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October 18, 2004

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» How Irritating from Fides, Spes, Caritas
According to Catholic World News, an unofficial letter from a representative of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in response to a query from Marc Balestrieri, who some of you may remember is trying to have Sen. Kerry excommunicated in t... [Read More]

Comments

George

I will say it--this is an October surprise for us Catholics. Thanks, Karl (Rove)!

Of course, it means nothing, except that certain political Catholics who will do ANYTHING to reelect the president.

They should be ashamed.

Damian

Good job George! That's a substantive argument.

Don

What's to be made of this?

"Vatican denies it responded to lawyer seeking Kerry's excommunication"

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0405749.htm

- Don

Rich Leonardi

George is lapsing into self-parody. Just like the '88 Democrats couldn't go six words without invoking the bogeyman of Lee Atwater, today's Kerry-istas reflexively scream "Karl Rove!" to settle every argument.

... certain political Catholics who will do ANYTHING to reelect the president.

No, certain orthodox Catholics are sick of other "Catholics" spitting on the Faith and telling the rest of us it's only raining.

Lynn

"No, certain orthodox Catholics are sick of other "Catholics" spitting on the Faith and telling the rest of us it's only raining."

I'll drink to that, Don.

Chris-2-4

I hate to be the one to bring this up, but should we expect a different "official version" from "The Vatican"? They couldn't even stand behind a statement in support of The Passion of the Christ. I don't mean to be overly critical, but they do seem to go to great lengths to try to keep people from using their statements as political tools.

Mike

Read this coming Sunday's Gospel. Kerry is most definitely the Pharisee. Somebody needs to make it clear to him that being an altar boy fifty years ago does NOT make him a Catholic today any more than being in Viet Nam for a few weeks forty years ago makes him qualified to be Commander in Chief.

Jay Anderson

I just read that the Vatican has already disavowed this - which I think is right. As much as I want to see Kerry held to account by his Bishop for his open dissent, I think this whole heresy/excommunication thing is bogus. If anything, it would probably just help Kerry get elected.

And besides, the guy still has a shot at winning. Do we really think the Vatican wants to deal with an excommunicate as leader of the free world?

Jimmy Mac

What ARE you folks going to worry about after November 236 when all of the lawsuits and countersuits are exhausted and Kerry is declared the winner?

But then, I guess there are tons of "heresies" for you to worry about.

Todd

Peace, all.

So ... did Balestieri deliberately misrepresent himself as a JCL student to get this far?

This whole thing is turning into a sad joke. I can understand somebody doing crazy things on behalf of specific lives in order to save them. But Kerry's status as heretic is so far removed from the issue, Balestieri could be criticized for booting pro-life sensibilities even farther from the mainstream of the life-death debate. I'm sure Mark enjoyed his ten days sipping Italian wine and hobnobbing with bureaucrats. It's time to retire him from the front lines.

Esquire

Did you hear that Balestieri also filed a similar claim against Governor Gropinator?

No. Me neither.

It's really quite difficult to describe how twisted someone is to use canonical jurisprudence to try to influence an election.

This really goes to show that the Karl Rove / Tequila Deal axis are simply Republican hacks masquerading as "serious Catholics" rather than Catholics concerned about serious issues.

Pathetic.

But, then again, maybe I'm just deluding myself here in the "reality-based community".

c matt

Todd:

If you followed the story, you would know that Mr. Balestieri lost his job in El Lay Die-o-cese for essentially exercising his right to file the complaint (compassionate, freedom exercising bunch you liberals are!). I doubt he was sitting back enjoying a glass of chianti. He had something a little more importatnt to do, like, say, protect the integrity of the sacrament of the Eucharist. Which is more than I can say for his bishop. And, apparently, it looks like Mr. Balestieri was CORRECT.

George

I think that deliberately misrepresenting the Church's views for the sole reason of effecting an upcoming election is serious business, but even I, partisan that I am, would not go so far to say it is "spitting on the Faith."

c matt

I don't know, I find it far less debased than forging military memos and trying to pass them off as authentic (when any teenager could see they are fake) to influence an election. Or maybe, challenging an election in court (using the civil jurisprudence) to influence an election when the one challenging commits more voter fraud than the mafia commits felonies? By the way, catch the point that Balestieri was right after all? I didn't think so.

Kevin Miller

It's not clear that B. was right, though. This was an unofficial opinion - as is becoming more and more clear - and its argumentation is dubious, as I explain in the post that Amy links above.

Ronny

Ed Peters' reasoning seems sound to me -- acting in a manner at odds with Church teaching does not in itself constitute heresy. Given that Kerry is on the record professing belief that life begins at conception despite his despicable disregard for that belief, the case gets even weaker. Thus, Kevin Miller is right to point out that if somebody is going to file a canon lawsuit against pro-abort pols, then he or she needs to take more care about the grounds upon which to base the case.

