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January 24, 2007



But what exactly did he say? How it was phrased is critical in matters like this. Was the congressman mentioned by name?

c matt

An Inconvenient Truth.


A deacon with cojones.

Bravo. More are needed.


That is great! I flippin' love it when someone with fire speaks!!!

+ Alan

Sounds like the Deacon has a case of "zeal without wisdom." A little spiritual direction seems to be in order.

Brian John Schuettler

They didn't like what another deacon said back two thousand years ago...the deacon's name was Stephen, or as we now call him, Saint Stephen.
My hat is off to a defender of the Faith and the congressman can kiss my....


Brian! If you want to imitate my use of unparliamentary language, you should translate the ... into Spanish :)


"It wouldn't have done any good for him to come into the house, because people's feelings were so hurt."

And feelings are the most important thing, aren't they?

I wonder if the Galations walked out when St. Paul's letter was read to them: "Oh, stupid Galations, who has bewitched you?"

Fr. Brian Stanley

Old navy rule: praise in public, dress down in private. We were taught in homiletics not to criticize anyone by name, especially someone attending Mass. It is not the purpose of the homily in the Eucharist to single people out for public criticism.

The deacon could have talked about politicians' responsibilities, criticized specific votes on bills or passage of particular legislation, explaining how Catholic doctrine is to be upheld, particularly by those politicians professing to be Catholic. The point attempted by the deacon could have been made without singling out anyone.

But the reaction to this makes me wonder how often the topic broached by the deacon in his homily is addressed by the bishop of Buffalo or the pastor of this parish.

I take exception, however, to the pastor's notion stated at the end about the experience being "painful." There will be times when such pain will be and should be unavoidable, i.e., truth hurts. I am not for delivering "pain-free" homilies. Discipleship is challenging, and acceptance of Christ's invitation to follow Him means the Cross. If preaching is merely to be a recitation of Hallmark Card aphorisms and self-congratulation, etc., then this has no place in the liturgy, and serves no real purpose except the preacher's on-going popularity campaign. I commend the deacon's willingness to challenge his listeners. However, the homilist should never mention "problem children" by name, for the reason of the avoidance of giving scandal.

Stephen Joseph

I think Smith's reaction has more to do with being turned away from the reception . . . Really, that's one of the only prices these days of speaking the Truth: You don't get invited to trendy parties. No one is getting fed to the lions . . . .

Dale Price

Here's the link:


I'm with Randy: what did the Deacon actually say? There's a whole lot of gasbagging about "swipes," "wedges" and "hurt," but the article doesn't give a clue as to what was said.

Oh, and while I tend to agree with Bishop Kmiec's point, it also behooves him to indicate that there's some actual talking to the politicos going on outside of Mass.

Rich Leonardi

"I can't tell you how terrible I felt," Smith said Tuesday. "While we have to always uphold the church's teachings regarding life, I don't think it's ever fair to publicly criticize someone who serves our community and our parish so well."

Yes. I'm sure Rep. Higgins supports the minimum wage, progressive taxation, and federal money for schools. That and he works the strong man booth at the parish festival.


We were taught in homiletics not to criticize anyone by name

Jesus taught differently:

"Go tell that fox (Herod)..."

Mentioned by nick-name, even!


What's the problem here? It's about time someone stood up to the politicians about their CONSTANT refusal to uphold Church teaching. You notice they never have any trouble going to Holy Communion.

Ignorant Redneck

Kudos to the deacon!

The scandal here, the leading of others to sin, is the toleration of murderers and those who facilitate murder in the assembly of the faithful. The Bishop needs to make this Deacon his household preacher--and the good representative needs to forgo communion.

A clergyman with spine, overseen by wimps.


Luke 13:31-2

M.Z. Forrest

Deacon shows "cojones" for one upping a politican at mass. Said deacon will probably not be offering homilies for awhile.

Lesson: Putting yourself in the place of the pastor and bishop to ridicule a politican is a quick way to make yourself irrelevant, even if it makes you feel self-righteous for a day.


I'm with Randy: what did the Deacon actually say? There's a whole lot of gasbagging about "swipes," "wedges" and "hurt," but the article doesn't give a clue as to what was said.

From the article:

McDonnell noted that Higgins was in attendance and suggested that congregants could talk with him about his vote.


A period of irrelevance. Like Paul's 14(?) years in the desert.

Let's hope he comes back with as much fire in his belly!


Maybe he thought that parishioner wasn't there when he told the parishioners to bring up his vote. Truly, it is better to take the person aside and privately express disappointment rather than publicly do so.

