Catholics & the 2004 Presidential Election - Collected Readings & Resources

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

NY Times Aghast that Colorado Springs
Bishop Proclaims Catholic Teaching  

Posted by Oswald at 8:24 AM

Another bishop has courageously stepped up to the plate and dared to repeat Catholic teaching in a pastoral letter, citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Pope's encyclical The Gospel of Life, and the Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In his pastoral letter, Bishop Michael Sheridan of the Diocese of Colorado Springs begins with a welcome and needed discussion of the Catholic view of what conscience is and its role in our moral decisions. He then proceeds to state clearly that in the November election Catholic voters must ensure that pro-life candidates win. He states clearly the bottom-line on pro-abortion Catholic politicians and voters:
There must be no confusion in these matters. Any Catholic politicians who advocate for abortion, for illicit stem cell research or for any form of euthanasia ipso facto place themselves outside full communion with the Church and so jeopardize their salvation. Any Catholics who vote for candidates who stand for abortion, illicit stem cell research or euthanasia suffer the same fateful consequences. It is for this reason that these Catholics, whether candidates for office or those who would vote for them, may not receive Holy Communion until they have recanted their positions and been reconciled with God and the Church in the Sacrament of Penance. (Bishop Michael Sheridan, Pastoral Letter On the Duties of Catholic Politicans and Voters, (PDF document), May 1, 2004, Diocese of Colorado Springs)
In his pastoral letter, Bishop Sheridan correctly applies this same conclusion to those advocating same-sex "marriage":
As in the matter of abortion, any Catholic politician who would promote so-called "same-sex marriage" and any Catholic who would vote for that political candidate place themselves outside the full communion of the Church and may not receive Holy Communion until they have recanted their positions and been
reconciled by the Sacrament of Penance.
The document is worth reading in its entirety. Bishop Sheridan also makes clear that he is in solidarity with and supporting his brother bishops who have dared to clearly state Catholic teaching on these issues. After you read the letter in its entirety, then consider what I will now say about the NY Times coverage of the same letter.

The theme of the NY Times headline, "Bishop Would Deny Rite for Defiant Catholic Voters," and story is that Sheridan is now daring to advocate denying the Eucharist to any Catholic voter who votes for a pro-abortion politician. Of course, this sensationalistic approach is intended to panic the average Catholic parishioner who fears that now he or she will be denied the Eucharist just as some pro-abortion celebrities have been. Well, if a Catholic voter is a well-known activist for abortion or gay marriage who obstinately and knowingly persists in pushing these anti-Catholic positions then he or she can and should under canon law be denied the Eucharist. But it is obvious that no anonymous, average Catholic voter by definition fits into the category of a public activist. This pastoral letter is telling average, anonymous Catholic voters that if they have freely and knowingly voted for pro-abortion politicians and/or politicians supporting gay "marriage," fully aware, as is likely, that these positions are gravely immoral under Catholic moral teaching, they need to go to confession prior to receiving the Eucharist.

But obviously no one will be able to deny the Eucharist to such an average voter for the simple practical reason that his acts are not known to the public. Even the NY Times article makes note of that, even while distorting the wording of the bishop's pastoral letter. In my view, the NY Times is distorting the message of the pastoral letter—which at no point addresses the issue of denying anyone the Eucharist—in order to paint Sheridan as an extremist inquisitor who will now harass every Catholic communicant, however humble and anonymous. In my opinion, this distortion is part of the liberal strategy to save Kerry and other pro-abortion celebrities by linking their fate to that of noncelebrity, average Catholics.

The NY Times is so alarmed and aghast that some Catholic bishops are showing chutzpah that it misrepresents Sheridan's written statement and thereby creates confusion among average Catholics. But the same liberal media won't be alarmed about someone like Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles who is indirectly quoted in the same story as asserting that Kerry is "welcome" to receive the Eucharist in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Mahoney's compromise of Catholic teaching is to be expected by anyone familiar with his liberal reputation. It is no surprise. I would not even be surprised to see Mahoney leading the invocation for Kerry at the Democratic convention in Boston. Kerry recently met privately with Mahoney on May 5th. It would not be out of the ordinary for Kerry to have already issued the invitation for Mahoney to appear at the Democratic convention. As I recall, Mahoney has done that before. But what is a newsworthy surprise is that an increasing number of Mahoney's brother bishops are showing that they are cut from a different cloth.

Update: If you would like to thank Bishop Sheridan of Colorado Springs for his strong apostolic witness, you can e-mail the Diocese of Colorado Springs at The media will try to paint these stalwart bishops as extremists or kooks. We know better, and should encourage bishops who stand up to the errors of the secular culture.

