The Vatican has confirmed an American bishop's decision to excommunicate members of the dissident group Call to Action. In addition to touting itself as a Catholic group working for justice and peace, the group promotes altering Church teaching on sexuality, women in the priesthood, and electing bishops.
Call to Action is "causing damage to the Church of Christ," wrote Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, in a letter to Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska.
In March 1996, Bishop Bruskewitz had announced the excommunication of all Catholics in his diocese who were members of Call to Action or several other dissident groups which he described as "totally incompatible with the Catholic faith."
The Nebraska chapter of Call to Action appealed the bishop's decision to the Vatican. In his November 24 letter to Bishop Bruskewitz, Cardinal Re reports that Vatican's finding that the disciplinary action was "properly taken."
The Vatican has determined that "the activities of 'Call to Action' in the course of these years are in contrast with the Catholic Faith due to views and positions held which are unacceptable from a doctrinal and disciplinary standpoint," Cardinal Re writes. He concludes: "Thus to be a member of this Association or to support it is irreconcilable with a coherent living of the Catholic Faith."
The excommunication that Bishop Bruskewitz announced covered not only to Call to Action, but also to members of Catholics for a Free Choice, Planned Parenthood, the Hemlock Society, the Freemasons, and the Society of St. Pius X.
The excommunication order applies only within the Lincoln, Nebraska diocese. But the Vatican's judgment against Call to Action raises clear questions about the status of the group's members in other dioceses.