Thursday, February 16, 2012

Time for Formal Excommunications?

I just Googled 'hhs mandate formal excommunications' and really smart Catholic guy Dr. Jeff Mirus was the top hit. The piece has a lot of good links in it near the top; here's an excerpt from his analysis:

The debate over whether pro-abortion Catholic political leaders should be refused communion or even formally excommunicated has been going on for years. The bishops have been divided in theory on this question and, in practice, no modern bishop has been willing to excommunicate in the war against Catholic participation in the culture of death. But the HHS mandate changes the debate in at least two ways.

First, the HHS mandate takes its Catholic proponents from encouraging grave moral evil to enforcing participation by other Catholics in that evil. In other words, the offense has shifted from personal involvement in evil to a direct assault on the Church. Moreover, there is more than one point of assault. There is one assault against the moral dignity of Catholics and another assault against the clear directives of the bishops who govern the Church.

Second, the bishops have chosen to make the HHS mandate a sort of tipping point. Why they have been so confused and ineffective in their response to the steady erosion of moral values by the American legal system over the past two generations is a matter for historical study. But for whatever combination of reasons now—one of which is certainly this crossing of the thin line between encouragement to participate in evil and actual force—the bishops have decided that they have been pushed as far as they are willing to be pushed, and they have decided to push back.

This seems to be true. The pastor of my parish mentioned the Obama administration by name in a meeting, not from the pulpit, but in a homily he went on for 20 minutes about how unconscionable this action is. And he is fairly moderate most of the time, perhaps to a fault.

Here's Dr. Mirus's conclusion:

Right now, I think we may say that the bishops have taken the glove off. I use the singular advisedly. But there is another glove to be removed. If we have really reached the tipping point, then many things ought to change. To be sure, Bishops ought to be enlisting the hosts of heaven in this conflict, giving it the spiritual focus it deserves. But as the Incarnation demonstrates, God prefers to work through nature rather than in place of nature. Both politically and spiritually, the most potent natural tool a bishop possesses is his disciplinary authority. Therefore discipline has to reach its tipping point, too. Only then can it slide rapidly into place.

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