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Catholic Bishops: Excommunicate a Nun for Permitting Life-Saving Abortion, But Not An Abusive Priest?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’m no canon law expert, but this story certainly raises interesting questions about the disparity in the Catholic Church’s handling of clergy disciplinary issues: Sister Margaret McBride, an administrator at a Catholic hospital in Arizona, has been declared “automatically excommunicated” by a bishop for approving an abortion to save a critically ill mother’s life (at 11 weeks, the pregnancy’s first trimester) last year. NPR’s story points out that meanwhile, no pedophile priests have ever been automatically excommunicated; rather, the norm over the years has been for bishops to protect them.

Apparently, McBride can be un-excommunicated if she goes to confession and repents. No word on what her plans are, though she apparently remains with her religious order, the Sisters of Mercy, and employed by St. Joseph’s Hospital.

So, someone please enlighten me, because I’m still confused even after reading Catholic News Agency’s ethical analysis of the situation: how does a life-saving medical procedure for a mother that costs the life of a 11-week-old fetus – as opposed to both lives — merit automatic excommunication, but not the serial raping of children? Is this a gender equity issue — male bishops giving priests more benefit of the doubt than nuns? Does the church really view an early-term abortion to save a mother’s life as a greater sin than raping children? And if so, isn’t this something that ought to be clarified by now?

Thoughts?

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SP

posted May 20, 2010 at 11:37 am


I read this in the paper a couple of days back and was so upset. The arrogance of the priest explaining why he excommunicated McBride was unbelieveable. He was told that both lives–the unborn fetus, as well as the mother–would be lost if the abortion wasn’t performed. And he basically said “So what? Our rule is abortion is instant excommunication.” No compassion, no care as to a woman’s life. In his eyes, letting her die would have been the moral right. And you bring a good point: The church has become so obsessed with unborn rights, that it doesn’t even seem to care about those tortured souls already here on earth who are currently being accosted by priests. Men, who certainly don’t get excommunicated, and often get nothing more than a ticket to a new parish. I for one, have had enough. Catholic church, are you listening? My second grade son will not receive communion and we are moving our children from a Catholic church to an Episcopalian church. I don’t care that generations of my family have been Catholics. I, for one, am “voting with my feet,” and joining a new denomination. Good-bye!!



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Goodguyex

posted May 20, 2010 at 12:02 pm


Good-Bye SP.



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Your Name

posted May 20, 2010 at 12:17 pm


The ‘left’ has always maintainted that the official RCC policy favors only the unborn and that they don’t care a toss for the already born.
This sad decision proves them right.



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Heretic_for_Christ

posted May 20, 2010 at 12:25 pm


Well, of course it’s grotesque. But dogmatic religion ALWAYS ends up taking grotesque stances and actions on various issues. It is inevitable, because dogmatic religion is not about God but about sacred scripture and how it should be interpreted. It is thus divorced from life. Individual members of a faith can be fully engaged in life, but the hierarchy of a religion cannot be, for they see their task as the preservation of doctrine. And doctrine is dead–literally. By definition, it is about acceptance without question, in disregard of doubt, in the face of obvious self-contradiction. Doctrine and dogma are incompatible with rationality, which means incompatible with life. The famous statement of Ignatius Loyola, demanding “corpselike obedience,” is absolutely telling.
So why is anyone surprised that a dogmatic church placed dogma ahead of life?



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Sensus Fidei

posted May 20, 2010 at 12:30 pm


Thanks for a vital discussion, Nicole. It breaks our heart to see our church (the few in charge that is) be its own worst enemy and destroy the life and faith of others in the process. Is there an email we can reach you at?



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J

posted May 20, 2010 at 12:48 pm


So sad to see the typical Catholic bashing that is so prolific in our world, of course being anti-Catholic is the last acceptable prejudice.
I think it is a little disingenous for the blogger to compare the decisions of various different bishops across different times and places, as if it was the Pope standing up against abortion but not pedophilia. The simple answer is that there are good bishops and bad bishops. The bishop in Arizona is standing up against abortion and that has nothting to do with a handful of bishops over the past THIRTY years that have made horrible choices.
By the way, if you do a little more research, Philip Jenkins a Penn Sate Univ. historian wrote a book “Pedophiles and Priests” that basicly shows that Catholic priests are no more likely to be molesters than Protestant pastors, teachers, doctors, etc. He is an ex-Catholic by the way so he has no motives to defend the Catholic Church. The reason it seems that only Catholic priests have ever molested anyone is that is what the liberal mainstream media reports. Their agenda is not furthered by reporting other sad stories if the molester is of a different religion or occupation.



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A Catholic

posted May 20, 2010 at 12:51 pm


Well here’s a one-sided debate if I’ve ever saw one.
The church sees all moral acts in three ways: the object (what is done), the intentions (why), and the circumstances (other factors influencing the will in its action).
Furthermore, we can only look at the object of the thing done when dealing with universal principles (ie: those which automatically excommunicate someone). This is because the intentions and the circumstances of an act make it almost impossible to judge with complete certainty. This is why Christ said, “judge not lest ye be judged,” for example. We, as humans with darkened intellects, can only know that an action is wrong, we cannot judge the soul of the person who commits the action.
However, there are actions which are always wrong, under any circumstances or intentions. For example, apostasy or denying Christ. There is no amount of torture or pain which can be inflicted on a person that makes this sin acceptable. Of course this torture and pain can make the sin more palatable, but it is still wrong.
This is also the case with sexual acts outside of marriage, for example, pedophile priests (of course I mean here marriage between a man and a woman, this can of worms need not be opened here. It is outside the realm of the discussion). These acts are known as “intrinsically evil,” and are always wrong, no matter what conditions apply to the act (intention and circumstance).
Furthermore, there is another distinction in intrinsically evil acts called “grave matter” or acts which constitute a mortal sin. These are the acts of the pedophile priest. In fact they are extremely grave, for they are the sexual exploitation of an innocent child. This we can easily agree is very serious.
Abortion, on the other hand, from the Catholic perspective, is the murder of an innocent child. This action is clearly more grave than sexually assaulting an innocent child. Murder is worse than sexual deviancy toward the same person, a point which I think should go without disagreement.
Now, in the case of abortion, the Church has declared that this is an action so grave in matter that one cannot remain a member of the Church while being unrepentant for the action. This is because it is such an intense violation of the personal dignity of the unborn child while it is in its most vulnerable state.
Contrast, then, with pedophilia, where there is an intense violation of the personal dignity of the child, but the child remains alive and the child is not nearly as vulnerable to the attack as in abortion.
This is why the nun was automatically excommunicated, a point which the Bishop merely ratified, but is the case in all willing participants in abortion.



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J V MANGNEZ

posted May 20, 2010 at 12:58 pm


Why should we expect the Catholic religion to have common sense and to show compassion towards people? For centuries past and even in our modern day era, they have been a dangerous cult guilty of atrocities that would make Hitler, Mussolini & Stalin blush. I am amazed that in spite the history and current events coming to light, that people are still clinging to this religion. Why?



