Catholics & the 2004 Presidential Election - Collected Readings & Resources


Wednesday, June 30, 2004

There is a developing story about s Catholic lawyer who has filed heresy charges against Sen. John Kerry with the Archdiocese of Boston. This document was sent to the archdiocese on June 14, but has only be recently released to the public.

When I can get more information I will update this post.

Update: Here is an article on this story in the Washington Times.

A Catholic lawyer has filed heresy charges against Sen. John Kerry with the Archdiocese of Boston, accusing the Democratic presidential candidate of bringing "most serious scandal to the American public" by receiving Holy Communion as a pro-choice Catholic.

The 18-page document was sent to the archdiocese June 14, but released to the public only yesterday by Marc Balestrieri, a Los Angeles-based canon lawyer and an assistant judge with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles' tribunal, an ecclesiastical court.

"Heresy is a public, ecclesiastical crime," said Mr. Balestrieri, 33, whose complaint is posted at www.defide.com. "It affects entire communities. It is one of the greatest sins you can commit."

If the Boston Archdiocese, which is refusing comment on the case, decided to press heresy charges, the Massachusetts senator could be excommunicated.

"My goal is his repentance, not excommunication," Mr. Balestrieri said. The charges do not seek monetary damages.

The Rev. Arthur Espelage, executive coordinator for the Canon Law Society in Alexandria, said a Catholic layman can legitimately bring a case against another layman in a church court. The charges, known in church parlance as a "denunciation," are similar to a criminal complaint in secular law.

But "this is really unique," he said. "I have never heard of a case like this being processed before."

The charges must be filed in the diocese where Mr. Kerry lives. If the Archdiocese of Boston rejects the case, Mr. Balestrieri can appeal it to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in Rome.

Father Espelage said church officials, not politicians, are the ones usually accused of heresy. But this suit may change that.

"It's as if someone has launched the nuclear missile now," the priest said. "I'd suspect there will be communication between the [Boston] Archdiocese and the Holy See on this."

A spokeswoman for Mr. Kerry refused comment because the campaign had not seen the document.

Mr. Balestrieri said he filed the heresy charge — plus an additional complaint charging "harm" to himself as a result of Mr. Kerry's pronouncements on abortion and related issues — because canon law entitles Catholics to "possession of the faith unharmed."

"By spreading heresy, he is endangering not just mine by every Catholic's possession of the faith," he said.

"I am inviting all baptized Catholics who feel injured by Kerry to join the suit as third parties" by reading the document on the Web site and then sending a certified letter of agreement to the Boston Archdiocese.

"People are saying you can be pro-choice and be a good Christian, that it is not contrary to the faith to support aborted murder," Mr. Balestrieri said. "This is a life-threatening heresy."

"Bishops have had 31 years [since the Supreme Court made abortion an individual right] to do something on this matter, but they've done nothing," he said.

Charles M. Wilson, director of the St. Joseph Foundation in San Antonio, which has filed numerous complaints in church courts across the country on behalf of Catholic laity, doubts the Boston Archdiocese will respond to the case.

The weak point of a "denunciation" suit, he said, is that the bishop need not take action. Usually a bishop will first investigate the case and determine whether the charges have substance, Mr. Wilson said, but Archbishop Sean O'Malley of Boston is under no obligation to prosecute the accused.


Update: Here is a link to the heresy charges.


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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Contributing Editors:

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Jeff Miller of
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Ad Limina Apostolorum

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Bloggers

Ad Limina Apostolorum
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The Blog From The Core
Catholics for Bush [Blog]
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Disputations
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Fidelis
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Just Being Frank
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Organizations

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News Resources

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Kerry Communion Watch @ Beliefnet.com

The Candidates on Abortion: Where do they stand?

Documentation

LifeIssues.Net

Periodicals

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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. Newsmax.com 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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