Thursday, December 14, 2006

Competent, Educated People

"December 12, 2006 Newton, MA - Voice of the Faithful is deeply disturbed at the action of both Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln NE and Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, head of the Congregation for Bishops. In our goal to be a 'voice' for faithful Catholics we call for an explanation of the process by which this decision was made. We are competent, educated people who understand the long history of this serious action and we see no justification for denying any person access to the life of the Church simply by virtue of her or his membership in a select group. Voice of the Faithful condemns the process by which a class of people was summarily excommunicated by a single bishop in the US. Instead, VOTF follows the long tradition of the Church where excommunication should be practiced rarely and individually with careful discernment."

Okay, kids, let me get this straight. You are calling for an explanation of the reasoning behind this decision, yet you are already prepared to condemn said reasoning out of hand.

Is that right?

Occasionally, I get a speeding ticket (although I'm proud to say it hasn't been for well over a year). When it happens, it is on a road where others are driving just as carelessly, if not more so. I watch truly aggressive drivers in high-performance cars, or truckers who practically run over a subcompact while coming down a hill, and I wonder why they never seem to get caught.

But sometimes they do. And sometimes when I do, it's while I'm driving next to a guy who's driving just as fast as I am. But if I'm pulled over and I use that excuse, the response that I'm going to get is: "I didn't catch the other guy; I caught you." As the Romans used to say, and as every first-year law student is likely to hear: "Nemo judex in sua causa." ("No man is a judge at his own trial.")

An organization that claims to operate under Catholic auspices, but which openly challenges major tenets of the Faith -- thus disqualifying them, by their own admission, from determining what does and does not fall in that category -- is in no position to cry foul. They knew the rules, they made a conscious choice, they got caught, and now for all that, they are accountable. If they had an ounce of fortitude for their convictions, they would accept that. But to demand license to do as one would wish without consequence is the trademark of a moral coward.

In the meantime, Mother Church wishes them to repent and return to the fold. Sometimes Mother prescribes some pretty harsh medicine. And sometimes the errant do return. As with the prodigal son in the parable, there is joy in heaven for those occasions.

Does this excuse the malfeasance of bishops who enabled pedastry among their priests? Of course not. In Luke's gospel, Our Lord says: "From those to whom much is given, much will be expected." (Brace yourselves, kids, here comes the bottom line.) Our prelates will be judged far more harshly in the next life than any of us can imagine in this one. An excommunication can be reconciled in this life. Those who face the Final Judge, and who are asked, "Why did you deny me?" will not have that option.

Under the circumstances, I'd say those CTA people in Nebraska are getting off easy.

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