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Friday, December 8, 2006

Excommunication and Love

A wonderful Sister forwarded to me this article taken from Catholic World News, a great source for Catholic news and a Catholic perspective on secular news. This article details the excommunication of a number of dissident groups, first among them Call to Action, by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska. Call to Action appealed this ruling to the Vatican, and the Vatican upheld Bishop Bruskewitz's ruling.

Why do I think this is a good thing? Well, to draw on an analogy based on human body, healing can't begin until disease is recognized. These excommunicated groups have placed themselves, by their own actions, outside of the fold of the Church. No matter what the reason may be, be it ignorance or malice, it is an act of love on the part of the Bishop and of the Church to tell these groups the truth of their situation. Why? It's not punitive but pastoral. Now that they have been told that they have placed themselves outside of the fold, healing can take place, for reconciliation can be sought. Let us pray for the members of these groups. Let us also pray for Bishop Bruskewitz, a shepherd after the heart of Christ, that he may remain strong in the battle.

On another note, the picture on the bottom of this post is entitled, "The Excommunication of Robert the Pious." Robert was the king of France, and was excommunicated for (according to Wikipedia) "marital problems." Whatever the issue was, he remedied it and was reconciled. Robert is an example to all of the below mentioned groups, not for his problems, but for his ready solution.

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Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz

Vatican Confirms Excommunication for US Dissident Group

Dec. 7, 2006 ( - The Vatican has confirmed an American bishop’s decision to excommunicate members of the dissident group Call to Action.

Call to Action is “causing damage to the Church of Christ,” wrote Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re (bio - news), the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, in a letter to Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska.

In March 1996, Bishop Bruskewitz had announced the excommunication of all Catholics in his diocese who were members of Call to Action or several other dissident groups which he described as “totally incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

The Nebraska chapter of Call to Action appealed the bishop’s decision to the Vatican. In his November 24 letter to Bishop Bruskewitz, Cardinal Re reports that Vatican’s finding that the disciplinary action was “properly taken.”

The Vatican has determined that “the activities of ‘Call to Action’ in the course of these years are in contrast with the Catholic Faith due to views and positions held which are unacceptable from a doctrinal and disciplinary standpoint,” Cardinal Re writes. He concludes: “Thus to be a member of this Association or to support it, is irreconcilable with a coherent living of the Catholic Faith.”

The excommunication that Bishop Bruskewitz announced covered not only to Call to Action, but also to members of Catholics for a Free Choice, Planned Parenthood, the Hemlock Society, the Freemasons, and the Society of St. Pius X.

The excommunication order applies only within the Lincoln, Nebraska diocese. But the Vatican’s judgment against Call to Action raises clear questions about the status of the group’s members in other dioceses.

The Excommunication of Robert the Pious


eliztrin said...

Thank you, Fr. V for commenting on this event. It is such a confusing thing, and you have done a wonderful job explaining the PASTORAL LOVE behind the bishop's actions. Thank you!

bethski said...

we forget that sometimes the church really does do things out of love, that we NEED that authority figure to tell us that we are going in the wrong direction.

kelly said...

excellent post, Father.
as usual, you took a complex subject and made it understandable.

karen swanson said...

excommunication is a very scarey word, but in these circumstances, (scarey ones), i think that it is the step that must be taken to keep our Church on its intended path. if goodness is to prevail, then we must learn it and live it.
thanks, fr. V!!
much love!

Father V. said...

It does indeed keep the Church on the intended path, but more personally, it keeps souls on the intended path, the path to heaven.

Old_Begonia said...

My comment is actually about that picture of King Robert.

I could be wrong but it sure looks like there's a gigantic smoking cigarette on the floor in front of him.

Katie said...

See? Learn something new every day. I didn't know that ex-communication could be a temporary status.

Father V. said...

Old Begonia, the "gigantic smoking cigarette" is a snuffed out baptismal candle, which used to be symbolic of the soul of the excommunicated. The prayer during the snuffing went something to the effect of 'the light of Christ that has burned within your soul since baptism has been extinguished'. The movie Beckett, which strangely enough is not offered by NetFlix, has a great scene showing an excommunication. (Not that it's a great thing, but it is interesting to see how it was done.)

kelly said...

a snuffed out baptismal candle....*shiver*. how horrific must that be.

bethski said...

Robert was excommunicated cuz he divorced his wife and married his cousin. But then Pope Silvester II annulled his first marriage and let him back into the church.....

yeah thats right...I read the article...I'm stuck at home today!!!