The first controversy, perpetuated by Cardinal McCarrick, took place at the plenary meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which took place June 14–19, 2004, in Denver, CO.
Knowing well the U.S. bishops' need to correct the scandal of over 500 "Catholic" politicians who promote procured abortion, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, had sent a memorandum in English expressly to the attention of Cardinal McCarrick and Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the USCCB. The directive was to be shared with the bishops as a guideline representing firmly defined Church teaching and law.
In his memorandum Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion—General Principles, Cardinal Ratzinger said without ambiguity:
"The minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it" when warning and counsel given the manifest sinner "have not had their effect."As chair of the USCCB Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, Cardinal McCarrick presented the remaining 189 U.S. bishops with his own recommendations regarding Catholic politicians who promote procured abortion. Not unexpectedly, they departed from clearly defined Church teachings and Canon Law. The "Task Force does not advocate the denial of Communion from Catholic politicians or Catholic voters," Cardinal McCarrick proclaimed."
Unfortunately, Cardinal McCarrick did not share the contents of Cardinal Ratzinger's directive with neither the Bishops Conference nor the committee tasked with composing the ensuing controversial statement, Catholics in Political Life. Because Cardinal McCarrick withheld Vatican directives, the bishops were led to believe that Cardinal Ratzinger was recommending them to take action contrary to Vatican documents and laws, some written by Cardinal Ratzinger himself. Confusion reigned and the bishops remain divided to this day.
Fr. Andrew Greeley perpetuated the second controversy regarding the same memorandum from Cardinal Ratzinger.
None would dispute that Fr. Greeley is the "Catholic" darling of the secular media. Whenever the major news marketers require an interview on Catholic issues, they invariably call on the ubiquitous Fr. Greeley. Author of numerous nigh on pornographic novels, Fr. Greeley is under the authority of Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago. It is not known if Cardinal George has imposed any disciplines upon the aging hippy, Fr. Greeley, whose behavior is inconsistent with the ordained priesthood.
True to form, in the August 10, 2004 issue of the New York Daily News, Fr. Greeley crafted a column that disparaged faithful bishops under the deceitful headline "Catholics can vote for Kerry." In his column, Fr. Greeley dishonestly states that His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that Catholics could vote for Presidential candidate John Kerry who promotes procured abortion.
Fr. Greeley was fraudulently referring to the Cardinal Ratzinger memorandum. A scandalous excerpt from Fr. Greeley's column reads as follows:
It is as close to an official statement on the subject as one is likely to get. It says that Catholics are not obliged to vote on one issue, no matter how important the issue might be. They may vote for Kerry "for other reasons" so long as they are not supporting him merely for his pro-choice stance. That ought to settle the matter. Catholics who have been confused by the insistence of a few bishops, some priests and some pro-life laity that they must vote against Kerry now know that they are free to make their choice balancing all issues—just as they always have been. The theory of "indirect material cooperation" is traditional Catholic moral teaching. Apparently, the few bishops who threaten to exclude Catholics from Communion if they vote for Kerry don't know much traditional moral theology, which shows what the qualifications are for the bishopric these days.That disparaging excerpt is malicious, but not surprising coming from a priest who makes a living writing steamy, enticing novels that are either an "occasion of sin" or "blatantly sinful to read."
According to three U.S. bishops, Fr. Greeley has distorted the words of Cardinal Ratzinger. The bishops—Bishop Robert Francis Vasa, M.Div., J.C.L., Baker, OR; Bishop Michael J. Sheridan, Colorado Springs, CO; and Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, D.D., S.T.D., Lincoln, NE—have granted this writer exclusive statements that strongly disagree with Fr. Greeley. The bishops were asked if they agreed with Fr. Greeley's assessment of Cardinal Ratzinger's statement. Their responses follow:
- Bishop Robert Francis Vasa, M.Div., J.C.L.
I see little sense in entering into a debate about the theological merits of Fr. Andrew Greeley's statement in the New York Daily News article of August 10, 2004. I do believe his interpretation of Cardinal Ratzinger's June statement is erroneous.
While it is an interesting intellectual exercise to debate whether Catholics, under certain very limited circumstances, may or may not vote for candidates who favor procured abortion, the more important practical question is whether practicing Catholics should, in fact, vote for a candidate who openly, consistently and even aggressively defends the killing of preborn children when there are pro-life alternatives.
Whether a Catholic may or may not vote for a candidate who favors procured abortion, when there are pro-life alternatives available, can be debated. Whether he should or should not, in my mind, is very clear. Preborn human life in our country is under consistent and vicious attack and those lives must be defended. As I have said elsewhere, these little ones have no vote but mine and I will use it for them at every opportunity.
- Bishop Michael J. Sheridan
It is my opinion that Fr. Andrew Greeley's reading of Cardinal Ratzinger's memorandum is very incorrect. Nowhere does Fr. Greeley even attempt to deal with the qualifying phrase "...in the presence of proportionate reasons."
I would ask Fr. Greeley to provide those reasons that could even begin to justify voting for an avowedly pro-abortion candidate. Put another way, how do we balance out the murder of more than one million babies each year with any good or series of goods?
Also, if Fr. Greeley's reading of the memo is correct, we would have to throw out other magisterial teachings, for example, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's own statement Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life.
- Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, D.D., S.T.D.
No Catholics of any sense will take any pastoral advice from Fr. Andrew Greeley, a superficial writer who appears to spend his time promoting himself to various elements in the secular media.Labra lege! Catholics cannot follow Fr. Greeley's bad advice and vote for John Kerry.
It is often said by priests and people in his native region of Chicago that he long ago published all his thoughts, and in the last decades has been publishing his fantasies.
In his article in the New York Daily News, fostering a pro-abortion vote ("so long as it is not merely for that..."), he seems to strongly indicate not only a tragic indifference to abortion, which the Second Vatican Council called "an abominable crime," but a shallowness of mind akin to a harlequin.
In his self-important buffoonery, he has appointed himself as instructor to bishops and to Catholics nationwide. In doing this, he merely announces to every thoughtful Catholic that his views are totally self serving and undeserving of any serious consideration.
Fr. Greeley even appointed himself to be an interpreter and spokesman for Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, to the great amusement of all who really know the Cardinal.
My advice to any Catholics who would ask me about that Greeley article would be to give it the same view as you would the words and acts of a clown.
If you would like to express your gratitude to these courageous bishops, contact them as follows:
- E-mail Bishop Vasa at Chancellor@DioceseofBaker.org
- E-mail Bishop Sheridan at Info@Diocs.org
- E-mail Bishop Bruskewitz at Sr.Collette@cdoLinc.net