Friday, August 20, 2004

Bishop John M. Smith - Diocese of Trenton, NJ

BRIELLE, New Jersey (AP) -- An 8-year-old girl who suffers from a rare digestive disorder and cannot eat wheat has had her first Holy Communion declared invalid because the wafer contained no wheat, violating Roman Catholic doctrine.

Now, Haley Waldman's mother is pushing the Diocese of Trenton and the Vatican to make an exception, saying the girl's condition should not exclude her from the sacrament . . . "It's just not a viable option. How does it corrupt the tradition of the Last Supper? It's just rice versus wheat," said Elizabeth Pelly-Waldman.

Church doctrine holds that Communion wafers, like the bread served at the Last Supper, must have at least some unleavened wheat. Church leaders are reluctant to change anything about the sacrament.

"This is not an issue to be determined at the diocesan or parish level, but has already been decided for the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world by Vatican authority," Trenton Bishop John M. Smith said in a statement last week.

Source: "Wheat-allergic girl denied Communion", CNN. August 20, 2004.

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Monday, August 16, 2004

Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte, North Carolina

The pro-abortion Catholic lawmakers are creating scandal in the Church by saying they are practicing Catholics and receiving Holy Communion, while at the same time promoting abortion legislation -- promoting what is gravely evil. Since they have chosen, on a very, very grave matter, to separate themselves from the communion of the faith of their Church, they cannot come to Holy Communion until they have had a change of heart.

The focus of the statement this week was admittedly very narrow indeed -- only pro-abortion Catholic lawmakers.

I am grateful for people's calls and letters this past week. Some people have also reminded me not to forget the other important moral issues -- euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, death penalty, preemptive war, health care. I assure you, the Church will continue to speak on all these moral issues, while realizing that not all moral issues have the same moral weight.

Procured abortion is always intrinsically evil and can never be justified. It is a direct attack on an innocent human life. The pope wrote in the encyclical on the Gospel of Life in 1995 that today many people have lost a sense of how grave abortion is. Because it is accepted in the popular mind, in behavior, and in the law, people are losing the ability to distinguish between good and evil, even on so fundamental an issue as the right to life of the unborn.

The destruction of human embryos for stem-cell research is also intrinsically evil, as is euthanasia, and can never be justified because all these directly target and destroy innocent human life. The Catechism reminds us: The death penalty may be justified in very limited instances: "in cases of absolute necessity ... when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society ... (and today) such cases are very rare, if not practically nonexistent (Gospel of Life, 56)." War also may be justified under certain defined conditions (Catechism, 2309).

But procured abortion may never be justified. Euthanasia may never be justified. Destruction of human embryos for stem-cell research may never be justified.

There is a lot of work for the church to do on many fronts.

Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte, North Carolina, explaining in a sermon why he signed a recent statement barring pro-abortion Catholics from communion.

Excerpt published in the Charlotte Observer. The entire text can be found here [PDF].

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Bishop Bernard Schmitt - Diocese of Wheeling, West Virginia

As a bishop, I have a duty both to my God and to my nation to give witness to the truth. An essential truth that has been marginalized in our political dialogue is the God-given sanctity of human life.

The absolute inviolability of all innocent human life is not a matter of mere personal opinion or private belief. Indeed, this principle -- enshrined in the Ten Commandments and in the Declaration of Independence -- is the cornerstone of civilization itself.

The Catholic Church, as a faithful witness to God's plan of creation and salvation, has a supreme obligation to call Catholics and all people of good will to the defense of innocent human life, from conception to natural death.

I join with Pope John Paul II, who has reiterated the constant teaching of the church that all legislators have a "grave and clear obligation to oppose" any law that attacks human life.

It is morally inconsistent for them, as for any Catholic, to promote such laws or to vote for them; it is a grave, objective evil for them to vote against laws that would restrict abortion and other attacks on innocent human life.

The Holy Father has taught that "an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality."

At the same time, a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit a legislator to vote for an individual law that attacks innocent human life or to vote against a law aimed at protecting innocent human life.

It is morally inconsistent to claim to be personally opposed to abortion but to take no concrete legislative step to protect the sanctity of human life.