HOWEVER, the deacon may have been doing a very good thing since it appears that others are only too happy to praise the politician for doing public good works.

This part of Smith's comment makes me sick: "I don't think it's ever fair to publicly criticize someone who serves our community and our parish so well." That's the same load of malarky that crooked clergymen say about mafiosi and drug dealers who gave a lot of money to the church and community.

ron chandonia

We need more deacons like this and fewer "pastors" who gush over pro-death politicians.

paul zummo

It was probably bad form to bring up the politician by name, but it's otherwise refreshing to see someone address the matter head on. If poor old Higgins felt uncomfortable, then perhsaps it's time to start reconsidering how your vote on embryonic stem cell research accords with Church teaching.


"Lesson: Putting yourself in the place of the pastor and bishop to ridicule a politican is a quick way to make yourself irrelevant, even if it makes you feel self-righteous for a day."

That's bad theology. A deacon is an ordained member of the clergy, who has just as much of a right and duty to preach the word as any priest or bishop.

Saint Steven wasn't martyred waiting tables. The fact that the bishops of the United States consistently fail to live up to their pastoral duty by refusing to take definitive action against politicians who support the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocents is a travesty in itself.

I've no doubt Deacon McDonnell will be punished by his bishop. I hope it is in a very public manner, so that all of the faithful can see that said bishop is more worried about embarrassing a politician than the death of hundreds of thousands of the unborn. Then maybe enough people in the laity and the Vatican will see how corrupt and hollow the USCCB has become, and actually take some action.

Oh for another Francis of Assisi.


This could have been done with CHARITY. Mentioning the vote, without singling out someone and blatantly saying, "He's at Mass right now. Ask him what the hell is wrong with him," is a much more CHARITIBLE way to do this. There is no reason that I can see to publicly criticize this man when the Bible clearly states that if you've got a problem with someone you discuss it in private, then bring it before the Church, then bring it publicly. (Matthew 18, 15: http://www.drbo.org/cgi-bin/d?b=drb&bk=47&ch=18&l=15&f=s#x)

Remember 1Corinthians...it doesn't matter how much truth you've got on your side, if you speak without CHARITY, then you might as well be a clanging gong. (http://www.drbo.org/chapter/53013.htm)

This deacon seems to me not to have cajones, but to have a real lack of charity.

And, frankly, if I were singled out for my sins in the middle of Mass, I'd probably walk out, too. And complain to the bishop.


This doesn't sound like an effective approach. How would Francis de Sales have done it?


How would Francis de Sales have done it?

Probably not by selling out wholesale to the prevailing "mustn't touch the pols" ideology.

Sales. Pun intended.


Who is more irrevelevant, the deacon who spoke from his heart, or the wimp of a pastor whose highest goal is not to offend?

Sr Lorraine

Was this an effective way to handle the situation?
Judging by the politician's reaction, it wasn't.
To humiliate anyone in public is not just uncharitable but it doesn't work. It just makes people resentful.
Yes, we have to speak the truth, but to do it in a diplomatic way will get better results.
Was the real purpose? To have a meeting of the minds, or what?


Sounds like many here are UNCHARITABLY assuming that the Rev. Mr. didn't talk with the congressman privately first -- we don't know that he did not, do we? Is it impossible to imagine that he talked to the congressman, was rebuffed, then brought it to the congregation as a whole?

Talk about jumping to conclusions!


To have a meeting of the minds, or what?

Let's have a meeting of minds. Christ's and Herod's.

I'm glad the deacon chose what.

Dale Price


Thanks for the find. I still think it's bad form to do a short paraphrase given how much the aggrieved are quoted.

That said, I agree with Fr. Stanley--you can be squirm-inducingly blunt without singling out the offender by name. I wonder how things would have turned out had the Deacon had just condemned ESCR in general. Then again, maybe I don't wonder.


If the pastor, the bishop, and others believe that public criticism of a person is wrong and uncharitable, will someone please explain to me why they are themselves engaging in very public criticism of the deacon??? Why they complain about divisiveness by being divisive?

M.Z. Forrest

Who is more irrevelevant, the deacon who spoke from his heart, or the wimp of a pastor whose highest goal is not to offend?

In 6 months it should be apparent.


Should we now apologize to the Pharisees for Jesus' very public criticism of them?


I believe it was in 1994 that Mother Teresa upbraided the Clinton's at the national prayer breakfast. She didn't name them, but you still knew who she was kicking in the Christmas crackers.

