Catholic colleges’ “bind”

Catholic colleges’ “bind”

The media are acting as if the bishops’ statement last week on pro-abort politicians has put Catholic colleges in a difficult position suddenly. The statement had warned schools that they shouldn’t be hosting openly dissenting Catholics or other speakers who oppose the Church’s teachings on bedrock life issues. This is new? Every spring we go through the same lists of pro-abortion politicians and media types receiving honorary degrees, with the same protests and claims of academic freedom. I suppose what’s new is that the statement is coming from the whole bishops’ conference. So what? Why this fetish for a bishops’ conference? The principle doesn’t become binding only when a conference decides it. It is binding when it is promulgated by the Holy See (like in Ex Corde Ecclesia) and it is binding when voiced by a single bishop for his diocese. The conference’s vote adds nothing.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • Mr. Bettinelli,

    “It is binding when it is promulgated by the Holy See (like in Ex Corde Ecclesia) and it is binding when voiced by a single bishop for his diocese.”

    I thought that the bishop’s shouldn’t be trusted with our faith.  I think that your statement is in direct support of the postition that Jaime and I have been holding. 

    So, when Archbishop Flynn denies a degree to a pro-choice politician, he is good, but when he supports the Church’s teaching on the mystery of the Eucharist, he is not?  Isn’t this ala carte Catholicism?

    I don’t mean to “pick at a scab,” but what this seems like is double speak. 

    As recently as May 2003, Archbishop Flynn has rescinded an education award.

    “In May 2003, Flynn withdrew a previously announced education award to a Minneapolis church staff member who is a lesbian and lives with her partner and four children,” reported Stephen Scott of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

    This was in regard to Ms. Kathy Itzen.  Archbishop Flynn said on the matter, “However, I could not, in conscience, publicly commend someone for promoting that which is not harmonious with church doctrine. This is particularly true when that personand give out Holy Communion, whereas the politician with the same view is not allowed to receive?”

    The Jesuits were suppressed once before, if I am not mistaken. The Suppression of the Society was due to the same causes which in further devlopment brought about the French Revolution.

    I wonder if it shoud happen again?  Or should certain religious of the Society be suppressed?  In either case, Frs. MacFarland and Drinan, S.J. are wrong.


  • My point—as opposed to whatever anyone else argued with you—was not whether a bishop had the right to follow Church teaching in his diocese, but whether Flynn and Mahony and the others who allowed the sash-ayers to receive Communion were following that teaching. I still contend (in line with several canon lawyers including one I cited on this blog earlier) that the clear teaching of canon 915 and other documents is that those “who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

  • The question is not whether the principle is binding…  It’s whether the US bishops are not going to completely ignore it and actually make any sort of noise about it.  For years, they have not.  Now they are making little pipsqueak noises – like little mice running around under the table before the run for cover. 

  • Mr. Bettinelli,

    “I still contend (in line with several canon lawyers including one I cited on this blog earlier) that the clear teaching of canon 915 and other documents is that those

    “I agree with Beal that the bar for refusing Communion under Canon 915 has been raised…..”

    However, at no point does Dr. Peters say that Fr. Beal is wrong or incorrect, but rather only that “several questions” are risen.

    He actually gives a warning, “We should, by the way, beware of making too much of canon law’s essage in conformity with the magisterium of the Church;
    4)Institutional commitment to the service of others.

    “The principles of Ex corde Ecclesiae afford them an opportunity to re-examine their origin and renew their way of living out this precious heritage.”

    Being part of the Catholic academic system before and during it’s implementation,  I can honestly and forthrightly say that it is slowly becoming one of the most important actions that the Church in America has undertaken.


  • Hardhead,

    “I have read that Flynn only reacts when a few faithful groups in his diocese hold his feet to the fire.”

    If he is unaware, or made unaware, of a situation, I would hope that he would react when a situation arises and he is made aware of that situation in his diocese.  Archbishop Flynn does that.  He has done it many times and hopefully he will continue to do so.

    “The idea that anyone would give communion to someone who publicly supports murder, or promotes perverted sex practices, is such an outrage that it defies logic.”

    What does canon 912 say?  And if that person is not excommunicated, then are we to still deny them the sacraments?  Remember, canon 915 is dependent on canons 912 and 916 and bound by canon 18.

