Saturday, June 26, 2004

Cardinal Thomas S. Williams - New Zealand

In a strongly worded essay entitled "The Spiritual Bankruptcy of Liberalism", Cardinal Tom Williams yesterday attacked a string of policy changes - from the Civil Union Bill to prostitution law reform - and likened modern politicians to barbarians.

"The perennial work of the barbarian is to tear down existing standards, and to debase ideals that have come to characterise a society built on sound moral principle," he said.

"The modern barbarian may be soberly suited and stylishly presented, their weapon the skilful use of spin doctors to dupe the unwary, the unsuspecting and the uninformed. The outcome is no different." . . . [READ MORE]

SOURCE: "Cardinal laments descent to 'moral wasteland'", by Eugene Bingham.
New Zealand Herald June 26, 2004.

Archbishop Raymond Burke, Diocese of St. Louis, MO

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Archbishop Raymond Burke, who sparked a national debate when he said he would deny Holy Communion to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, now says Catholic voters who back abortion rights should go to confession before taking the sacrament.

Burke told KMOX Radio in St. Louis on Thursday that Catholics cannot vote for candidates or policies in support of abortion and be worthy to receive Communion.

"We always have to remember that it’s objectively wrong to vote for a pro-choice politician," Burke said. "People could be in ignorance of how serious this is. But once they understand and know this and then willingly do it, vote for a pro-choice candidate, then they need to confess that."

SOURCE: "Burke blasts Catholics who support abortion" Columbia Tribune June 26, 2004.

Bishop Wilton Gregory - U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops yesterday endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban marriage for gays. He urged all Roman Catholics to lobby for its passage.

The statement from Bishop Wilton Gregory was the first from the American church backing a specific amendment that would deny recognition of same-sex marriages.

In a letter this week to his fellow bishops, Gregory wrote that the Senate leadership had asked them to "formally register support" for the legislation.

Introduced by Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., the measure defines marriage as "the union of a man and a woman" and is expected to come before the Senate around July 12.

Gregory asked bishops to urge their senators to get behind the amendment, and to encourage priests and parishioners to do the same.

"This situation challenges Catholics -- and all who seek the truth -- to think deeply about the meaning of marriage, its purposes and its value to individuals, families and society," Gregory wrote.

SOURCE: "Top bishop endorses gay marriage ban" Associated Press. June 26, 2004.

Archbishop Raymond Burke, Diocese of St. Louis, MO

ST. LOUIS -- The archbishop of St. Louis, who has said he would deny Holy Communion to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, now says Roman Catholic voters who support abortion rights should go to confession before taking the sacrament.

Archbishop Raymond Burke said Thursday that Catholics cannot vote for candidates or policies in support of abortion and be worthy to receive Communion.

"We always have to remember that it's objectively wrong to vote for a pro-choice politician," Burke told KMOX Radio. “People could be in ignorance of how serious this is. But once they understand and know this and then willingly do it, vote for a pro-choice candidate, then they need to confess that."

His remarks came a week after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted a statement warning lawmakers at odds with church teaching that they were "cooperating in evil." The statement left it up to each bishop to decide whether to deny Communion. Under church law, bishops adapt Catholic teaching in their own dioceses.

Source: "" Detroit News June 26, 2004.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Bishop Ronald Gainer - Diocese of Lexington, KY

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Lexington Bishop Ronald Gainer wants politicians who support abortion rights to voluntarily refrain from taking Communion in his diocese. But two politicians whose views on abortion are contrary to church teaching say they plan to continue taking the sacrament.

Gainer is the only Kentucky bishop so far to publicly question whether Catholic politicians who back abortion rights should receive Communion.

His admonition didn't change Lexington Mayor Teresa Isaac's mind.

"I plan to continue taking Communion and would love to receive it from a woman priest some day soon," she said in a written statement.

State Sen. Ernesto Scorsone, D-Lexington, also said the bishop's statement wouldn't keep him from taking the Eucharist. Scorsone said anti-abortion advocates don't have a monopoly on the faith.

"I certainly believe there are a lot of good American Catholics who believe in choice," he said. "I certainly believe in a woman's right to choose."

Bishops in a handful of U.S. dioceses recently asked Catholic leaders who support abortion rights to abstain from taking the sacraments. Gainer also wants them to voluntarily refrain from taking communion, said Lexington diocesan spokesman Tom Shaughnessy.