George Lee

What kind of person walks out of Mass in a fit of pique after the sermon, thereby forsaking communion with God in the coming Eucharist?

Over some personal criticism? It seems to me that anyone who believed he was about to participate in the mystery of the Eucharist would stick around, criticism or not.

Rep. Brian Higgins' behavior seems like a good example of bourgeois amour propre gone mad.

Ave Maria!

How would St. Francis de Sales have done this? Well, I think he would have spoken the truth from the pulpit but not called out the man by name perhaps. In speaking all about the politicians who call themselves Catholic yet have the pro-abortion voting record, that politician would have been squirming and everyone would have known it was him anyway.

The Deacon will be punished, I imagine. I have known of retaliation in the church.

The bigger scandal are the clergy who pat the pro-aborts on the back and call them by their first name and call them friends. Have they no concern for their souls? Or the souls of others who see that it is okay to trash Church teachings and do whatever the hell (yes, hell because we are speaking of an intrinisic evil and that comes from hell) they want with impunity?

Maybe things could have been done more 'charitably' but finally someone stood up and called a spade a spade and that has long been lacking in our 'american catholic' spineless -lets all get along-church. Had our shepherds been speaking out all along, this would not have been so notable. And the priest and bishop would not be falling all over themselves apologizing that the truth was spoken.

Brian John Schuettler

"And, frankly, if I were singled out for my sins in the middle of Mass, I'd probably walk out, too. And complain to the bishop."
You are missing the point. The deacon called out a public servant who is on public record as being in support of the MURDER OF CHILDREN...this is not a situation where he was revealing someone's private sin...all the difference in the world!


What a sad state of affairs! We have Archbishop Wuerl who prefers to “teach”, Cardinal Egan who befriends and Fr. Robert Drinan who very publicly supports and encourages Catholic politicians who continually vote against life and do not follow the teachings of the Church. It takes a lowly Deacon to have the courage to confront a politician in front of his own constituency on his scandalous behavior. Sounds like the politician beat a hasty retreat to avoid the possibly more confrontational receiving line after Mass. He may have used a faulty method, but don’t you think it seems harsh because of the squishy way these politicians have been handled by their own church leaders? Anyone remember ‘whitewashed sepulchers?’ That was said in person, in public by Jesus Christ to very influential men and the scene seems to me to be eye-to-eye confrontation. I agree there may have been better methods, but I think this man showed courage. I wish there were more men like him.


The bravos should go to Fr. Stanley. And Sr. Lorraine. And gopsoccermom.

And for those who are whooping it up about this apparent example of using a homily to cast stones...naming a sinner BY NAME...at Mass just moments before the Consecration...

Well, maybe I'll mention your names in my next comment.

Who was it who said something along the lines of "I am the biggest liturgical abuse at Mass?" I think I read it here on Amy's blog, as a matter of fact.

This deacon ought to be ashamed of his behavior (although as others have pointed out, it would be nice to know exactly what he said).


From the GIRM:

65. The homily is part of the Liturgy and is strongly recommended, for it is necessary for the nurturing of the Christian life. It should be an exposition of some aspect of the readings from Sacred Scripture or of another text from the Ordinary or from the Proper of the Mass of the day and should take into account both the mystery being celebrated and the particular needs of the

I'll grant that I am not as well read as many commentors on this board, but where in this instruction, Sacrosanctum Concilium, or in any other liturgical instruction does it indicate that a homily is the appropriate place for publicly rebuking a particular individual?

Explaining a particular point of doctrine is one thing, criticizing how our government or society approaches life issues may be an important part of a homily, but to single out an individual for public rebuking does not seem appropriate.

George Lee

A man who thinks that protecting his ego is more important than receiving the Eucharist is a man who has his priorities badly out of whack.

Surely at Mass is when a spirtitually healthy person is most ego-less...


That's the sort of behavior that used to get St. John Chrysostom exiled from time to time.

I'm just sayin'...


maybe I'll mention your names in my next comment

CV, I'll save you the trouble: Coco!

Bravos to the majority here who applauded the deacon's teaching moment. In season or out.


This shouldn't happen. This issue should not come down to personal face-offs in Mass. But it will and must until the Bishops actually use their teaching voices to loudly proclaim so that no one can claim ignorance or confusion.

The reaction from the priest and Bishop just feeds that. The big villain is the deacon, not the proponent of harvesting babies??? The great sin in question was violating polite decorum, not harvesting babies????

