Bishops, Please Act Courageously

by Steve Ray on December 9, 2008

biden_rosaryCatholic World New: Biden’s new bishop will not confront him
Bishop W. Francis Malooly, newly installed leader of the Wilmington, Delaware diocese in which vice-president-elect Joseph Biden lives, has said that he will not confront Biden on the abortion issue. “My own conscience tells me that I have a better chance of helping someone if I don’t alienate” him, the bishop told a group of young people at a Theology on Tap session.

The bishop indicated that he did not think it is appropriate to bar a supporter of abortion from receiving the Eucharist because ”I don’t know everyone’s conscience.” He did not address the question of public scandal that arises when a public advocate of abortion receives Communion. (Catholic World News,

MY COMMENTS UPDATED 12/12/09 at 4:00 PM Eastern:
This item in the news infuriates me. After so many bishops made us proud by courageously speaking out against abortion before the presidential elections, now we hear of Joseph Biden’s diocese in Wilmington Delaware.

prolifeshirt5In my opinion, Bishop Malooly has taken the wrong approach, one that would be clearly denounced by the Fathers and Saints of the Church. If I am wrong I apologize in advance, maybe there is more to the news story than has been reported.

Bishops have the job of educating the flock as to Church teaching. It is through teaching and moral boundaries that a bishop instructs his flock. His job it to instruct and warn a wayward sheep like Biben. If he decides to hold off reproving Biden until he has time to instruct him — so be it, then make a private and public instruction. Will we hear of a meeting between them in which the bishop will instruct Biden and help form his conscience? But don’t just let it go on unaddressed which implies that Biden is OK, and that all dissenters are OK and any unrepentant sinner can freely continue to partake in the life and sacraments of the Church. This is not Church teaching or practice. It is the kind of thing that causes scandal.

Why not just invite every unrepentant sinner and violator of Church law to freely come for communion? Where are the heroic bishops of the past that made a king sit outside the Church doing penance even AFTER he went to confession (St. Ambrose, see note below).  Biden is more than a “supporter of abortion,” he is a lawmaker who supports and promotes abortion as the law of our land. He has trumpeted his dissent and pro-abortion stance across the country, from podiums to microphones, from speeches to passing laws. He has thumbed his nose at the bishop and the whole Church. He needs to be confronted!

BS WB MALOOLY KIRSCHBAUMThis has to change before the Church in America will change. We have a long way to go. I think bishops like this need to re-examine themselves and the teaching of the Church, to  remember the courageous bishops in other parts of the world are dying as martyrs because they stand up for Jesus Christ, and bishops of the past who took stances of tough love in doing the right thing.

TAKING A BREATH: Having said all this and vented a bit, I want to say that if I ever meet this bishop I will thank him for being a bishop and kiss his ring. I know that being a bishop is probably the toughest job in the world and often thankless. I will pray for him and I appreciate him. I would not myself want to confront politicians, so I sympathize, but a bishop is called to be a shepherd and I love them for accepting the job even if I get frustrated at times.


NOTE ON ST. AMBROSE: On St. Ambrose’s strong stance against King Theodosius, who also claimed to be a Catholic (from Wikipedia on St. Abmbrose):

“Theodosius I, the emperor of the East, espoused the cause of Justina, and regained the kingdom. Theodosius was threatened with excommunication by Ambrose for the massacre of 7,000 persons at Thessalonica in 390 [contemporize by reading: millions of babies through abortion], after the murder of the Roman governor there by rioters. Ambrose told Theodosius to imitate King David in his repentance as he had imitated him in guilt (2 Sam 12) – Ambrose readmitted the emperor to the Eucharist only after several months of penance.”

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff Miller December 9, 2008 at 11:21 PM

This annoys me also that Canon 915 is ignored in place of a phony pastoral approach. Archbishop Burke and others have it right. Allowing Sen. Biden and others to receive Communion places their souls in deeper danger and is not charitable. How can they repent and if their no seeming repercussions for their actions?

David December 9, 2008 at 11:48 PM

Please read “There is No Stopping Abortion Without the Eucharist”
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. It is not a very long paper.

