Has Kerry Been Excommunicated?

Catholics — By on October 18, 2004 at 11:50 pm

Earlier this year Marc Balestrieri, a Los Angeles based expert in Canon Law, the legal code used by the Roman Catholic Church, filed a formal “case for heresy” against Kerry for his support of the right to abortion. After being brushed off by the Boston Diocese, Balestrieri travelled to Rome to seek clarification from the Vatican on the issue.



  • http://www.sidesspot.blogspot.com/ Mark S.

    Joe,
    Interesting subject. Nothing much, I think, will come of this. First, the Catholic Church has a rather large problem here if it “officially” disciplines Kerry–the Knighthood it recently conferred on Julian Hunte. See Sidesspot at http://sidesspot.blogspot.com/2004/09/constructive-engagement.html (sorry for the plug but it gives the details).
    Suffice it to say that Mr. Hunte has gone out of his way to promote the cause of abortion and he was Knighted by the Church. Does this prevent the Vatican from taking an official position on Kerry? No, but I think it shows that none will actually come.
    Second, the Vatican is both too astute politically and, it appears, too divided (within the bureaucracy) to take a formal stand on this issue. The Church’s official position on the issue of abortion could not be clearer and the Church has, particularly in the last year or so, taken great pains to ensure that everybody knows this. Particularly Catholics.
    Thus, I think the Vatican has left it up to individual lay Catholics, Priests and Bishops to deal with this. The Church hierarchy is saying, in essence, “You know the dogma, the rest is up to you. We cannot do everything.” The practical result: Each Catholic must ensure for himself that he meets the 1 Cor. 11:27-29 test when he takes communion. Whether Mr. Kerry can meet that test is between Mr. Kerry and God.
    This issue might stir the pot a bit, but it will never become “official”.
    Mark

  • http://www.sidesspot.blogspot.com Mark S.

    Joe,
    Interesting subject. Nothing much, I think, will come of this. First, the Catholic Church has a rather large problem here if it “officially” disciplines Kerry–the Knighthood it recently conferred on Julian Hunte. See Sidesspot at http://sidesspot.blogspot.com/2004/09/constructive-engagement.html (sorry for the plug but it gives the details).
    Suffice it to say that Mr. Hunte has gone out of his way to promote the cause of abortion and he was Knighted by the Church. Does this prevent the Vatican from taking an official position on Kerry? No, but I think it shows that none will actually come.
    Second, the Vatican is both too astute politically and, it appears, too divided (within the bureaucracy) to take a formal stand on this issue. The Church’s official position on the issue of abortion could not be clearer and the Church has, particularly in the last year or so, taken great pains to ensure that everybody knows this. Particularly Catholics.
    Thus, I think the Vatican has left it up to individual lay Catholics, Priests and Bishops to deal with this. The Church hierarchy is saying, in essence, “You know the dogma, the rest is up to you. We cannot do everything.” The practical result: Each Catholic must ensure for himself that he meets the 1 Cor. 11:27-29 test when he takes communion. Whether Mr. Kerry can meet that test is between Mr. Kerry and God.
    This issue might stir the pot a bit, but it will never become “official”.
    Mark

  • http://www.blogicus.com/archives/imminent_excommunication_for_kerry_kennedy_and_company.php bLogicus

    Imminent Excommunication for Kerry, Kennedy and Company?

    Is the Catholic Church on a course to excommunicate John Kerry for his public support of abortion? Has he been excommunicated already [more from Catholic World News]?…

  • http://www.blogicus.com/archives/imminent_excommunication_for_kerry_kennedy_and_company.php bLogicus

    Imminent Excommunication for Kerry, Kennedy and Company?

    Is the Catholic Church on a course to excommunicate John Kerry for his public support of abortion? Has he been excommunicated already [more from Catholic World News]?…

  • Kevin W

    Just because the Catholic church is going wobbly on Kerry’s excommunication, doesn’t mean we all have to be.
    I will begin a drive to revoke the citizenship of John Kerry, based on treasonous activity dating back to 1971. Mr. Kerry would be more comfortable, and appreciated, in one of the world’s socialist republics, if there are any left.

  • Kevin W

    Just because the Catholic church is going wobbly on Kerry’s excommunication, doesn’t mean we all have to be.
    I will begin a drive to revoke the citizenship of John Kerry, based on treasonous activity dating back to 1971. Mr. Kerry would be more comfortable, and appreciated, in one of the world’s socialist republics, if there are any left.

  • http://pseudopolymath.blogspot.com/ Mark O

    Thirdly, the Vatican does not have a reputation for moving on issues at better than a glacial pace. If they choose to excommunicate Mr Kerry or not, the decision may take more than a few decades.

  • http://pseudopolymath.blogspot.com/ Mark O

    Thirdly, the Vatican does not have a reputation for moving on issues at better than a glacial pace. If they choose to excommunicate Mr Kerry or not, the decision may take more than a few decades.

  • http://www.blogicus.com/ tim

    Washington Dispatch editor interviewed Fr. Basil Cole, the author of the letter purported to describe an excommunication. He revealed that he does not speak for the Vatican but unofficially provided his personal opinion. Lifesite seems to disagree.

  • http://www.blogicus.com tim

    Washington Dispatch editor interviewed Fr. Basil Cole, the author of the letter purported to describe an excommunication. He revealed that he does not speak for the Vatican but unofficially provided his personal opinion. Lifesite seems to disagree.

  • http://www.leanleft.com/ Kevin T. Keith

    If Kerry is excommunicated, so are 55% of all Catholics in America – the percentage who support abortion rights in all or most circumstances (and who presumably are not ignorant of official Catholic dogma on the question). That includes 45% of “regular churchgoing” Catholics, who are more conservative overall and surely are well versed in church teachings.
    Any attempt by the church to push this point in the campaign is likely to backfire, both against Bush and against the Catholic church. They have not only declared the majority of their own members to be heretics, but, in their ham-handed and highly selective campaigning against particular Democratic candidates they have made the spectre of religious interference in politics more real than at any time since Father Coughlin. Neither their own members nor the public at large will stand for it (as evidenced already by the 64% of the general population, and 65% of Catholics, who hold that religious leaders should not try to directly influence politicians’ decisions).

