Saturday, May 29, 2004

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted - Diocese of Phoenix, AZ

The only Catholic priest to decline to remove his name from a statement affirming the rights of homosexuals has been suspended from priestly ministry.

The Rev. Andre Boulanger, who is retired, said Friday he got word of the suspension Thursday in a letter from Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted. Mary Jo West, Olmsted's public information officer, confirmed the letter was sent, . . . [READ MORE]

Source: "Bishop punishes priest for signing gay-rights letter", by Michael Clancy.
The Arizona Republic, May. 29, 2004.

Archbishop Henry J. Mansell - Diocese of Hartford, CT

. . . The teaching of the Catholic Church on abortion has been constant, going back to the first century Didache, "You should not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish." As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation."

Church teaching, therefore, is clear, but we are involved here with more than Church teaching. The taking of an innocent human life is a violation of the natural law. The right to life does not represent a concession made by society and the state. It belongs to human nature and is inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his or her origin.

We speak about natural law, but another issue of concern arises when people say that religious convictions should not influence political positions. Yet our foundational document, the Declaration of Independence, states that we are all endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among those are the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is a religious conviction.

When we ask public officials to leave their religious convictions at the door, are we not depriving them of what is foundational in their existential makeup? Are we not asking them to be fundamentally schizophrenic? Are not our religious convictions basic to our identity?

Source: "Religious Convictions and Public Policy", Archbishop Henry J. Mansell.
The Catholic Transcript June 2004.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Bishop Robert McManus - Diocese of Worcester

Rhe new leader of the Catholic Diocese of Worcester stunned gay rights supporters by writing in a church newsletter that Catholics, especially public officials, pushing to legalize same-sex marriage are "in cooperation with evil."' . . .

Responding to Worcester City Clerk David Rushford's public statements that allowing gays and lesbians to marry is in line with church teachings on inclusivity, Worcester Bishop Robert McManus penned a "pastoral note of clarification'' published Friday.

After recognizing gays and lesbians as "brothers and sisters in the human family,'' the note ends with a bombshell: ``Moreover, it must be pointed out that Catholics, especially public officials, who willingly and with approval facilitate the legal sanctioning of same-sex unions are involving themselves in cooperation with evil.'' . . . [READ MORE]

Source: "Worcester bishop shocks gays with `evil' statement"
by Thomas Caywood. Boston Herald May 25, 2004.

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Cardinal Francis George - Diocese of Chicago

Gay Catholics who plan to identify themselves by wearing a rainbow sash in church Sunday should be denied communion, according to a memo Cardinal Francis George has written to all pastors in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

The wearing of the sash is sponsored by the Rainbow Sash Movement, which has several chapters across the country and plans to show up Sunday at Holy Name Cathedral.

"We wear the sash because it is a symbol of the gifts that we bring to the church as gay and lesbian people," said Joe Murray of Chicago. "It's a symbol that we need to also be ministered to as gay and lesbian people and we can't be ministered to in the clerical closet."

But the cardinal wrote that wearing the sash indicates disagreement with church teaching that gay sexual relations are sinful, and therefore those who wear the sash should not receive communion. . . . [READ MORE]

Source: "Cardinal says no communion for gay protesters Sunday"
by Art Golab, Staff Reporter.
Chicago Sun-Times, May 25, 2004.

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Saturday, May 22, 2004

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted - Diocese of Phoenix, AZ

Statement by Bishop Olmsted in response to misrepresentation by the Arizona Republic:
The headline in the Arizona Republic (5/21/04), "Bishops won’t link politics, Communion" misrepresents my position. Abortion is the killing of a completely innocent life and thus bad news for both unborn children and their mothers. It is a horrible wrong. It is intrinsically evil. We have a serious obligation to protect human life, and especially the most innocent and vulnerable. Whoever fails to do this, especially when they are able to do so, commit serious sins of omission. They jeopardize their own spiritual wellbeing and they are a source of scandal for others. Should they be Catholics, they should not receive Holy Communion.

No one who is conscious of having committed a serious sin should receive Holy Communion. For the Eucharist is the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, our most precious gift in the Church. And St. Paul warns us (I Cor 11:27-29): "Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself."

I call upon all Catholics, especially those in public life, to examine their consciences, and to refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they are unambiguously pro-abortion. As a bishop, I shall continue to pray for an end to abortion and other sins against life; I shall stand up for the life and dignity of every human person and I urge all people of good will to do the same. Should some Catholic politicians who are presently pro-abortion obstinately persist in this contradiction to our faith, this becomes a source of scandal and measures beyond those of moral persuasion would be needed. As God tells us in the Book of Leviticus (19:16), "You shall not stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake."