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Anne Rice

posted May 20, 2010 at 1:05 pm


I think the questions posed here are important. There is something gravely wrong with a religion that would excommunicate Sr.Margaret McBride for saving a critically ill mother’s life, and that also shelters pedophile priests. And we have abundant evidence that this is exactly what this church does. — There is absolutely a double standard here. The church has long engaged in lengthy and well developed theological arguments about why and how men can kill in a just war; but it has shortchanged women and the critical problems they face, expecting, apparently that this seriously ill mother of four should have died along with her unborn child. How do husbands and fathers feel about this story? Do you want your wife to die in a Catholic hospital if refused an abortion that could save her life? i say investigate Catholic hospitals nationwide. If they want mother and unborn child to die together in such situations, then shut them down. The are part of the culture of death, not life.



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Catholic in Cleveland

posted May 20, 2010 at 1:11 pm


Any abortion or religion arguments aside, think of it logically:
A nun freely admits to her wrongdoing. That’s a verbal confession. There is no room for reasonable doubt.
A priest allegedly molests a child, but doesn’t verbally confess. There is still room for reasonable doubt, which means that he should be treated as “innocent until proven guilty,” much like our court systems.



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J

posted May 20, 2010 at 1:11 pm


MANGNEZ-
History is another great example of anti-Catholism. I would guess your version of “history” of which you say is just chock full of Catholic atrocities is far from actual history based on fact. Again, the Catholic Church, though infallible on certain matters relating to faith and morals, is otherwise made up of fallible human beings. (The Lord has chosen to work through human beings from the beginning of His Church, even despite human weakness. Remember, St. Peter, the first Pope, first denied our Lord three times.)
My point, though, is that although the Church is indeed composed of both saints and sinners, the sins are greatly exagerated and the saints are conveniently ignored. Many of the “atrocities” that you would site, Crusades, the Inquisition, etc. all have been rewritten to suit anti-Catholic consumers such as yourself.



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Catholic in Cleveland

posted May 20, 2010 at 1:17 pm


Mangnez, which recent “atrocities” are you referring to? References would be much appreciated.



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Chall8987

posted May 20, 2010 at 1:23 pm


I’m really quite tired of hearing that anti-Catholicism is the last “acceptable” form of discrimination. How many Catholics have been fired from a job in the past 50 years for their faith? How many Catholics have been beaten, tortured, or killed in America for their faith?
Not to mention the fact that the head of Tea-Party Express has called Islam a “7th century death cult coughed up by a psychotic pedophile and embraced by defective, tail sprouting, tree swinging, semi-human, bipedal primates with no claim to be treated like human beings or even desirable mammals for that matter.”
http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/05/tea_party_leader_islam_is_a_7th_century_death_cult.php?ref=fpb
I think this represents discrimination far worse than that felt by Catholics today. Criticism of an organization’s policy is not discrimination.



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Henrietta22

posted May 20, 2010 at 1:27 pm


HfC your comment makes such good sense. Some RC members may agree, but you’ll never hear it from them. They will always find a way to excuse their doctrines and go on suffering. Only God knows why, maybe it’s their karma to do so.
In answer to your question Nicole, it seems that some of the Bishops must think that saving an 11 wk. fetus and losing the mother, as I read this article with more info elsewhere, would have had happened, then destroying the fetus when the mother would die is the “just” thing to do, according to this Bishops interpretations of his doctrines. In another Parish another Bishop might have a different take on it, and so it goes in the lives of Catholic families. This is on the same par with Cult thinking, just go to the trials of the children that were allowed to die in Oregon while the families and the church prayed on, and on and on, until they died. No difference, where are peoples intelligence?



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Sensus Fidei

posted May 20, 2010 at 1:31 pm


Maybe if Sister Margaret were “authorized” (by man) to confer Extreme Unction she could have made a different decision by her informed conscience. But thankfully, this blessed Sister sounds too intelligent, practical, realistic and God fearing to have let a mother of four die along with the absolute imminent death of an 11 week old fetus. God bless Sister Margaret, all staff and above all the family suffering the terrible loss and the insult upon injury courtesy of the Church.
Sounds like many of us again are grateful to God and praising the Holy Spirit that we are prayerful Cafeteria Catholics, i.e. thinking faithful who use our heads and hearts for decisions in life (the world not dare imagined or experienced seminaries or cloistered environments)



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J

posted May 20, 2010 at 1:41 pm


Wow! to Chall8997.
To think that you would even suggest that Muslims suffer from more prejudice in America is laughable. Tolerance to the followers of Islam is given first priority in America. Why else would we allow a mosque to be built (and dedicated on 9/11) on the cite of twin towers in NYC. Or how about Obama wiping out any reference to Islamic terrorism? Have you noticed the number of incidents in the world where islamic terrorism is the culprit? Haven’t heard of any Christian groups bombing anything in America though.
I could go on and on but I don’t think that any amount of evidence would change your mind sadly…



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William

posted May 20, 2010 at 1:51 pm


A fundamental issue all who claim to believe in Christ need to address is this question -
Would Jesus be more interested Church doctrine and theology than he is in human rights? Or would he be the man of the Sermon on the Mount?
I know that sounds like a silly question but if one were to really live the Gospel of Jesus then one would of necessity not only seek social justice but would have forgiveness in the struggles of life and the sins of our fellow men and women, just as we would hope they could forgive our sins. (And sin is simply missing the will of God, nothing more, nothing less – What is the will of God? Jesus tell us in part – To love god with all your heart and soul and to love others as yourself)
I do not think Christ would have excused ongoing pedophilia since pedophilia by its very nature destroys the dignity of the person victimized and the victimizer and is not an act of love. Nor would he cover it up. He would work to heal all those involved, if they were willing to find healing in the forgiveness that is required when we sin against our children, our brothers, our sisters and our selves as well as God. He would not seek retribution or revenge, either.
Jesus, the man who asks us if we would pull our ass out of a well on the Sabbath would be grieved but would understand the needs of the woman with the abortion. Would he be pained by all this suffering, yes. He would forgive and work to heal all the drama and tragedy? Yes. I do not think Jesus would excommunicate a nurse who lost a life to save a life. He would sit with her and comfort her struggle and pain and would comfort the mother of the lost child and help them to find a way out of the pain and a way to better choices in the future.
It seems that the most fundamental of his teachings, “compassion” and “forgiveness” is the most often forgotten of his teachings by Christians. In our forgetting the fundamentals we alienate the world to Christ’s love. It would be better if our theologizing, dogmatic and doctrinaire attitudes were first informed by seeing the Christ in all others, and approaching them with compassion and forgiveness and a willingness though sharing our common bond in Christ to grow together in love instead of casting the stones of judgement.
Anger at pedophiles, the church, victims of abortion, victims of any kind is not the way, the truth and the light. Finding Christ even in the people we want to hate the most is the way, the truth and the light. All I read in most of these comments is anger and judgement and a desire for retribution toward others.
O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgement, and light riseth up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what thou would have us do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in thy light we may see light, and in thy straight path not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen



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julia

posted May 20, 2010 at 1:53 pm


am thinking it is past time for the women of the world to file a class action DISCRIMINATION lawsuit against the whole roman catholic institutional church including but not limited to the vatican, the pope, the college of cardinals, the bishops, the clergy, the laity etal..