    “It is confusing to Catholics why some bishops deny communion and other do not.”

    Then, perhaps, the faithful should LISTEN to the bishops and follow their lead.  They are teaching on this issue.  We as the faithful are called to assent our wills, EVEN if we don’t understand, totally.  CCC 143; 155-158.

    CCC 158: …In the words of St. Augustine, “I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe.”


  • “Then, perhaps, the faithful should LISTEN to the bishops and follow their lead. “
    According to the June 25, 2004 issue of the Tidings, page 3:
    “Speaking at a June 13 Mass at Corpus Christi Parish in Carol Stream, Ill., Bishop Joseph L. Imesch of Joliet, Ill., agreed that ‘the Eucharist should not be used as a sanction.’
    ‘Both the good and the wicked can approach the table,’ he said. ‘You don’t question people when they come up here.’”
      Is it right to deny Communion to a Catholic politician who says that he is personally opposed to abortion, but favors passing laws making abortion legal,—- while at the same time, taking no action against Catholic priests and religious who support this point of view?

  • How can one logically try to ignore canon 915 using canon 912? Canon 915 tells us who is “forbidden by law” to receive the Eucharist. This includes those “obstinately persisting in manifest grave sin”. Trying to say that canon 912 would keep bishops from denying the Eucharist to pro-abort pols. seems illogical.

    Useful information on canon 915 can be found here. One interesting thing is that even if a bishop decides that he feels “uncomfortable” in denying the Eucharist to pro-abort pols., the decision is up to the priest, and his bishop cannot take that away from him. Thus even in the diocese of spineless bishops, a priest has the right (and I would argue the duty) to refuse the Eucharist to those “obstinately persisting in manifest grave sin”.

  • “It is confusing to Catholics why some bishops deny communion and other do not. In my mind it is an example of the fruit of dissent. The terrible state of most Catholic colleges represents another failure of our ordained catholic leaders.”

    Catholics are confused.  I mean it.  Many of them have been taught that we have to make our moral decisions in groups, which is not the case.  We get our teachings in groups but we don’t have to decide everything in groups.  It’s really an odd situation.

    For example.  Abortion is held by the Church as a mortal sin.  It’s always been held so, since Jewish times, as a matter of fact.  It is an objective evil to kill your own unborn child intentionally.  But catholics seem to believe that even though that teaching has existed all that time, they have to be specifically told in a group every time the subject comes up.  And they believe that if someone seems to get away with violations to the rule, that somehow, they have to be told the rule again.  And that they cannot simply take the prohibition as a fact (since the law is older than dirt), and take a personal stock in it, because it is after all, the law.

    Catholics also are the quickest to point to somebody else and say “he got to do it—why can’t I?”  If that sounds like something from your early childhood, it is.  This is very childish and not very moral—the sort of thing pre-moral children say (3-5 yrs old, etc.)

    It’s really weird.  I have never seen anything like it anywhere else.  I’m a convert and this is one facet of the Catholic experience that baffles me completely.

    The only thing I can think of that might have caused this sort of thing is the fact that the rug has been pulled out from under many Catholics.  It has.  And that Catholics have no where to go for sound teaching and spiritual support.  There are few places which actually teach prayer correctly and traditional catholic morals correctly.  It’s really needed, and not just for a few.

  • bremlar,

    The example that you provide for with regard to canon 915 is specific to the Sacrament of Matrimony.  While it is very sound and logical, there is a difference between one who is ACTUALLY divorced, remarried and living in a state of sin and one who simply supports abortion (which may or may not be an actual, by a philosophical definition, in regard to actuality and potentiality).  There are way too many factors to take into consideration to be able to use that particular document in regard to the issue at hand.

    As far as using canon 912 and canon 915 and canon 196 together, they are directly linked to one another.  Canon 912 is the norm.  Canon 915 and following are circumstances in which canon 912 would or would not apply.  However, this all has to be done with canon 18 in mind.  That is an important part too.  The canons are not mutually exclusive of one another.

    “….the decision is up to the priest, and his bishop cannot take that away from him…..”

    This simply is not the case.  It has been proven many times over on this site.  I would offer that you should go back and look to those threads.  If you are using the site in which you documented, that again is a specific situation defined by the bishops whereto the priest is given permission to act.  It is still a matter of obedience for the priest to his bishop.


