Though the media has not been bubbling over with reports about the courage of Catholic bishops versus the nonsensical stammering of those who persist in wanting to be identified as Catholic, while publicly acting in ways that are counterfeit Catholicism, such events are taking place and a few bishops are standing up as never before.
Among those counterfeit Catholics is Pennsylvania State Representative Mike O'Brien. O'Brien has introduced HB 28, a piece of legislation that would put pro-life pharmacists in the untenable position of either filling prescriptions for abortifacient drugs or facing punitive measures. There is no language in the current proposal that protects the pro-life pharmacist, yet O'Brien told Pharmacists for Life founder Bogomir Kuhar, in a letter recently "I have never left the Catholic faith of my fathers. Judge not and you shall not be judged."
In other words, O'Brien believes that he can foster legislation that would deny the proper role of conscience in the lives of Catholic pharmacists while telling those who have problems with his position that they should not judge his public actions. That is balderdash!
We join Bogomir Kuhar in asking grass roots Americans to contact O'Brien, and let him know how un-American his latest legislative proposal is. At the same time, contact Cardinal Justin Rigali, and respectfully ask him to call Mr. O'Brien in for a face-to-face discussion on the reasons why nobody in public life can be pro-abortion and remain a Catholic in good standing.
The fact of the matter is, it would be wonderful if Cardinal Rigali told O'Brien that if he persists in the grave evil of promoting abortion-causing drugs while denying the right of conscience, he may not receive Holy Communion.
As Archbishop Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura recently said in an interview with Hilary White,
"I don't understand the continual debate that goes on about it [Canon 915]. There's not a question that a Catholic who publicly, and after admonition, supports pro-abortion legislation is not to receive Holy Communion and is not to be given Holy Communion.
"The Church's law is very clear. … The person who persists publicly in grave sin is to be denied Holy Communion, and it [Canon Law] doesn't say that the bishop shall decide this. It's an absolute."
Some American bishops have taken Canon 915 extremely seriously. Most recently, it was Scranton, Pennsylvania Bishop Joseph F. Martino. He publicly called on Senator Robert Casey, an allegedly pro-life, Catholic United States Senator, to rescind his vote in support of President Obama's overturning of the Mexico City policy. In his rebuke of the senator's vote, Bishop Martino said
This is an offense against life and a denial of our Catholic teaching on the dignity of every human being. Your failure to reverse this vote will regrettably mean that you persist formally in cooperating with the evil brought about by this hideous and unnecessary policy.
Bishop Martino's eloquent letter to Casey contains the following admonition as well:
As I have done on several occasions, Senator, I urge you to consider that Church documents speak clearly and compellingly on the special responsibility that falls to you as a lawmaker to oppose abortion and other clear evils, including contraception, infanticide, euthanasia and embryonic stem-cell research. To that end, I refer you to two documents:
1. Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life. It says, "Catholics . . . have the right and the duty to recall society to a deeper understanding of human life and to the responsibility of everyone in this regard. John Paul II, continuing the constant teaching of the Church, has reiterated many times that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a 'grave and clear obligation to oppose' any law that attacks human life."
2. Christifideles Laici. It states, "If, indeed everyone has the mission and responsibility of acknowledging the personal dignity of every human being and of defending the right to life, some lay faithful are given a particular title to this task: such as parents, teachers, health workers and those who hold economic and political power."
I remind you further that when he was Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger sent a memo to the bishops of the United States advising them that advocacy of, or participation in, abortion and euthanasia can never be justified by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits or requires it. He said there can be no diversity of opinion among Catholics regarding abortion and euthanasia.
What a tremendous shepherd Bishop Martino is! We are grateful to God for his clear leadership in calling to account those belligerent "Catholics" who are truly no longer Catholic in the whole sense, but rather dissenters who refuse to either leave the Church or repent of their offenses.
This brings me to Archbishop Charles Chaput who was recently in Dublin, Ireland, where he addressed the people of the Irish pro-life movement. In his remarks, he eloquently told them
If we really believe that abortion is an intimate act of violence, then we can't aim at anything less than ending abortion. It doesn't matter that some abortions have always occurred, and some will always occur. If we really believe that abortion kills a developing unborn life, then we can never be satisfied with mere 'reductions' in the body count.
His complete speech, entitled "Building and promoting a culture of life: An American view" contains many statements that are food for thought for every pro-lifer worldwide. Among his most eloquent is his list of things that we as pro-lifers must do. Starting with number one:
Do become martyrs –
I said it was simple. I didn't say it was easy. Be ready to pay the ultimate price.
Pope John Paul II very shrewdly chose St. Thomas More, a martyr, as the patron saint of lawyers and politicians. Thomas More and his friend Bishop John Fisher, both of them executed by the same king for their fidelity to the Catholic faith, are models of how far we should be willing to go for our beliefs.
In today's world, we may never be asked to pay the ultimate price. But we do see character assassination and calumny against good people every day in the public media. And we should be ready to pay that price too.
There is much wisdom in his words, and it seems to me that the way of today's martyrs, those who have been maligned by the media for teaching and preaching the truth, are heroic, courageous men like Archbishop Raymond Burke and Bishop Joseph Martino among others. Standing up for the truth and calling those alleged "Catholics" to account who fail to live the truth of Catholic teaching in their public lives takes guts, and it also gives each of us inspiration to move on, be joyful in the Lord and be ready, as Archbishop Chaput said, "to pay that price too."