Catholics & the 2004 Presidential Election - Collected Readings & Resources


Sunday, August 22, 2004

Bishops Refute Flawed Theology 

Posted by Earl at 3:14 AM

From the pages of Fidelis, as posted by my fellow resident pundit Barbara Kralis . . .

No other Vatican memorandum has caused as much controversy in recent times as that written by the head of the Vatican's second most important dicastery of the Roman Curia. Moreover, one cardinal and one priest are at the forefront of this controversy, namely, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, DC, and retired sociologist Father Andrew M. Greeley, Ph.D.

  • First Controversy

  • 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."[1]
    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."[2]

    Unfortunately, Cardinal McCarrick did not share the contents of Cardinal Ratzinger's directive with neither the Bishops Conference nor the committee[3] tasked with composing the ensuing controversial statement, Catholics in Political Life.[4] 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,[5] some written by Cardinal Ratzinger himself. Confusion reigned and the bishops remain divided to this day.

  • Second Controversy

  • 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."

  • Bishops Refute Fr. Greeley's Theology

  • 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.[6]
    • Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, D.D., S.T.D.
    Bishop Bruskewitz conveyed his response through his Vicar General, Msgr. Timothy J. Thorburn, J.C.L.
    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.

    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.
    Labra lege! Catholics cannot follow Fr. Greeley's bad advice and vote for John Kerry.

    If you would like to express your gratitude to these courageous bishops, contact them as follows:
    Editor's Note: I urge you to do so!


    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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    Oswald Sobrino of
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    Earl E. Appleby of
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    Jeff Miller of
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    Jamie
    Ad Limina Apostolorum

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    Against The Grain


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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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