Yesterday, I linked to Bishop Vasa’s funny (and hopefully accurate) predictions for the new year. He follows it up today with a great column in the Catholic Sentinel, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland and the Diocese of Baker.
We’ve all heard the debate on how to handle pro-abortion Catholic politicians in regard to the reception of Holy Communion. And I’m sure we all heard about the now famous dust-up (covered extensively by CatholicVote and AmericanPapist) between Bishop Tobin and Rep. Patrick Kennedy a couple of months ago.
This latest column is a great example of a strong movement among Catholic bishops in America – the movement to really step-up and teach the Faith, even in the face of negative coverage from the media. It’s a wonderful thing to see a shepherd truly teaching all of us, why the Church teaches what she teaches.
Bishop Vasa writes:
“The press would undoubtedly accuse Bishops who talk or even think about excommunication as being tyrannical power mongers but this is unfair. Excommunication is a declaration, based on solid evidence, that the actions or public teachings of a particular Catholic are categorically incompatible with the teachings of the Church. It is intended primarily as a means of getting the person who is in grave error to recognize the depth of his error and repent. A second reason, while somewhat secondary but no less important, is to assure the faithful who truly are faithful that what they believe to be the teaching of the Church is true and correct. Allowing their faith to be shaken or allowing them to be confused when Catholics publicly affirm something contrary to faith or morals, seemingly without consequences, scandalizes and confuses the faithful. This is no small matter. The Church, and particularly bishops, have an obligation to defend the faith but they also have an obligation to protect the faithful. We do not generally see the dissidence of public figures as something that harms the faithful but it has a deleterious effect upon them.”
Could this be laying the groundwork for future “official” actions by bishops throughout the U.S.?
Who knows? But with another national election cycle looming large, it will be very interesting to see how America’s prelates continue to educate their flocks leading up to November, 2010.