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Robert C

posted May 20, 2010 at 1:54 pm


You are no canon law expert. But actually, this article is also rather journalistically poor. First, what a tragic situation for the Sister to find herself confronting. However, as a medical professional, as well as a religious one being on the ethics committee of the hospital, she certainly was fully aware that such a conflicting situation may occur. That she responded in such a way is admirable and noteworthy. Secondly, understanding what excommunication is as an act of religious censure would help your understanding of the situation. It means putting someone out of communion. As stated in Wikipedia, “Excommunication can be either ferendae sententiae (declared as the sentence of an ecclesiastical court) or, far more commonly, latae sententiae (automatic, incurred at the moment the offensive act takes place). The excommunicant is still considered Christian and a Catholic as the character imparted by baptism is indelible. Their communion with the Church, however, is considered gravely impaired.”
The articles you cite contradict themselves in several pertinent, factual particulars which creates questions as to the facts in the case. What seems clear though is that the sister realized that even though there may have been a permissible clause in doctrinal law to allow exceptions, her role on the committee in granting direct permission would incur ( not merit ) ‘automatic excommunication’. The bishop did not utilize ‘ferendae sententiae’, it appears the sister declared herself ‘latae sententiae’, as the act of permission creates an automatic condition. It seems that the bishop simply concurred. There is a grave difference however in this situation, as opposed to the blanket lumping together of every abuse case in US church history that is so cavalierly catagorized. The good sister admitted her participation. In some similarity to US civil law, as even a passing fancy of watching episodes of Law and Order would confirm, one is innocent until proven guilty, unless of course one admits ones guilt or participation. An admission of guilt is a slam dunk for any civil prosecutor. Pro for the good sister. She is obviously consciously aware and in command of her full thought process, whereas abusers are not so stable, usually never admit prosecutable guilt, and fully extend the the process of religious canon law procedure until it is played out.
Interestingly though, The Sisters of Mercy have not acted to censure Sister McBride. Instead, they have moved her to another position. Sounds familiar? Since she has broken no civil law, since the condition is one of spiritual anathema, and since sister can rectify her personal dilemma by a simple act of contrition, it is her own inner and deep personal conflict that is the real drama. The spiritual and civil situation facing a clerical abuser is substantially different, and the two cannot be compared beyond the superficial. My sympathies go out to the sister, and condolences and sympathies to the mother, who to make matters worse, is now being used as another issue to pillory the church. What is beyond interesting though, is the total lack of discussion of Barack Obama’s continued positioning in support of all non life sustaining abortions and partial birth abortions, as his voting record in the Illinois senate demonstrates. Astounding that non-Catholics relish jumping into a discussion at every available chance to church-bash yet will deliciously pull the lever on a ballot box for someone who finds it permissable to lop off the head of a living infant.



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Heretic_for_Christ

posted May 20, 2010 at 2:19 pm


Robert C,
Speaking only for myself as a non-Catholic (and non-Protestant, and non-Jew, and non-Muslim, and non-Hindu, and…), I see nothing inconsistent about criticizing the church on matters in which it deserves criticism and voting for politicians who support freedom of choice. To me, abortion is an important moral issue, and finding the moral path (or least immoral path) cannot be done by automatic invocation of a guilty verdict and imposed sentence. That is not morality but programming. I am pro-choice BECAUSE it is a moral issue, and morality implies choice (criminality, in contrast, obviates choice). Nevertheless, I can respect the pro-life perspective.
As for church-bashing, I am proud to be an equal-opportunity basher, and it so happens that I am far more apt to bash Protestant fundamentalist churches than the Catholic church.



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NY Barrister

posted May 20, 2010 at 2:21 pm


Nicole, it is sad, but oh so predictable on the internet, that we don’t get intelligent or informed comments on this topic (with a few exceptions). The militant secularists show up to flog religion in general and the RC in particular and the Kool-Aid drinkers of the far right show up to change the discussion into an anti-Obama, anti-Islam screed. As a lifelong NYer, Mr.”J”,(and yes I know you are a white male in demographic panic mode) you must really tell me where that non existent mosque was on 9/11. There was a small Greek ORTHODOX church destroyed on the WTC site (not “cite” Mr.”J”, don’t T-baggers spell?)
We need to examine two issues. One involves a concept called double effect. It was my understanding as a non-RC Christian that if a necessary medical treatment to save a life had the secondary effect of killing the foetus, it was licit under RC dogma. The other is how precarious was the paitient’s condition? Could she have been transfered to a non-RC hospital for the procedure? If not, in a life or death situation, the administrator nun made the right call. By the way,had they let the mother die when she could have been saved by medical intervention, they (the Hospital, the attending MD(s) and private OBGYN) would not be insulated from medical malpractice liability by reason of the RC hospital ownership.



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Barney F McClelland

posted May 20, 2010 at 2:23 pm


Once again, the church’s hypocrisy on display for all to see. Perhaps when people give up their belief in magical sky fairies, this nonsense will end.



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MM

posted May 20, 2010 at 2:39 pm


Robert C,
I disagree with you. And yes, I am a Catholic. McBride did not submit herself. She was forthright about what needed to, unfortunately, be done to honor the life of this woman. And she did it. She probably did know that excommunication was a possibility, but she, herself, didn’t excommunicate herself. As for the author being a poor journalist, I also disagree. I have read several of her articles–I am a journalism professor–and remain impressed. (Note: I do believe the piece is an editorial, no? In editorials, the writer gets to, basically, say what they want. Whether or not a reader may disagree.)
Now for those priests: Many did not admit to wrong-doing. But many did admit to abusing others. Admit to their superiors and to their therapists. And they weren’t excommunicated in any form of the word.
And lastly, Mr. Obama: Lord almighty! That man has his hands full! I don’t think any president (Mr. Bush included), would have jumped into this. Let’s let him attend to all the other things he has on his ever-growing “to do” list!



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Glorybe1929

posted May 20, 2010 at 2:40 pm


As Ex Catholics who left the RCC in 2001 on their 50th Wedding Anniversary, I feel I have every right to disclose all I know,( which is a great deaL), ABOUT THE ROMAN cATHOLIC cHURCH.
The people have been generationally brainwashed since it’s inception. St. Paul warned the new believers, to be very careful not to listen to the infilltraitors coming to their little worship groups because they were bringing a gospel other than the Gospel that Jesus had taught them. He even warned that they might even appear or speak as angels, but he said”do not listen to them. Some listened and so began the Church of MAN. Otherwise known later, as the Romann Catholic Church, hiding behind Vatican Walls.



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Sensus Fidei

posted May 20, 2010 at 2:40 pm


A Canon Law expert, Robert, would that impress you? Does this ensure one is on the heaven express? Your sans prayerful attitude, insinuations, apparent hypocrisy and delight in what confuses, divides God’s faithful illuminates of much of what is wrong with a selfish, condescending percentage of the clerical culture.
You are doing far more to harm Jesus’ Church (aka repel God’s children) than to help and reform it. Of course the Church is perfect as is… that’s why in my parish there’s more room in the pew than in May 2009. Or maybe that was b/c Notre Dame gave Obama an award, degree and the honor of addressing youth. I found that offensive by the way, the award and degree part, not the free speech part. Hopefully you fought ND tooth and nail and withdrew your support.
You sound like a Bishop Tobin or Father Euteneuer type which gratefully, good Catholics like Bill O’Reilly, Sean & Chris Matthews have successfully exposed ‘leaders’ hypocrisy on life issues and lack of concern for serving those in dire need.