My worry is that Boston is going to issue a carefully worded decision in Kerry's favor after the election based upon the distinction that Peters points out (namely, that obstinate and public sin even in a grave matter is not necessarily the same as heresy), and that pro-abort Catholic pols are then going to take the decision out of context to claim ecclesiastical blessing for the "personally opposed, publicly supportive" stance. Such a decision thus for technical reasons could be the right one, but it will be misrepresented as a win for the pro-aborts rather than a judgment on a very specific point of canon law.

Davi

Esquire:

Your democratic propoganda points are getting old. I think that Mr. Balestieri is fed up, as I am, with a "Catholic" (Kerry) who trots around talking about how important his faith is, yet sacrifices his faith (and the rights of actual human persons) at the altar of abortion. As a result, there is a serious problem because ordinary people of faith look at Kerry and come to the wrong conclusion that the shameless promotion of abortion is compatible with Catholic teaching. But I guess anyone with that concern is merely a Republican "hack" to you now, aren't they.

You show your true colors. You are not concerned with the Church or the Christian message, you are concened only with the advancement of the Democrat's political ideology. Thus, everything and everyone is motivated solely by a desire to get Bush elected. Get real.

Rich Leonardi

Did you hear that Balestieri also filed a similar claim against Governor Gropinator?

He's filing a similar claim against Suzanne Collins, R-Maine.

Esquire

Davi, please.

You think Catholics haven't held beliefs about abortion just like John Kerry's before they even knew who John Kerry is, let alone that he's Catholic. John Kerry isn't influencing the majority of Catholics, he's part of them.

And Cmatt: are you referring to:

"forging military memos and trying to pass them off as authentic (when any teenager could see they are fake)" the yellowcake from Niger memos that Bush lied about in the SOTU?;

"challenging an election in court (using the civil jurisprudence)" the case of BUSH v. Gore (i.e. Bush as the plaintiff, "counting the votes will do irreparable harm to PETITIONER Bush, etc.);

If so, we agree.

And it seems obvious from the most recent reporting that Balestieri is not only right, but a liar.

Esquire

Rich, Susan Collins, RICO from Maine. She's more of a Democrat that Zell Miller.

Rich Leonardi

Rich, Susan Collins, RICO from Maine. She's more of a Democrat that Zell Miller.

She's as Republican as Schwarzenegger.

If you're saying that pro-abort Republicans smell more like Democrats in most cases, you're probably right.

Todd

Peace, c matt.

"I doubt he was sitting back enjoying a glass of chianti."

You've never been to Italy to see how it works there.

"He had something a little more importatnt to do, like, say, protect the integrity of the sacrament of the Eucharist."

Excuse me, I'd like another defender, please.

George

Yes, it is interesting. Sen. Collins gets the heresy charge, but FORMER Gov. Cuomo also have been accused. Secretary Ridge, Gov. Shwarzenegger, Gov. Pataki and former Mayor Giuliani are not mentioned. All are leading pro-choice Catholic Republicans.

And of course, the personal letter from Father Basil Cole has no relationship to Sen. Kerry, or ti the so-called case. It was written on Sept. 11, and was in response to questions unrelated to the Mr. Balestrieri "charge."

The release yesterday was all about the political season. Poor Father Cole.

Davi

Esquire

I want to ask you, do you believe that Kerry's position and representations about abortion are contrary to Catholic teaching? If so, why are people who point this out merely minions or Karl Rove? Are all those on this board merely Republican agents?

I don't know anything about Mr. Balestieri, his motivations, or what how he represented himself to people. Yet somehow, you can see that he is a liar and a Republican "hack". This is slandering someone before all the facts are in for the purpose of Democratic party damage control.

Joe McFaul

I appreciate Peter Vere's and Kevin Miller's discussions. Thoughtful well reasoned, based on their expertise which nearly nobody else here has, and neither can be accused of being Kerry apologists.

Liam

Folks agitating for a juridical disposition of this are being baited and taken for a ride here. Peters' analysis is spot-on, and one reason the Congregation will very likely not act officially here. The other reason is that the Secretariat of State would have to be consulted at some point (particularly if Kerry is elected President) and they would almost certainly prevent anything juridical from proceeding.

One can see the old Italian curial heads shaking at the curial situation here: while to many at St Blog's there is a strong desire for decisive declarative action, the situation actually demostrates the administrative chaos typical of aging pontificates where the dicasteries are not kept well in synch with each other.