If the shepherd of the church actually spoke like Stephen, or John the Baptist, or Paul, or even meek-but-direct like Mother Teresa, a lot of Catholics would exhale their frustrations with an assurance that the truth of the Gospels was being championed. When they don't you have people striking random blows at evil who weren't imbued with the epicsopal charisms bestowed upon the church to do the most damage and TRULY build up the Body of Christ.

We're waiting for the type of episcopal leadership that calls on the name of the Lord as in this Miguel Pro incident from China described recently by Sandro Magister (thanks to Jacob at Vatcian Watcher for posting it!)

The most relevant episode happened on the tragic day of September 8, 1955, when police conducted a gigantic raid, arresting hundreds of Catholics - from the bishop to priests, from catechists to members of the faithful belonging to [religious] associations, above all the Legion of Mary. They were brought to the dog racing stadium, where the bishop, the heroic Ignatius Gong Pinmei - created a cardinal in pectore in 1979, while he was still in prison - instead of renouncing the faith, cried out amid the distress of the Catholics huddled there and the disdain of the guards: “Long live Christ the King, long live the pope!”


Where is it written that Christians should be "diplomatic" in the face of evil?

Does "you brood of vipers!" ring any bells?


I support the deacon.

Does "you brood of vipers!" ring any bells?


I'm as Pro-Life as they come, but the Mass isn't the place for such matters. During the Holy Sacrifice, eyes, minds, and hearts should be centered on Christ. The Deacon essientially caused one of his parishoners to leave Christ's presence. Since the Deacon was preaching in persona Chirsti, it was as if Christ himself shouted to the politican "Get Out!"

It is one thing to preach about Sin, it is quite another to make it personal.


Good Lord. I think this is a record.


Father Smith and Bishop Kmiec would also like to apologize to anyone offended by that Jesus guy when He flipped over the tables and spilled all those coins.


I am no Bible scholar, but I think the "brood of vipers" and "whitewashed sepulchres" comments were made in the Temple. You go, Deacon!

c matt

Oh for another Francis of Assisi.

Oh for another Charles of Borromeo. If we were talking about an issue that is not crystal clear or has only recently come to the forefront(say immigration policy), I can understand the "rebuke in private" thing. If we are talking about a "private" sin - that is one unknown to the public, I can understand the "rebuke in private" thing. What part of "killing innocent unborn children is wrong" is difficult to understand? Maybe pointing him out by name was not the best approach, but it seems a better approach than giving him the "Everyone Loves Hilary" treatment espoused by Pastor Smith.

The real problem here is that the hierarchy has allowed (and continues to allow) Catholic pols get away with murder. Reading Church history over the past couple of days, (from Acts up to late Renaissance so far) I have yet to come across a period where the heirarchy waited more than a couple years to Ex-communicate serious offenders, particularly very public political ones (Kings, emperors, etc.). These guys can't even bring themselves to refuse communion after 30 years of butchering.

Jordan Potter

The homily really wasn't the right time for the deacon to do what he did, but otherwise I applaud him for publicly challenging the representative's grievous and scandalous sins in the hearing of the community. I'm still waiting for a bishop or priest to do to our pro-abortion Catholic politicos what St. Ambrose did to Emperor Theodosius after Theodosius deliberately massacred innocent bystanders while suppressing a rebellion. St. Ambrose personally blocked the church doors as Theodosius and his retinue were preparing to enter the church for Mass, and rebuked him in front of the crowd, saying he would not be allowed to come to church until he did public penance for his crime.

Traditionally it was one of the jobs of the deacons to make sure the church doors were locked and secured before the Consecration, to make sure pagans and those unworthy to receive Communion were not in the church. "The doors! The doors!" was the cry in the liturgy. In a way, this deacon was sort of doing his job according to ancient tradition.


Ad Majorem GOP Gloriam. Who are you really serving?

Michael in ArchDen

The question needs to be put to the appologizing pastor and bishop, if they feel like they have tried to use their teaching office with this individual. If they are working with the representitive to help him be in communion with the Church on this issue, then the deacon ought to be rebuked. If the answer is lots of "ummm", "well..." and ahhhs", then the deacon should be thanked for helping them see their duty more clearly.

Jordan Potter

I forgot to add: St. Ambrose's approach to the problem worked. Theodosius did public penance, and was restored to the Body of Christ.

I get sick at heart when I think how many souls may have been lost because most bishops today won't emulate the saints.


50 comments in 2 hours. Mainly supportive of the deacon. Vox populi, vox Dei.

Go Deacon!


Please, ken. It's "Galletas de Navidades"

Jordan Potter

"The Deacon essientially caused one of his parishoners to leave Christ's presence."