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Bishop Fred Henry - Diocese of Calgary, Canada

What is unacceptable is political duplicity. All too many politicians try to hide behind, statements such as: "I'm personally opposed to abortion, but I will not impose my belief or morality on others" or "Because abortion is so controversial, I must remain neutral and let each person decide on their own."

If someone said: "I'm personally opposed to child abuse and rape, but I will not impose that belief on potential child abusers and rapists," we wouldn't let them hide behind such nonsense. Nor should we let politicians hide behind similar nonsense in the case of abortion.

The U.S. bishops set up a committee to discuss possible disciplinary sanctions for defiant Catholic politicians. I am anxiously awaiting the outcome of their discussions. In the meantime, I believe the question, "If a dissident Catholic leader obstinately persists in opposing fundamental Church teaching, should he or she be turned away if they present themselves for Communion," has to be answered, "Yes."

Source: No communion for John Kerry, by Bishop Fred Henry. Western Catholic Reporter May 19, 2004.

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Monday, May 17, 2004

Archbishop Alfred Hughes - New Orleans

One day before the nation's first state-sanctioned same-sex marriages began, New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes declared his stand on two bills due to come before Louisiana legislators this week, including one seeking to define marriage in the state Constitution as the "union of one man and one woman." As clerks in Massachusetts prepared to hand out marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples today, Hughes held a news conference at the archdiocese offices Sunday to discuss same-sex marriage and embryonic stem cell research, two issues of moral concern to the Catholic Church that continue to divide politicians and voters around the state and country. "When the Catholic Church takes a stand on public policy, it's not because it's something the church teaches," Hughes said. "It's because it sheds light on and reinforces the truth present in the world. It is the natural law that transcends any differences in religious teachings or the teachings of any group." . . . [READ MORE] Source: "Archbishop Backs Gay Marriage Ban; Discusses Stem-Cell Research"
by Sarah Brown. Times-Picayune, Monday, May 17, 2004

Bishop Gregory Aymond - Diocese of Austin, TX

Following decision of a Texas girl scout troop to drop it's sponsorship of Planned Parenthood's "Nobody's Fool" sexual education conference for teens, one Catholic bishop [said] scouts affiliated with the Catholic Church can't have any ties to Planned Parenthood.

"Scouting troops associated with the diocesan entities will not support, encourage or in any way endorse the activities and programs of Planned Parenthood or any other organization espousing similar beliefs and practices," stated Bishop Gregory Aymond of the Diocese of Austin, in a letter to Catholic school principals and pastors in his diocese.

"Any scouting unit or troop not embracing the above directives shall not be permitted use of parish or school facilities … or indicate association with the Catholic Diocese of Austin. Whether or not we will be able to continue our association with Girl Scouts of America is still questionable," Aymond explained.

There are 25 to 30 troops that meet at Catholic schools or parishes in the diocese, and Bishop Aymond said he is further concerned about the Nobody's Fool sex-education program, which gives no direction on right or wrong and has no Christian morals.

"We have a Catholic scouting program nationally and it would be a shame to lose that link," Bishop Aymond said, "but as Catholics we must stand for Catholic moral principles. I don't see this as a resolved issue."

Source: "Texas Bishop: Catholic Scouts Can't Associate With Planned Parenthood", by Paul Nowak. Staff Writer. May 17, 2004.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Archbishop John Vlazny - Portland, OR.

PORTLAND -- Archbishop John G. Vlazny says all Catholics -- not just Sen. John Kerry -- should avoid taking Holy Communion if they publicly disagree with church teachings. Vlazny, leader of almost 300,000 Roman Catholics in western Oregon, weighed in on the issue as reporters note that Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, receives Communion even though he believes women should have the right to choose an abortion. . . . Vlazny decided to go on record last week, in his regular column in The Catholic Sentinel. In an interview with The Oregonian, he said he's had letters asking him to speak out on who should and should not take Communion and whether Catholics may vote for an abortion-rights candidate. His comments do not have the weight of the pope or of the U.S. bishops behind them, he says. "Catholics who publicly disagree with serious church teaching on such matters as abortion or same-sex marriage should refrain from receiving Holy Communion," he wrote in his May 6 column. The phrase "publicly disagree" means just that he said, not speaking privately to family or friends. "Catholics who are not in communion with the Church (for example, divorced and remarried Catholics who have not received annulments from previous Catholic marriages) must similarly refrain from receiving the Eucharist," he wrote. "All Catholics in the state of mortal sin who are unrepentant also should refrain from the reception of the Eucharist." Source: "Archbishop says some should refrain from Communion", Associated Press. New Statesmen Journal