James Freeman

Man, not only is John Kerry not "officially" excommunicated, it sounds like someone went and made him pope.

The folks who are supposed to be administering the Church and safeguarding doctrine flip-flop like a bluegill in the bottom of a bateau.

The fact that the Catholic Church has survived 2,000 years of this bull**** is the strongest evidence existant that it represents the "true faith."

Now . . . if we could just get a straight answer on what that "true faith" entails, exactly.

Rich Leonardi

I appreciate Peter Vere's and Kevin Miller's discussions.

Joe: I'd like to see Pete's comments. Can you provide a link? (Perhaps I missed it.)

Liam

And Fr. DiNoia has now apparently repudiated the letter and its petitioner:

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0405749.htm

John Heavrin

Does anyone know why this guy didn't include Guiliani, Pataki, Schwartzenegger on his list -- or for that matter, Dick Durbin, Joe Biden, Granholm of Michigan, Charlie Rangel, Barbara Mikulski, Jack Reed, Nancy Pelosi (going off the top my head here...there are literally hundreds of other Dems and not a few Republicans in the House who are pro-choice Catholics, not to mention the 1000s of state legislators, etc., etc., etc.) on his list for excommunication?

When he goes after Kerry, Kennedy (I forgot all the other Kennedys), and reaches into retirement for Cuomo, it sounds like selective prosecution. I don't have the time or inclination to research and list each and every office holder in the country who's both pro-choice and Catholic, but this guy must have. Why doesn't he do that?

I can't stand Kerry, and hope for his defeat, as well as his conversion (for the sake of his soul and those who might regard his views as acceptably Catholic), but why didn't the petitioner include Schwartzenegger and Guiliani, for his own credibility's sake if nothing else, and why not include the droves of other Democrats, for furthering his own case's sake?

Seems like amateur hour. And treated as such by the Vatican. That's the way it looks to me.

Rich Leonardi

Balestieri's response courtesy of Dom B.

Liam

And Balestieri by his own admission on Dom's blog also deceived the Congregation by declaring he was seeking a strictly theorectical response. So much for the "truth".

Balestieri played with fire and has yet to feel how burned he is going to be by this in the end.

American Catholics may like to play these games amongst themselves, but the Curia will not stand for it and will make its displeasure very evident. It will very much discredit any further efforts along this line.

American Catholic have a very shallow appreciation for the curial way of doing things. Our country may be the Master of the World, but it is in kindergarten when it comes to dealing with the Curia.

Esquire

John, the reason he didn't include those other politicians is that this isn't about Canon 915, it isn't about excommunication, it isn't about protecting the Eucharist, it isn't about abortion, it's about trying to get George Bush elected.

And to use the Church, the Eucharist and well-meaning Catholics to do so is disgusting. And I would feel that way if someone was making the same charges against a pro-choice Catholic Republican (though I doubt that'll happen given the glaring "oversights" you've pointed out).

And including Susan Collins of Maine reminds me of the old Steve Martin stand-up bit about how kidnappers should always include one absurd demand ("I want a million dollars, a get-away car, and the letter M stricken from the alphabet) so they can claim insanity if they're caught. Throwing Collins in with this crew is a very, very immodest fig leaf.

Esquire

Is anyone else disturbed by the fact that EWTN gave this guy a platform and allowed him to lie under the guise of "news". The charge he leveled about excommunication is about as serious as a canonical matter can be. Shouldn't they have sought some corroboration before allowing this to air?

Rich Leonardi

John, the reason he didn't include those other politicians is that this isn't about Canon 915, it isn't about excommunication, it isn't about protecting the Eucharist, it isn't about abortion, it's about trying to get George Bush elected.

This from a guy who sniffs at Kerry's throne and claims that when Catholics criticize pro-abort Republicans, they're only going after liberal Republicans (hint: that's what makes them pro-abortion), so therefore they're really targeting Democrats.

mark j

Esquire-
Are you going to answer Davi's question?

Liam

Not to take this topic too far afield, but it's fiascos like this and Ratzinger's spectacular comments about Turkish admission in the EU this past August -- ill-considered comments that the Secretariat of State was forced to repudiate publicly -- that means we are more likely to have a somewhat seasoned Curial expert as the next Pope. These things demonstrate to the College of Cardinals that the Curia is not operating with the harmony and discipline that is normally expected of it. The current pontiff has never cared about administration, and his illness has inadvertanly given space for more sloppy things like this (it happened towards the end of Pius XII's pontificate, too).

David

Some of Pete Vere's remarks can be found here:

http://catholic-legate.com/hinge/defide.html

Esquire

To respond to Davi's question: I think John's Kerry's position on whether the Church's teaching on abortion can/should be legislated probably is contrary to current teaching, at least as espoused by Evangelium Vitae.