After the pro-life efforts were completely squashed this past election, I was very frustrated. I found much hope after reading Fr. John’s writing.


Francis Beckwith December 10, 2008 at 12:57 AM

But in the case of Senator Biden, the content of his conscience has been clearly presented in the public square. His Excellency must realize that in order to assess Senator Biden he need not know everyone’s conscience. He only has to know Biden’s.

Hector Gomez December 10, 2008 at 10:44 PM

Honestly Steve I am tired of hearing about these coward bishops not defending the sacredness of the Blessed Sacrament. We need to beg our Lord to send more courageous bishops and priests in the future who will replace these cowards.

Charlie December 11, 2008 at 2:20 PM

Great comment, Hector. This is why I include an intention with my daily rosary asking for at least these things:
– More unity within the Catholic Church and more holiness for its bishops and priests
– An end to the horror of abortion and the culture of death, and that our country’s leaders may be inspired by the Holy Spirit to start rebuilding a culture of life

Bishops are people too. Maybe he needs to be reminded from time to time that admonishment of sinners is a spiritual work of mercy.

bill sheldon December 30, 2008 at 4:57 PM

Here is my comment to the Vice President Elect.

Dear Vice President Elect

I have had it with you cafeteria Catholics who lack the moral courage to stand up for you faith.
According to the National Right to Life Committee you have a zero percept rating ( You’re soon to be president refused to recognize a baby born from a partial birth abortion by voting against the born alive act. Obama refused to recognize the most vulnerable of our society. You’re a disgrace to the martyrs who died rather than compromise their faith. You and the Democratic Party are too ignorant or doesn’t care that Abortion has its racist’s roots back to the founder of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. Every third abortion in America is performed on black women per Rev. Clenard Childress Jr. ( Nearly 50 million children have been aborted 35 since Roe v. Wade. It is estimated Black women have had over 13 million abortions ( The Democratic Party of death worship at the alter of Roe vs. Wade.

William H. Sheldon
820 Duncan Ave.
Manhattan Beach, Ca 90266

Brother Ed January 7, 2009 at 1:18 AM

The reason that excommunication doesn’t faze anyone in the Catholic Church is because most American Catholics really don’t believe that the Eucharist is just what Jesus said it is in John 6 — the source of eternal life. Emperor Theodosius accepted his penance because he knew and believed that he was being cut off from eternal life and he moved with FEAR to regain that which he had lost, lest he lose his soul.

The poison of Protestant heresy has infected the Catholic laity with a kind of malaise regarding spiritual things. Most folks (me included, please!) do not have a deep and profound awareness of their sin. I think we have the idea that we are really “pretty good” because we believe in God (like God should just be soooooo flattered that we honor Him by believing that He is there!). I think America is filled with people who fancy themselves quasi-saints rather than deeply flawed sinners. Because of this, they don’t really sense the deep need we have of the cleansing power of the Eucharist in our lives.

This all comes from the ideas put forth by men like Billy Graham when they preach that once you make that “decision for Jesus”, why that is all you have to do and you are guaranteed a place in Heaven for being so good as to believe in God and make assent to His Christ. Poppycock, and certainly not what the Bible teaches. Yet, because of the public airwaves, this poison has been heard by many a Catholic who has been infected by it and secretly in his heart harbors these strange ideas. Thus, being excommunicated holds no fear because God lets everyone in His Heaven if they just believe in His Son, right?

This is why I am no fan of allowing error in the public marketplace. Our Catholic forefathers understood the nature of such spiritual poison all too well, and when it appeared, they took drastic measures to remove it from the public marketplace, thus protecting the souls under their care. They knew they would have a day of reckoning for how their sheep fared under their care. Better to answer to Christ for one burned heretic than to have a complete parish lose their souls because a poisonous stream was not stopped.

Harsh? Well, in this day and age, when hardly anything has any special meaning anymore, and when all opinions are considered both good and equal (except those of orthodox and pious Christians) yes, it seems harsh. To most people, these are not life and death issues, and many, many are going to find out, to their great horror, that they were playing when they should have been praying (in repentance!!).

May God have mercy on our souls, on our country, and especially on those who oppose Him, both in the Church and out of Her!

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