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Bishop Michael Sheridan - Diocese of Colorado Springs

Catholics who vote for politicians who support abortion rights or gay marriage will be banned from Communion until they have "recanted their positions" and confessed their sin, a Colorado bishop warned. Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs said any Catholic who does not reflect church teaching in the voting booth "makes a mockery of that faith and belies his identity as a Catholic." Sheridan's May 1 directive is believed to be the first in the nation that would apply to voters the same controversial sanctions proposed by some bishops against abortion-rights Catholic politicians. It is also one of the most drastic -- equating a particular vote with sinful activity. Sheridan's order applies only to his diocese of 785,000 Catholics. "As in the matter of abortion, any Catholic politician who would promote so-called `same-sex marriage' and any Catholic who would vote for that political candidate place themselves outside the full communion of the church and may not receive Holy Communion until they have recanted their positions and been reconciled by the Sacrament of Penance," Sheridan said. . . . [READ MORE]. Source: Bishop Bans Pro-Choice Voters From Communion , May 13, 2004. Related Links

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Bishop Thomas Wenski - Diocese of Orlando, FL

In a special letter to the Orlando Sentinel:
Bishops as teachers of the faith have no special competencies in the world of business or politics -- and in those worlds we have no regulatory or legal powers. But precisely as teachers of the Catholic faith we do have competence to tell businessmen or politicians or anyone else for that matter what is required to be a Catholic. It is totally within our competence to say that one cannot be complicit in the injustice of denying the right to life of an unborn child or an invalid elder and still consider oneself a good Catholic.

To be a Catholic is to strive after holiness. This is a daunting task for us all -- impossible without the saving grace that embraces us through our turning to the Lord and walking in his company. The Lord is patient with us -- after all, we all are still just "practicing." He warns his disciples not to be too ready to pull out the tares lest we damage the wheat. For this reason, when rebukes are necessary, pastors generally strive to give them in private.

....If the whole point of being a Catholic is to grow in holiness -- admittedly by practicing a whole lot and making some errors along the way -- then it would be, as John Paul II reminds us, "a contradiction to settle for a life of mediocrity, marked by a minimalist ethic and a sentimental religiosity." You cannot have your "waffle" and your "wafer," too. Those pro-abortion politicians who insist on calling themselves Catholics without seeing the contradiction between what they say they believe and their anti-life stance have to do a lot more "practicing." They need to get it right before they approach the Eucharistic table.

Source: "Wenski: No 'wafer' if you 'waffle'"
Orlando Sentinel, May 11, 2004.

(With thanks to Open Book)

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Sunday, May 09, 2004

Rev. Larry Wieseler of Baudette, MN.

A gay couple in northern Minnesota is angry and upset over being told they no longer should take communion or sing in the choir at their church because of their lifestyle.


Source: Associated Press.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Bishop-Elect Robert J. McManus - Diocese of Worcester, MA

Worcester Diocese wants to make certain every priest, parishioner, and Catholic politician in the county understands precisely what it means to be a Catholic. "Rejecting that teaching can have certain spiritual consequences," said Bishop Robert J. McManus, who views his new role as a way to help solidify authentic Catholic identity. McManus said he also wants local Catholic politicians to know when they stray from church teaching, especially on issues that have the highest "moral valence." "The most fundamental human right is the right to life, and it is most obviously attacked by abortion," McManus said. "You become complicit in doing evil, and that's a very serious matter." . . . McManus traveled to the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and wrote a 500-page thesis on the relationship between the church and Catholic politicians in America. His conclusion: For a public official to say he or she is "personally opposed" to an issue, such as abortion, but promote any policy that deviates from that belief, is "absolutely unacceptable." McManus, 52, is the auxiliary bishop of Providence, and will be installed on Friday to replace retiring Bishop Daniel P. Reilly, 75. He said during an interview in his native city that he hopes to inspire the faithful in the diocese by encouraging "psychologically and emotionally sound men" to enter the priesthood. "One of my main concerns in Worcester is I really am going to put a lot of my efforts into promoting vocations into the priesthood," McManus said. "The vibrancy of a parish, the vibrancy of a church, depends on a vibrant priesthood." [SOURCE: Bishop-Elect Knocks Politicians, by Matt O'Brien. Sentinel and Enterprise. May 8, 2004.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Bishop Samuel J. Aquila - Diocese of Fargo, North Dakota