Does that make him a "bad" Catholic? Maybe.

Is he the only "bad" Catholic in the sense of failing to follow Church teaching? Absolutely not.

By that standard is George Bush a "good" or "bad" Methodist? Based upon what I've read about Methodism and that denomination's specific stand on certain issues, he's a "bad" Methodist.

Does that disqualify either candidate from being President or preclude a Methodist or Catholic from voting for either, respectively? Absolutely not.

The point is that there has been no concerted effort to question the sincerity of propriety of George Bush's professed faith. And there has been no concerted effort to subject Catholic Republicans to the degree of scrutiny that John Kerry has had to endure about his faith.

c matt

And to use the Church, the Eucharist and well-meaning Catholics to do so is disgusting

Like pandering two weeks before election day about your "altar boy" days and how your faith informs your conscience to support the killing of innocent babes in the womb? Yeah, I find that disgusting too.

David

An Ed Peter's Update:

"Update: October 19

Fr. Augustine DiNoia, op., undersecretary for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, has denied that Dominican Fr. Basil Cole's letter to Marc Balestrieri represents an official Vatican determination of any aspect of the Kerry case. Catholic News Service article here. This will not surprise readers of the October 18 Canon Law Blog above. Cole himself has reiterated the private and unofficial character of his opinions.

It is a pity that a refined and thoughtful letter by a thinker of Fr. Cole's credentials was so mischaracterized (as if it were a Vatican determination on a key point in Balestrieri's case), and that so many people (eager perhaps for something finally to be done about the Kerry scandal) relied on those mischaracterizations (despite the plain wording of Cole's letter itself!) and circulated them uncritically.

Whatever else happens now (and I fear several repercussions actually), I think a gaff like this appears to be is going to make it even more difficult for Balestrieri to pursue his heresy case against Kerry, a case that was already facing some significant procedural and substantive canonical hurdles. Now, I yield to no man in my desire to see canon law used to, among many other things, protect the unborn, but I repeat that such efforts have to be undertaken with scrupulous regard for canonical correctness, lest debates about the intricacies of Church law and governance distract from our efforts to uphold the values that law and governance are meant to serve."

http://mywebpages.comcast.net/enpeters/blog.htm

Bob Kunz

Speaking, if I may, as the Wm Frawley character in "Miracle on 34th Street" ...

I can’t imagine that the “excomm” story does much other than send Kerry’s base to the next circle of fire, if that’s even possible.

It’s hard to fashion even the innuendo into a positive for Bush. It just provides oppositional fodder, much like John Edwards' Billy Sunday update.

But then, both camps top-to-bottom seem to be helpless in their attraction to the law of unintended consequences.

kyle

Here we go again, the steady drone from Esquire and George, et al, accusing anyone who wants to protect the 3,500 Americans brutally murdered with full consent of the law every day of being nothing but a Bush partisan. Meanwhile, they leave no nuance unexplored when it comes to rationalizing a vote for the guy who thinks it's a constitutional right to dismember and decapitate a child struggling to escape the "medical" instruments, a candidate who says keeping that practice legal is something we should be proud of and should be spread throughout the world, who says this position is perfectly consistent with being a faithful Catholic.

But heavens! Let there be no Bush partisanship! That is the sin that will never be forgiven. Talk about hypocrisy. Talk about straining the gnat and swallowing the camel.

Show of hands among the so-called Bush partisans here: Anybody got any objections if The Terminator in California and Guiliani and Pataki are dealt with under Canon 915 right alongside Kerry, Kennedy, Daschle, Pelosi and the rest? Anybody have any problem seeing them added to the heresy trial, if it's still going after all this? Anybody at all?

If you're going to vote for death, that's your business. Stop trying to pretend it's some sort of moral good.

It's a shame if the heresy thing has been mishandled. I'm no canon lawyer. But it's not a shame to ask the church to stand as tall and firm as she can against the atrocity, the offense against humanity, the sin that cries out to heaven for justice every day in American abortuaries.

John Heavrin

Wouldn't Kerry have to be excommunicated by O'Malley rather than "the Vatican?" I wonder why this guy even "consulted" the Vatican. Shouldn't he have known, if he's a Canon lawyer (and not just some, shall we say, overzealous non-qualified non-professional Catholic who might get a wild hair to have Kerry excommunicated, from whom such a filing might be expected) that he'd be rebuffed in some sense, as he has been. In the end, it just looks like a stunt, and the Esquires of the world can rear back and cluck at the farcical nature of it all. How does that help the gravely important cause of working to keep Kerry and company from taking power?