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Sensus Fidei

posted May 20, 2010 at 2:59 pm


I’ve actually seen faithful visit the Vatican for the first time and cry. And you (Robert types) won’t imagine why. Paraphrasing, these prayerful folks were overcome with a feeing of “is this really what Jesus would do.” It saddened them incredibly to see worldliness displayed and embraced rather than the Word and true treasures of the world to whom Bl. Mother Teresa ministered.
Please faithful friends, don’t throw out the polluted, filthy bath water with the blessed Baby Jesus. Receive Jesus and the Sacraments and disregard the rest. If you found another Church, though, I sincerely praise God that you found a faith community which meets your needs. Believe me, many of us Cafeteria Catholis (all Catholics by the way meet this definition even Bishops, believe it) understand your needs, concerns and nourishment have been disregarded and your faith and intelligence has been terribly disrespected by the hierarchy.



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JV MANGNEZ

posted May 20, 2010 at 2:59 pm


Dear “J” and Catholic in Cleveland”
My anti Catholic tendencies are only toward the leadership and not the people. As Christ would say” most of you are”sheep skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd” (St. Matthew 9:36
“J” besides the inquisition and the crusades, you may want to look at the history behind the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre (1572). You may also want to do some research on the support of the Catholic Church toward Hitler’s regime. Hitler would not have gotten as far as he did if the Church leadership followed the teachings of Christ.
Besides complete allegiance to God’s Kingdom and not to men’s governments, Love God & neighbor was one of his main theme wasn’t it? (St.John 17:15,16 , St.Matthew 6:33 & St.Matthew 22:34-40) Christ also said that his “True” disciples would be recognized by the love they would have among themselves. (St.John 13:35) – Where was that love among Catholics (and Protestants) who murdered one another on the battlefields while Catholic bishops of either side blessed the troops?
FY I- I learned my Catholic history while spending 5 years in Jesuit boarding school in Europe. They have no problem admitting to their involvement in these events.
“J” If you read your Bible you would find that there is no such thing as a “Pope”. Peter was not the first pope either. The “rock” that Jesus referred to was himself and not Peter. The first century Christians were organized through a body of “older men” who led from Jerusalem … and guess what! Peter was not one of them; in fact, he reported to them. Read the Bible book “Acts of the Apostles” … The Catholic church and its hierarchy was not founded until the 4Th century C.E.
Catholic in Cleveland” – Research the 1994 Rwanda genocide



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Carney

posted May 20, 2010 at 3:08 pm


Excommunication is not, as is believed by the ignorant, an ultimate sanction reserved only for the gravest of sins, and thus some kind of marker for what the Church takes most seriously.
Instead, excommunication concerns solely whether one’s religious beliefs and teachings are compatible with Catholicism.
Someone can commit terribly grave sins, such as rape or murder, but if he does not preach false doctrine, excommunication is as irrelevant as demanding that someone to give back a stolen car if he did not, indeed, steal a car.
That does NOT mean the Church does not take such other sins seriously. Indeed, it says that such sins are “mortal” sins, in other words, that you have severed your relationship with God, destroyed sanctifying grace, are not entitled to Communion, and will go to Hell. That’s as serious as serious can get.
Now, even mortal sins can be forgiven by sincerely repenting and receiving the Sacrament of Penance, or sincerely intending to do so as soon as possible. Reception of the sacrament would also be under the condition of performing an appropriate penance, and in nearly all cases the priest would require the penitent to apologize to his victim(s), make restitution, and turn himself in to civil authority*. Furthermore, the Church distinguishes between temporal and eternal punishment; in other words a murderer who has confessed and been forgiven by God must still pay a temporal penalty, such as life imprisonment or execution.
*The height of the era of priestly sexual misconduct coincided with the sexual revolution, in which psychology and psychiatry denounced “judgemental” and “medieval” approaches, advocated a medical rather than a moral model for addressing sexual misconduct, and promised to “cure” wrongdoing with counseling. Those bishops who went along with this terrible advice were, contrary to their dinosaur image, were in fact straining to be as hip and up with the times as possible. That’s a big part of the reason why they kept sending priests who did this to counseling rather than treat it as the grave issue we all see it as today.



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Glorybe1929

posted May 20, 2010 at 3:12 pm


Ny Barrister, you’re right. I needed a historectomy at age 32(in the 60′s) after having had 4 children and 4 miscarriages. My Dr.(a non Catholic)but the best in PHX., said he couldn’t go to a Catholic Hospital to do the surgery, as they wouldn’t allow it. My uterus was torn in shreds(he showed me the pictures after the surgery).They had to be very careful in those days.
I was a convert to the RCC when I was 12, along with my Mother to bring my Dad back to the church. He complied and we became happy a RC family.
After marriage I devoted myself to being the best wife,mother and the best RC anyone could find. Doing it all but never feeling anybody really cared. I knew there had to be more.
A lady in our parish wrote an article in our bulletin about the Charismatic Movement in the RCC. I called her to get the book she spoke of and it changed our lives.
We found the Holy Spirit which had been unknown, through lack of knowledge from the RCC. Incidently, out of all the thousands of people in our parish, I was the only one who clled her. She said, this was meant to be. I agreed. I remember her name to this day and wonder if she is still alive, as I’m 80 now and she was older than I at the time.



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Sensus Fidei

posted May 20, 2010 at 3:25 pm


God bless you, GloryBe! You sound amazing and all us would be so fortunate to have a joyful, healthy, Holy Spirit infused life at 80!
You’re 100% correct, the Holy Spirit has been horrifically shut down at every turn by the powers that be. I for one wouldn’t want to answer to God why I rejected the Holy Spirit and didn’t share it with the faithful in every way possible. (Aside from Confirmation celebrations with children far too young to understand or appreciate the Third Person of the Trinity and where a Bishop collects a check from the parish of approx. $500 stipend to deliver a canned homily and DO HIS JOB.)



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Your Name

posted May 20, 2010 at 4:02 pm


J
May 20, 2010 12:48 PM
“So sad to see the typical Catholic bashing that is so prolific in our world, of course being anti-Catholic is the last acceptable prejudice.”
Naw, it’s stil okay to bash queers and fat people and people of color. If you want proof, click on the link to Rod Dreher’s ultra-’conservative’ blog, right here on Beliefnet.



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pagansister

posted May 20, 2010 at 5:04 pm


Given the circumstances, the Sister did what she thought was correct. I admire her for doing so. Her reward for being a compassionate woman, booted out of the church. What a great institution. If I understand correctly, the RC rule would save a fetus and let the mother die in most if not all circumstances. Faced with that choice most husbands would want the wife saved (my husband would) because they could make another child, but he couldn’t make a new wife. Good for the Sister. I’d certainly want her in my corner if I faced that situation.