  • http://www.leanleft.com Kevin T. Keith

    If Kerry is excommunicated, so are 55% of all Catholics in America – the percentage who support abortion rights in all or most circumstances (and who presumably are not ignorant of official Catholic dogma on the question). That includes 45% of “regular churchgoing” Catholics, who are more conservative overall and surely are well versed in church teachings.
    Any attempt by the church to push this point in the campaign is likely to backfire, both against Bush and against the Catholic church. They have not only declared the majority of their own members to be heretics, but, in their ham-handed and highly selective campaigning against particular Democratic candidates they have made the spectre of religious interference in politics more real than at any time since Father Coughlin. Neither their own members nor the public at large will stand for it (as evidenced already by the 64% of the general population, and 65% of Catholics, who hold that religious leaders should not try to directly influence politicians’ decisions).

  • Athor Pel

    Kevin,
    If they won’t stand for truth then what good are they? There are moral absolutes that cannot be ignored. By not actively condemning what is plainly sin the Catholic Church is in effect condoning it.
    Who would you rather have on your side, God or the American Catholics that condone or support abortion?

  • Athor Pel

    Kevin,
    If they won’t stand for truth then what good are they? There are moral absolutes that cannot be ignored. By not actively condemning what is plainly sin the Catholic Church is in effect condoning it.
    Who would you rather have on your side, God or the American Catholics that condone or support abortion?

  • http://www.diggersrealm.com/mt/archives/000255.html Diggers Realm

    Is John Kerry Being Excommunicated From The Catholic Church?

    Chris Short is tracking some interesting discussion and reports that John Kerry may be excommunicated from the Catholic Church. Yesterday Chris delved into a report from the Catholic World News that put it succinctly A consultant to the Vatican has…

  • http://www.diggersrealm.com/mt/archives/000255.html Diggers Realm

    Is John Kerry Being Excommunicated From The Catholic Church?

    Chris Short is tracking some interesting discussion and reports that John Kerry may be excommunicated from the Catholic Church. Yesterday Chris delved into a report from the Catholic World News that put it succinctly A consultant to the Vatican has…

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com/ Joe Carter

    Kevin,
    If Kerry is excommunicated, so are 55% of all Catholics in America – the percentage who support abortion rights in all or most circumstances (and who presumably are not ignorant of official Catholic dogma on the question). That includes 45% of “regular churchgoing” Catholics, who are more conservative overall and surely are well versed in church teachings.
    And your point is

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Kevin,
    If Kerry is excommunicated, so are 55% of all Catholics in America – the percentage who support abortion rights in all or most circumstances (and who presumably are not ignorant of official Catholic dogma on the question). That includes 45% of “regular churchgoing” Catholics, who are more conservative overall and surely are well versed in church teachings.
    And your point is

  • http://www.leanleft.com/ Kevin T. Keith

    Regarding the “official” status of the response, the letter itself – from Joe’s link above – states:
    I received a request from the Very Reverend Augustine DiNoia, OP, the undersecretary of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith to respond unofficially to your dubia submitted in writing to the Congregation on August 30, 2004: [untranslated Latin questions follow]
    So, the letter itself states that it is an unofficial communication.
    However, the actual facts of the matter it discusses cannot be “unofficial”. As the letter makes clear, and Joe quotes, the teachings in question are regarded as “infallible” (under a complicated doctrine of infallibility that holds that some things are infallible even if the Pope has not explicitly stated that they are – the letter goes to some lengths to explain why these teachings are infallible in this sense), and the penalty for disbelieving them, still less publicly acting contrary to them, is automatic excommunication. (And in this case, the letter states, the penalty does not require prior warning or any contributing acts such as an “attitude of defiance”.) So the conclusions, and the penalties they imply, follow automatically: the opinion expressed in the letter is unofficial, but (unless this Basil Cole character is way out in his reasoning), whether Kerry is excommunicated or not does not depend on that opinion or any official action by any church authority – it just happens by itself.
    As to whether Kerry himself actually is automatically excommunicated by this doctrine, it appears to me that he has committed at most only one of the two “heresies” in question. It is heretical – and results in automatic excommunication – both to believe that abortion is not a sin and to “maintain [that there is] a right to abortion”. Kerry has explicitly stated that he is anti-abortion “as an article of faith” but that he upholds a legal right to abortion because he feels he cannot “impose an article of my faith on anyone else”. It seems, then, that he is probably not in violation of the doctrine of abortion as sin, but may be in violation of the doctrine that one may not approve of that sin. However, it’s not exactly clear he is even heretical in that sense: if he were to say, for instance, that nobody has a valid right under correct religious doctrine to obtain an abortion, but that they should not be prohibited under the law from doing so as a matter of – non-religious – public policy, I don’t know whether that would be considered heretical. I wouldn’t think so, but Catholic logic doesn’t have to make sense. As a point of comparison, is Kerry automatically excommunicated if he says that the First Amendment protects religious believers who deny the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary? He himself (presumably) believes it, but he also (presumably) upholds the right of others to deny it – and that doctrine is, famously, the paradigm instance of a Catholic teaching held to be “infallible” by papal declaration. If Kerry can support the right of others to proclaim “heretical” doctrines about Mary without himself believing them or being heretical in doing so, why cannot he support the right of others to act on “heretical” doctrines about abortion without himself believing them or falling into heresy in doing so?
    Be that as it may, if Kerry really is excommunicated under these doctrines, then, as I note above, that means that a large percentage, and probably a majority, of all US Catholics are similarly excommunicated. So also are virtually all pro-choice Catholic politicians, and not a few Catholics from other countries as well. And, note again, this conclusion does not require that they be public figures or speak openly in favor of choice in abortion. Kerry’s apparent “heresy” is not believing that abortion is acceptable – he says he does not – but acting to support abortion rights for those who do believe that. In the case of dissenting Catholics, however, simply believing or even suspecting that abortion is acceptable, if they have heard that the church teaches otherwise, by itself triggers automatic excommunication. Furthermore, no Catholic authority can possibly be unaware of the extent of dissent on this issue – that’s why they are pushing the anti-abortion line so heavily during the election. Which means that US Catholic priests and bishops are preaching every week to congregations filled with heretics – and are granting them communion without challenging them directly on this point. (I don’t know if that triggers excommunication also, but I wouldn’t be surprised. At this rate there simply won’t be anybody left in the Catholic church to point any more fingers.)
    So unless the Catholic church in the US wants to set off its own nation-wide meltdown, they cannot dare openly tell anyone – even a presidential candidate – “you’re excommunicated”. It would immediately be obvious that the same doctrine applies to half their own members and to many priests, triggering both a backlash in the congregations and a widespread dismissal of the church’s teachings as reactionary and self-defeating. A little discreet hypocrisy here will keep the pews filled and the critics quiet.

