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Canon 915’s moment has arrived

January 25, 2019  by Dr. Ed Peters

andrew-cuomo-ny-governorGov. Andrew Cuomo’s blatant promotion of New York’s horrid abortion law seems to have been a tipping point.

Demands, demands, that Catholic leaders do something serious to confront unbridled abortionism in the ranks of Catholic politicos are being published like I’ve never seen them urged in four decades of watching such things. To that authentic Catholic sense, right at so many levels, I give nothing but an Amen. Here’s my only concern: Catholics at various stations in the Church, most largely untrained in canon law (no shame in that, that’s what five decades of pervasive ecclesial antinomianism will get you), are making, whether they know it or not, demands for canonical actions in Cuomo’s regard, which actions might or (more likely) might not be possible under current canon law and, having missed their mark, will wrongly conclude that canon law offers no remedies in the face of Cuomo-like conduct. I refer specifically to calls for the formal excommunication of Andrew Cuomo, but the issues in this case are applicable to other cases on the near horizon.

So, first and foremost, and setting aside Richard Burton’s Abp. Becket stentoriously excommunicating enemies of the Church from the cathedral high altar, excommunication is today what it has always essentially been, a canonical penalty that can be meted out only in accord with canon law. As a canonical sanction, the application of excommunication requires, at a minimum, (1) a law in place that prohibits, under pain of excommunication, a given action, (2) accessibility to facts sufficient to demonstrate the guilt of an individual accused of doing such an act, and (3) an independent process to interpret the law and apply it correctly to the facts at hand. See Canons 18 and 221, and most of Books VI and VII of the 1983 Code.

partialbirthabortionThose who think that Andrew Cuomo should be excommunicated for signing New York’s appalling abortion law need no invitation to make their case for that canonical sanction in accord with the canon law. Thomas Becket could make his case for excommunication (the curious and Latin-literate can verify that claim by checking, say, Gasparri’s footnotes to 1917 CIC 2343 § 4, provisions that took a dim view of murdering priests). But, if moderns cannot make the case for Cuomo’s excommunication (and I, among many others trained in canon law, do not think they can), they should cease calling for the (presently) impossible and focus instead on what can (and I, along with some notable others, think should) be done in the face of a Cuomo-like affront to Church teaching and basic human dignity.

Fine, but what?

Consider: the single most publicly-observable aspect of excommunication (hardly surprising, given the very name of this sanction) is, of course, exclusion from holy Communion. Whatever other sacramental and disciplinary consequences are visited upon an excommunicate (and those consequences are several and significant, per Canon 1331), what is most obvious to the individual, to the faith community, and to the general public, is that an excommunicate isbarred from participating in the Church’s greatest sacrament, holy Communion (Canons 915 and 1331). This public barring prevents sacrilege from being committed against the Sacrament, mitigates the scandal inflicted on the faith community when patently unworthy Catholics pretend to a communion in faith belied by their deeply contrarian actions, and alerts the world that the Church is serious about securing upright witness in her own ranks.

Now, here’s the point: all of the personal, community, and even secular values served by barring an excommunicate from holy Communion as part of the sanction of excommunication areimmediately available simply by applying Canon 915a sacramental disciplinary norm in Book IV of the Code (and not a penal norm from Book VI), which canon requires ministers of holy Communion to withhold the Sacrament, not just from those under formal sanction, of course, but also from those who ‘obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin’. Let that phrasing sink in.

Applying Canon 915, moreover, is not constrained by narrowly-drawn definitions of crimes and/or cooperation therein, it does not rely on loophole-ridden latae sententiae procedures (a canonical relic that today is mostly useful for letting bishops avoid making hard decisions), and it does not continue the rampant disregard for the rule of law in the Church seen over the last 50 years (mostly by figures, I grant, themselves none too concerned about human conduct and the rightful role of the Church in shaping it, and so, in that respect, distinguishable from those lately calling for Cuomo’s excommunication).

Instead, Canon 915 enables, indeed requires, prompt (not precipitous, but prompt) action by ministers to protect the Most August Sacrament from abuse, to alert an individual about his or her morally gravely dangerous public conduct, to protect the faith community from scandal, and to give serious witness to the world about the importance of Church teaching to Church members. Are these not the key goals sought by those calling for Cuomo’s (and some others’) excommunication? If so, why try to purse those goals with a cumbersome penal institute such as excommunication when Canon 915 is sitting right in front of us?

In short, has not Canon 915’s moment, at last, arrived?

For the rest of the article click here.

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The disgraceful treatment of students from Covington Catholic – and by that I mean the pell-mell rush of pro-life “leaders” to condemn innocent young men – illustrates a potentially fatal flaw in the movement. For much too long, some of the most visible spokesmen for the pro-life movement have sought desperately to be seen as respectable, to be treated fairly by the mainstream media. It’s never happened. It’s never going to happen. And it’s not a worthy goal.