  • michigancatholic,

    “We get our teachings in groups but we donomment_date_gmt>
    Dude, you responded to me….I was simply responding to you.  Sorry.


  • I’m not a dude. 

    And I have a post above yours which you commented upon, my friend.  All fine and good, but I stand by my post in the thread, and I will bid you good night.

  • Camilam,

    You may think that the other threads prove your point, but it doesn’t mean that it has. For one thing, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts’ interpretation of the canons trump yours and their interpretation is that each priest is solely responsible for applying canon 915 in each circumstance. To wit, the council’s statement:

    The discernment of cases in which the faithful who find themselves in the described condition are to be excluded from Eucharistic Communion is the responsibility of the Priest who is responsible for the community. They are to give precise instructions to the deacon or to any extraordinary minister regarding the mode of acting in concrete situations.

    4. Bearing in mind the nature of the above-cited norm (cfr. n. 1), no ecclesiastical authority may dispense the minister of Holy Communion from this obligation in any case, nor may he emanate directives that contradict it.

    Also, this document is not specific to the sacrament of matrimony. The specific case is marriage, but its application is broader.

    Finally, we’re not just talking about “one who simply supports abortion”, but politicians who by their very work enable abortion to continue and to be widely and easily available. I will remind you of John Kerry’s statements to the National Abortion Federation dinner last year in which he proudly stated how much he had done and will do to ensure that abortions continue in the US. There is a difference between a philosophical stance and actually doing something to make it happen.

  • Mr. Bettinelli,

    Your statement speaks of the “described condition,” which is marriage.

    “Also, this document is not specific to the sacrament of matrimony. The specific case is marriage, but its application is broader.”

    Not to be disrespectful, but what do you mean that it is not specific to the sacrament of matrimony, but the specific case is marriage?  How are they different?  There is no difference in the Church between marriage and sacrament of matrimony.

    How do you get to that?  It says, specifically, “That notwithstanding, the aforementioned authors offer various interpretations of the above-cited canon that exclude from its application the situation of those who are divorced and remarried.”  It is dealing directly with marriage.  The papal documents that are directly referenced are those dealing with marriage, Familiaris Consortio and Annus Internationalis Familiae.  The latter is specific to reception of Holy Communion by the divorced and remarried.

    I don’t disagree that Kerry’s stance is wrongly held; actually, I totally agree.  But, if he is not excommunicated, then we have to understand that he is to be permitted to Holy Communion.  Do I personally like that?  NO I DON’T!!!!  But, I will support the Church’s stance.  If and when he is excommunicated, I will wholeheartedly call for his head if he presents himself for Holy Communion.  Until that time, I will say, “Senator Kerry, you should not present yourself for Holy Communion, you may be in a state of mortal sin.  I pray that you present yourself for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and that you make a firm act (of contrition) not to repeat your sins.”  Can I prevent him from going to Holy Communion?  No, for two reasons.  First, my bishops have said so, and second, (much to my personal dismay) he has not been excommunicated, therefore he cannot be denied Holy Communion; per canon 912.

    Philosophies can and do in fact get put into action all the time.  Marxism, Nazism (as many here like to use), Communism, Sophism, Gnosticism, and Modernism.  Then there is Thomism.  Doesn’t the Church follow Thomism? Is it not the philosophical stance for Fides et Ratio?  So, I think that philosophies can and are put into action all the time.  To deny a philosophical stance is to deny the wisdom that guides a people, what is philosophy, the study of wisdom.

    Sorry, I disagree.


  • Maybe the point isn’t what we think of it but what God thinks of it.  The Church teaches that a person who presents themselves for Holy Communion unworthily eats and drinks to their damnation.

    Perhaps it’s charity to be warning Kerry, before he slides into hell of his own careless bidding.  This is a kindness to make him be precise about his intentions.  Such that if he does not intend to send himself to hell, he can be more careful that doesn’t happen….or, if he intends to go to hell after all (some people do) that he can make that clear.