  • http://www.leanleft.com Kevin T. Keith

    Regarding the “official” status of the response, the letter itself – from Joe’s link above – states:
    I received a request from the Very Reverend Augustine DiNoia, OP, the undersecretary of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith to respond unofficially to your dubia submitted in writing to the Congregation on August 30, 2004: [untranslated Latin questions follow]
    So, the letter itself states that it is an unofficial communication.
    However, the actual facts of the matter it discusses cannot be “unofficial”. As the letter makes clear, and Joe quotes, the teachings in question are regarded as “infallible” (under a complicated doctrine of infallibility that holds that some things are infallible even if the Pope has not explicitly stated that they are – the letter goes to some lengths to explain why these teachings are infallible in this sense), and the penalty for disbelieving them, still less publicly acting contrary to them, is automatic excommunication. (And in this case, the letter states, the penalty does not require prior warning or any contributing acts such as an “attitude of defiance”.) So the conclusions, and the penalties they imply, follow automatically: the opinion expressed in the letter is unofficial, but (unless this Basil Cole character is way out in his reasoning), whether Kerry is excommunicated or not does not depend on that opinion or any official action by any church authority – it just happens by itself.
    As to whether Kerry himself actually is automatically excommunicated by this doctrine, it appears to me that he has committed at most only one of the two “heresies” in question. It is heretical – and results in automatic excommunication – both to believe that abortion is not a sin and to “maintain [that there is] a right to abortion”. Kerry has explicitly stated that he is anti-abortion “as an article of faith” but that he upholds a legal right to abortion because he feels he cannot “impose an article of my faith on anyone else”. It seems, then, that he is probably not in violation of the doctrine of abortion as sin, but may be in violation of the doctrine that one may not approve of that sin. However, it’s not exactly clear he is even heretical in that sense: if he were to say, for instance, that nobody has a valid right under correct religious doctrine to obtain an abortion, but that they should not be prohibited under the law from doing so as a matter of – non-religious – public policy, I don’t know whether that would be considered heretical. I wouldn’t think so, but Catholic logic doesn’t have to make sense. As a point of comparison, is Kerry automatically excommunicated if he says that the First Amendment protects religious believers who deny the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary? He himself (presumably) believes it, but he also (presumably) upholds the right of others to deny it – and that doctrine is, famously, the paradigm instance of a Catholic teaching held to be “infallible” by papal declaration. If Kerry can support the right of others to proclaim “heretical” doctrines about Mary without himself believing them or being heretical in doing so, why cannot he support the right of others to act on “heretical” doctrines about abortion without himself believing them or falling into heresy in doing so?
    Be that as it may, if Kerry really is excommunicated under these doctrines, then, as I note above, that means that a large percentage, and probably a majority, of all US Catholics are similarly excommunicated. So also are virtually all pro-choice Catholic politicians, and not a few Catholics from other countries as well. And, note again, this conclusion does not require that they be public figures or speak openly in favor of choice in abortion. Kerry’s apparent “heresy” is not believing that abortion is acceptable – he says he does not – but acting to support abortion rights for those who do believe that. In the case of dissenting Catholics, however, simply believing or even suspecting that abortion is acceptable, if they have heard that the church teaches otherwise, by itself triggers automatic excommunication. Furthermore, no Catholic authority can possibly be unaware of the extent of dissent on this issue – that’s why they are pushing the anti-abortion line so heavily during the election. Which means that US Catholic priests and bishops are preaching every week to congregations filled with heretics – and are granting them communion without challenging them directly on this point. (I don’t know if that triggers excommunication also, but I wouldn’t be surprised. At this rate there simply won’t be anybody left in the Catholic church to point any more fingers.)
    So unless the Catholic church in the US wants to set off its own nation-wide meltdown, they cannot dare openly tell anyone – even a presidential candidate – “you’re excommunicated”. It would immediately be obvious that the same doctrine applies to half their own members and to many priests, triggering both a backlash in the congregations and a widespread dismissal of the church’s teachings as reactionary and self-defeating. A little discreet hypocrisy here will keep the pews filled and the critics quiet.

  • http://pseudopolymath.blogspot.com/ Mark O

    Kevin
    You wrote: A little discreet hypocrisy here will keep the pews filled and the critics quiet. I’d ask, is that really the goal?
    At some point the RC church will have to decide if membership numbers in the US are more important that principles. One could argue, if they did have a split/breakup over abortion by ex-communicating members for heresy, that they would end up the stronger for it. Otherwise, if they keep it up, perhaps you won’t actually have to believe in Christ to be a Catholic.

  • http://www.leanleft.com/ Kevin T. Keith

    Joe:
    And your point is

  • http://pseudopolymath.blogspot.com/ Mark O

    Kevin
    You wrote: A little discreet hypocrisy here will keep the pews filled and the critics quiet. I’d ask, is that really the goal?
    At some point the RC church will have to decide if membership numbers in the US are more important that principles. One could argue, if they did have a split/breakup over abortion by ex-communicating members for heresy, that they would end up the stronger for it. Otherwise, if they keep it up, perhaps you won’t actually have to believe in Christ to be a Catholic.

