tells the priests and one religious brother to remove their names "under obedience" to him. No consequences are spelled out for those who decline. . . . Olmsted said the declaration came to his attention "a few weeks ago," leading him to invite the priests "to talk with me personally about this serious pastoral matter." . . . Olmsted's predecessors, Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien and Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan, both knew of the declaration but declined to take action against the priests who signed it. O'Brien led a bishops committee in 1997 that drafted "Always Our Children." "Don't back gays, bishop tells priests", by Michael Clancy.
The Arizona Republic April 28, 2004.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Bishop Anthony Pilla - Diocese of Cleveland

An influential group of liberal-minded Catholic reformers is debating a response to Bishop Anthony Pilla, who recently banned the organization from meeting on Diocese of Cleveland property.

Future Church, which claims more than 800 members locally, advocates allowing priests to marry and women to be ordained as the best ways to alleviate clergy shortages.

The group had operated unrestricted in the Cleveland diocese for more than a decade. But the truce ended unexpectedly April 1 after Pilla issued an edict to all pastors.

"Future Church is not an organization affiliated with the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, nor does it have the support or approval of the bishop of the diocese," Pilla's warning read.

"Future Church is an independent organization of individuals who promote an agenda that is not consistent with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church," the statement continued, and the group's activities are "not appropriate" at church institutions or facilities. . . . [READ MORE.

SOURCE: "Catholic reformers contest new edict". Cleveland Plain Dealer, by James F. McCarty. April 26, 2004.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Denver CO

In this week's column for the Denver Catholic Register, Denver Archbishop Chaput corrects dissenting Catholics on "what Vatican II did, and didn't, teach about conscience":
Vatican II can never be invoked as an alibi for Catholics ignoring grave public evil or failing to act on their faith in the political sphere. That's a distortion of the council's message. It also misreads the U.S. Constitution. America's Founding Fathers did not say, and never intended, that religious faith should be excluded from civic debate. They intended one thing only: to prevent the establishment of an official state church. A purely secular interpretation of the "separation of church and state" would actually result in the "separation of state and morality." And that would be a catastrophe for real pluralism and the democratic process.

If we're sincere about our faith, "conscience" can never be used as an excuse for dismissing what the Church teaches by pointing to her theological critics, voter surveys or public opinion polls, and then doing what we find more convenient. That's dishonest. And God made us for something better than that.

Chaput's latest column, by the way, appears to be motivated by the overwhelming response (positive and negative) from Denver Catholics to his previous column.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Denver, CO

In a column for the Denver Catholic Register, Archbishop Chaput reminds his flock to "Think with the Church as we look toward November": "If it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it's probably a duck. A fox can claim to be a duck all day long. But he's still a fox." We've all heard that saying, or some version of it, a thousand times. The reason is simple: It's true. Our actions prove who we are. If a gulf exists between what we say, how we look and what we do, we're not living in a spirit of truth. A fox, even if he quacks, is still a fox. Sooner or later, it becomes obvious. I remembered this last week as I read yet another news report about candidates who claim to be Catholic and then prominently ignore their own faith on matters of public policy. We've come a long way from John F. Kennedy, who merely locked his faith in the closet. Now we have Catholic senators who take pride in arguing for legislation that threatens and destroys life -- and who then also take Communion. The kindest explanation for this sort of behavior is that a lot of Catholic candidates don't know their own faith. And that's why, in a spirit of charity, the Holy See offered its guidance and encouragement in a little document last year On Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Public Life. Nothing in this Roman document is new. But it offers a vision of public service filled with common sense. First, quoting John Paul II, it reminds us that, "man cannot be separated from God, nor politics from morality." In other words, unless our personal faith shapes our public choices and actions, it's just a pious delusion. Private faith, if it's genuine, always becomes public witness -- including political witness. Second, while Christians "must recognize the legitimacy of differing points of view about the organization of worldly affairs," they are also "called to reject, as injurious to democratic life, a conception of pluralism that reflects moral relativism." Appeals to a phony definition of pluralism and tolerance can never excuse inaction in the face of grave evil -- including attacks on the sanctity of life. Catholics can only ensure real pluralism by "living and acting in conformity" with their religious convictions so that, "through political life, society will become more just and more consistent with the dignity of the human person." Third, "(democracy) only succeeds to the extent that it is based on a correct understanding of the human person." Catholic lawmakers who do not vigorously seek to protect human dignity and the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death are not serving democracy. They are betraying it. Fourth, "those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a `grave and clear obligation to oppose' any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them." Politics is the exercise of power. Power always has moral implications. And God will hold each of us accountable -- from the average voter to senators and presidents -- for how well we have used our political power to serve the common good and the human person. "Pro-choice" candidates who claim to be Catholic bring all of us to a crossroads in this election year. Many Catholics, including some Church leaders, argue that "(we) should not limit (our) concern to one issue, no matter how fundamental that issue is." That's true -- but it can also be misleading. Catholics have a duty to work tirelessly for human dignity at every stage of life, and to demand the same of their lawmakers. But some issues are jugular. Some issues take priority. Abortion, immigration law, international trade policy, the death penalty and housing for the poor are all vitally important issues. But no amount of calculating can make them equal in gravity. The right to life comes first. It precedes and undergirds every other social issue or group of issues. This is why Blessed John XXIII listed it as the first human right in his great encyclical on world peace, Pacem in Terris. And as the U.S. bishops stressed in their 1998 pastoral letter Living the Gospel of Life, the right to life is the foundation of every other right. The humorist James Thurber once wrote that "you can fool too many of the people too much of the time." Our job as Catholics this election year -- if we're serious about our faith -- is to not get fooled. Candidates who claim to be "Catholic" but who publicly ignore Catholic teaching about the sanctity of human life are offering a dishonest public witness. They may try to look Catholic and sound Catholic, but unless they act Catholic in their public service and political choices, they're really a very different kind of creature. And real Catholics should vote accordingly.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Bishop John M. Smith of Trenton, NJ

Bishop John M. Smith of Trenton, NJ recently took a stand for the faith, informing his flock that the questionable politics of Catholic governor McGreevey are not those "of a devout Catholic":
Smith, in a speech excerpted on the diocese's Web site, did not specify what "respect life issues" were giving him "great annoyance."