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Robert C

posted May 20, 2010 at 9:51 pm


Interesting opinions to say the least. A few re-joinders are in order.
Heretic: more power to you, criticize to your heart’s content and vote for whomever floats your boat. However the lack of objectivity in the main stream media in reporting the abuse scenario simply invites be wonderfully juxtaposed against the political specter of trying to justify partial birth abortions. Your pronouncements on religious dogma, although interesting, are more doctrinaire than the dogma you seem to abhor. You quote Ignatius of Loyola but fail to mention that he was referencing the chartered constitution of the Jesuit Order and not referencing any kind of behavior modification for the layman. The faulty statement about dogma, God and scripture sounds akin to a freshman sociology students evaluation of catechism studies. Have you actually read any of the Doctors of the Church? Thomas Aquinas states, “Now the object of the theological virtues is God Himself, Who is the last end of all, as surpassing the knowledge of our reason. On the other hand, the object of the intellectual and moral virtues is something comprehensible to human reason. Wherefore the theological virtues are specifically distinct from the moral and intellectual virtues.” Aquinas, Augustine of Hippo, Teresa of Ávila, Anselm of Canterbury, Albertus Magnus or Thomas Merton would provide some interesting contemplative reading if you so choose. You advocate for choice. Ok. Consider that Sister McBride has chosen to be a Catholic, chosen to become a nun, chosen to work in medicine, and chosen to be on the ethics committee. All choices that she has made that precede her choice to endorse the recommendations of the physicians. She did not choose to pass the buck to the hospital CEO, The VP Medical Affairs, the Medical Chief of Staff or any other member of the Executive Leadership or executives at CHW who absolutely are able to be contacted by cell phone anytime. She choose not to defer. She chose to decide. She chose to accept the spiritual consequences of her decision. Where is the respect then that she should be afforded?
Barrister: I believe that J was referencing the proposed 15 story Mosque to be built by the Cordoba Initiative and American Society for Muslim Advancement at ground Zero, to be dedicated on the date 9/11 2011. Your a New Yorker. New Yorkers know everything, don’t they? In catholic institutions abortive procedures to save the life of the mother is permissable in certain, very limited cases when the condition itself would threaten the life of both the child and the mother. You are correct in stating that Sister made the right call. She did and not for the legal reasons you state, although I am sure patients sign waivers in such circumstances, but because in this instance it was the correct decision to make. BTW no far righter here, just a realist.
MM: Excommunication is automatic in such circumstances, but I refer to Carney’s post for a more accurate description. Excommunication is different from laicization, both of which are distinct from civil process. But make no mistake, Sister fully understood the consequences of her involvement, and yes she was courageous. As for the article, I stand by my statement. Notice I comment only on this article as poor and not the authoress. Nicole has written some good pieces on her blog.
Sensus Fidei: God bless you, but I haver absolutely no idea of what you are trying to say.
Hi Pagan: We meet again. No she hasn’t been booted out of the church. In effect, she has been sent to her room with no supper.



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Heretic_for_Christ

posted May 20, 2010 at 10:13 pm


Robert C,
Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Actually, I did know that Loyola was referring to the Jesuit order and not Catholics in general when he called for “corpselike obedience.” And yet… Is it not the very essence of the creedal statements (Nicene, Apostles, and the less familiar Athanasian creed) that certain CONCEPTS must–repeat, must–be accepted? The insistence on acceptance of church doctrine upon pain of spiritual expulsion from the community sounds to me like doctrine trumps aliveness. For how can one believe what one doubts? This is the flaw in the famous “wager” of Blaise Pascal (that it makes sense to believe, because belief costs nothing and may offer everything, whereas disbelief offers nothing and may cost everything), and he was smart enough and honest enough to acknowledge that one doesn’t CHOOSE to believe. One may choose to act in this way or that way, in accordance or in conflict with one’s beliefs, but the beliefs just are what they are. (Pascal’s advice on this sticking point, however, was frankly lame–pray for faith.)
Therefore, the individual who has been raised Catholic may face a dilemma: belief in God, belief in certain things about God, belief in certain things in the Bible, but perhaps doubt about some church teaching. This person has grown up in the church and doesn’t wish to leave it, but the only way to stay is to try to squelch his or her own doubts. The triumph of dogma over aliveness.
(I went to churches for years before I realized that for me, they were not pathways but impediments to God.)



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Goodguyex

posted May 20, 2010 at 11:50 pm


Jesus had many followers but few disciples.
Went he was speaking to the crowds he often looked at the disciples. The hard teachings were reserved for the disciples, such as on divorce. If he had said what he said about something like divorce to the multitudes, they probably would have stoned him.
That is how it was, a cushy sermon to the crowds and discipline hard teaching to the disciples. The problem today is we can not duplicate this in the same way today. We have no way of revealing some easy stuff and then later the more concealed harder stuff to interested people. Everyone who is at all interested knows both the soft and the hard. Some may ignore the hard, which is their perogative, but it is in there and it is not going away.



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Robert C

posted May 21, 2010 at 1:33 am


No. That is not the only way to ‘stay’. Please tell me in what institution do you have absolute faith? There is no religious or non-religious institution on the planet that merits absolute faith. Ah impediments. Yes, yes. But you see you may have it backwards. Generally I find impediments to God come from within, not from without. Those from without are merely distractions. Religions are like a marriage. You should willingly enter with a full understanding and a little passion, but realizing there will be flaws. Flaws are like ‘concepts’, to enjoy the benefits of the marriage you accept the flaws that are there. You learn to live with them. Occasionally they can be endearing, mostly they are annoying. It is part of the price we pay for not living or believing alone, as long as that fare is willingly given, it is an honest one. Pascal’s advice was not really so lame. I would simply say, hope. Hope that faith finds you.



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JohnBS1

posted May 21, 2010 at 1:57 am


All the more reason for a minimum joining age of 16 for this socially bereft church. If ever there was a class of people who should be publicly stoned it these artificial men of the church and those fools who blindly follow this in the mistaken belief that this type of decision are for the betterment of humanity. This church has been recognized as a social pox and the sooner these broken ideals are gone the better off society will be.



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Michael C

posted May 21, 2010 at 7:41 am


“Abortion, on the other hand, from the Catholic perspective, is the murder of an innocent child. This action is clearly more grave than sexually assaulting an innocent child. Murder is worse than sexual deviancy toward the same person, a point which I think should go without disagreement.”
I disagree, purely on medical and psychological grounds.
If you think that abortion is murder, you will also think that this eleven week fetus has a soul, or else how could it be human? Therefore if this fetus is “murdered” it will be innocent and be returned to its maker………God, where it will be in heaven.
A sexually abused child on the other hand will have to live with the trauma of the abuse for all its life. In some instances, this trauma will lead to dysfunction in society, trouble maintaining relationships, alienation from family, sexual dysfunction and even suicide.
The fetus never knew life, and is with God. The abused child suffers through life and may end up with God.
On the Sr McBride story, the moral to this is never allow yourself to be treated in a Catholic Hospital, unless you want the life and death decisions being made by a celibate cleric who has no idea what being a parent is about, rather than yourself on the advice of medical professionals.
I appreciate that in this case the saintly nun made the right decision, but she is no longer making those decisions, and you can bet your last dollar that Olmstead has put in place a person who knows how to say YES rather than think.