  • http://www.leanleft.com Kevin T. Keith

    Joe:
    And your point is

  • Larry Lord

    Abortion rates during Bush presidency increase as a result of his inept incompetent policies.
    http://tinyurl.com/5zc78
    Read it and weep. Bush’s policies result in the inevitable deaths of the unborn in Iraq and in the United States (not to mention the deaths and crippling of thousands of American and Iraqi teenagers, and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians).
    Bush is to Christianity what Swaggart is to evangelism. Too bad most Christians around here are too stupid to figure that out.

  • Larry Lord

    Abortion rates during Bush presidency increase as a result of his inept incompetent policies.
    http://tinyurl.com/5zc78
    Read it and weep. Bush’s policies result in the inevitable deaths of the unborn in Iraq and in the United States (not to mention the deaths and crippling of thousands of American and Iraqi teenagers, and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians).
    Bush is to Christianity what Swaggart is to evangelism. Too bad most Christians around here are too stupid to figure that out.

  • http://pseudopolymath.blogspot.com/ Mark O

    Larry,
    That link you posted, indicates that the main cause for the increase in abortions is because we had a recession, which you may recall was starting before Bush took office. 9/11 had no small impact on the economy as well.
    To bad you are (to use your own words), “too stupid to figure that out.”

  • http://pseudopolymath.blogspot.com/ Mark O

    Larry,
    That link you posted, indicates that the main cause for the increase in abortions is because we had a recession, which you may recall was starting before Bush took office. 9/11 had no small impact on the economy as well.
    To bad you are (to use your own words), “too stupid to figure that out.”

  • Larry Lord

    “That link you posted, indicates that the main cause for the increase in abortions is because we had a recession, which you may recall was starting before Bush took office. 9/11 had no small impact on the economy as well.”
    Ah yes, right from Rove’s script to your mouth. It’s not Bush’s fault. Nothing is ever Bush’s fault. News flash, Mark: 2001 was three years ago. Bush’s policies have done little to nothing to improve the economy or create jobs, even though he started a stupid war which has always been a guarantee in the past for job creation.
    Sorry, Mark, but it’s quite fair for your idiot leader to take responsibility for the impact of his crappy leadership. I know it’s hard for some Christians to stomach, but the Chimp is responsible for quite a bit of killing in the world and in the United States. He’ll have plenty of time to wash the blood off when he’s booted out of office.

  • Larry Lord

    “That link you posted, indicates that the main cause for the increase in abortions is because we had a recession, which you may recall was starting before Bush took office. 9/11 had no small impact on the economy as well.”
    Ah yes, right from Rove’s script to your mouth. It’s not Bush’s fault. Nothing is ever Bush’s fault. News flash, Mark: 2001 was three years ago. Bush’s policies have done little to nothing to improve the economy or create jobs, even though he started a stupid war which has always been a guarantee in the past for job creation.
    Sorry, Mark, but it’s quite fair for your idiot leader to take responsibility for the impact of his crappy leadership. I know it’s hard for some Christians to stomach, but the Chimp is responsible for quite a bit of killing in the world and in the United States. He’ll have plenty of time to wash the blood off when he’s booted out of office.

  • Lowell

    Joe, are you lazy? Stupid? Dishonest?
    Dishonest and lazy?
    Dishonest and stupid?
    Lazy and stupid?
    Or dishonest, lazy and stupid:
    VATICAN CITY (CNS) — An official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said a California canon lawyer seeking a formal decree of heresy against Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, Democratic presidential nominee, has misrepresented his contact with the Vatican office.
    “The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has had no contact with Mr. (Marc) Balestrieri,” said Dominican Father Augustine DiNoia, undersecretary of the congregation.
    “His claim that the private letter he received from (Dominican) Father Basil Cole is a Vatican response is completely without merit,” Father DiNoia told Catholic News Service Oct. 19, declining to discuss the matter further.
    Balestrieri is the head of De Fide, described on its Web site as an organization created “to deal with the burgeoning scandal of Catholic politicians supporting the ‘right to choose’ murder.”
    In an Oct. 15 interview on the Eternal Word Television Network and in an Oct. 18 statement posted on his Web site, Balestrieri said he had “received a written response prompted by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith affirming that Catholic politicians who persist in supporting the right to abortion are ‘automatically excommunicated.’”
    He said Father Cole “was delegated” by Father DiNoia “to formally respond” to questions Balestrieri had sent the congregation.
    Father DiNoia denied that Father Cole, a theologian who resides in Washington, was delegated in any way to address the questions on behalf of the congregation.
    Father Cole’s letter to Balestrieri, also posted on De Fide’s Web site, begins by saying he had been asked by Father DiNoia “to respond unofficially” to Balestrieri’s questions.
    The priest concluded that “if a Catholic publicly and obstinately supports the civil right to abortion, knowing that the church teaches officially against that legislation, he or she commits that heresy envisioned by Canon 751 of the Code” of Canon Law.
    Vatican officials contacted by CNS Oct. 19 said they did not agree with Father Cole’s conclusion that Kerry has incurred excommunication.
    “You can incur excommunication ‘latae sententiae’ (automatically) only if you procure or perform an abortion,” one said.
    In Washington, Father Cole told CNS the Holy See “gets these requests … tons of them,” and that Father DiNoia asked him to respond to Balestrieri in a private capacity.
    “I have no relationship to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith … and the letter that I wrote to Balestrieri was purely private,” he told CNS Oct. 19. “I wrote it as a private theologian, not with any authority. It has no authority whatsoever.
    “Its worth is disputable,” he added.
    One Vatican official contacted by CNS said no church official had seriously approached the point of declaring Kerry a heretic.
    “No, Kerry is not a heretic,” he said.
    “There are three distinct questions involved” in the current U.S. discussion about support for legalized abortion and the worthiness of Catholic politicians and voters to receive Communion, he said.
    The three questions, he said, are: “Is Kerry a heretic? Is Kerry an ‘obstinate sinner’ because of his support for legalized abortion? Can a Catholic vote for Kerry?”
    Even if one answered “yes” to the second question, he said, it would not mean the senator is a heretic, nor would it oblige Catholic voters in all situations to vote against him.
    The questions Balestrieri wrote in Latin and sent to the congregation asked whether the church’s condemnation of abortion is a matter of Catholic faith and dogma for which opposition would constitute heresy.
    When he wrote to the congregation, Balestrieri did not identify himself as the head of De Fide, he did not mention Kerry or politicians in general and he said he did not inform the congregation that he was trying to formally sue Kerry for heresy in the Archdiocese of Boston.
    The doctrinal congregation, like other Vatican offices, receives dozens of letters and questions each day. Those from bishops are handled formally.
    The tone of letters from lay people dictates how they are handled, a Vatican official said Oct. 19. Most letter writers are encouraged to discuss their concerns with their parish priest.
    When a letter appears to be from a serious student, the writer may be referred to a book or published article, or he or she may be referred to a theologian or canon lawyer who could be able to provide direction.
    - – -
    Contributing to this story was Barb Fraze in Washington.
    END