Some say that decisions should not be made at the ballot box on a single issue. I respond to that with the absolute statement that the Gospel of Life is not a "single issue," it is the single most important issue.

Source: Commentary Bishop Bernard W. Schmitt to the Charleston Daily Mail
August 11, 2004.

[The bishop was writing his commentary in response to an incident in which a priest of the diocese gave the invocation at Kerry-Edwards event and some commentators took that to mean an endorsement by Bishop Schmitt. But the bishop says the priest spoke without his prior knowledge and permission and would not have given it had he known. - Thanks Domenico Bettenelli, Jr.]

Bishop Rene Henry Gracida - Corpus Christi, TX

It is never permissible for a Catholic to vote for a pro-abortion candidate because the candidate is pro-abortion. Such a vote would be formal cooperation in the serious sin of the candidate who, upon being elected, would vote for legislation making possible the taking of innocent human life through procured abortion.

When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons strictly defined.

Since abortion and euthanasia have been defined by the Church as the most serious sins prevalent in our society, what kind of reasons could possibly be considered proportionate enough to justify a Catholic voting for a candidate who is known to be pro-abortion? None of the reasons commonly suggested could even begin to be proportionate enough to justify a Catholic voting for such a candidate. Reasons such as the candidate's position on war, or taxes, or the death penalty, or immigration, or a national health plan, or social security, or aids, or homosexuality, or marriage, or any similar burning societal issues of our time are simply lacking in proportionality.

There is only one thing that could be considered proportionate enough to justify a Catholic voting for a candidate who is known to be pro-abortion, and that is the protection of innocent human life. . . . READ MORE

Source: Statement of Bishop Emeritus Rene Henry Gracida on Voting for Pro-Abortion Candidates. Catholic Online Exclusive (

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt - Diocese of Greensburg, PA

. . . An established pattern of voting in favor of abortion legislation and an established pattern of public rejection of a core teaching of the Church amount to being a person who is engaged in public cooperation with a grave moral evil. It means, furthermore, also having separated oneself in a fundamental way from the Catholic Church because one is no longer sharing the covenant of core beliefs and values which identify a person as Catholic.

Any public official who says, "I can vote for abortion and still be a Catholic in good standing," is being intellectually condescending to every Catholic by making himself or herself the sole judge of what "Catholic" means. For a public official or a person campaigning for public office to say, "I can be in favor of abortion and still be a good Catholic," is asking us to believe that his or her position is just as valid as the position of the Catholic Church, which is diametrically opposed to it. This must be viewed as intellectual sleight of hand! This is also demeaning to the intelligence of any informed Catholic. When such candidates or public officials renew publicly and in church, during the Easter season, their baptismal vows, by affirming that they "believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church …," then such a declaration, in the minds of very many, is bearing false witness to the Catholic faith. . . .

A public pattern of cooperation in a grave evil, which affects the lives of millions of people, and a public pattern of rejection of a core doctrinal holding of the Catholic Church, have a direct bearing on one's proper dispositions for receiving Holy Communion. A pattern of public cooperation in grave evil inevitably calls into extreme question one's worthiness to receive Holy Communion. To do so nonetheless, as Saint Paul says, profanes the Body and Blood of Christ (1 Cor. 11:27). A pattern of public rejection of a core doctrinal holding of the Catholic Church separates one in a fundamental way from the communion of faith which is the Catholic Church. What sense then does receiving the effective sign of that oneness in a communion of faith, which is the Eucharist, have in such a situation? None, because it is a contradiction in terms. The Eucharist is aptly called Holy Communion because, of its nature, it reflects a communion or unity of belief on the part of those receiving it. Here the words of the second-century martyr Saint Justin are appropriate: "No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes 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." The reception of the Eucharist by those who enable grave evil and publicly support it is offensive to every committed Catholic in the Church because such individuals have proven that they have repudiated what we are because of what they do. To receive Holy Communion under these circumstances is not only offensive to committed Catholics, but it is also offensive to pro-life Catholic public officials who often risk their public careers to fight for the pro-life cause. It is also offensive to those Catholic public officials who voluntarily refrain from receiving the Eucharist because of their recognition of their compromised status. . . .