"A professing Catholic who has taken public stands against what the church teaches should disqualify himself or herself from receiving the Eucharist because they cannot receive in good faith," Shaughnessy told the Lexington Herald-Leader, quoting the bishop.

"Were there to be such a person under his pastoral care, (Gainer) would ask to meet them privately as a pastor and attempt to challenge them to change their public position before he would take any public action."

Source: "Bishop urges abortion-rights politicians to not take Communion". Associated Press, June 24, 2004.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Archbishop Raymond Burke, Diocese of St. Louis, MO

Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis Missouri, who last November announced to priests that pro-abortion Catholic politicians should be refused Communion, has said that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) could not force him to back down from his stand. "I have to do what I know to be right" he said.

In a conversation with media, Bishop Burke acknowledged there were starkly different opinions among the bishops on how to address pro-abortion Catholic politicians receiving Communion. He speculated however that a joint statement on the issue would be forthcoming from the USCCB.

"There is a difference of opinion, I guess it would be fair to say," said the Bishop. He suggested a joint statement could be neutral. "If the statement says that it's the responsibility of each bishop (to act) with regard to the legislators in his pastoral care - that's fine. I've said that repeatedly."

Catholic Bishops' conferences are only consultative and administrative church organizations and have no formal church teaching authority. Individual bishops have full authority and responsibility for teaching and evangelizing efforts in their individual dioceses and are obliged to do so in union with the pope and authentic teachings of the church, not the bishops' conference.

Source: "Bishop Burke Says U.S. Conference Can't Force Him to Back Down from Refusing Communion to Abortion Supporters". June 18, 2004.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput - Denver CO 

On the eve of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' special assembly in Denver, The Denver Post submitted to Archbishop Chaput by email a list of questions pertaining to the matter of communion. Here is his response.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Bishop Gregory Aymond - Diocese of Austin, TX

Editor: When the document was issued, it created some controversy regarding Catholic politicians. Could you explain?

Bishop Aymond: The issue is whether or not politicians and others who do not believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church should be given communion by the priest, deacon or the extraordinary minister of holy Communion. I would like to pose another question.

Anyone who seriously disagrees with the teachings of the church has chosen for their own personal reasons not to be in communion with the church. The real question, it seems to me, is "should a person who is not in communion with the teachings of the church present himself or herself for holy Communion?" That question makes a great deal more sense than placing the bishop, priest or extraordinary minister of holy Communion in the position of refusing the Body and Blood of Christ to someone or having to make a public spectacle of the situation.

In such a situation, the minister of Communion should first speak privately to the person and exhort them not to present themselves because of scandal. If the person persists and protests, then it could be cause to give them a blessing instead of Communion. All of this needs to be done in a spirit of charity. As I have said before, conversations behind closed doors are ways in which we can help people change their heart and have a clearer understanding of what God expects of us as the followers of Jesus. God never gives up on anyone and we should do our best to help people change their heart.

Source: Interview w/ Bishop Aymond for the diocesian newspaper The Catholic Spirit. June 2004.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Archbishop Anthony Meagher - Kingston, Ontario

KINGSTON, ON, June 14, 2004 ( - The Archbishop of Kingston, has spoken out on Catholics in political life saying that "if they claim any right to be called Catholic: they must unequivocally and publicly state their opposition to abortion."

Writing in the current June/July 2004 edition of the diocesan paper, The Journey, Archbishop Anthony Meagher says: "It is never appropriate for Catholic leaders to claim that acceptance of such denial of human dignity - for example abortion on demand - is a sign of Canada's tolerance and goodness. It is not; it is simply cowardice."

Speaking of Canadian Catholic political leaders the Archbishop says, "I am positive they can and must do, if they claim any right to be called Catholic: they must unequivocally and publicly state their opposition to abortion, and be willing to do what can be done to protect the dignity of all human life." The Archbishop added, that in order to call themselves Catholic they must act on marriage and euthanasia. "They must also ask themselves honestly if it is reasonable to equate the value to society of a same-sex union with the union of a man and a woman who will give life to and nourish a family. Similarly, in order to be faithful to Christ, they must never fail to protect those nearing the end of their lives."

While his remarks apply most obviously to Prime Minister Paul Martin, Archbishop Meagher broadened the application of his letter saying, "To which leaders am I referring? Actually, I am being no more specific than saying that, 'if the shoe fits, wear it.'"

