Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Case of Mr. Casey

Bishop Martino of Scranton, PA has published a letter formally warning Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) that his vote against the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy (prohibiting use of U.S. aid dollars to fund abortions abroad) and support for "family planning", i.e., artificial contraception, has placed him in danger of "persist[ing] formally in cooperating with evil [abortion]".
I recognize and respect the burdens that you bear as a United States Senator; however, I remind you that your responsibilities as a Catholic bound by the faith of the Church exceed even those of your office. 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.

As I have done several times before, I offer to make myself available to you to discuss the grave concerns that I raise here.
The language is serious here as it is almost a direct quote of CCC 2272 and the resulting penalty of latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication (CIC 1398).

Now, I don't rejoice at the public chastisement of a public official by his Bishop, although that is the Bishop's right and duty. The language of the letter implies that there have been multiple private overtures aimed at correction that have gone unheeded.

This letter then serves two purposes: i) to make a public and formal notification of persistent grave sin, and ii) to limit the effects of scandal on the rest of the faithful. I think the emphasis here is on the latter, given the public nature of the correction.
In keeping with the obligations of my episcopal office, I called upon my brothers and sisters in faith to be vigilant against the objections to the Church’s teaching on life so prevalent in current political discourse. I vowed to be vigilant in correcting Catholics who are in error with regard to the sanctity of life.
The Bishop is serious. The question is: is Mr. Casey? For his sake, I truly hope so.

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