  • Lowell

    Joe, are you lazy? Stupid? Dishonest?
    Dishonest and lazy?
    Dishonest and stupid?
    Lazy and stupid?
    Or dishonest, lazy and stupid:
    VATICAN CITY (CNS) — An official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said a California canon lawyer seeking a formal decree of heresy against Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, Democratic presidential nominee, has misrepresented his contact with the Vatican office.
    “The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has had no contact with Mr. (Marc) Balestrieri,” said Dominican Father Augustine DiNoia, undersecretary of the congregation.
    “His claim that the private letter he received from (Dominican) Father Basil Cole is a Vatican response is completely without merit,” Father DiNoia told Catholic News Service Oct. 19, declining to discuss the matter further.
    Balestrieri is the head of De Fide, described on its Web site as an organization created “to deal with the burgeoning scandal of Catholic politicians supporting the ‘right to choose’ murder.”
    In an Oct. 15 interview on the Eternal Word Television Network and in an Oct. 18 statement posted on his Web site, Balestrieri said he had “received a written response prompted by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith affirming that Catholic politicians who persist in supporting the right to abortion are ‘automatically excommunicated.’”
    He said Father Cole “was delegated” by Father DiNoia “to formally respond” to questions Balestrieri had sent the congregation.
    Father DiNoia denied that Father Cole, a theologian who resides in Washington, was delegated in any way to address the questions on behalf of the congregation.
    Father Cole’s letter to Balestrieri, also posted on De Fide’s Web site, begins by saying he had been asked by Father DiNoia “to respond unofficially” to Balestrieri’s questions.
    The priest concluded that “if a Catholic publicly and obstinately supports the civil right to abortion, knowing that the church teaches officially against that legislation, he or she commits that heresy envisioned by Canon 751 of the Code” of Canon Law.
    Vatican officials contacted by CNS Oct. 19 said they did not agree with Father Cole’s conclusion that Kerry has incurred excommunication.
    “You can incur excommunication ‘latae sententiae’ (automatically) only if you procure or perform an abortion,” one said.
    In Washington, Father Cole told CNS the Holy See “gets these requests … tons of them,” and that Father DiNoia asked him to respond to Balestrieri in a private capacity.
    “I have no relationship to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith … and the letter that I wrote to Balestrieri was purely private,” he told CNS Oct. 19. “I wrote it as a private theologian, not with any authority. It has no authority whatsoever.
    “Its worth is disputable,” he added.
    One Vatican official contacted by CNS said no church official had seriously approached the point of declaring Kerry a heretic.
    “No, Kerry is not a heretic,” he said.
    “There are three distinct questions involved” in the current U.S. discussion about support for legalized abortion and the worthiness of Catholic politicians and voters to receive Communion, he said.
    The three questions, he said, are: “Is Kerry a heretic? Is Kerry an ‘obstinate sinner’ because of his support for legalized abortion? Can a Catholic vote for Kerry?”
    Even if one answered “yes” to the second question, he said, it would not mean the senator is a heretic, nor would it oblige Catholic voters in all situations to vote against him.
    The questions Balestrieri wrote in Latin and sent to the congregation asked whether the church’s condemnation of abortion is a matter of Catholic faith and dogma for which opposition would constitute heresy.
    When he wrote to the congregation, Balestrieri did not identify himself as the head of De Fide, he did not mention Kerry or politicians in general and he said he did not inform the congregation that he was trying to formally sue Kerry for heresy in the Archdiocese of Boston.
    The doctrinal congregation, like other Vatican offices, receives dozens of letters and questions each day. Those from bishops are handled formally.
    The tone of letters from lay people dictates how they are handled, a Vatican official said Oct. 19. Most letter writers are encouraged to discuss their concerns with their parish priest.
    When a letter appears to be from a serious student, the writer may be referred to a book or published article, or he or she may be referred to a theologian or canon lawyer who could be able to provide direction.
    - – -
    Contributing to this story was Barb Fraze in Washington.
    END

  • Larry Lord

    Lowell, to answer your question:
    My belief is that Joe is merely absurdly loyal to conservative causes and will recite whatever script is handed to him by the conservative powers-that-be.
    How sick is it that some Republican priest goes to the Vatican in a bogus attempt to have a Catholic presidential candidate ex-communicated? About as sick as the claim that Kerry fabricated his Vietnam war experiences and is, in fact, a child-killing war criminal. Which is to say, pretty damn sick.
    But let’s face it. We’re dealing with a President who makes up facts as he goes in order to accomplish what his “instincts” and his “father in heaven” tells him is right. You can expect the worst kind of falsehoods to emanate from such characters and that is exactly what he and his lackeys have provided to the American people.