He probably also prevented him from committed sacrilege and giving public scandal by receiving Communion after having voted in favor of unspeakable evil.


Anybody remember the story of St. Anthony of Padua stopping mid-sermon, pointing directly at a bishop or archbishop and saying "I'm talking to you!" ?

The bishop wept contritely.


Jordan, I hate to keep harping on this everywhere, but scandal and sacrilege are two different things. Sacrilege of the Blessed Sacrament doesn't occur unless the person is, subjectively and objectively, in a state of mortal sin. We do not repeat DO NOT know the state of anyone's soul.

Scandal is a different story altogether. Scandal occurs when people are discouraged from truth and right, or encouraged in error and evil.

George Lee

Isn't the truth that over the last 30 years neither private counseling nor public confrontation has worked with ostensibly Catholic politicians?

I can't think of even one pro-choice Catholic politician who has switched from supporting, even championing, the legal right to abortion, regardless of which pastoral approach has been taken with them.

Old Zhou

Parish homilies are not the right place for this sort of public, personal rebuke; and a modern American permanent deacon taking a turn at homilies in a parish is not the right person to be issuing such a rebuke to a Congressman. Especially during a family event.

A public rebuke to a Congressman should be coming from the bishop, in the cathedral, whether the Congressman is present or not.

Now that the deacon has publicly embarrassed his pastor, his bishop, the Congressman, and the Congressman's family, it is quite possible that he will spend the rest of his days in ordained ministry (in obedience to his bishop) in some ecclesial Siberia, never again being permitted near a pulpit. Which is too bad, because he showed some promise. Apparently he had some past experience in prison ministry. Perhaps if he is lucky he will be allowed to speak behind bars.

It is unwise to compare the modern American phenomenon of "permanent deacon" to Ss. Stephen or Lawrence. Very different things. Similarly, St. Ambrose was a bishop when he contended with the leaders of the Empire.

Unfortunate turn of events all around, and most sadly, it will do nothing to help the cause of the 400,000 frozen American people who are viewed as nothing more than pharmaceutical ingredients.

When speaking the truth, one must balance honesty and discretion (Catechism, n. 2469).

M.Z. Forrest

Just a side comment.

People really need to be careful about calling their actions an imitation of the Saints, unless they are speaking of what happened at Soldier Field this past Sunday. Mother Teresa didn't stun the prayer group into silence by her words. The people knew they were in the presence of a holy woman, because she was living an exemplary, saintly life. It was their admiration for the witness of Christ that her body exuded that made them sit and listen. For by her witness, they knew the words she spoke were the words of Truth.

end off topic side comment.

c matt

Since the Deacon was preaching in persona Chirsti, it was as if Christ himself shouted to the politican "Get Out!"

You would hope that Rep. Higgins would see it that way. And its not as if there is no precedent for such confrontation from our Lord Himself (see Temple references above). I do see the point of those who say the homliy/Mass is not the place to personally confront, but how would it be different from barring them from communion? That would be just as personally pointing it out, and there is myriad precedent for such action.

The real problem here is a heirarchy in large part unwilling to do the difficult job of letting someone know they have left the Church. The rest of that portion from Mt. 18 says if he won't listen to the Church then treat him as a publican or heathen. The Church has spoken until it is blue in the face that supporting such measures are wrong - it is no "secret" what the Church's teaching is. It is no secret that certain politicians have rejected it. Until some of our Church leaders actually do refuse communion or actually do ex-communicate those that have rejected this teaching, nothing will change, either within the Giulianis and Pelosis of our country, or those who follow their lead. In other words, they will keep doing it as long as they can get away with it. The danger both to them and the bishops who don't take some action is that, in the end, they will not get away with it and will have to answer as we all will (the bishops likely worse than the politicians).


Wait up, O.Z. ...

Is this guy a permanent deacon?

Then he can't be booted around, not so?

Michael in ArchDen

This was also telling...
At a reception in Thomas Higgins' house after Sunday Mass, Smith [the apologizing pastor]was turned away at the door. "What happened was atrocious," Thomas Higgins said. "It wouldn't have done any good for him to come into the house, because people's feelings were so hurt."
Maybe the Congressman would have been more understanding if he'd only been turned away at the door.

John Jansen

Go Deacon!


Bishop Kmiec would do well to consider the actions taken on April 3, 2005 by one of his brothers in the episcopacy; namely, Bishop Thomas Paprocki, an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

The day after Pope John Paul II died, IL Governor Rod Blagojevich attended a memorial Mass celebrated at St. Hyacinth Basilica -- one of the largest Polish churches in Chicago -- by Bishop Paprocki (who himself speaks Polish).

