We hear lots of talk about the importance of “dialogue”, and truly the ability to find common ground and converse with those who do not share our Catholic Faith is the basis of evangelization.
But Our Lord also commanded His disciples to shake the dust from their feet when they encountered a people who would not listen. (Mt. 10:14) Sometimes, we have to move beyond dialog and into the realm of discipline.
In a recent interview with The Wanderer, Cardinal Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, was asked about whether Canon 915 (which prescribes that communion should be denied to manifest grave sinners) should apply to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Specifically, the interviewer referenced her statement, in response to a question about the Kermit Gosnell case, in which she dodged the issue by saying, “As a practicing and respectful Catholic this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this. I don’t think it should have anything to do with politics.”
Burke’s response was clear and unambigious:
Certainly this is a case when Canon 915 must be applied. This is a person who obstinately, after repeated admonitions, persists in a grave sin — cooperating with the crime of procured abortion — and still professes to be a devout Catholic. This is a prime example of what Blessed John Paul II referred to as the situation of Catholics who have divorced their faith from their public life and therefore are not serving their brothers and sisters in the way that they must — in safeguarding and promoting the life of the innocent and defenseless unborn, in safeguarding and promoting the integrity of marriage and the family.
What Congresswoman Pelosi is speaking of is not particular confessional beliefs or practices of the Catholic Church. It belongs to the natural moral law which is written on every human heart and which the Catholic Church obviously also teaches: that natural moral law which is so wonderfully illumined for us by Our Lord Jesus Christ by His saving teaching, but most of all by His Passion and death.
To say that these are simply questions of Catholic Faith which have no part in politics is just false and wrong. I fear for Congresswoman Pelosi if she does not come to understand how gravely in error she is. I invite her to reflect upon the example of St. Thomas More who acted rightly in a similar situation even at the cost of his life.
When asked about those prominent, pro-abortion Catholics who have received honors or have been offered speaking engagements at Catholic universities or institutions, Cardinal Burke offered his own assessment about the problems with this sort of “dialogue”:
You cannot reconcile it — it is a contradiction, it is wrong, it is a scandal, and it must stop! We live in a culture with a false sense of dialogue — which has also crept into the Church — where we pretend to dialogue about open and egregious violations of the moral law. Can we believe it is permissible to recognize publicly people who support open and egregious violations, and then act surprised if someone is scandalized by it? For Catholic institutions or individuals to give recognition to such persons, to honor them in any way, is a source of grave scandal for which they are responsible. In acertain way, they contribute to the sinfulness of the individuals involved. There is no way to reconcile it; it simply is wrong.
It is gratifying to be reminded that the Church can stand its ground without equivocation. I fear that so often people get the wrong impression because the Church teaches one thing, but acts another way by turning a blind eye to those who would abuse their reputation as Catholics through their public embrace of anti-Catholic positions on important issues.
I hope that Archbishop Niederauer, who has rebuked Rep. Pelosi in the past, will see to it that Canon 915 is enforced. Further, it would be nice to see Cardinal Wuerl do the same, since she spends most of her time in his diocese. But I’m afraid his past statements on the matter indicate a slim chance that this will ever happen.
Still, with the news last week that Pope Francis excommunicated a Catholic priest in Australia for opposing Church teaching on homosexuality and women’s ordination, I suppose anything is possible. A few excommunications of American pro-abortion Catholic politicians might just go a long way toward reminding the faithful that there are consequences for open defiance on the non-negotiables and that they are, in fact, non-negotiable.
UPDATE – 9/26/13 @ 12:53 PM: Despite a quick lookup of the San Francisco archbishop which landed me here on the diocesan website, I missed the fact that Archbishop Niederauer was replaced by Archbishop Cordileone last year. I do not know of the new Archbishop’s stance on Rep. Pelosi and her position on abortion. If you do, please feel free to leave a comment.