Over at Powerline
, John Hinderaker comments
on a very interesting story in the Catholic World News
. To orient you, a few months ago small waves were being made on the media's periphery about a trial of John Kerry by the Catholic Church for heresy-one that was being instigated by laity, who it seems have the authority to bring these kinds of charges. I guess they have a whole court system and everything, and some guy formally sued Kerry in ecclesiastical court. Judge Mathis
has nothing on these guys. Apparently the guy's goal was to force the Church to apply its own logic and excommunicate John Kerry, something it was probably loath to do. Ever since the real JFK
so skilfully neutralized
the fears of non-Catholics that as a Catholic he would be in thrall to the Pope, the Church hasn't had a lot to say to American Catholic politicians. It had lots to say to politicians in its heyday. As Eddie Izzard so memorably puts it
So yeah, and the Romans went Christian and then we had Christianity for about 1500 years. You know, Catholicism, we believed in the teachings of Cathol, and everything it stood for... Then Henry VIII came along. Henry VIII, a big, hairy king, and he said to the Pope, the head of the Catholic Church:
"Mr. Pope! I'm going to marry my first wife, and then I'm going to divorce her. Now, I know what you're going to say but stick with me, my story gets better. I'm going to marry my second wife and then I'm gong to kill her, cut her head off! Ah, not expecting that, are ya? Third wife, gonna shoot her. Fourth wife, put her into a bag. Fifth wife, into outer space. Sixth wife, on a Rotissimat. Seventh wife, made out of jam. Eighth wifeâ€¦â€? ( makes sound similar to putting babies on spikes )
And the Pope's going,
( Italian accent )"You crazy bugger! You can't do all this! What are you, a Mormon? You can't marry all these people! It's illegal! You can't do all this! I am the Pope, I am the head of the Church, I have to keep upâ€¦ ciao! I have to keep up standards. What have you been reading, the gospel according to St. Bastard?"
So Henry VIII, who was Sean Connery for this film, said:
( imitating Sean Connery ) "Well then, I will set up a new religion in this country. I will set up the Psychotic Bastard religion."
And an advisor said,
"Why not call it Church of England, Sire?"
"Church of England, actually. Much better... Even though Iâ€™m Scottish myself."
So they did! That's the birth of Church of England, the birth of the Anglican Church! Disgusting, eh? That's no basis to start a religion on! Nothing to do with the Protestant church, I mean, Henry just shagged and killed a lot of women and then stole all the money off the monasteries. You know, rape and pillage, that is!
I highly doubt John Kerry can successfully schism the Catholic Church over this, of course. He's no Henry the VIIIth. He's more like Ethelred the Unready
Ethelred 'The Unready' was King of the English from 978 to 1016. The term 'unready' is probably a misinterpretation of the word 'un-raed' which means 'lack of council'. It appears that Ethelred was not able to make any decisions on his own and relied on the Witan council heavily.
Sound familiar? It's instructive to note that Ethelred was forced to pay huge amounts of tribute (danegeld) to the Danes to appease them because they kept raiding England. It's also interesting that this didn't work and they kept raiding England, laughing all the way to the bank. John Kerry wants to give the mullahs nuclear fuel to appease them
. If history repeats twice, once as tragedy and once as farce, we must be in that farce cycle.
Well. According to the Catholic World News piece, a Vatican official expressed a legal opinion that Kerry is already automatically excommunicated!
Balestrieri, who launched his case earlier this year by filing a heresy complaint in Kerry's home archdiocese of Boston, told EWTN's "World Over" program on Friday that he had received an unusual, indirect communication from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the pro-abortion stance.
That communication provides a basis, he said, to declare that any Catholic politician who says he is "personally opposed to abortion, but supports a woman's right to choose," incurs automatic excommunication. It also provided a basis for Balestrieri to broaden his canonical actions and file additional complaints against four more pro-abortion Catholic politicians: Democrat Senators Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Tom Harkin of Iowa; Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine; and former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, a Democrat.
The current action could be significant as it could undercut the entire debate over denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians. An excommunicated Catholic may not receive any of the sacraments of the Church, including the Eucharist, marriage, and even Christian burial. The type of excommunication outlined in the new information is called latae sententiae, which means that it occurs automatically and does not require a formal pronouncement by any Church official.