Two days prior, Governor Blagojevich issued an executive order mandating that IL pharmacists dispense the morning-after pill "without delay" to those seeking it, even if they believed it be immoral.

In his remarks after Communion, Bishop Paprocki -- himself a lawyer, who comes a family of pharmacists -- advised the governor in the strongest possible terms to revoke his executive order.

His Excellency's remarks were met with thunderous applause from the standing-room only congregation. (I recall hearing that all Blagojevich could do was look at the floor.)

I'll say it again:

Go Deacon!


Diogenes, on Catholic World News, has an excellent excerpt from "Eichman: A Report On The Banality of Evil" This excerpt goes to the heart of the matter regarding our Church Leaders and their ineptitude/lack of courage regarding the abortion holocaust.

Eichmann's defense attorney Dr. Robert Servatius for once took the initiative and asked the witness a highly pertinent question: "Did you try to influence [Eichmann]? Did you, as a clergyman, try to appeal to his feelings, preach to him, and tell him that his conduct was contrary to morality?" Of course, the very courageous pastor had done nothing of the sort, and his answers now were highly embarrassing. He said that "deeds are more effective that words," and that "words would have been useless"; he spoke in clichés that had nothing to do with the reality of the situation, where "mere words" would have been deeds, and where it had perhaps been the duty of a clergyman to test the "uselessness of words." Even more pertinent than Dr. Servatius' question was what Eichmann said about this episode in his last statement: "Nobody," he repeated, "came to me and reproached me for anything in the performance of my duties. Not even Pastor Grüber claims to have done so." He then added, "he came to me and sought the alleviation of suffering, but he did not actually object to the very performance of my duties as such."
Nobody came to me and reproached me for anything in the performance of my duties. Would it have made a difference if Grüber had done so? Maybe, maybe not. But as Arendt laconically remarks, we're inclined to think that a clergyman, more than other citizens, might have disregarded the calculus of political probabilities and -- like the prophet Nathan in the presence of King David -- delivered a rebuke simply because it's true. Looking back on the Nazi crisis from this distance, which course do we wish our clergy had taken?

A person has to wonder if our Church leaders are acting in the same manner as those religious leaders did toward the Nazi holocaust on the Jews. Today, it really appears that our Church leaders are 1) afraid to stand up for the Truth or 2) more concerned with currying favor with men versus seeking the approval of God.

Would that there were more Bishops and preist like this Deacon! He is simply being punished for being "a voice crying out in the wilderness." Let me assure you folks, our most Holy Triune God knows what the Bishops are doing and not doing. One wonders if they belive this. Suffice it to say, to those who have been given much, much more is expected. So, on this the blessed feast day of St. Francis De Sales, let is pray to our Beloved Lord that He will send us humble and holy priest who will be full of zeal to cry out as Jesus Himself did with "repent and reform your lives for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."

Peace to all,



I think the problem is that there has been NO public confrontation, only public, scandalous support as we have seen recently with Ms. Pelosi. We can only guess at the private counseling efforts. The results are as you say. Given the way the good Deacon's bosses reacted, you see the attitude of the clergy on these issues. Feelings matter more than the truth, because the truth hurts.

Jordan Potter

Point taken, but sometimes an act can be both sacrilege and a scandal. Also, it is because we cannot know the representative soul that I said "probably."

Ed the Roman

Obviously I don't know what private methods have been tried.

I do know how well they have worked.

If the policy cannot be reversed through the use of private methods,


Scandal and confusion result from public quiet


There is not some great harm expected from public methods


Either the public methods seem to be called for, or the great harm needs to be explained to abate the scandal and confusion.

At least I think so. I have seen no evidence that the private methods are working, in the form of Catholic pro-choice officeholders becoming pro-life.


Eddus Romanus,

turn that into a syllogism and march it up to the top of the class!

c matt

Isn't the truth that over the last 30 years neither private counseling nor public confrontation has worked with ostensibly Catholic politicians?

I don't know if private counseling has been tried, as it would be private. It is apparent that they have not changed their position, so if private counseling has taken place, it obviously has not worked.

I have not seen public confrontation (other than a few isolated instances). It seem both the offending politician and the bishops have done their best to avoid confrontation. The pol simply going to a parish where he knows there will be no confrontation; the bishops failing to act as a group to force a decision (I understand there is a rumor that the USCCB is putting together a committe to study the possibility of maybe deciding whether to decide on this issue - a report on this committee's progress is expected in the year 2050).