"When he refers to himself as a devout Catholic and supports legislation and programs that are contrary to the teaching of the Holy Father and the bishops, he is not a devout Catholic," Smith said, according to the Web site. "He cannot compromise what it means to be a Catholic. I speak, as your bishop, for the devout Catholics of the Diocese of Trenton. (Gov.) Jim McGreevey does not."

Smith made the remarks during his homily March 27 at a Mass at St. James Church in Red Bank, reported the online version of the diocese newspaper, The Monitor.

SOURCE: Associated Press

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz - Diocese of Lincoln, NE

On April 6, 2004, Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz, D.D., S.T.D., of the Lincoln, Ne. diocese, stated through his office to this writer that his diocese would deny Holy Communion to any manifest, persistent, obstinate sinner.

Referring to canon 915, Bruskewitz said, "We agree completely with Archbishop Raymond Burke in the action he has taken and we would take the same action in the diocese of Lincoln with regard to manifest, persistent, obstinate sinners, including politicians, regardless of which diocese they are from."

Bishop Bruskewitz of Lincoln in May 15, 1996 issued a successful diocesan synodal law, still enforced today, which carries an automatic penalty of excommunication. Informing all Catholics in his diocese of the list of dissenting organizations whose activities are contrary to the Catholic Faith, Bruskewitz has literally 'cleaned house.' Until today, however, it was unknown if he would deny the Eucharist to any manifest, persistent, obstinate sinner.

Bruskewitz's Vicar General, Monsignor Timothy J. Thorburn, J.C.L., addressed my question of whether this applied to legislators from other dioceses who were manifestly pro abortion, saying it's best for ministers to err on the side of reverence of the Eucharist, "If I had denied Holy Communion to someone who is known to be manifest, persistent, and obstinate in his sin and he later demonstrates that he had, in fact, publicly denied his promotion of, say, abortion, I then would publicly apologize to him."

Source: Bishop Bruskewitz will deny Kerry the Eucharist, by Barbara Kralis. April 6, 2004.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Bishop John C. Nienstedt of New Ulm, MN

The Most Reverend John C. Nienstedt, Bishop of New Ulm, has posted to the diocesian website a statement on the book Revelation and the Church: Vatican II in the Twenty-first Century, due to claims that it had been co-edited by his predecessor, Bishop Raymond A. Lucker:
I have been asked to comment on the work, Revelation and the Church: Vatican II in the Twenty-first Century because it claims to have been co-edited by my predecessor, Bishop Raymond A. Lucker. Actually, the "Preface" explains that Bishop Lucker died before any of the articles were written. But clearly, from the text, the inspiration for the work was his own.

Fundamentally, the book challenges the Church’s own understanding of herself as being authoritatively charged under the direction of the Holy Spirit to teach in the name of Jesus Christ on matters of faith and morals that are not infallibly defined. Because the issues here transcend the confines of any one diocese, I referred the matter to the Doctrine Committee of the United States Bishops’ Conference, asking them to render a statement on the contents of the work. The Doctrine Committee responded by sending me a book review by a systematic theologian whom they had consulted. . . . [READ MORE]

Reported by Benjamin Blosser.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Bishop Robert F. Vasa - Diocese of Baker, OR

As I have reflected and prayed about these matters for the past year I have become increasing convinced that there may be another much more subtle form of episcopal negligence which also has the potential to harm children, not only emotionally and physically, but primarily spiritually. When our Lord warned about causing His little ones to stumble He certainly would have known, with great sorrow, of the present circumstances. I am convinced that causing the little ones to stumble could also apply when those commissioned by the Church to be witnesses to and examples for them give witness to values or beliefs incompatible with the authentic teachings of the Church. Even if these persons accurately teach the truths of the Church in their words, the witness of their lives and their expression of ‘personal opinions’ contrary to Church teaching speak much more loudly and children are led, if not completely astray, at least into confusion. . . .

Bishops are now severely criticized for their failure to hold priests to a strict and appropriate code of conduct. Some suggest that the widespread legitimization of dissent from Catholic teaching plays a part in this scandal. This is an opinion with which I would agree. The scandal is focused on evil and sinful actions and I believe it is necessary to look more deeply at the underlying spiritual causes. While we are intent on eliminating sources of possible harm to the physical and emotional well being of children we must also be intent on eliminating the possible sources of spiritual harm; scandal, false teaching, bad example, and the like. These have the power to lead little ones spiritually astray and in our desire to protect children we cannot overlook them. We cannot dismiss the importance of the moral uprightness, the “outstanding moral character”, of those who hold positions of esteem in our Parishes and in our Schools.

SOURCE: "Giving Testimony to the Truth" A Pastoral Letter for Diocesan Lay Ministers.
The Most Reverend Robert F. Vasa Bishop of Baker, April 2004. Attached to the letter is an Affirmation of Personal Faith to which Bishop Vasa asks all lay ministers to give their personal consent.