SOURCE: "Another Canadian Bishop Speaks out on Politicians and Abortion". LifeSite June 14, 2004.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Cardinal Francis George - Diocese of Chicago

Catholic lay ministers who disagree with the church's teachings should not be allowed to continue in their ministries or assist in distributing communion, according to a letter sent by Cardinal Francis George to pastors in the Chicago Archdiocese earlier this month.

"If a minister should manifest his/her disagreement with Church teaching," George wrote, "he/she should not continue in active ministry until such time that the minister is reconciled to the Church's teaching."

Though this has been the policy of the archdiocese all along, George said he was writing in response to questions posed to the church and in the media "about the appropriateness of Catholics serving as lay ministers who do not profess or believe authentic Church teaching."


SOURCE: "George says lay ministers must agree with church", by Art Golab. Staff Reporter. June 10, 2004.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted - Diocese of Phoenix, AZ 

Catholic politicians who unambiguously support a woman's right to choose should not receive communion, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted said Wednesday. But he declined to say he would deny communion to politicians who do not follow church teaching on abortion.

Asked directly about what he would do if Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president who is a Catholic and supports abortion rights, came to him for communion, the leader of the Diocese of Phoenix said, "I would hope that would not happen."

"If he asked about it," he said, "I would tell him he should not receive communion."

Olmsted, who met with The Arizona Republic editorial board on Wednesday, also said that his role is to continue to teach politicians and other Catholics about the church's position.

"We need to be in conversation for as long as possible to help people see the contradiction in their lives, that (support for abortion) is bad for them and a scandal for others. There could be a stage where we go farther, but we haven't reached that stage."

Asked if he could understand a politician who says he opposes abortion but also opposes government intervention in the matter, Olmsted said, "I would want to see what else they have to say, but it is hard to understand that language. There is something not genuine, something untrue, something dishonest in it. It may not be culpably dishonest.

"We all have times when we do not connect the dots, but the dots are there. How can I be opposed to something, but not oppose it?"

He said the same restrictions on communion would apply to others, including people who have divorced and remarried. "Anyone who says they are a Catholic but is living contrary to that should not receive communion.

Source: Bishop cautions politicians, Michael Clancy. The Arizona Republic Jun. 10, 2004 12:00.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Bishop Michael Sheridan - Diocese of Colorado Springs

Clarification from Bishop Sheridan;
The most serious misrepresentation of my letter was the conclusion drawn by many that I or other ministers of Holy Communion would refuse the sacrament to people who voted in a particular way. Nowhere in the letter do I say this or even suggest it. The intent of the letter was to appeal to the consciences of Catholic people as they prepare to vote in November. I called upon Catholics to recognize that our vote, while always a private act, has public consequences for good or evil. This means that my vote must be cast with a conscience well-informed as to good and evil. This, I believe, is sound Catholic teaching and common sense.

The Church has taught from the beginning that when Catholics sin seriously they must refrain from receiving Holy Communion until they have repented and been absolved in the Sacrament of Penance (confession). In fact this teaching has been repeated in the most recent writings of the Holy Father on the relationship between the Eucharist and Penance. If a Catholic votes in bad conscience, especially in matters that have to do with the sanctity of life (e.g. abortion), how can this be anything other than a participation in that sinful act? It is at this point that the Church calls upon sinners to withhold themselves from receiving Holy Communion until they have been forgiven of their sins. This is a far cry from denying someone Communion. How, in fact, could I deny anyone Holy Communion since I would not know the condition of the communicant’s soul?

It seems that an incorrect notion of conscience is at the bottom of much of the misunderstanding . . . . [READ MORE]

SOURCE: Bishop Sheridan responds to his critics without backing down. CatholicCitizens.Org.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Bishop Michael Sheridan - Diocese of Colorado Springs

Politicians and voters aren't the only ones being pressured by Bishop Michael Sheridan to take a stand against abortion and gay marriage.

Local charities that rely on contributions from the Colorado Springs Catholic Diocese are under the gun, too.

The Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission, an anti-war group with ties to the church, is facing the loss of funding from the diocese unless it condemns abortion and pledges to uphold Catholic teachings, including opposition to same-sex marriage.

"I am asking that the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission explicitly acknowledge its commitment to defend life at every moment from conception to natural death, in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church," Sheridan wrote to the group on April 12, in response to a request from the commission for financial support.

Other groups are facing similar demands.

SOURCE: "Bishop threatens peace group", by Terje Langeland.
Colorado Springs Independent May 7-June 2, 2004.