Jordan Potter

By the way, my previous comment was in response to what Ephrem said . . .

Blind Squirrel

Would we be having this conversation if the deacon had admonished from the pulpit some notoriously racist politician who professed to be Catholic--assume, for the sake of argument, that David Duke had actually won the election in Louisiana and then presented himself at Mass?

Ed Mechmann

Just so the record is clear. Mr. Higgins has been a Congressman since 2005. In the 2005-2006 Congress, there were 9 votes on pro-life issues (according to National Committee for a Human Life Amendment). He voted anti-life on all 9. He voted for embryonic stem cell research, for allowing abortions in military hospitals, for funding to organizations that promote abortion, and against making it a federal crime to transport a minor across state lines for an abortion to evade parental notification laws. He was endorsed and rated 100% "pro-choice" by NARAL and Planned Parenthood in 2006.

His official biography on his website describes him as a parishioner at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in South Buffalo.

ron chandonia

From the article: However, the deacon also took a swipe at Higgins over the same stem cell vote the day before in a 4 p.m. Mass, with Smith in attendance.

In other words, the deacon did not set out to attack a person in the congregation. With the knowledge of his pastor, he had used one Catholic politician's very public vote as a telling example of the evil so many of our Catholic politicians are doing--and he was not afraid to do it again in the presence of that very politician. Where can we get a thousand of these deacons???? It would go far to revitalize our Church.


Where can we get a thousand of these deacons?

By having a thousand men be impressed by his example.

Rock on!

Michael in ArchDen

Here's another disturbing thing about the congressman's comments....

The pastor says he's an asset to the community and the parish...

The article says he was baptized and married in the parish...

but the congressman say he and his family were at Mass "... primarily because the Mass was being said in memory of Shirley Higgins, the late wife of close friend and former Erie County Sheriff Thomas F. Higgins."

What about his Sunday obligation? That's not a good enough reason?!? Is he a member of this parish (which would seem to be indicated by the pastors comments), or does he belong to another (less confrontational?) parish?

Shawn Mullins

Viva la deacon!

Jordan Potter

Old Zhou said: "Similarly, St. Ambrose was a bishop when he contended with the leaders of the Empire."

Yes, I am all in favor of Bishop Kmiec personally blocking the entrance of his church the next time a pro-abort Catholic politician shows.


I still maintain that this comes across as completely uncharitible. And I hate to say it, but I see such a strong thread of this attitude in a lot of people.

I certainly would not say that this politician should be patted on the back and told "there, there" and that his votes are fine. And I completely agree that the bishops need to instruct (and en mass) on the evils of the Culture of Death as well as the importance of upholding the Church's teachings. I have said as much plenty of times (even publicly).

However, I see a great strain here of a Holier-Than-Thou attitude, with a large dose of comparison of this deacon to not only saints of various times, but to Christ Himself. Perhaps I'm missing something here, but the deacon is most likely not on the same level as Our Lord. I understand that he is there to teach in his homily, but at the same time, charity is most important. MOST important.

I have been growing weary of the uncharitible reactions many have in St. Blog's. I am quite sure that no one here would enjoy sitting at Mass, listening to a deacon or priest discussing the need to refrain from judging (since we are judged as we judge others), and then pointedly say, "You know, I've noticed that Coco has a real problem with this at times. You know that she sometimes talks about how great it is that so-and-so was publicly chastised? It really shows that she's got a judgemental nature. You should confront her about this and ask her why she's like that."

Whether or not he approached you personally about it before, would you not be completely mortified that he aired your dirty laundry?

I am not saying that the priest should provide cover for this politician. I'm not saying that the bishop shouldn't be telling him to shape up or he'll be forced to excommunicate him. I'm saying that the deacon was uncharitible and did not do himself or anyone else a service by pointing him out and mentioning his sin (public or not) to everyone and then inviting them all to ask him about it.

Flies, honey, vinegar, and all that.


RKF said, "Ad Majorem GOP Gloriam. Who are you really serving?" That's right folks, its a political thing. Nothing immoral going on here, move along.

Morning's Minion

I have no problem with a a homilist explaining Catholic teaching, including on ESCR. I have a major problem with singling out people by name. There's enough condemnation to go around on all sides.

When will we hear a homily in the presence of some Republican denoucing torture (which, by the way is intrinsically evil, which means like abortion and EXCR that circumstances do not matter)?