Source: Pastoral Letter given by The Most Reverend Lawrence E. Brandt, JCD, PhD
Bishop of Greensburg
Given at the Chancery, August 10, 2004.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Archbishop Raymond Burke, Diocese of St. Louis, MO

Archbishop Raymond Burke this week said that in light of canon law and in order to educate the faithful about the role of the pastor, he has temporarily removed two priests from a local parish.

In a letter to the parishioners of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church on Tuesday, the archbishop explained that regular Sunday Masses will not be celebrated in the church "until a reconciliation has taken place" between the archdiocese and St. Stanislaus' board of directors.

He also said he would not assign another priest to the parish until the board "conforms to Church discipline."

The archdiocese states that St. Stanislaus' structure as an independently incorporated nonprofit group, run by a lay board, is contrary to canon law, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch . . . . The St. Louis parish has taken on a structure similar to that in Protestant congregations, which gives authority in the church to a lay committee and effectively turns the pastor into an employee. . . . READ MORE.

Source: Dispute over parish control leads to removal of priests" Catholic World News August 6, 2004.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Bishop Michael Sheridan - Diocese of Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, August 5, 2004 ( - Bishop Michael J. Sheridan's August column decrying same-sex unions did more than sound a warning note. After sketching the Catholic Church's teaching about marriage, the Colorado Springs prelate extended an open invitation to a series of in-depth explanations on the issue. The issue is certainly crucial to the bishop's vision of Church and society, as he refuses to delegate the sessions to co-workers. All are welcome to attend Bishop Sheridan's talks at four locations throughout the diocese over the course of the next three months. . . .

The sessions will all follow the same format, beginning at 7:00 pm and concluding at 8:30 pm. The Bishop will give a brief presentation, and then there will be ample opportunity for questions and discussion. Bishop Sheridan's column on marriage sported both theological reasons and common sense. All who were enlightened, cheered, puzzled or offended by it are likely to be back for more.

Source: "Colorado Bishop to meet all comers in marriage debate" Lifesite.Net.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Archbishop John F. Donahue (Atlanta), Bishop Peter Jugis (Charlotte NC) & Bishop Robert J. Baker (Charleston, SC)

"We also take this opportunity to address all Catholics whose beliefs and conduct do not correspond to the Gospel and to Church teaching. To receive the great gift of God -- the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ -- we must approach Holy Communion free from mortal sin. Those who are conscious of being in a state of grave sin should avail themselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to Holy Communion. To partake of the Eucharist is to partake of Christ Himself, and to enter into sacramental communion with our Lord we must all be properly disposed.

Because of the influence that Catholics in public life have on the conduct of our daily lives and on the formation of our nation's future, we declare that Catholics serving in public life espousing positions contrary to the teaching of the Church on the sanctity and inviolability of human life, especially those running for or elected to public office are not to be admitted to Holy Communion in any Catholic church within our jurisdictions: the Archdiocese of Atlanta, the Dioceses of Charleston and Charlotte. Only after reconciliation with the Church has occurred, with the knowledge and consent of the local bishop, and public disavowal of former support for procured abortion, will the individual be permitted to approach the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist."

Source: Joint statement from Bishop Peter Jugis of the diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, who joined John F. Donoghue, the archbishop of Atlanta and Robert J. Baker, bishop of Charleston, South Carolina, in issuing a statement that essentially bars pro-abortion politicians from reception of the Eucharist.

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Bishop Michael Sheridan - Diocese of Colorado Springs

Marriage was created by God and must not be used to promote a "homosexual political agenda," Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan writes in the August issue of the diocesan newspaper.

What's more, civil authorities "should consider it a sacred duty" to acknowledge man-woman marriage and protect it against the movement to legalize same-sex unions, Sheridan writes in his monthly column, which appears today in The Catholic Herald.

"If marriage means only what any given person says it means, it means nothing," Sheridan writes. "This opens the door to polygamy and any number of other perversions . . . there will be no turning back."


Source: Springs bishop urges protection of man-woman union, Jean Torkelson
Rocky Mountain News August 4, 2004