Urge Covington bishop to apologize for condemning pro-life teens. Sign the petition here. [Steve Ray here: I signed this and encourage you to as well.]

Screen Shot 2019-01-22 at 9.45.51 PMThe media pounced on an opportunity to treat a few teenagers from Kentucky as symbols of bigotry, on the slimmest of evidence. That was unjust, but not unpredictable. (More on that below.) Now that the truth about the confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial has come out, the newspapers and network that vilified the Covington Catholic students are issuing perfunctory apologies. But the damage is done, and that damage is considerable.

Still worse, in my view, is the inexcusable haste with which many pro-life spokesmen leapt for the bait, joining the chorus of condemnation. Even before the fuller story came out, with videotape conclusively proving that the Covington Catholic students were victims rather than aggressors, the original footage provided no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing. Sensible reporters, and sensible commentators, should have said: “Let’s look into this; let’s get the whole story.” Why did so many people rush to judgment?

screenshot-2019-01-21-12.03.56As it turns out, the behavior of the Covington Catholic students was blameless. They were intentionally provoked, and reacted with restraint and even courtesy. Nick Sandmann, the teenager who suddenly became the focus of a nationwide hate campaign, has released an extraordinarily charitable statement about the incident. Their school, their diocese, and the March for Life should be proud of these young men.

Instead, the adults who should have protected and even applauded these students turned on them. Now some (and by no means all) of these adults are explaining that when they issued their first statements, they didn’t have all the facts. Of course they didn’t! That’s precisely the point. They were ready to condemn without waiting for the facts. And now they ask us to accept their mistakes as innocent – to give them the benefit of the doubt, which they weren’t willing to give to those teenage boys.

It was, again, a disgrace. But it’s a disgrace that begs for an explanation. Why were pro-life leaders so anxious to join in the general condemnation? Did they really think that they could gain respectability by denouncing (what was described as) intolerance? Did they think the media would treat the matter fairly? If so, then their naivete too is, at this late date, disgraceful.

“Sure, politics ain’t bean-bag,” said the memorable Mr. Dooley. The battle over abortion has been the roughest political fight of our era, and it would be almost criminally foolish to expect that our most militant adversaries, in this life-or-death battle, are motivated by goodwill. Season veterans of this political battle, seeing the first short video clips of the confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial, should have wondered whether the event had been staged.

Seasoned reporters, too, should have asked a few pointed questioned before running with the story. But if it is foolish for pro-lifers to expect fair play, it is equally foolish to expect fair treatment from the mainstream media.

Any notion that America’s largest media outlets are impartial on the abortion issue should have been dismissed after David Shaw of the Los Angeles Times – not a pro-life partisan – issued his definitive study in 1990. The mainstream outlets ignore pro-life claims, while acting as megaphones for the claims of the abortion industry. The March for Life provides an annual demonstration of the problem. Each year, without fail, mainstream outlets that routinely provide front-page coverage for leftist demonstrations fail to notice the hundreds of thousands of pro-life marchers. If they do give a brief mention to the March, the media grotesquely understate the scope of the event. This year, for example, we were informed by one major outlet that there were “over 1,000” participants. (Which is true, I suppose; and by the same token there will be “dozens” of people in the stands at the Super Bowl.)

Also, if they did offer a few column-inches to the pro-life marchers, major newspapers regularly gave equal coverage to a handful of pro-abortion counter-demonstrators. As the tenor of our nation’s political debate has become increasingly toxic, the counter-demonstrators have become more aggressive, more ambitious – and now, this year, more successful in conning the “useful idiots” in the media…

For the rest of the article, click HERE.

Another article by my good friend and attorney Bob Sullivan. You can read his article about this travesty here  https://www.catholicgentleman.net/2019/01/what-is-truth-discerning-what-is-real-from-propaganda/

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UPDATE: The Catholic Thing has posted an update, especially of interest is the last half of the report regarding Vigano and Oullette HERE.

If you intend to follow the ill-advised Youth Synod in Rome, I suggest you check in periodically with “The Catholic Thing” which has Robert Royal there for the duration. The conflicts between bishops over this Synod involving the Pope is quite telling. Here is the introduction to the whole affair in today’s article by Robert Royal.

Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 7.28.41 AMNote: I am in Rome for the Synod on “Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment,” which begins today. I’ll be here, Deo Volente, essentially the whole month of October. It’s an inopportune time for such an event: the abuse crisis – and the involvement in that crisis of several bishops participating in the synod – have damaged the Church’s credibility with young people. The “Working Document” (Instrumentum Laboris) is cumbersome and deeply flawed – more sociology than theology – as our friends Archbishop Chaput and George Weigel have argued. And the Instrumentum betrays signs of wanting to move the Church more in the direction of secular culture rather than moving the culture in the direction of the Church. But the show goes on. The Catholic Thing will be bringing you regular synod reports (daily, if warranted) from Rome, as well as our regular columns during October. This is a crucial moment: Oremus pro invicem. – Robert Royal.