And, remember when you read my last comment that I do not mean to sugar coat things or to remain silent. Please read it in context with my other remarks. If you doubt my Pro Life credentials, so to speak, feel free to go to my blogs and read about me.


As St. Bill Murray said,"Flies? Who wants flies?"

Blind Squirrel

Tony A: I'll root for one on torture, if you root for one on abortion.

Old Zhou

From his biography at the Diocese of Buffalo website:

Bishop Kmiec served as chairman of the Bishops' Committee on the Diaconate from 1995 through 1998.
That coming private chat between Bishop Kmiec and Deacon McDonnell should be quite interesting.


Mornings Minnon's wrote, "When will we hear a homily in the presence of some Republican denoucing torture (which, by the way is intrinsically evil, which means like abortion and EXCR that circumstances do not matter)?"

When will MM stick to the topic at hand?

Brian John Schuettler

"It is unwise to compare the modern American phenomenon of "permanent deacon" to Ss. Stephen or Lawrence. Very different things. Similarly, St. Ambrose was a bishop when he contended with the leaders of the Empire."

A Permanent Deacon takes Holy Vows and is indelibly marked, just as Saint Stephen was. Your needless semantical statement adds nothing to the discussion at hand. It would be like standing and observing the stoning of Saint Stephen and then commenting upon the size of the rocks used.
And since you are giving history lessons, why not point out that Saint Ambrose was publicly proclaimed a bishop while he was still a layman working as an official of the Roman government. Does that mean that his taking of Holy Orders is inherently different from a bishop today who goes through the process of seminary training and many years as a priest? Think with your heart, my friend, think with your heart!


Sometimes the most charitable thing that you can do for a person is to smack them upside the head, not to remain silent.

As for not doing such things at Mass, it is true that we do not want the priest/deacon at Mass to be "all about me," and we do not want to overly politicize, but it cannot be said that singling out someone is unprecedented. At the very first Eucharist, Peter was (twice) singled out by name, and Judas was singled out by his actions.

Rich Leonardi

When will we hear a homily in the presence of some Republican denoucing torture (which, by the way is intrinsically evil, which means like abortion and EXCR that circumstances do not matter)?

When Catholic Republicans make torture a core issue of their national campaign, stump for it relentlessly, and then advertise their affiliation with the Church.


Again, Bender, the good deacon is not Jesus. I am more open to his comparison to a saint than I am to people saying that his actions were justified because Jesus could do the same thing. Jesus is God, knew the very thoughts of those men, knew the states of their souls.

fr richard

I think the passion seen in the comments here, no matter what position the posters take, is because there has not been any real leadership from our bishops, in general, on what should be done with Catholic politicians who continually vote against the lives of the unborn, but still receive the Eucharist.

In my state the "Catholic" governor is in favor of every "pro-choice" position that exists. When the pastor of his parish refused him Communion one Sunday, he just switched parishes, where I assume all is fine. The bishop says nothing. There is no leadership, and no direction.

And the fruit of that episcopal silence is reflected above.



Are you kidding me? Finally, someone who is ordained who is not a mamsy pamsy - this should be cause for celebration. If only he and his bishop could switch positions!!!


Thanks, Jordan.

Jordan Potter

The amazing number of comments here is a testimony, I think, to the real hunger the faithful have for our ordained teachers to speak the truth and to show by their actions, even their disciplinary actions, that they believe the truth.

"I'm saying that the deacon was uncharitible and did not do himself or anyone else a service by pointing him out and mentioning his sin (public or not) to everyone and then inviting them all to ask him about it."

As I said, the homily was the wrong time and place for it. But otherwise it was hardly uncharitable. Imprudent, sure, but it could hardly be less charitable than the comparable actions of Christ and the saints. Were they uncharitable when they publicly and tactlessly rebuked sinners?

mark j

I support the deacon !



I am not kidding. You can get the point across without naming the person in the middle of Mass. How would you have felt if you were the one mentioned as the big sinner in the middle of the homily?

And Ken, when the fly in question is a soul that you want to save, it's pretty desirable. It's not necessary to beat someone over the head to convince them, to help them in their ongoing conversion.

And Fr. Richard, I agree that the bishops need to speak out on this, as a group, and make it abundantly clear that this is not to be tolerated. If only the bishops would make it clear that NO pro-abortion politician should present himself for Communion, that the priests are to withold Communion from such people, and that they want to know if someone disobeys that directive...maybe then we'd see some change on a local level. It would be nice.

But naming names like that? Telling people to ask him about it?

Still very uncool. It could have been handled better.

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