If the Vatican wanted to excommunicate politicians for being pro-choice, common sense if nothing else dictates that they already would have, and wouldn't need to wait on some guy like this bringing his "case."

And if Kerry is the issue, why not concentrate on him and only him? Or, if the issue is not just Kerry's stance but all pro-choice Catholic pols, why just pick out a few and not bring the whole telephone-book sized list of pro-choice Catholic pols? Of course, the Vatican would probably leave it to the various bishops to excommunicate the pro-choicers.

This guy seems a bungler. Having said that, once the election is over and a dramatic move wouldn't be politically counterproductive, I think the time might be right for an Archbishop somewhere in this country to at least seriously consider public interdict, or even excommunication, for a pro-choice federal politician. Otherwise, the Kerry/Esquire compromise will be seen, as it is seen, by millions of U.S. Catholics, as fully appropriate and tenable. The scandal promulgated by pro-choice Catholic politicians, and their defenders, is incalculably destructive to Catholic life and practice and the salvation of souls in this country.

I thank God every day I'm not the shepherd.

Esquire

Wow Kyle, I had no idea abortion was really like that. I'll have to reconsider my position. The resort to graphic details is just a step above comparing your opponent to the nazis, and a tacit admission of defeat. So spare me.

Just keep in mind that George Bush supports the Constitutional protection of what you describe in detail for most abortions.

RP Burke

Well, I have it finally figured out.

The history of Bush's political consigliere, Karl Rove, includes a last-minute smear intended to be a blockbuster, whenever the race seems close. In getting George the Lesser into the governor's office in Texas, there was a false rumor in the last week of the campaign that Gov. Ann Richards was a homosexual.

And now, here is the beginning of this year's smear. An archbishop -- regardless of his jurisdiction over a resident of the archdiocese of Boston, will do a full dress, formal excommunication of Senator Kerry on one of the last two weekends before the election. Will he include stamping out the candles, as in the excommunication scene in "Becket"? Will he pin a Bush-Cheney button on his stole? Who knows.

Remember, you heard it here first.

Esquire

John, somehow I don't think you're going to see that public interdict, or any serious action on this front, after the election.

This stunt isn't about sanctioning Catholic politicians, it's about dissuading Catholics from voting Democratic.

chris K

Of course no official office can look like it is overstepping the canon law process due to each individual. Still, the canon lawyer has an opinion from a respected theologian to add to his case. All they can do is teach and put out the Church's teachings when asked, leaving each individual to govern the state of his soul with such knowledge - until the whole process is gone through. But, with the application to the archdiocese of the case and the media's attention, this wasn't handled too well by Fr. DiNoia and underling. Should it not have been addressed directly to the archdiocesan channels rather than a letter written personally in response to the canon lawyer bringing the case?

Charles M. de Nunzio

I don't like the Bush administration much, but on the one issue that really matters — the continued viability of traditional Christian values in this society and the preservation of the rights of those who espouse these — Bush is a mediocre gutless wonder, but Kerry and his party are downright evil and satanic.

I don't mind anyone, whether it be swift-boat vets or canon lawyers, who do something bold and heroic to keep Kerry out of the White House. Sen. Sacrilege's victory will hasten the ruin of us all. Have no doubts on that.

B Knotts

Isn't it Kerry's public pronouncements that Mr. Balestrieri is inquiring about, regarding heresy?

The fact is: Sen. Kerry stood on the national stage and told the American people that he is Catholic, and will defend the "right" to kill the unborn. He told the whole country that the right to life is merely an "article of faith." How is that not heresy?

I never expected that the Vatican or the Archdiocese would do anything about it, though, so I'm not surprised by the frantic backpedaling.

John Heavrin

Esquire, don't be so cocky about episcopal action. If Kerry wins, we will have a Catholic president, as opposed to a non-Catholic president. The yawning gap between what the Bishops teach and what their most prominent and powerful follower does, especially when he's claimed to believe that life begins at conception, will be lit up too garishly to be ignored. They will have to try to exert influence on him, especially if and when he gets to appoint a Supreme Court Justice.

chris K

Dom Bettinelli has the response by Balestrieri to the latest Vatican statement.

Rich Leonardi

This stunt isn't about sanctioning Catholic politicians, it's about dissuading Catholics from voting Democratic.

A man (assuming that's what you are) who hides behind a pseudonym to protect his anonymity has the audacity to question the motives of a canon lawyer who is risking his career and reputation to speak truth to power.

c matt

Like many others, I would have no problem if similar sanctions were sought against RINO CINOs, but to say the current action against Kerry is conclusive proof of political motivation b/c others are not included is unsupported. If Kerry were ex-com over this at the end of the day, it would set a little thing called "precedent" that could then be used against others. With a handle like "Esquire", I would think you would be aware of that (unless its meant for the sidekick of a knight, rather than an attorney, in which case, my apologies).