I would suggest you subscribe for free to this excellent daily review of everything Catholic, intelligent and worthy. It also exposes things that need to be exposed, and extols that which is of beauty and virtue and righteous. Visit The Catholic Thing to sign up.

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“Grand Jury Report Debunked“ by Bill Donahue

August 17, 2018

For the the sake of objectivity, I am posting this interesting critique of the recent Pennsylvania Report on sexual scandal in the Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania. I am not agreeing with everything in this article, nor am I unaware of Donahue’s association with Wuerl. I am simply posting this because I consider it important to […]

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The Jordan Peterson Phenomenon – I Stand Up to Applaud Him!!

February 28, 2018

There is a lot of buzz going around about the Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson who is defying the Canadian government and the tyranny of the lunatic Left. I stand up to applaud him! Here is an article in Catholic World Report written by Bishop Robert Barron. Barron introduces this eloquent, courageous and very bright man. […]

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Good Source for Helping Hurricane Harvey Victims

August 30, 2017

For those who want to help, but don’t want to waste their money or have it eaten by bureaucratic administrative agencies – you can contribute through Catholic Charities. Their webpage for Hurricane Harvey donations is https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/CCUSADISASTER

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Terminally Ill Baby Charlie Gard held Prisoner in London Hospital

July 7, 2017

UPDATE 7/7/17  Latest update on Baby Charlie Gard ***************** Here is the whole story about this poor baby and his family and the brutal tyrannical decision taken by the English hospital backed by British and European courts. Pray for this poor baby and his family. From Jimmy Akin’s blog Pray for Terminally Ill Baby Charlie Gard […]

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EWTN and Reporter Pentin on Bishops Asking Pope for Meeting to Clarify “Amoris Laetitia”

June 25, 2017

Why is the Pope refusing to respond to Cardinal Raymond Burke and three other cardinals to clarify whether Amoris Laetitia is intended to allow divorced and civilly remarried to participate in the sacraments?

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Why I Like Thomas Williams and Breitbart News

June 8, 2017

Yeah, I know it gets a bad rap in the local “Main Street Media” but if you shake off their bias and take a closer look it’s a pretty good place to find out what’s really going on. My friend Thomas Williams is the Rome correspondent and I have nothing but respect for this guy.

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Cardinal Müller Discusses Islam, “Amoris Laetitia”, Liturgy, Pope Firing People and more

May 27, 2017

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), was interviewed recently by Raymond Arroyo about his book The Cardinal Müller Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church. This was an excellent interview. I would not want this man’s job. But I found him insightful, brilliant and […]

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Fr. Michael Scanlan TOR – Rest in Peace

January 7, 2017

Franciscan University of Steubenville Contact: Tom Sofio 740-284-5893, tsofio@franciscan.edu Saturday, January 7, 2017 Franciscan University of Steubenville Remembers Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, President Emeritus of Franciscan University Died Saturday, January 7, 2017, Following Illness For tributes to Father Scanlan, videos, timeline, and more go to www.Franciscan.edu/FatherMike [NoCache]STEUBENVILLE, OHIO—Franciscan University of Steubenville today mourns the death of […]

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Mark Shea fired at National Catholic Register

August 22, 2016

UPDATE: Posting link @ Mark Shea because Mark is a friend: this opinion closely reflects mine: http://heroicvirtuecreations.com/2016/08/21/mark-shea-and-catholic-tribalism/ Original Post: The news is that Mark Shea has been removed from National Catholic Register. I have not seen the statement by NCR and if anyone finds it, please let me know. Official Statement: The Register is no longer […]

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Are Catholics to Blame for the Orlando Jihad Slaughter?

June 18, 2016

UPDATE: Bishop Lynch rebuked by Archbishop of Miami. Some say “Yes!” including Bishop Robert Lynch, the bishop of St. Petersburg Florida who said, “sadly it is religion, including our own, which targets, mostly verbally, and also often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people. (Let’s hope he soon corrects or clarifies his comment.) Attacks […]

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US Bishops Respond to Obama’s Bathroom Lunacy

May 17, 2016

Two Committee chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the following statement in response to guidance issued May 13 by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education entitled “Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students”: The Catholic Church consistently affirms the inherent dignity of each and every human person […]

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My Final Post on Pope’s Exhortation: A Catholic World Report Symposium with Links Galore

April 13, 2016

From Catholic World Report: Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, “On love in the family,” has been one of the most widely anticipated papal documents in recent years, following the closely watched and sometimes controversial Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in 2014 and the Ordinary Synod of Bishops in 2015. It is also one of the […]

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Memorable One-Liners From Mother Angelica

March 28, 2016

Www.Aleteia.com –  Mother Angelica, a Poor Clare of Perpetual Adoration, never did anything in a small way. She was known for her ability to parry a quick retort, make a wry observation or toss off a witticism that could catch a listener off-guard in its wisdom. Due to a stroke, the EWTN foundress had been […]

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