Ongoing commentary by the editors of CatholicKerryWatch

Sen. John Kerry stands with Kate Michelman (right) President of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Since 1995, Michelman's group has given Kerry a 100% rating for his voting record to defend abortion.


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Earl E. Appleby of
Times Against Humanity

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The Curt Jester

Ad Limina Apostolorum

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Related Documents & Articles

Worthiness To Recieve Communion: General Principles
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Evangelium Vitae
Pope John Paul II

Worthy to Receive the Lamb: Catholics in Political Life and the Reception of Holy Communion, from Archbishop Donoghue (Atlanta, GA), Bishop Baker (Charleston, SC) and Bishop Jugis (Charlotte, NC).
August 4, 2004

Catholics in Political Life U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. June 7, 2004.

Catholic Politicians and Bishops. By Most Rev. Raymond L. Burke, Archbishop of St. Louis. America June 21-28, 2004.

A Time For Honesty, Pastoral Statement by The Most Reverend John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark. May 5, 2004.

Why Communion Could Be Denied to Anti-Life Legislators. Interview with Father Thomas Williams, dean of the School of Theology of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum.

Why Don't Catholic Politicians Practice What the Catholic Church Preaches?, by Judie Brown. Washington Dispatch April 19, 2004.

How to tell a Duck from a Fox: Thinking with the Church as we look toward November, by Archbishop Chaput. Denver Catholic Register April 14, 2004.

On the Dignity of Human Life and Civic Responsibility, a Pastoral Letter by La Crosse Bishop Raymond L. Burke.

Blood On Their Hands: Exposing Pro-abortion Catholic Politicians, by Mark Stricherz. Crisis May 2003.

The Failure of Catholic Political Leadership, by Robert P. George & William E. Saunders. Crisis 18, No. 4 (April 2000).

Denying Holy Communion: A Case History, by Bishop Emeritus Rene Henry Gracida. [PDF Format].

Ten questions regarding the denial of the Eucharist, by Barbara Kralis.

Recommmended Reading

John Kerry, Abortion and the Catholic Church

Irreconcilable Differences", by Matthew Mehan. NRO Sept. 16, 2004.

John Courtney Murray and the 'Liberal Catholic' Justification of Abortion Investigative report by Christopher Blosser. August 30, 2004.

"Please answer the question, Senator Kerry", The Mighty Barrister. August 2, 2004.

You wouldn't even ask. Fr. Pavone (Priests for Life). July 2004.

Kerry isn't making abortion stand clear, by Raymond J. Keating. Newsday July 27, 2004.

Senator Kerry May Be Human . . . But is He a Person?, Catholic Kerry Watch. July 23, 2004.

Kerry's Catholic Problem, by Brent Bozell. July 7, 2004.

The Body Politic and the Body of Christ: Candidates, Communion and the Catholic Church. Debate btw/ Thomas J. Reese, S.J. and George Weigel. June 23, 2004.

The Kerry challenge, by George Weigel. May 5, 2004.

Rites and Wrongs: Why John Kerry should not take communion, by Philip F. Lawler. Wall Street Journal April 30, 2004.

John Kerry's Catholic Problem", by Cal Thomas. April 26, 2004.

Kerry Distorting Catholic Doctrine. interviews George Weigel. April 16, 2004.

"Personally Opposed, But…" Five Pro-Abortion Dodges, by Todd M. Aglialoro. Crisis April 1, 2004.

On Embryonic Stem-Cell Research

Reagan vs. Reagan and The Stem-Cell Cover-Up, Catholic Kerry Watch, August 14, 2004.

Senator Kerry dismisses religious convictions as "ideology"  Catholic Kerry Watch. August 9, 2004.

Ron Reagan & Functionalism, Revisited, Catholic Kerry Watch. July 29, 2004.

Out of Touch, by Michael Fumento. Refuting Kerry's claims on the use of embryonic stem cells. Citizen Magazine August 2004.

Stem Cell Defection, by Ramesh Ponnuru. National Review August 16, 2004.

Stem Cell Research: Fact Sheets, Letters to Congress and Articles from the USCCB.

On Voting, "Proportionality" and Cardinal Ratzinger's Memorandum

What Ratzinger Said, by James Akin. Sept. 9, 2004.

Bishops Refute Flawed Theology (of Andrew Greeley) Barbara Kralis. August 22, 2004.

Thoughts on Proportionality, Catholic Kerry Watch. July 12, 2004.

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