Sandra Miesel

The Vatican would not express displeasure with Kerry if he were himself an abortionist--and therefore automatically excommunicated. It was Mahony's doing, not Rome's, but a prominent practicioer of partial-birth abortion got a Catholic funeral and burial. The circumstances of his death precluded an argument of last-minute repentence.

Davi(d)

I think that there is a legitimate discussion here about whether one should vote for Bush considering his marginal pro-life record. Making that into a justification to vote for Kerry is another matter. If a candidate is fully behind a legal regime that supports the destruction of innocent babies in the womb like Kerry he should be rejected outright without a feeling around about his position on other issues.

And Esquire, perhaps you need to be reminded of the horror of abortion because you are obviously much too willing to go to bat for those who support it and refer to anyone who thinks it wrong as "right-wing fanatics".
We are one of the last countries in the west where this is actually debated. In europe and "progressive" nations (those relied upon by Justice Ginsburg to interpret the Constitution). Putting democrats in power will ensure that the voice of reason and opposition to child killing will be silenced.
Of course the fact that you have stated that recognizing the horror of abortion would force you to "reconsider" your position we must assume that your position does not object to partial birth abortion. I am certainly not with you, and I think that position is evil.

Your opposition to Bush is akin to those against the war who go to far and start supporting the enemy. Bush may not be right, but that doesn't transform evil into good.

Brigid

Esquire-

WOW! Perhaps EWTN's "faux pas" on this issue could possibly be similar to CBS' "Dan Rather" reporting problem with documents re: Bush's military service.

Gosh -- never thought about it that way but perhaps we should be demanding an apology from EWTN?

BTW, your posts to this site (why care if they are anonymous - isn't that a great part of weblogs) keep me coming back -- anonymously!

Thanks!

c matt

Dom Bettinelli has the response by Balestrieri to the latest Vatican statement.

It is as it was all over again.

After reading Peter's take on it, Kerry is in an objective state of mortal sin, but not necessarily a heretic. As long as you continue to profess that a current action is sinful, even if you persist in it, you are not a heretic, just in mortal sin. Frankly, I can agree with that. If I agree with the Church that artificial contraception is sinful but engage in it anyway, I am a sinner, not a heretic. If I publicly profess that the teaching itself is wrong, then I am a heretic.

At least one thing has been cleared up by the letter - supporting abortion as a Catholic politician, if not necessarily heresy, is at least grave sin. Either way, makes it difficult for Kerry to receive communion, you would think.

Jason

>>>"If I agree with the Church that artificial contraception is sinful but engage in it anyway, I am a sinner, not a heretic. If I publicly profess that the teaching itself is wrong, then I am a heretic."

If I understand correctly, heresy is the post-baptismal denial of a DOGMATIC truth (contraception not being a dogmatic truth). However, I think the definition in Canon Law says "a truth which must be believed with divine and Catholic faith", which can be dogmatic or ordinary. Anyone know?

Jason

>>>"Wouldn't Kerry have to be excommunicated by O'Malley rather than "the Vatican?""

It should be interesting to see how the Bishops deal with John Kerry, should he be elected. Can you imagine the US Bishops, already the most hated entity in America, going up against the "unpatriotic" card for carrying out their pastoral duty with a stray sheep, even if he is the leader of the free world?

Liam

Jason,

The US bishops will not have unfettered discretion here. The Vatican Secretariat of State will have a considerable say in any public regulation of the sacraments for a President Kerry. Heads of state are in a different category than the lumpenproletariat of Catholicism (governors of US states count for this in many respect, btw, in Vatican circles; remember when NY Governor Hugh Carey's annulment had to go directly to Rome a generation ago -- because he was considered a head of state whose petition was under direct Vatican jurisdiction).

Kevin Miller

If it it's infallibly taught - whether via the extraordinary or the ordinary Magisterium - to have to be believed with divine and Catholic faith, it's a dogma. Also, if it's infallibly taught - in either way - to have to be held as necessarily connected with the faith, it's (I think) also a dogma, but of a different kind. If it's taught other than infallibly, it's a doctrine, not a dogma. Heresy is the denial of the first of the two kinds of dogmas. (And my contention is that the teaching regarding abortion is the second kind.)

Kevin Miller

... Yes, I just double-checked; both of those first two kinds of teachings are dogmas (and, in each case, it doesn't seem to matter how they're taught - i.e., whether by the extraordinary or ordinary Magisterium).

