EWTN's 'The World Over Live' featured an interview w/ Marc Balestrieri, J.C.L. of De Fide, who made headlines this past July for filing charges of heresy against Senator Kerry. After months of silence, Mr. Balestrieri was able to break major developments in the case. Here's a brief summary from Mr Balestrieri -- and an official press release with all the details is forthcoming and will be posted to De Fide's website.
The denunciation and complaint is pending before Archbishop O'Malley of Boston, according to the head of the Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Boston. The case was delayed due to the Tribunal being massively overwhelmed by the thousands upon thousands of individual denunciations and complaints. The Tribunal has sent the case upwards to O'Malley.
In late August, Mr. Balestrieri went to Rome to discuss the "unprecedented nature and scope" of the case with 10 experts. He "decided in conscience" to consult with the Vatican. He submitted two questions in Latin to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:
Whether or not the Church's teaching condemning any and every direct abortion is a dogma of Divine and Catholic Faith, and if the denial and doubt of the same constitutes heresy.
Whether or not the Church's teaching condemning any and every right to abortion is a dogma of Divine and Catholic Faith, and if the denial and doubt of the same constitutes heresy.
According to Marc, "Less than ten days later, the Rev. Basil Cole, O.P., an expert theologian was delegated by the Very Rev. Augustine di Noia, O.P., Undersecretary of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, to fulfill the task of responding to the question. He studied the matter carefully, and has responded "Affirmative" on both counts."
The four-page response is posted in full .pdf format at www.defide.com/. It is an excellent letter, and must be read in its entirety to get a real sense of the complexity of the issues involved and the sound and meticulous judgement of the church as to what constitutes heresy. I would also advise all readers to do so because, if the treatment of Cardinal Ratzinger's memorandum was any indication, there is an even greater capacity here for misleading and altogether botched reporting by the mainstream press -- best to familiarize yourself with the actual document(s) in question.
The Congregation affirms that the teaching against abortion as a grave sin is "of divine and Catholic faith." Although this teaching has not been solemnly defined by the Roman Pontiff (as in, for example, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception), it was held by "ordinary and universal magisterium" of the Church since the beginning of Christianity, constantly taught by the Fathers of the Church and her Pastors and Doctors. For 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has not wavered in its moral condemnation of abortion.
As a teaching of the ordinary and universal magisterium, "all Catholics are bound to believe in it with the firm and irrevocable assent of faith, admitting of no exceptions whatsoever. In public or in private, they can never deny this doctrine." Consequently, to claim that the Church's teaching on abortion is not definitive, that it does not warrant obedience and can in fact be dissented from, "would be erroneous and theologically heretical."
The Congregation concludes:
. . . Consequently, if a Catholic publicly and obstinately supports the civil right to abortion, knowing that the Church teaches officially against that legislation, he or she commits that heresy envisioned by Can. 751 of the Code.
In light of this clarification by Rev. Basil Cole, O.P., Mr. Balestrieri is in the process of "filing an amended Denunciation and Complaint against Senator Kerry, as well as four new Denunciations and Complaints against Sen. Ted Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts; Sen. Tom Harkin (D) [of Iowa]; Mr. Mario Cuomo (D), former Governor of New York; and Sen. Susan Collins (R) of Maine."
CatholicKerryWatch encourages its readers to lend your support -- spiritual as well as financial -- to Marc Balestrieri and De Fide. Peter Vere reported back in July 2004 that Mr. Balestrieri had lost his job as a canon lawyer with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Here is someone who literally put his job on the line in order to combat the scandal perpetuated by pro-abortion "Catholic" politicans.
Please stay tuned to defide.com for regular updates on this important case.
Repeats of the show will be shown at the following times: Sunday 17 October: 2 PM PST/ 5 PM EST; Monday 18 Oct: 4 AM PST/ 7 AM EST and 5 PM PST/ 8 PM EST.
"Obviously, and despite some pretty dramatic press descriptions to the contrary, Cole's excellent letter is not and plainly does not purport to be an official statement by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, let alone is it an authentic interpretation (1983 CIC 16 § 1) of the canons in question (incl. 1983 CIC 750, 1321, 1331, 1364, and 1398) or an endorsement of the canonical case prompting the letter. Cole's letter is several steps removed from any kind of official Vatican decision in this case."
Dr. Peters has also posted a note by Fr. Basil Cole stating that the letter was a personal and private opinion, and "in no way is authoritative from the Congregation nor was I representing the Congregation. It's only weight is that of a priest and a theologian who appeals to sacred sources. I was helping out Fr. DiNoia who asked me to do this for him."
Mr. Balestrieri was contacted regarding this article and quickly responded in length stating, "the response is unofficial in that I, as a layman, am not entitled to receive an 'official' response, because the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith does not give out official responses to laymen like myself, only Bishops." Balestrieri went on to write, ". . . the theologian [Fr. Cole] writes that this truth is 'manifest.' Now, no theologian worth his salt ever throws such a thorny term around lightly. It was for that reason I received a response in the affirmative so quickly: The content of the teaching is not just official, but infallible. Any Bishop will tell you that."
10-19-04 - Blogger Kevin Miller ("Heart, Mind and Strength") offers his own analysis of Fr. Coles' letter, expressing reservations about the charge of heresy.
10-19-04 - According to Catholic News, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith claims that Balestrieri misrepresented his contact with the Vatican office:
"The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has had no contact with Mr. (Marc) Balestrieri," said Dominican Father Augustine DiNoia, undersecretary of the congregation.
10-19-04: Domenico Bettinelli asked Marc Balestrieri to respond to the disavowals of Fr. Cole's and Fr. DiNoia and posts his reply in full to his blog.
10-20-04 "A Series of Unfortunate Events" - Marc Balestrieri, JCL describes the distancing by DiNoia and Coles as "A series of unfortunate events . . . which some have attempted to use to avoid a thorough and honest discussion of the true issue at hand: The continuing attack against the Faith and Sacraments by those who publicly support the proposition advocating either Abortive Murder or the Right to Murder. . . .")