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Heretic_for_Christ

posted May 21, 2010 at 8:54 am


Robert C,
This is an interesting conversation! To keep it at least somewhat on-topic, let’s look at your statement about the relationship between a person and a church as a sort of marriage between imperfect entities, each loving the other and accepting the other’s flaws. Certainly, the nun in this story came to a point at which she felt forced to defy the stated wishes of her church, and you are (if I understand correctly) likening this to an argument, as sometimes occurs in any marriage.
Yet this is not a marriage of equals, for one party has dominion over the other–the church has the power to say “Get out!” to the nun, who might be allowed to stay IF she apologies abjectly. Not my idea of a good marriage, but perhaps all that proves is that analogies (which I employ myself, frequently) are seldom perfect. And here is exactly where it is not a perfect analogy. Spouses in a marriage can disagree on certain matters, yet remain together. But for Christians who happen to doubt basic doctrine, reciting the creedal statements requires EITHER squelching their doubts OR saying the words in a hypocritical manner. Suppose, for example, that someone believes absolutely in God and in Jesus as the divine son of God, lord and savior–but also believes that the Bible is an entirely human-authored set of writings, to be regarded as no more infallible than any other human-authored writing. And so, notwithstanding his or her belief in God and in Jesus, rejects the idea of virgin birth, considering it absurd, somewhat off-putting (Mary was happy, yet she was not asked or warned in advance about being made pregnant), and clearly a relic of various earlier heathen stories about gods born of virgins. Now what does this person do at the creedal statement words “He was born of the virgin Mary, and was made man.” Suppress those doubts at that moment, or just recite the words while secretly shrugging at them? And this is NOT a trivial matter, for the creedal statements represented the church’s attempt to define the absolute minimum that a Christian must believe. Indeed, I have argued with people who claimed that such a person is not a Christian at all, despite absolute belief in Jesus as the son of God, because absolute belief in the Bible as the word of God is equally essential; to them, it was not so much that a Christian MUST believe in virgin birth as MUST believe in the Bible, and so any doubt about virgin birth is merely symptomatic of what they consider to be the real problem, which is doubt about the Bible.
You asked if I have absolutely faith in any institution. No, but that doesn’t stop me from participating. My severe doubts about governmental people and processes do not stop me from voting. My realization that marriages are not, in fact, made in heaven does not stop me from remaining with my wife (coming up on 25 years!). But a church is a different situation. Churches–and their doctrines–are human constructs. Now IF the only way to God were through churches, then their flaws would have to be accepted. But I don’t think churches are the only way, and for me they are not the way at all. It was only after I stopped going to churches that I stopped struggling with faith; now my sense of God is direct and experiential rather than church-mediated and doctrinal, and that sense tells me that God doesn’t need me to wear any churchly “name-tag” to know who I am.
For the nun in this story, the dilemma was whether she could do something that she considered right and necessary but might threaten her continued participation in her faith community. And this is really the bottom line: How important is it for faith to be communal?
Finally, let’s look at impediments.



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Heretic_for_Christ

posted May 21, 2010 at 9:00 am


Correction to previous:
Sorry, last line should have been deleted.



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Rob the Rev

posted May 21, 2010 at 10:58 am


Yeah, the RCC excommunicated Martin Luther too. So what? The RCC is a fraud and false Christianity whose excommunication isn’t worth the paper it’s prinited on. Martin Luther cast his excommunication document into a fire alone with all the RCC dogma books along with canon law. Time any true Christians in the RCC took a walk from their fraudulent “church.”



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joe gonzalez

posted May 21, 2010 at 11:03 am


When will we ever learn ? THe catholic tradition prides itself in being the direct continuation of the Old Testament – the Hebrew Bible.
Among the canonical books of the OT, is Ecclesiastes, which is supposed to have been written by Solomon, under the name Koheleth. In this latter book, it states – and it’s purpose is to reiterate – ” Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before..(3,15)
Jesus’ bitterest enemies was the religious establishment of his time, even more so than the Roman usurpers. The religious of Jesus’ time were all wrapped up in centennial rituals of all types, which sanctified or made profane any type of activity. Now, anybody who has a somewhat valid notion of spirituality recognizes rituals as valid within a certain context. But of themselves, they have no value. Jesus was accosted mercilessly by his contemporary religious because he held fast to the nitty-gritty of faith, and disregarded the wrappings. Following the text of Ecclesiastes ( above ), the same thing is recurring in our days as in Jesus’ day. The religious, though they can transubstantiate, fail to manage the most menial matters and chores. Jesus didn’t start a sect in his day, nor break off from the religious prescriptions of Moses because they were valid; what wasn’t valid was the interpretations given the latter by the religious establishment. Notice ; In John’s Gospel, an adulteress is brought before Jesus ( by ‘ observers of the law ‘ ) and accused of being ‘ caught in the act.’ What would Jesus recommend be done to her ? It is evident they were testing him, for in the law, it said she should be stoned to death. Jesus saw clearly their true intentions – use her as a gadget to trap him – and after delaying a
bit giving them heed, simply said : ” He who among you is free of sin, let him cast the first stone.” And in the Gospel John, joker – in the ironic sense that he was – states, ‘ and they all started leaving, beggining by the eldest [ the older the more stained is the implication, of course )’ This is just one of a myriad examples where Jesus sided by justice and truth and not by prescription. He never abandoned the temple, not even in his last days, though that was the lair of his enemies. And he threw out the money-changers from the Temple on some other occassion, saying : ” My father’s house is a house of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” I am sure that the Shekinah ( God’s visible manifestation ) was in the temple, in the holy of holies, just as I’m sure that Jesus lives, body and soul, in the Catholic host, received in Holy Communion, the most important of the church’s sacraments. And just as Jesus had to put up with the Shekinah being dishonored and turned into the object of sacrilege, many of us catholics know that Our Lord is in the tabernacle, and yet is disregarded and insulted by the very religious establishment that proclaims his adoration. This will all come to a head when the Lord judges, and be sure He will, and as he said to the religious of his day, ” you will surely receive a greater share of punishment ( for their infatuated imposture )” so will his supposed representatives of today. Does that somehow answer this whole scandal that’s shaking the church, on many different fronts, nowadays ? The people that are shaking her foundations represent Christ ; those that hold on to their anachronic ways represent the blasphemers. But there is good within the church, and many strive to do good ; but for the vow of obedience that every priest takes, they find themselves in the very likely position of being left out in the street, with nothing to show for years of service. Let the Lord do His work ! And let everyone watch out for themselves and those they love !



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Imperial Jewel

posted May 22, 2010 at 1:07 pm


Frankly, I find the bishop’s action disturbing and disgraceful. I don’t know how he, or anyone who supports his action, find it acceptable to punish Sr. McBride for saving that woman’s life. As relating to the sex abuse scandal, I seriously wonder if any member Church hierarchy realizes that protecting abusive priests and not truly understanding that these priests need to be punished is dragging down the good that others do in the Church. This is another case of do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do. It’s disgraceful that abusive priests are defended and someone like Sr. McBride is punished.