Rich Leonardi

Kevin,

Lutwig Ott is famous for categorizing Church teaching along the lines you describe. I don't have his "Fundamental of Christian Dogma" (or whatever it's called) handy. How does he classify abortion?

michigancatholic

"And to use the Church, the Eucharist and well-meaning Catholics to do so is disgusting."

Esq. you tell that to John Heinz Kerry, who started this whole ridiculous thing, dragging the Church through the sewage in order to get elected. He STARTED it by using reception of Holy Communion publicly as an election ploy. Don't tell me he didn't either--we've all seen the photos!!!

michigancatholic

Kerry's the one who started this whole subject. He holds the church and those who take it seriously with contempt and he deserves anything he gets.

BTW, according to canon law, his situation does fit the definitions for "latae sententiae excommunication" quite perfectly. This is "latae sententiae" rather than formal excommunication, therefore it requires no public pronouncement. It just is. Whether he likes it or not.

chris K

If Kerry were ex-com over this at the end of the day, it would set a little thing called "precedent" that could then be used against others.

Yes, and then who will be lining up certain members of the clergy for their turn next?

Anyway, Mr. Balestrieri hasn't exactly put down a welcoming carpet to C. Ratzinger's office if he should wish to appeal his case in the future!

Kelly Clark

Plus, this story seems odd to me.

Me too. In fact, it' s also seems pretty weird to me. For various reasons but I'll leave that to the experts, so they speak.

I am as enraged by Kerry's misrepresentation of the Catholic faith as anyone, and I wish some more PTB would address it, but excommunication isn't not my job or area of expertise to discuss, as I said, his canonical status.

I don't know about you, but after 67+ posts, this paragraph seems to be about as sensible as I've read. (Who wrote it, anyway?)

It could be that outright excommunication is, for some, an area of expertise.

I haven't seen it yet.

kyle

Just calling things by their right name, Esquire, as the Catholic faith demands on this issue. Trying to be charitable, it seems to me many who don't think it's the pre-eminent issue genuinely haven't grappled with what abortion is really like.

kyle

By the way, I didn't notice any objections from the "Bush partisans" on this site to applying sanctions equally to every pro-abortion "rights" Catholic politician, regardless of party affiliation. Gosh, wonder why that could be.

Domenico Bettinelli Jr.

Does anyone know why this guy didn't include Guiliani, Pataki, Schwartzenegger on his list -- or for that matter, Dick Durbin, Joe Biden, Granholm of Michigan, Charlie Rangel, Barbara Mikulski, Jack Reed, Nancy Pelosi (going off the top my head here...there are literally hundreds of other Dems and not a few Republicans in the House who are pro-choice Catholics, not to mention the 1000s of state legislators, etc., etc., etc.) on his list for excommunication?

Marc told me he chose those he was pursuing with this action in the order of their record on abortion. Kerry, in fact, has the worst record on abortion. Kennedy next and so on.

b

Why not just relax about all this and follow the example of our Holy Father?

---
On January 6, 2001, at the concluding mass of the Jubilee, John Paul II personally gave communion to Francesco Rutelli, a practicing Catholic and a premier center-left candidate for this year’s planned elections in Italy.

Rutelli had been, as a member of the Radical Party, one of the most active supporters of Italy’s abortion law, which is among the most permissive in the world. And he continued, as a Catholic, to maintain publicly “pro-choice” positions.

In Italy during the 1970’s, other left-wing politicians even more closely connected than Rutelli with the Catholic sector, such as Piero Pratesi and Raniero La Valle, had given strong support to the introduction of the abortion law. But they were never denied communion. It was never even discussed.
-----
Chiesa, July 3, 2004; by Sandro Magister

Jason

>>>"If it it's infallibly taught - whether via the extraordinary or the ordinary Magisterium -to have to be believed with divine and Catholic faith, it's a dogma...If it's taught other than infallibly, it's a doctrine, not a dogma."

Is there some other level of the Magisterium other than "ordinary" which teaches non-infallibly?

Kevin Miller

Jason: No. The ordinary Magisterium can teach either infallibly or non-infallibly. The extraordinary Magisterium by definition teaches infallibly, I believe.

Whitcomb

Maybe I missed it in this long thread, but in a subsequent article, the New York Times says this: Catholic News Service reports an unnamed Vatican official saying supporting abortion rights does not constitute heresy or lead to automatic excommunication.

That is reserved, according to the article, for someone who procures or actually performs an abortion.

David

The article by The Catholic News Service also quoted an unnamed Vatican official as saying Mr. Kerry was not about to be excommunicated because "you can incur excommunication" automatically "only if you procure or perform an abortion."

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/20/politics/campaign/20catholic.html

This seems to refer to the CNS article which contains this:

Vatican officials contacted by CNS Oct. 19 said they did not agree with Father Cole's conclusion that Kerry has incurred excommunication.