  • Larry Lord

    Lowell, to answer your question:
    My belief is that Joe is merely absurdly loyal to conservative causes and will recite whatever script is handed to him by the conservative powers-that-be.
    How sick is it that some Republican priest goes to the Vatican in a bogus attempt to have a Catholic presidential candidate ex-communicated? About as sick as the claim that Kerry fabricated his Vietnam war experiences and is, in fact, a child-killing war criminal. Which is to say, pretty damn sick.
    But let’s face it. We’re dealing with a President who makes up facts as he goes in order to accomplish what his “instincts” and his “father in heaven” tells him is right. You can expect the worst kind of falsehoods to emanate from such characters and that is exactly what he and his lackeys have provided to the American people.

  • Larry Lord

    “When he wrote to the congregation, Balestrieri did not identify himself as the head of De Fide, he did not mention Kerry or politicians in general and he said he did not inform the congregation that he was trying to formally sue Kerry for heresy in the Archdiocese of Boston.”
    Human scum. How does the Catholic Church feel about such deceptive practices, I wonder?

  • Larry Lord

    “When he wrote to the congregation, Balestrieri did not identify himself as the head of De Fide, he did not mention Kerry or politicians in general and he said he did not inform the congregation that he was trying to formally sue Kerry for heresy in the Archdiocese of Boston.”
    Human scum. How does the Catholic Church feel about such deceptive practices, I wonder?

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com/ Joe Carter

    Larry,
    My belief is that Joe is merely absurdly loyal to conservative causes and will recite whatever script is handed to him by the conservative powers-that-be.
    Or it could be that the article that Lowell cites wasn

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Larry,
    My belief is that Joe is merely absurdly loyal to conservative causes and will recite whatever script is handed to him by the conservative powers-that-be.
    Or it could be that the article that Lowell cites wasn

  • http://pseudopolymath.blogspot.com/ Mark O

    Larry,
    You wrote: Bush’s policies have done little to nothing to improve the economy or create jobs
    Seems like you’re blaming the wrong party. The President doesn’t “create jobs” and has a marginal effect on the economy. Congress holds the purse strings and controls the budget (and declares war). Furthermore, goverment doesn’t (or shouldn’t be in) the business of creating jobs. That would be the private sector. If anyone is to blame, it’s Kerry, Edwards, and the 98 other knuckleheads in the Senate.
    Why don’t you blame Bush for the hurricanes too. As for calling anyone absurdly loyal to conservative causes, sounds like the pot calling the kettle black, Mr Larry “absurdly loyal to liberal causes” Lord.

  • http://pseudopolymath.blogspot.com/ Mark O

    Larry,
    You wrote: Bush’s policies have done little to nothing to improve the economy or create jobs
    Seems like you’re blaming the wrong party. The President doesn’t “create jobs” and has a marginal effect on the economy. Congress holds the purse strings and controls the budget (and declares war). Furthermore, goverment doesn’t (or shouldn’t be in) the business of creating jobs. That would be the private sector. If anyone is to blame, it’s Kerry, Edwards, and the 98 other knuckleheads in the Senate.
    Why don’t you blame Bush for the hurricanes too. As for calling anyone absurdly loyal to conservative causes, sounds like the pot calling the kettle black, Mr Larry “absurdly loyal to liberal causes” Lord.

  • Kevin W

    George Bush, actually, hasn’t done enough killing. As long as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and the crazy groups in Chechnya are around, we ain’t done.
    Maybe you’re right. Maybe the Arabs are too backward and primitive to adopt American-style republican democracy. In which case, there’s still a lot of killing to do. As long as the Islamists seek to conquer the world, Bush has a lot of heavy lifting left.

  • Kevin W

    George Bush, actually, hasn’t done enough killing. As long as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and the crazy groups in Chechnya are around, we ain’t done.
    Maybe you’re right. Maybe the Arabs are too backward and primitive to adopt American-style republican democracy. In which case, there’s still a lot of killing to do. As long as the Islamists seek to conquer the world, Bush has a lot of heavy lifting left.

  • Larry Lord

    Joe writes
    “Um, Balestrieri isn

  • Larry Lord

    Joe writes
    “Um, Balestrieri isn

  • http://www.sidesspot.blogspot.com/ Mark S.

    Lowell,
    Are you all of those things that you accuse Joe of? If you had even a miniscule amount of sense, you would have determined that Joe posted this at around Midnight Central time. The CNS story came out later in the morning, so Joe would not have known about it when he posted. You pick which combo you are.
    Mark S.

  • http://www.sidesspot.blogspot.com Mark S.

    Lowell,
    Are you all of those things that you accuse Joe of? If you had even a miniscule amount of sense, you would have determined that Joe posted this at around Midnight Central time. The CNS story came out later in the morning, so Joe would not have known about it when he posted. You pick which combo you are.
    Mark S.

  • http://www.sidesspot.blogspot.com/ Mark S.

    Larry,
    Balestrieri is “a self-identified political independent” according to this story: http://www.catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?RecNum=6196
    I don’t know if he is or is not what he describes himself as. You’ll draw your own conclusions, no doubt.
    Mark S.

  • http://www.sidesspot.blogspot.com Mark S.

    Larry,
    Balestrieri is “a self-identified political independent” according to this story: http://www.catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?RecNum=6196
    I don’t know if he is or is not what he describes himself as. You’ll draw your own conclusions, no doubt.
    Mark S.

  • http://www.sidesspot.blogspot.com/ Mark S.

    Sorry, I thought I had read all of the comments but I missed Joe’s able defense of himself. Please excuse my second from last comment. Lowell, I will say this, you are guilty of the same bad faith of which you accuse Joe.
    Mark S.

  • http://www.sidesspot.blogspot.com Mark S.

    Sorry, I thought I had read all of the comments but I missed Joe’s able defense of himself. Please excuse my second from last comment. Lowell, I will say this, you are guilty of the same bad faith of which you accuse Joe.
    Mark S.

