A Tale of Two Catholic Bishops

When I read the special news report by John-Henry Westin on Kansas Catholic Archbishop Joseph Naumann I said a silent prayer of thanks to God! Just one day before the holy feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles in the form of flame, the Kansas bishops, under the leadership of Archbishop Naumann, agreed to take a stand in defense of Christ in the Eucharist.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann has directed pro-abortion Catholic Governor Kathleen Sebelius to “refrain from presenting herself for Holy Communion until she takes ‘the necessary steps for amendment of her life which would include a public repudiation of her previous efforts and actions in support of laws and policies sanctioning abortion.’”

Archbishop Naumann’s entire column is well worth reading, but the following excerpt speaks volumes about the role of a bishop and the sincere concern he should have for the souls of those who have strayed:

Since becoming archbishop, I have met with Governor Sebelius several times over many months to discuss with her the grave spiritual and moral consequences of her public actions by which she has cooperated in the procurement of abortions performed in Kansas. My concern has been, as a pastor, both for the spiritual well-being of the governor but also for those who have been misled (scandalized) by her very public support for legalized abortion.

It has been my hope that through this dialogue the governor would come to understand her obligation: 1) to take the difficult political step, but necessary moral step, of repudiating her past actions in support of legalized abortion; and 2) in the future would use her exceptional leadership abilities to develop public policies extending the maximum legal protection possible to the unborn children of Kansas.

Having made every effort to inform and to persuade Governor Sebelius and after consultation with Bishop Ron Gilmore (Dodge City), Bishop Paul Coakley (Salina) and Bishop Michael Jackels (Wichita), I wrote the governor last August requesting that she refrain from presenting herself for reception of the Eucharist until she had acknowledged the error of her past positions, made a worthy sacramental confession and taken the necessary steps for amendment of her life which would include a public repudiation of her previous efforts and actions in support of laws and policies sanctioning abortion.

Recently, it came to my attention that the governor had received Holy Communion at one of our parishes. I have written to her again, asking her to respect my previous request and not require from me any additional pastoral actions.

This action on the part of the archbishop teaches us two things about those Catholics in public life that have chosen to support the dastardly act of abortion. The first is that appealing to truth and to their individual sense of humility often fails. Even when the bishop is loving and discreet with the offending public figure, the result is far from what we wish to see.

The second thing this situation shows is the arrogance that seems to overtake so many Catholics in public life. It is as though their public actions have nothing whatsoever to do with the ultimate salvation of their own souls. What a tragedy this is.

But I cannot tell you how privileged the Catholics of Kansas, and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in particular, are to have someone like Archbishop Naumann who lives souls first and foremost. His desire to protect Christ from sacrilege while at the same time working quietly to teach truth is so obvious and we praise him for that.

Sadly this adulation cannot be extended to every Catholic bishop and the second part of my tale deals with one of those for whom I am praying with fervent and constant appeals to Christ. I am, of course, speaking of Archbishop Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
In an April 30  commentary he wrote for the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. newspaper, The Catholic Standard:

A decision regarding the refusal of Holy Communion to an individual is one that should be made only after clear efforts to persuade and convince the person that their actions are wrong and bear moral consequences. Presumably this is done in the home diocese where the bishops and priests, the pastors of souls, engage the members of their flock in this type of discussion. In the case of public figures who serve in Washington as representatives of other parts of the nation, this dialogue and any decisions would take place within their home diocese.

This is a polite way of telling the Catholic people of Washington, D.C., including pro-abortion Catholic public figures, that as far as he is concerned the scandalous behavior of pro-abortion Catholic politicians willfully supporting the aborting of preborn children while at the same time receiving the body and blood of Christ in Holy Communion is not his problem! 

Or as the ever-wise blogging champion and pro-life heroine, Jill Stanek, wrote in reference to Archbishop Wuerl’s comments:

On one hand I think Wuerl expressed a valid concern of not wanting to usurp the authority of a politician’s own priest or diocese. He is in a unique position as head of the Catholic Church in D.C., where so many out-of-town infamous Catholics work.

On the other hand, this could read like a cop out….

If a Catholic politician spends a significant amount of time between two parishes, doesn’t the parish where pro-abortion actions are committed bear some responsibility, even if not the home parish?

And Julia Duin of the Washington Times, upon reading what Archbishop Wuerl had to say about the jurisdiction of the bishop from whatever diocese the pro-abortion Catholic public figure came from, wrote:

The Washington Times then contacted the home dioceses of Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Kerry, Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Dodd to ask whether those bishops had taken any disciplinary action against the politicians.

No response came from the Archdioceses of San Francisco and Boston, nor the Norwalk, Connecticut diocese.

Well my response to such non-response, regardless of what the archbishop has said about not wanting to step on anybody’s toes, is simply this:

The fact is, and I say this with complete and utter confidence in the proper meaning of Church law, specifically canon 915, that regardless of the bishop or parish in question, every single ordained priest, deacon and extraordinary Eucharistic minister has a moral obligation to protect Christ from sacrilege.  It matters not who an errant Catholic politician’s bishop is – defiling Christ is what it is.

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  • slave2mary

    It’s funny. I just read about Archbishop Wuerl’s column this AM and I was feeling outraged by his passivity. Thank God there are some courageous Catholic leaders out there but they are sadly few and far between these days. We must keep praying for our leaders!

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