In a four-page homily delivered Sunday and posted on the diocesan website, Bishop Aquila said, "In the light of the last few days and all of the media coverage regarding John Kerry's unambiguous support of abortion rights, his personal opposition to abortion, and his insistence on the separation of his Catholic faith from his professional life, I, as a successor of the apostles, cannot remain silent. I, as an apostle, must speak with the apostles and obey God rather than man and present to you the teaching of the Church on the proper relationship between our faith and professional life." Addressing all Catholics and especially "'pro-choice' Catholics," and "'Catholics for a free choice,'" the bishop said, "Jesus Christ has warned clearly within the Gospel that hell is a reality and that we are free to choose it. Catholics who separate their faith life from their professional and social activities are putting the salvation of their souls in jeopardy. They risk the possibility of hell" "The grave error that has come about, the grave error that the Father of Lies has planted in the hearts of many is the lie of thinking that we can have one foot with God and one foot with the world. . . . We must always put the law of God above the law of man, especially as it concerns the dignity of the human person and the life of the unborn," said the Bishop. On the point of reception of Communion, Bishop Aquila said: "In regard to the question of sanctions for Catholics who are 'pro-choice', who say that they are personally opposed to abortion but whose words and actions speak otherwise in their support of abortion rights, I would share with them the words from St. Justin Martyr in today's Office of Readings. This was in 165 A.D. They shared the same problems we do today. 'No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.'"

Source: LifeSite News

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  • Bishop Aquila's homily can be read in full here. [PDF Format]

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Archbishop John J. Myers - Newark, NJ

In his pastoral letter "A Time for Honesty", the Most Reverend John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark, delivers a stirring message on the public responsibility of the Catholic politician:
"There is no right more fundamental than the right to be born and reared with all the dignity the human person deserves. On this grave issue, public officials cannot hold themselves excused from their duties, especially if they claim to be Catholic. Every faithful Catholic must be not only "personally opposed" to abortion, but also must live that opposition in his or her actions. In Robert Bolt's play A Man for All Seasons, St. Thomas More remarks, "I believe, when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties . . . they lead their country by a short route to chaos." Sadly, too few follow the example of St. Thomas More. As voters, Catholics are under an obligation to avoid implicating themselves in abortion, which is one of the gravest of injustices. Certainly, there are other injustices, which must be addressed, but the unjust killing of the innocent is foremost among them."

Justice and human dignity. It applies to all persons. Some justify their actions by saying that they must respect the consciences of others. But this "respect" for another's conscience should never require abandoning one’s own properly formed conscience. Conscientious opposition to abortion, rooted in an understanding of the sanctity of human life, may not be sacrificed simply because others, whose consciences are gravely mistaken, would unjustly take the life of an unborn baby.

UPDATE - STATUS INCONCLUSIVE This report has been challenged by recent readers in light of the following update from the New York Times (5/22/04):

Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark said on Friday that he was "deeply disappointed" that his recent criticism of Roman Catholic elected officials who supported abortion rights had been interpreted by some New Jerseyans as a political slap at Gov. James E. McGreevey.

In an interview, Archbishop Myers said Mr. McGreevey was not the target of statements he had made in a pastoral letter saying that Catholic officeholders who did not share the Vatican's opposition to abortion should not seek communion. He said he had apologized to the governor for any misperception by the public.

"I didn't name him specifically in the letter,'' Archbishop Myers said. "We have an understanding that I won't personally criticize him. And we are working together on a lot of issues, like providing social services for the poor and helping people with H.I.V. So I think we reached an understanding. I actually like him, and I think we have a cordial relationship."

Likewise, according to the Newark Star-Ledger, Bishop Myers took pains to identify himself as a "moderate," saying that communion should not be denied to publicly pro-choice Catholic politicians if they request it.

As a pro-choice Catholic akin to Senator Kerry, one might assume that the bishop's criticism in his letter would apply to Gov. McGreevey. The bishop's assertion that he has a "understanding" with the governor rendering him immune from any criticism of his pro-choice position certainly casts doubt on this blog's previous sighting of spinal evolution.

We refer our readers to the Catholic Kerry Watch for further commentary.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Indiana Catholic high school withdraws invitation to Governor (w/ Bishop's approval)

Governor Joe Kernan's high school alma mater has withdrawn a commencement speaking invitation to Kernan based on Kernan's policy statements on abortion. South Bend St. Joseph High School withdrew the invitation at the direction of Bishop John M. D'Arcy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who has direct authority over the school. D'Arcy, who confirmed his actions in conversation and a written statement Friday, said theology teachers at the school believed that Kernan's appearance would directly contradict the moral truths they teach and expect students to embrace. "I am in full agreement with these teachers," D'Arcy said. He then directed school Principal Kathleen Ratliff to withdraw the invitation in writing and to inform Kernan that D'Arcy had requested the action.

"St. Joe retracts Kernan invitation", by Martin DeAgostino.
South Bend Tribune, May 1, 2004.