Bishops’ Conference Responds To 18 Democrats Critical Of Pope
WASHINGTON (May 18, 2007)—The 18 Democrats who recently criticized Pope Benedict XVI when he answered questions about Mexico’s legalizing abortion both misrepresented the Pope’s remarks and defied freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

The position was noted by Sister Mary Ann Walsh, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Director of Media Relations in a May 18 statement, which follows.

Response to 18 Democrats
Sister Mary Ann Walsh, RSM
Director of Media Relations
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

In an unfortunate May 10 statement, 18 of the 88 Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives criticized Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks concerning Mexican lawmakers legalizing abortion. The Representatives’ statement misrepresents the Holy Father’s remarks and implies that the Church does not have a right to voice its teaching in the public square.

The Holy See has made clear that neither the Mexican bishops nor the Holy Father have excommunicated any legislator. Rather, the Holy See reiterated longstanding Church teaching that anyone who freely and knowingly commits a serious wrong, that is, a mortal sin, should not approach the Eucharist until going to confession.

“The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision of society.” (United States Catechism for Adults, p. 442) Consequently, every Catholic is obliged to respect human life, from conception until natural death.

To suggest that the Church should not clearly voice its teaching and apply it in a pluralistic society is to attack freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The Catholic Church always will and must speak out against the destruction of innocent unborn children. The right to do so is guaranteed by the Constitution that all legislators are elected to uphold. Speaking and acting against abortion is not a matter of partisan politics. It is a matter of life and death.

The bishops urge all Catholics, especially those who hold positions of public responsibility, to educate themselves about the teaching of the Church, and to seek pastoral advice so that they can make informed decisions with consistency and integrity.
Who's talking to who about what?
Pope Benedict flew to Brazil last week to address the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean.

On the airplane, he was asked by reporters what he thought about the Mexican Bishops and their threat of excommunication to politicians who voted to legalize abortion in the first three months of pregnancy in Mexico City.

The Pope said that the Bishops were doing nothing new, that they had the right to do what they did, and that they were merely reflecting what canon law says about such situations.

This did not sit well with a few American politicians who issued a statement against the Pope. They specifically said:

“The fact is that religious sanction in the political arena directly conflicts with our fundamental beliefs about the role and responsibility of democratic representatives in a pluralistic America – it also clashes with freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution. Such notions offend the very nature of the American experiment and do a great disservice to the centuries of good work the church has done.”
In other words, "shut your mouth, Pope! How dare you interfere with our darling political process?"

The interesting thing about all of this is that Pope said nothing about America or the upcoming elections. But some people, particularly those who support abortion, are mostly unable to discern events except in relation to how they affect themselves and think that everything that is done is done directly to them, no matter what the circumstances or how obscure the reference.

In other words, a German Pope who has lived in Italy for the past 20+ years, flies to Brazil and talks to reporters about Mexican Bishops is accused of meddling in American politics.

The truth is that if he flew to Antarctica and praised the penguins for their impressive efforts in saving the lives of their young, no doubt some irate American would demand that he cease his fear-mongering and interfering with the American political scene.

In their obsession with themsleves, people miss out on what the Pope is really saying to the people as he did at the Vespers service while in Brazil:

"Wherever God and his will are unknown, wherever faith in Jesus Christ and in his sacramental presence is lacking, the essential element for the solution of pressing social and political problems is also missing."
Yes, indeed. Pray that people actually turn to Christ so that the problems we face, whether political or social, may be fixed.
People in Office
This morning, Fr. Frank Pavone was on the radio (listen in the Dallas/Fort Worth area on 910 AM KATH to 24/7 Catholic radio) and was asked about the Pope's recent statement agreeing with the Mexican Bishops that Mexican politicians risk excommunication in their support of abortion and Fr. Frank said:

"We don't need in office people who can't see the difference between serving the public and killing the public."
Yes, certainly so. When people who claim to represent the public actually allow the death of that same public, it is reasonable to assume that they do not understand the role of a public servant and have in fact manipulated that role for their own gain.

Many politicians who claim to be Catholic and yet support abortion and receive communion publicly are upset that the Church would speak out against them, claiming that the Church is using the Eucharistic as a weapon to become involved in a political campaign.

But, the Church is rightly defending itself when she speaks against these things and in effect is saying, "Wait a minute, why is it that you are using the Eucharist to promote your own political agenda? That's not what it is for."

This will be important to understand as we head into the 2008 elections. The principles involved do not change from one election to another or from one candidate to another.

View a detailed look at the churches teaching on these issues here.


Stand Firm in the Faith
This is the motto of our new Bishop, Kevin J. Farrell and is from St. Paul's letter to the Colossians. It is also something that I think we can look forward to as we see and hear more about our new Bishop and what he intends to do in the Diocese.

At today's Installation mass, more than 1,200 people filled the Cathedral to overflowing, with a covered courtyard with chairs and a big screen TV as an overflow room.

In attendance were all the Bishops from the state of Texas and Archbishop Weurl from DC and retired DC Archbishop Cardinal McCarrick.

The Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Pietro Sambi was also present as the official representative of Pope Benedict XVI and he read the letter from the Pope assigning Bishop Farrell as the head of the Diocese of Dallas. Bishop Farrell's family came from Ireland to be with him and also his brother, Brian Farrell who is a Bishop and the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

The Mass ran about two hours and was a very solemn occasion, but yet joyful at the same time. The music was very good and reverent and at the end, surprise, we chanted the Salve Regina, in Latin. I cannot remember the last time I heard the Salve sung in a liturgical setting.

Bishop Farrell in his homily said he was not going to lay out any kind of new pastoral plan other than to say he would make vocations to the Priesthood a top priority and asked the people of the Dicoese to help him make this happen. I did not notice him mention anything about the recent scandals or how he would approach them, although I may have missed this.

And although he said he would not lay out any new programs, he told us from where he would draw his inspiration from. He quoted from the Apostolic Letter Novo Millenio Ineunte of Pope John Paul II and said in part, "It is not therefore a matter of inventing a "new programme". The programme already exists: it is the plan found in the Gospel and in the living Tradition, it is the same as ever. Ultimately, it has its centre in Christ himself, who is to be known, loved and imitated . . . this is a programme which does not change with shifts of times and cultures."

He also mentioned again, as he did in his introductory press conference back in March, that we should not let the culture influence our faith but that in fact we should influence the culture by the example of our own faith.

"Some people," he said "have built the religion of a god in their own image and a doctrine which suits their own lifestyle." Indeed they have.

We'll have more about Bishop Farrell and will be monitoring the media coverage of this event and the work of Bishop Farrell in the days ahead.

Story from the Diocesan paper, the Texas Catholic. Good review of the whole thing.