Friday, February 20, 2009

A Petition to Encourage our Bishops

Today, Fr. Z pointed us to this post by canon lawyer, Edward Peters, examining a petition to withhold communion from those who publicly and actively "promote policies and legislation that undermines, opposes and contradicts the Church on these serious moral issues" because they cause a grave scandal (leading others to believe that such things are acceptable actions and positions).

I signed. It's not because I'm mean-spirited and want to hurt these people. Pelosi is a good example of the kind of person the petition has in mind. She publicly misrepresented Catholic doctrine on national TV last year on Meet the Press; she firmly supports the Democratic party's bulwark of pro-abortion politics and legislation; she's been exhorted not only by her own archbishop but also by the Pope himself, and yet she so far has shown no indication she will change. And why should she, if there are no consequences and she can keep claiming to be an "ardent Catholic"?

By allowing her and other public Catholics like her to continue to receive communion, it sends a message to all Catholics that it doesn't matter what the Church teaches--you can ignore it without consequence. That is bad because it endangers people's souls--leads them into a potential state of sin and false sense of sinlessness. In short, it makes them sick without notable symptoms until it is, potentially, too late. Serious. Bad. Stuff.

Some on Fr. Z's blog have suggested the petition is bad because it may seem that we are trying to "instruct" our pastors. I don't see it that way at all. I see the petition as a way to help en-courage our bishops. I signed for the same reason I sent Archbishop Chaput and others who stood up in the public square last year a note of appreciation and letting them know they’re in my prayers. The Archbishop actually replied and said thanks. I was surprised and touched. Heck, I was surprised he published his email. I wish my pastors did that...

Our bishops need to know that we would back them up for taking a stand that would doubtless cause some bad press/feelings.

Another way to look at is why wouldn’t a bishop do this? Probably because he's concerned about negative backlash. If he knows there are more supporters, it might help to allay such concerns. I hope enough people sign to provide that kind of reassurance to our pastors.