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Jaybird

posted May 24, 2010 at 11:48 am


Let me deal with the nun’s excommunication first. First of all, this says that she was “’automatically excommunicated’ by a bishop.” That is incorrect. She was excommunicated (latae sententiae) “automatically” as it says, by her own actions. In other words, the Church teaches that participating in the procurement of an abortion is a grave sin that carries with it a consequence of automatic excommunication. She didn’t help procure the abortion and then the Bishop got wind of it and excommunicated her. Her sinful act “automatically”, at that moment, cut her off from the Church. Now, if she were to genuinely repent, confess, show contrition and do penance, the excommunication would be lifted. However, a priest or a Bishop would have to do that.
Now, not everyone agrees on what to do when, during pregnancy, the life of the mother is in genuine danger. I say genuine danger because many doctors will exaggerate the danger to the woman in some situations. They will say that a pregnancy is “very dangerous”, when in reality, it is only difficult, or very difficult. The main reason for this is they want to shield themselves from potential malpractice lawsuits. I’m sure there are other reasons as well. Jewish people, I believe, automatically ascribe more worth to the life of the mother because if she is saved, she can usually have more children. It is my belief that many, but certainly not all Protestants feel this way as well to some degree. The Catholic Church teaches that you cannot do anything that will directly take the life of an unborn child. So, abortion is wrong in every circumstance. In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, for instance, certain medical procedures are permitted which may indirectly cause the death of the unborn child but their stated primary purpose was the attempt to save the life of the mother. As an example, with an ectopic pregnancy, removal of the fallopian tube as opposed to a D & C abortion would be a morally permissible procedure. The Catholic Church is in agreement that “operations, treatments and medications that have as their direct purpose the cure of a proportionately serious pathological condition of a pregnant woman are permitted when they cannot be safely postponed until the unborn child is viable, even if they will result in the death of the unborn child.” For more thought on this see – http://www.cuf.org/faithfacts/details_view.asp?ffID=57
In her belief net post, Miss Neroulias describes abortion as a “life-saving medical procedure for a mother”. She makes a value judgment by putting the mother’s life above the life of her child. I don’t know of many moms who would admit to saying, “save me and kill my baby.” I think instead of being selfish, mothers are usually pretty selfless; giving everything they have for their children.
“Does the church really view an early-term abortion to save a mother’s life as a greater sin than raping children?” I think so. Obviously, both are horrible sins but I don’t think anyone would argue that murder is a greater sin than rape. The rape victim still has life while the murder victim; in this case an 11 week gestational person no longer has life.
Now to the abusive priests… The abuse of people of any age, male or female by anyone is always indefensible. When it happens at the hands of a person in the Church, any Church, it is all the more heinous. Like Sr. McBride, the moment these priests committed these acts they were, in essence, excommunicated (latae sententiae), that is until such point as they come to repentance, confess and do penance. For someone to be excommunicated ferendae sententiae (declared as the sentence of an ecclesiastical court – which often requires a more formal process of resolution as well) is more involved. I don’t think these actions of abuse fall under the more formal excommunication guidelines of ferendae sententiae. I could be wrong, though. Determining liability in these priest abuse cases can be tricky. At what point did the Bishop know that the priest was an abuser and what did he do once he found out? If the priest was ordered to go to therapy, did the therapist relay accurate information back to the Bishop? Did the priest actually follow through with the therapy and was that also accurately relayed to the Bishop? All these questions are not to defend the actions of the abusive priests or the Bishops. But it’s information the Church needs to know and the media needs to accurately report. If the therapists or the priests themselves gave the Bishops bad information on which to make their judgments or the Bishops were just pressured to look the other way or move the problem around in order to avoid the issues coming to a head, there must be no cover ups here on either side!!
So, to make a long reply short, I think Miss Neroulias is trying to link two totally unrelated stories by bringing up the issue of excommunication in order to further her own feminist, pro-death agenda.



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pagansister

posted May 24, 2010 at 8:15 pm


Jaybird, I hope you’re never raped! Murder is a greater sin than rape….that a woman who has the misfortunate to get pregnant after a rape shouldn’t have the right to end the pregnancy? I so diagree with you and fortunately so does the Supreme Court.



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robert c

posted May 25, 2010 at 12:07 am


So you would not defend that child’s right to live?



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Heretic_for_Christ

posted May 25, 2010 at 12:16 pm


What child? Is a fertilized egg a child? The law traditionally said a child (meaning a human being) exists from the moment of birth, not from the moment of conception. Even so, attempts have been made to prevent grotesque scenarios in which abortions would be technically legal during labor but before delivery. Thus, as a reasonable compromise, the first-trimester criterion has long been observed.
For myself, I do not like the idea of abortion, but even less do I like the idea of forcing a woman to carry through with an unwanted pregnancy, giving birth and accepting the 20-year obligation of raising a child. It is exactly because it IS a moral dilemma that I think abortion must not be re-criminalized. That would take it out of the realm of morality and put it into the realm of legality. As it is a moral issue, it can only be decided on an individual basis, and that means women must be free to make their own moral choices.
Obviously, the religious perspective takes the opposite view (not always coherently, in my opinion). But if a zygote is a “child” according to the religious view, then God is the greatest mass murderer of children in history, given the number of spontaneous abortions that take place, often before the woman even realizes she was pregnant.
I am not trying to belittle this issue; I am dismayed by the frequency of abortion (less in terms of killing “children” than by the sheer level of sexual irresponsibility that is rampant). And I know that opposition to abortion is not limited to religious people.
But at the same time, use of presumptive language like “defending that child’s right to live” begs the question and permits no dialog.



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Robert C

posted May 25, 2010 at 1:26 pm


Is it alive? No matter how much you dance and contort, the essence of life exists. Yes It is an issue of morality. A 20 year obligation is insignificant compared to a life. If a preganacy is unwanted then perhaps some thought should be transfered to action to preclude having to make a choice in the first place. Moral choices are not a dilemma when they are relegated to the self. When a choice made is one that harms another then it cannot be nmade on an individual basis.
The zygote argument is absurd.



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pagansister

posted May 25, 2010 at 2:01 pm


Robert C.
Know someone who had a child of rape. The child is now 24…and totally screwed up…doesn’t know who her sperm donor was, and is having a hard time with a lot of things. At 18 she had a child, not of rape, and basicly has abandoned him to his father (not married). Her mother did the best she could under the circumstances, worked hard to raise her herself…and has finally gotten a wonderful husband after having looked for 20 years, but if she had to do it all over again, would not have had the rape child…in fact advised her daughter to terminate her pregnancy..advise she didn’t take. Terminations should never be forbidden, as each case is different. Rights of the “child” you ask? Won’t get into the old “when is it a child” because at 12-16 weeks of pregnancy, their is no survival outside the womb. That decision, IMO , should be made before 12 weeks…but that isn’t my decision to make….it is the decision of the woman involved.



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pagansister

posted May 25, 2010 at 2:12 pm


BTW, Robert C, if all life is precious, does that include the insects you kill, or the meat you eat (unless you are a vegan)or the dog or cat that you have fixed so they won’t reproduce (after all, all life is precious?) How about war…that takes lives….is that never justifiable? Just thought I’d ask.



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Heretic_for_Christ

posted May 25, 2010 at 2:23 pm


Well, Robert C, no one doubts that a fertilized egg is alive. For that matter, so is an unfertilized egg. So is an amoeba and a bacillus. That wasn’t the question. The question is whether it is a “child,” and that brings us precisely to the issue of what defines personhood–mere aliveness of a human cell is not sufficient. (And please don’t argue that an unfertilized egg is haploid; if diploid status is the issue, then replace “unfertilized egg” with “epithelial cell” or any other diploid type you wish.)
As for morality, if a proposed act involved no possible harm to anyone (self or others), then it would NOT be a moral choice. Whether I choose to part my hair this way or that way, whether I choose to have corn flakes or raisin bran for breakfast, there are no hazards or harmful consequences, which is exactly why such choices do NOT rise to the level of moral issues. Now suppose we take something that seems equally trivial, such as the materials in the clothing I choose to wear. Still no consequences–but here, I run into a religious issue, because the Hebrew scriptures say I should not combine certain types of fabric. Religion, with its obsessive focus on sin (a term for which I despair of ever hearing a coherent definition), might say that it IS a moral choice BECAUSE the Bible forbids it. I disagree; the Bible is not my criterion, and I have seen no evidence that the behavior of those who claim the Bible as their standard of morality is morally superior to my behavior. My criterion for classifying something as being in the category of moral issues is that it is not illegal but it does have consequences to others. I am not legally compelled to donate money to charity, but refusing to donate would have consequences to the poor, who won’t receive help from me–so that is a moral choice. I am not legally barred from quitting my job, but that would have consequences to my family, who won’t have my income to pay for what what is needed and wanted–so that, too, is a moral choice.
On the other hand, murder is NOT a moral issue; it is illegal (for good reasons, obviously, which are consistent with the moral implications of taking a life), so there is no choice involved. Yes, a person can choose to commit murder, but there is no legal freedom to do so, and the person who does choose to commit murder is not prosecuted for immorality but for criminality. Morality must involve choice and choice must involve the freedom to choose. At least, this is how I see it.
As to the “zygote argument,” I actually did NOT think it was ridiculous; but since you say it is, I suppose it must be so.