  • Lowell

    Mark, the fact that the Vatican hadn’t yet issued a statement specifically slapping down the allegation doesn’t mean it wasn’t ridiculous on its face. What Joe did is, he saw something that he wanted to believe and ignored the numerous indicia of unreliability draped around it. Joe was more concerned with getting support for his point of view than with telling the truth. Therefore, he is dishonest. He did not do any investigation to see if the information he wanted to present was credible. Therefore, he is lazy. He did not know how to tell the difference between Balestrieri’s publicity stunt and a serious question. Therefore, he is stupid.

  • Lowell

    Mark, the fact that the Vatican hadn’t yet issued a statement specifically slapping down the allegation doesn’t mean it wasn’t ridiculous on its face. What Joe did is, he saw something that he wanted to believe and ignored the numerous indicia of unreliability draped around it. Joe was more concerned with getting support for his point of view than with telling the truth. Therefore, he is dishonest. He did not do any investigation to see if the information he wanted to present was credible. Therefore, he is lazy. He did not know how to tell the difference between Balestrieri’s publicity stunt and a serious question. Therefore, he is stupid.

  • http://opiniontimes.blogspot.com/2004/10/heinz-kerry-would-make-gay-tolerance.html Opinion Times

    Heinz-Kerry Would Make ‘Gay Tolerance’ Centerpiec

    Theresa Heinz-Kerry, in an interview with PlanetOut–a gay and lesbian news service–has said that “gay tolerance” will be a centerpiece of her agenda as First Lady.

  • http://opiniontimes.blogspot.com/2004/10/heinz-kerry-would-make-gay-tolerance.html Opinion Times

    Heinz-Kerry Would Make ‘Gay Tolerance’ Centerpiec

    Theresa Heinz-Kerry, in an interview with PlanetOut–a gay and lesbian news service–has said that “gay tolerance” will be a centerpiece of her agenda as First Lady.

  • Larry Lord

    Mark S.
    “Balestrieri is “a self-identified political independent” according to this story: http://www.catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?RecNum=6196
    What a surprise. Another dissembling Christian. And a Christian (you) apologizing for his dissembling. Sad.
    “I don’t know if he is or is not what he describes himself as.”
    Then you’re even more naive than I thought.
    “And it should be noted that his heresy claims include both Democrat and Republican politicians.”
    I assume Arnold and Giuliani are at the top of his list. Am I right about that?
    I’ll ignore for the moment that when these attacks first started seeping from the vile mouths of conservative Catholics and their ill Christian apologists that Republicans were not named. To rational people, that is highly relevant information when it comes to understanding and evaluating loud-voiced creatures like Mr. Balestrieri and his supporters.
    To someone like Mark, on the other hand, such information if to be ignored because Mark’s preachers teach him, be example, that lying is preferable to being wrong, making gross errors in judgment, and admitting mistakes. Of course, Jesus Christ did not condone such behavior. But that hardly matters to the self-righteous folk who don’t hesitate to use their fake Christianity to smear their political opponents in the 21st century.

  • Larry Lord

    Mark S.
    “Balestrieri is “a self-identified political independent” according to this story: http://www.catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?RecNum=6196
    What a surprise. Another dissembling Christian. And a Christian (you) apologizing for his dissembling. Sad.
    “I don’t know if he is or is not what he describes himself as.”
    Then you’re even more naive than I thought.
    “And it should be noted that his heresy claims include both Democrat and Republican politicians.”
    I assume Arnold and Giuliani are at the top of his list. Am I right about that?
    I’ll ignore for the moment that when these attacks first started seeping from the vile mouths of conservative Catholics and their ill Christian apologists that Republicans were not named. To rational people, that is highly relevant information when it comes to understanding and evaluating loud-voiced creatures like Mr. Balestrieri and his supporters.
    To someone like Mark, on the other hand, such information if to be ignored because Mark’s preachers teach him, be example, that lying is preferable to being wrong, making gross errors in judgment, and admitting mistakes. Of course, Jesus Christ did not condone such behavior. But that hardly matters to the self-righteous folk who don’t hesitate to use their fake Christianity to smear their political opponents in the 21st century.

  • http://www.sidesspot.blogspot.com/ Mark S.

    Larry,
    I don’t recall apologizing for Balestrieri. If he hoodwinked De Noia and the Vatican (which appears to be the case), then he’s deserves a heaping helping of scorn. I was only passing on what he calls himself. At this point, I don’t think much of him. So you can save your little “sad” comment snit for some other time.
    I’m hardly naive for not knowing how the man actually votes. He’s reprehensible in how he has acted here. He could, however, be an independent. He could vote equally for both parties. I really don’t know. You don’t either, but that doesn’t stop you from commenting. That doesn’t make me naive. It just makes me honest. Having said that, he could be a Republican. If so, then he’s no better than the Democrat in Ohio who bought votes for crack. I don’t consider that person to typify Democrats as a whole. If Balestrieri is a Republican, he does not typify Republicans as a whole.
    I have no clue as to whether Arnold and Giuliani are on his list. Do you?
    Your last paragraph is beneath notice.
    Lowell,
    As to Joe’s lack of good faith–that’s ridiculous. Plenty of Catholic news services were reporting the same story on the same day. Most were a bit confused as to why the Vatican would do this, but they didn’t take it as ridiculous on its face. With the benefit of hindsight (and the Vatican’s statement in hand) you have, fortunately, enlightened us.
    Mark S.

  • http://www.sidesspot.blogspot.com Mark S.

