March for Life

January 26, 2013

Before we continue reporting on the financial situation for the Boston Archdiocese, we want to briefly commend all those who participated in the March for Life on Friday in Washington, DC. A report in LifeNews says an estimated 400,000-500,000 people attended.

Cardinal O’Malley, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities told a crowd assembled on the National Mall before the march, “Forty years ago, people thought opposition to the pro-life movement would eventually disappear…The march grows stronger every year.” He also read a Twitter message from His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, “I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life.”

The prior week, Cardinal O’Malley had called for nine days of prayer and penance to mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade.  BCI thinks that is a good move. But what else is Cardinal O’Malley himself doing?  Here are excerpts from and editorial by Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture that bear some consideration by Cardinal O’Malley:

Bishops must shoulder their responsibility in the pro-life struggle

Cardinal Sean O’Malley is certainly right to call for fasting and prayer this week, as we sadly observe the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The abortion issue—the ongoing slaughter of countless millions of innocent children—is not just another ordinary political question like the “fiscal cliff” debate. This is not merely a political contest but a spiritual battle.

For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:12)

Pro-lifers have been fighting the political battle against abortion for 40 years, and still the bloodshed continues. Perhaps it is time to recognize that the culture of death is one of those evils that “cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

Yes, certainly we should fast and pray… For that matter, in a struggle of this importance we should use every means at our disposal..All the different forms of pro-life work—the lobbying and educational campaigns, pregnancy-help centers…speeches and demonstrations—have their place…We should all be doing everything in our power, in the natural order as well as the supernatural, to end the abomination of legal abortion on demand.

But there is one powerful tool that has not yet been put to use in the pro-life struggle, and one group of people who have not yet done what they can do for the cause. I refer to the American Catholic bishops, and the use of ecclesiastical discipline.

Forty years after Roe there remain dozens of prominent politicians who identify themselves as Catholics, but actively promote the culture of death. These “pro-choice Catholics” are a source of confusion to the public and scandal to the Church.

The US Catholic bishops have issued many fine statements on the evils of abortion and the dignity of human life. But statements are one thing, actions another; and when one’s actions do not match one’s public pronouncements, those statements lose value. The bishops have warned that Catholic politicians who promote abortion are separating themselves from the communion of the Church. But they have not followed up, as necessary, by taking disciplinary action against those politicians who have not heeded their warning.

If a Catholic in his diocese is promoting abortion, a Catholic bishop has a solemn obligation to take three steps:

First, admonition. The bishop should call the erring politician to a private meeting, rebuke him, and warn him that he is putting his soul in jeopardy.

Second, denunciation. If the politician remains obstinate, the bishop should make his rebuke public, letting the world know that the Church views the politician’s actions as gravely wrong. A specific public statement, naming names, is necessary to address a public scandal…

Third, exclusion from Communion. The Code of Canon Law (#915) instructs clerics to protect the Eucharist from scandal, by refusing to administer the sacrament to those who “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin.” The enforcement of Canon 915 is not optional; it is a moral obligation. Yet the American bishops have chosen to ignore that obligation.

As long as our bishops are not doing all that they can do (and only they can do), the American pro-life movement is not doing its utmost to fight for an end to abortion. Yes, we should fast and pray. Yes, we should engage in practical pro-life activism. But we should also beg our bishops to shoulder their own responsibility in this battle….

Imagine that your doctor tells you that you must lose weight quickly or your life will be in danger. You pray that you will meet your weight-loss goals, and ask your friends to join with you in those prayers. Good. But if you continue routinely to tuck into second helpings of dessert, can you really expect those prayers to be answered?

Cardinal O’Malley, you have the bully-pulpit of being Chair of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the three years.  What action are YOU personally going to address the scandal of so-called “Catholic” politicians like John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, and others?

About a month ago, when Cardinal O’Malley said we need more true Catholics in politics and the media, we commended him for the words and said he needed to walk the talk.  Still we see and hear just talk, no walk.  We repeat what Fr. Roger Landry said in 2009, describing the controversy over  the funeral for the late Ted Kennedy:

…one of the reasons why Kennedy’s example was so injurious to the Church was because the pastors of the Church, for the most part, made the imprudent call to do little or nothing about it beyond general teaching statements that they hoped offending politicians would apply to themselves. There were no real consequences, and as a result, Senator Kennedy, scores of other Catholic politicians, and millions of American Catholic lay people concluded that the Church’s teachings in defense of human life cannot be that important if those who publicly and repeatedly act in violation of it do so with impunity.

Cardinal O’Malley, please look in the mirror.  YOU are one of the pastors of the Church who, for the most part, did little about Ted Kennedy beyond general teaching statements you hoped people like Kennedy would apply, but which they did not.  There have been no consequences, so the a “Catholic” politicians continued to act repeatedly in violation of Church teachings in defense of human life.   What are YOU personally going to do differently, besides ask Catholics to pray, fast, and do penance?

(Next time we will be back to the topic of Boston Archdiocese finances)

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