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Robert C

posted May 25, 2010 at 6:02 pm


Nice anecdotal story, however there are many of the varying perspective that demonstrate quite the opposite.
http://motherjones.com/photoessays/2009/05/rwanda
I hope your not equating an insect with a human life. But As far as amoebas, LOL, I doubt whether the natural progression of an amoebas’ life would turn out anything close to personhood ( except in Washington ). As far as murder not being a moral issue, well, I think perhaps you’ve stretched your secularist saran wrap to its ultimate point of failure. Whose set of laws have you accepted by the way as your point of reference? Since your act of making the case for abortion in and of itself has serious consequences, by your own definition, therefore, it itself is a moral issue. If you choose to be immoral in your pursuit of argument, so be it.



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Heretic_for_Christ

posted May 25, 2010 at 10:46 pm


Yes, Robert C, abortion IS a moral issue. That is exactly what I said–you why are you trying to play Gotcha! as if I had tried to deny it? Note that I did NOT say “Abortion is moral,” implying “moral goodness.” But it IS a moral issue BECAUSE it is legal yet has consequences that must be weighed.
Your accusation that I “choose to be immoral” is intellectually incoherent as well as insulting. I said that a moral issue, by definition, requires that people have the freedom to make a choice–and you see that as immorality.
It’s always the same old thing, isn’t it? People see anything they want to see and believe anything they want to believe.



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Robert C

posted May 26, 2010 at 1:55 pm


Touchy aren’t we. Usually happens when someone tries to defend abortion.



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Heretic_for_Christ

posted May 26, 2010 at 10:14 pm


Nah, I just get touchy when I find I have wasted my time trying to have a serious discussion on a serious topic with someone who turns out to be a judgmental dogmatist living in a binary world of absolutes: “Either you agree with me or you are immoral.”



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Robert C

posted May 27, 2010 at 12:17 pm


You certainly end up wasting your time trying to convince anyone who believes otherwise, that abortion isn’t just immoral but should be illegal in any sane culture. Look in the mirror if you want to really see a dogmatist. Like many on the far left, you’ve become so wrapped up not only in the need to be right in your viewpoints but also in the insistance that it be shoved down everyone elses craw.



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Robert C

posted May 27, 2010 at 12:21 pm


You certainly end up wasting your time trying to convince anyone who believes otherwise, that abortion isn’t just immoral but should be illegal in any sane culture. Look in the mirror if you want to really see a dogmatist. Like many on the far left, you’ve become so wrapped up not only in the need to be right in your viewpoints but also in the insistance that it be shoved down everyone elses craw.
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/beliefbeat/2010/05/catholic-



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Heretic_for_Christ

posted May 27, 2010 at 1:45 pm


Robert C,
Although I have found your comments on some other issues to be rational and clearheaded (e.g., on the Belief Beat story about Uganda), here, it seems, you are clueless.
First, I am not “on the far left” or even on the near left. My social-political views are eclectic, encompassing some left-leaning views and some right-leaning views. I score poorly on ideological purity tests of both the left and the right, and that is exactly because I am NOT a dogmatist, and so I reject the idea that any “-ism” has a monopoly on truth or an immunity to bullsh*t.
Second, I am not shoving anything “down everyone else’s craw.” I offered a viewpoint about moral issues, of which abortion is clearly one. I don’t see that as shoving my views down other people’s craw. Indeed, I stated specifically that I do NOT like the idea of abortion, but neither do I like the idea of forcing a woman to carry through an unwanted pregnancy. And I said that in such a situation, I think people must be free to choose whether or not to do something that is NOT illegal but DOES have serious consequences no matter what choice is made. That is what makes it a moral question.
In contrast, your own words — “isn’t just immoral but should be illegal in any sane culture” — reveal your absolutist stand on this issue. And you are entitled to that view. But it is quintessentially dogmatic.
In any case, this squabble is pointless. Go ahead and have the last word if you wish.



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drkevin

posted June 11, 2010 at 5:56 pm


I am a member of the Catholic Physicians guild. Per ploicy it is Allowable to induce an Abortion if the mothers life is at stake and the baby can not be safely delivered without potential loss of the Mother. Something doesnt sound right in this case. But dont let that stop you Anti Catholic tyrate because it justs magnifies the Jealousy of the vial anti catholic people in this country. How about some stats: one year in Illinois there were 270,000 child abuse report, thats 3 million over 10 years, (thats just one state). Correlate with the 4000 reports of sex abuse against the Catholic Church in 50 YEARS across the whole USA. Lets just continue to atttack to Catholic Church and ignore the Millions of other cases, This crisis has given the Church the ability to dismiss the Boy loving priests from the Church Out of this coverup approximately 400 priests have served jail time, Does that sound like a cover up.



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drkevin

posted June 11, 2010 at 6:05 pm


Martin Luther converted to Catholisism on his death bed.. Also since Martin Luther there have been the formation of over 4500 protestant churches, all saying they are the one true church,, go figure. The only one established Church with One system of heirarchy is the Catholic Church, has been and always will be ,tell me you vial anti catholics aren’t jealous. Believe me we still have room for more protestant who need to convert back like Martin. Time for the unification of the Christian Churchs not the division. Otherwise the Devil wins inthe long run.



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Don Colibri

posted June 14, 2010 at 3:25 pm


I must agree whole-heartedly. Let’s leave behind all the abortion wars and the hysterical pro/anti Catholic hype on this one, shall we? I’m NOT the least interested in joining the “Pro-Abortion, Pro-Life” arguement, nor am I interested in attacking or defending the Roman Catholic Church (the works of such people as Mother Theresa and John Paul II say worlds about the good, just as the “coup de etat” pulled off by Ratzinger in siezing the Catholic papacy say enough about the bad).
But in what Universe is it acceptable to excommunicate ANYONE (abortion supporters, heretics, protestants and the like) but NOT to excommunicate the defilers and rapists of children? The purpetrators simply cannot actually BE Christians let alone priests! If the Church of Rome could burn at the stake converted Jews(even priests and bishops) just on the “off chance” that they might still harbor Jewish ideas, then for Heaven’s Sake surely they can simply remove these monsters from among their ranks! If they don’t do it soon, some of us, especially the cynical ones, will begin to rightly believe that the entire hierarchy of that church is full of child abusers, molesters and rapists!!



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Robert C

posted June 18, 2010 at 4:01 pm


…More drivel, ad nauseum, from the blind, stupid and profane.



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