Catholics & the 2004 Presidential Election - Collected Readings & Resources

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Major Development in Kerry Heresy Case 

Posted by Christopher Blosser at 11:27 PM

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:

    1. 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.
    2. 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 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 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.

Related coverage by our fellow bloggers:

Related coverage by the press:


  • 10-18-04 - De Fide has posted the formal press release to their website: Senator Kerry "Excommunicated" According to Vatican Response: Kennedy, Harkin, Cuomo, Collins Denounced for Heresy Monday, 18 October 2004.
  • 10-18-04 - Canon Law professor Dr. Edward Peters responded with a critique of the release on his blog, and takes the cautious position that:
    "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."
  • Excommunication Tactic Used Against John Kerry Washington Dispatch, Oct. 19, 2004.:
    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. . . .")
  • 10-20-04 "Tunc et Nunc", response by Jimmy Akin. Dr. Edward N. Peters has further reactions on his blog.

That's the news to date. We'll keep you updated via this blog as events develop.

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:

Oswald Sobrino of
Catholic Analysis

Earl E. Appleby of
Times Against Humanity

Jeff Miller of
The Curt Jester

Ad Limina Apostolorum

Christopher Blosser of
Against The Grain

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Kerry's Critics


Ad Limina Apostolorum
The Black Republican
The Blog From The Core
Catholics for Bush [Blog]
Catholic Light
Defensor Fidei (Jimmy Akin)
Domenico Bettinelli, Jr.
The Galvin Opinion
Just Being Frank
Laudem Gloriae
Let's Try Freedom
Mark Shea
[The Meandering Mind of a Seminarian]
The Mighty Barrister
Open Book
Thrown Back
TriCoastal Commission


Catholics Against Kerry
De Fide
Kerry Wrong For Catholics
Priests For Life

News Resources

Google News
Mallon's Media Watch
New York Times
Yahoo News

Kerry Communion Watch @

The Candidates on Abortion: Where do they stand?




National Catholic Reporter
National Catholic Register
The Hill
Crisis Magazine
National Review
Weekly Standard

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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