  • michigancatholic,

    “Maybe the point isnernal with the Father, a belief formulated as homoousios (“of one substance”) against the Arian position of homoiousios (“of like substance”).”  Reginald H. Fuller (citing sources from Gregg, R. C., ed., Arianism: Historical and Theological Reassessments (1987); Gwatkin, H. M., Studies of Arianism, 2d ed. (1900); Newman, John Henry, The Arians of the Fourth Century (1833; repr. 1968).)

    BTW, clericalism is a cop out.  Just because I am obedient to the bishops does not meant that I am guilty of clericalism.  What do I mean?

    Can. 212 t statement, to which I affirmed with an example of Archbishop Flynn (of St. Paul and MPLS) is this, “The bishops said lawmakers who support abortion rights and other policies contrary to core church teaching should abstain from Holy Communion and “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions” from Catholic institutions.

    The issue is a central one for the schools, which have long struggled to balance their Catholic identity with academic freedom and a desire to place themselves at the center of American life.”

    Archbishop Flynn has understood this years ago and has acted in this manner more than once…..I will point you to Ms. Kathy Itzen once again.

    See above.


  • This is funny, because most of the educational institutions in the United States that call themselves Catholic have stone-walled Ex Corde Ecclesia for literally years.

    Domenico is right.  The Holy See orders it and very few comply.  The bishops say it and then there’s a ripple.  But the USCCB is not a jurical body—will someone inform the Catholic colleges?? heh heh.

    It’s a little giggle but it will come to nothing.  The bishops are not clear enough on what it means for it to make any difference at this point.

    The big funny here is that you can’t have it both ways and maybe the bishops will find that out.  When the recently-formed USCCB sought to run down the authority of the Holy See and insert an element of disorder in Catholic practice, thinking it would benefit them, you see, they failed to think it through.  Since they inserted that rebellion and disorder, they are the beneficiaries of it too.  Surprise, surprise, surprise.  Just dumb.

  • michigancatholic,

    Just an FYI,  I am one of the first graduates of any program that has incorperated Ex Corde Ecclesiae.  So, I think that I can speak pretty authoritatively on this….and in a “liberal” archdiocese to boot.

    “The Holy See orders it and very few comply.”

    I know of more than a few Catholic colleges and universities that comply, The University of St. Thomas, Ave Maria College, Thomas Aquinas College, and Christendom College… I need to list more?  Or should we just go back to one of my previous posts.

    “But the USCCB is not a jurical body—will someone inform the Catholic colleges?? heh heh.’

    What do you mean?  The purpose of the USCC Dept. of Education; “The department represents the interests of the Church’s educational and catechetical ministries with national, state, and local agencies that affect these ministries.”

    “The big funny here is that you canis finally saying something about that:
    a) well, shazam.  Iw any heroes there?  I think McBrien is still there, not that he’s a hero.  He’s pretty much evidence that if they’re spouting about ECE, they’re not applying it.

    Did you know that Curran was still teaching theology (the martian version) summers at that Marian outfit in Dayton, Ohio?  Yes, I know he’s forbidden to by the Vatican, but that just adds to his price in those kinds of places….

    Sort of like a movie star in the National Enquirer…..  wink

  • michigancatholic,

    Nope, Fr. McBrien is not still there.  And neither is Fr. Curran.  But while Notre Dame is certainly pushing the envelope in Catholic thought, it is still Catholic,

    You know….I don’t really keep up with Fr. Curran.  I don’t agree with his theological views and since he has been silenced by the Church, as you rightly assert, I don’t need or want to pay attentetion.

    Why plug him?

    The reason that I find a wedge in one, is that we need to be authentic.  We need to give credit where credit is due.  We need to show that not all impressions are correct.

    If we are going to have a conversation, we should be accurate in what we say.  That is why I found a wedge.  While I don’t disagree that there are some Catholic Universities that don’t comply, there are those that do.  That was my point.


  • Yah, it’s pushing the envelope all right.  I know about Notre Dame.  I learned about ND the hard way.  It’s very corrupt.

    I know where Curran spends most of his time—at Methodist U in Dallas, TX.  He can’t teach in Catholic schools anymore and so he works there.  Not that he was ever that much of an asset to us.

    Look, Cam, you’re being illogical again.
    You asserted that the contrary of my statement was the case.  My statement: display of flatulence and selfishness”.  =)  Yah, it was that too.  It is all about venting, no?