"You can incur excommunication 'latae sententiae' (automatically) only if you procure or perform an abortion," one said.

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0405749.htm


David

Here's a link to a Reuter's piece on the matter:

http://reuters.myway.com/article/20041020/2004-10-20T151709Z_01_L20123025_RTRIDST_0_NEWS-CAMPAIGN-KERRY-VATICAN-DC.html

It says, among other things:

"But Di Noia said: "His claim that the private letter he received from Father Basil Cole is a Vatican response has no merit whatsoever."

"I thought I was advising a student who was working on a project. I referred him to a reliable theologian on the matter. I was acting in my capacity as a theologian trying to be helpful to a young person," he told Reuters.

"I had no idea his aim was actually to build a heresy case against John Kerry or against anyone else. I feel that we have been instrumentalized," Di Noia told Reuters.

Di Noia told Reuters that Balestrieri did not identify himself as head of De Fide and did not disclose that he had already filed a heresy suit against the Massachusetts senator with the Archdiocese of Boston."

marie

So the frightened, pressured teenager who procures an abortion is automatically excommunicated, and the calculating SOB who doesn't want to lose his invitation to the next NARAL event and proudly pledges to use his Presidential powers to block any limit on the abortion license, even those favored by popular majorities, can claim to be a Catholic before the electorate. Gentlemen, we have a problem here. And it is not that the excommunication of the teenager does not make sense. Her excommunication makes clear that repentence and reconciliation are required in order to restore communion with the church. What does failing to excommunicate the SOB communicate to him and others?

Imagine a person who is caring for a burdensome, elderly relative. He comes to the end of his rope and decides to kill. If I were to have it within my power to prevent some such murders, which I claimed to personally abhor, but instead calculatingly used my power to enshrine the right of all caretakers to kill without limit, surely my acts are no less evil than the caretaker's, and will actually result in more carnage.

Esquire - I'd love to see Giuliani, Pataki and Schwartzenegger take it in the teeth if they don't disavow their current positions. So far, like Kerry, they have only faced the voters of notoriously liberal states. The heat will rise for them should they seek the presidency.

And I'm sorry that you have had to put up with graphic descriptions of abortion - you know, that thing we're actually discussing. Still, it would be refreshing if you could muster half the level of distain for those who promote the abortion license that you do for those who describe its effects.

Sheila

David--

"But Di Noia said: "His claim that the private letter he received from Father Basil Cole is a Vatican response has no merit whatsoever."

"I thought I was advising a student who was working on a project. I referred him to a reliable theologian on the matter. I was acting in my capacity as a theologian trying to be helpful to a young person," he told Reuters.

"I had no idea his aim was actually to build a heresy case against John Kerry or against anyone else. I feel that we have been instrumentalized," Di Noia told Reuters.


Why does it matter WHO asked---wouldn't the rule be the same for all?

John Heavrin

Well said, marie. Perhaps the "nuclear bomb" of excommunication is required to make the point that the bishops must make regarding officeholders/abortion rights. But even though a nuclear bomb will achieve the objective, considering the fallout is a frightening prospect. So it isn't used, and the objective goes unachieved. Perhaps the Bishops think the scandal of Catholic politicians voting to affirm abortion rights is lesser than would be the scandal of excommunicating hundreds if not thousands of prominent Catholics. But the chaos will continue unless a dramatic move is made, it seems to me. Of course, I'm not a bishop, and have no authority, a blessing for which I thank God every day.

David

I think the problem here is that Fr. Cole wasn't speaking officially for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. His opinion is just that--his opinion. It's not the CDF's official opinion.

Bob Kunz

The notion that even a rumor of excommunication will dissuade "Catholics from voting Democratic" is complete fantasy.

It serves wonderfully, however, as a rhetorical stick with which to pummel people.

Tom Kelty

Infallibility has a short history in our church. We know Christ's words, "I am with you even to the consummation of the world." We also know the sorry and sordid history of our predecessors in belief. Bad enough to gag a maggot. My point is that Infallibility was shoved down the craw of the fathers at Vatican 1 by a Pope who was hell bent on recovering prestige after being stripped of temporal property in Italy. Pio Nono countered by demanding spiritual supremacy(Infallibility) to replace the loss of the lands and income. It is an almost useless addition to the Papal arsenal and has been used only twice relating to Marian declarations. In both cases, The Immaculate Conception and The Assumption the faithful agreed to Mary's exalted status long before the Papal statements.. What we are seeing here is the abuse of absolute power in the form of creeping infallibility. Show me any proof in Scripture where God conferred special powers on his clergy in political matters.

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