I'm not a Catholic, let alone sufficiently well-versed in these matters to be clear on whether this is significant news or not. The commenters on the Catholic News World site are divided, but some say that this is merely an unofficial, private statement of orthodox church dogma, and therefore nothing new. As a practical matter, whether the Church's response is significant probably depends on whether the press treats it as such. Kerry will certainly not put himself in a position between now and November 2 where he will be denied Communion, and failing that, there is no reason why the media should take up this issue--if it is an issue--at all.
I'm about as versed in these arcana as John is. That is to say, not very. That's not really what I want to talk about, though. I want to make a point about media bias here. If this was Bush being rejected by his church, wouldn't the media give it saturation coverage
? Flood the freaking zone? To the point of ridiculousness?
I agree with the Rocket Man that the media is going to ignore and try to bury this. I had to laugh wryly at the passages that I emphasized above though, at the passivist and fatalistic tone. Isn't this the same John Hinderaker who received mucho publicity
recently when his blog was a major player, taking part in the humbling of the mainstream media on a historical scale? I don't think he should be so fatalistic. You know. Given his personal experience of the might of peer-to-peer journalism and everything. That's all I'm saying. To tell the truth, I'm still not over it either, and I still haven't fully absorbed the lesson. I've been reading blogs for years and I still feel awed that Allah
, and the fellows at Powerline
humbled CBS so suddenly and so completely. Something huge happened here, and we haven't fully digested it yet.
On the other hand. Is there less to this story than meets the eye? Like Hinderaker, I really have no idea what any of this means. But Shane Cory at the Washington Dispatch does some original reporting and makes a fairly strong case
that this is just a timed political hit.
Father Cole, author of the response received by De Fide, was contacted on Monday evening and in a courteous and extremely affable tone explained that he does not speak for the Vatican. The response that he had provided to Mr. Balestrieri was simply his personal opinion. In providing further detail, Fr. Cole explained that the Vatican delegates inquiries such as the one presented by Balestrieri to priests around the world. Father Cole had been tasked with this particular letter and provided a response that was clearly in his own opinion.
later in the piece,
Additionally, Fr. Cole's response was dated September 11th 2004. It is unclear as to why De Fide held this letter until October 18th, merely two weeks before the presidential election. Detractors may say that this is a planned "hit" on John Kerry while others may argue that it is coincidence. Personally, I will have to say that it is just one of many "October Surprises" to come.
He has a good point. Nonetheless, Balestrieri defended himself strongly when contacted:
Mr. Balestrieri was contacted regarding this article and quickly responded in length stating, "the response is unofficial in that I, as a layman, am not entitled to receive an 'official' response, because the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith does not give out official responses to laymen like myself, only Bishops." Balestrieri went on to write, ". . . the theologian [Fr. Cole] writes that this truth is 'manifest.' Now, no theologian worth his salt ever throws such a thorny term around lightly. It was for that reason I received a response in the affirmative so quickly: The content of the teaching is not just official, but infallible. Any Bishop will tell you that."
So the jury's still deliberating. I think in the end, Balestrieri will be vindicated and Kerry officially excommunicated, because the Church is having its bluff called. It will either enforce its own laws and doctrine, and start excommunicating Catholic politicians who defy it on abortion, or it will be forced to acknowledge that it is unwilling to stand behind its moral dictates. The path of least pain for the Church is to start excommunicating. Yeah, the timing's fishy. But there's a real story here regardless.
Finally, I don't want to seem meanspirited. But what the hell. Let's pick on a retard. I need a little comic relief. April_S is outraged!
She wants to know something.
What I want to know is: When is the Catholic Church going to issue letters excomunicating Bush because of his pro-death penalty stance or because his instigation of War (promotion of death)? That's what I want to know. Bush sets up situations in which many live walking talking people, life, lives, are killed and that's all a-o-k by the Catholic Church.
Oh dear. Public education, I can smell it on her. Is it okay for me to make fun of this girl? Or would it be unsporting? She's so hurt
that the Catholic Church stubbornly refuses to excommunicate a Methodist-someone who by definition isn't in communion with the Church in Rome
…April-here's a nickel, kid. Go buy yourself a ticket to ride the clue train.