    Larry,
    I don’t recall apologizing for Balestrieri. If he hoodwinked De Noia and the Vatican (which appears to be the case), then he’s deserves a heaping helping of scorn. I was only passing on what he calls himself. At this point, I don’t think much of him. So you can save your little “sad” comment snit for some other time.
    I’m hardly naive for not knowing how the man actually votes. He’s reprehensible in how he has acted here. He could, however, be an independent. He could vote equally for both parties. I really don’t know. You don’t either, but that doesn’t stop you from commenting. That doesn’t make me naive. It just makes me honest. Having said that, he could be a Republican. If so, then he’s no better than the Democrat in Ohio who bought votes for crack. I don’t consider that person to typify Democrats as a whole. If Balestrieri is a Republican, he does not typify Republicans as a whole.
    I have no clue as to whether Arnold and Giuliani are on his list. Do you?
    Your last paragraph is beneath notice.
    Lowell,
    As to Joe’s lack of good faith–that’s ridiculous. Plenty of Catholic news services were reporting the same story on the same day. Most were a bit confused as to why the Vatican would do this, but they didn’t take it as ridiculous on its face. With the benefit of hindsight (and the Vatican’s statement in hand) you have, fortunately, enlightened us.
    Mark S.

  • http://www.sidesspot.blogspot.com/ Mark S.

    For what it’s worth, Balistrieri has posted a response letter on the De Fide site:
    http://www.defide.com/news.html
    His response is weak, to me, because I am leery of the purity of his motives. But you can judge for yourself.
    Mark S.

  • http://www.sidesspot.blogspot.com Mark S.

    For what it’s worth, Balistrieri has posted a response letter on the De Fide site:
    http://www.defide.com/news.html
    His response is weak, to me, because I am leery of the purity of his motives. But you can judge for yourself.
    Mark S.

  • Lowell

    Mark, so are you saying that Joe is merely stupid and lazy, not dishonest as well?

  • Lowell

    Mark, so are you saying that Joe is merely stupid and lazy, not dishonest as well?

  • http://www.sidesspot.blogspot.com/ Mark S.

    Yes, Lowell. Joe is stupid and lazy. It must be very convenient for you to label those with whom you disagree so that you do not actually have to do the hard work of coming up with an argument.
    All the best.
    Mark

  • http://www.sidesspot.blogspot.com Mark S.

    Yes, Lowell. Joe is stupid and lazy. It must be very convenient for you to label those with whom you disagree so that you do not actually have to do the hard work of coming up with an argument.
    All the best.
    Mark

  • Lowell

    Mark, the idea that Joe is stupid and lazy, but not dishonest, is superficially appealing, but does not stand up well under analysis. Think about WHY he jumped on to the ridiculous story that Kerry (but not Giuliani or Pataki!) had been excommunicated, when nothing in church doctrine supports such an idea. Joe accepted and promoted the story without examining it BECAUSE IT SUPPORTED THE POINT HE WAS TRYING TO MAKE. Joe cared more about supporting his own point of view than he did about the truth. Certainly his stupidity and laziness helped keep him from investigating or understanding the truth, but it is primarily his dishonesty that led him to promote the story.
    I acknowledge the good faith behind your argument that Joe is merely stupid and lazy, but not dishonest, but I think you are mistaken. Joe is stupid, lazy AND dishonest.

  • Lowell

    Mark, the idea that Joe is stupid and lazy, but not dishonest, is superficially appealing, but does not stand up well under analysis. Think about WHY he jumped on to the ridiculous story that Kerry (but not Giuliani or Pataki!) had been excommunicated, when nothing in church doctrine supports such an idea. Joe accepted and promoted the story without examining it BECAUSE IT SUPPORTED THE POINT HE WAS TRYING TO MAKE. Joe cared more about supporting his own point of view than he did about the truth. Certainly his stupidity and laziness helped keep him from investigating or understanding the truth, but it is primarily his dishonesty that led him to promote the story.
    I acknowledge the good faith behind your argument that Joe is merely stupid and lazy, but not dishonest, but I think you are mistaken. Joe is stupid, lazy AND dishonest.

  • Septimus

    Joe said:
    “Apparantly, the Church doesn’t think that endorsing the murder of the unborn is on the same level as actually having the abortion.”
    Actually, it does. Both are sinful — depending on individual circumstances (freedom, knowledge, etc.) are gravely sinful. But are they “heresy”? Heresy is to DENY a fundamental teaching; does Kerry DENY it, or does it DISOBEY it? Are couples who use contraceptives HERETICS?
    Yes, Rome moves slowly. Kicking people out of church is something to move slowly about.
    The idea that the pope should boldly excommunicate every Catholic who doesn’t fully support Church teaching on abortion, even if that is 45-55% of the faithful in the U.S., seems bizarre advice indeed. What about teaching? Persuasion? Awakening people’s consciences?
    The pressure is building for the bishops to take a harder line; they’ve made some modest moves in that direction, and the pressure isn’t going away. Individual bishops are letting it be known that pro-abortion (please, let’s not say “pro-choice”!) politicians need to “choose”: either be pro-abortion or be a communicant, but you can’t be both. For obvious good reasons, many bishops want to have a consistent approach, which means … moving slowly. There will be more on this after the election. What happens if Kerry wins is anyone’s guess.

  • Septimus

    Joe said:
    “Apparantly, the Church doesn’t think that endorsing the murder of the unborn is on the same level as actually having the abortion.”
    Actually, it does. Both are sinful — depending on individual circumstances (freedom, knowledge, etc.) are gravely sinful. But are they “heresy”? Heresy is to DENY a fundamental teaching; does Kerry DENY it, or does it DISOBEY it? Are couples who use contraceptives HERETICS?
    Yes, Rome moves slowly. Kicking people out of church is something to move slowly about.
    The idea that the pope should boldly excommunicate every Catholic who doesn’t fully support Church teaching on abortion, even if that is 45-55% of the faithful in the U.S., seems bizarre advice indeed. What about teaching? Persuasion? Awakening people’s consciences?
    The pressure is building for the bishops to take a harder line; they’ve made some modest moves in that direction, and the pressure isn’t going away. Individual bishops are letting it be known that pro-abortion (please, let’s not say “pro-choice”!) politicians need to “choose”: either be pro-abortion or be a communicant, but you can’t be both. For obvious good reasons, many bishops want to have a consistent approach, which means … moving slowly. There will be more on this after the election. What happens if Kerry wins is anyone’s guess.