Sunday, August 11, 2013

Excommunication is Good for the Family

I started to think about this having read yet another case of a Third World bishop complaining about the support a First World diocese or episcopal conference or para-episcopal conference body is giving to a group promoting abortion and/or contraception in  his diocese. The bishop has every right to be angry. Anger is the right response to a present evil.

As we have seen in the case of the CCCB's Development and Peace and now with the USCCB, bishops far removed from the lesser beings - including the lesser bishops governing them - inhabiting the Third World don't really care what those little bishops think. If they cared they would pay attention to them as if it was Bishop Fred or Jim, their bud from the next diocese over. Westerners generally think non-Westerners are not as worldly wise as they are. Westerners can very easily dismiss the teaching of the Third World bishops on issues of poverty, marriage, and chastity as the back-woods teaching of the uncivilized. I mean all Westerners, not only bishops, not even bishops especially. The West treats the rest of the world like a teacher treats children. Its one of our social ills.

On the surface of things, you'd think that if a bishop from Africa says to a group like the USCCB, "Hey, your organization is supporting a group that hands out condoms in my diocese," that that would be enough, that that would be a show-stopper. After all, all bishops are bishops, successors to the Apostles, all equal, all exactly the same. Just because I don't like this brother of mine as much as that brother of mine doesn't make that brother any less a brother to me. He has the same share in the goods of my father, so to speak.

This family analogy is a good one. Let's consider the matter of any waywardness in the family. All families experience it. Mine does almost daily. I hate it, but the duty to correct and punish evil is as important as the duty I have to praise and reward good. Bishops and priests generally act like they don't think this is the case. The most grievous examples, of politicians not being excommunicated for supporting abortion, is a sin of omission crying to heaven for vengeance. Bishops generally look at penalties like excommunication as failures in their ministry to love as Christ did. But what father or mother would agree with that? If a member of the family is hurting themselves or others, it would be the height of irresponsibility to ignore it, it would be to sin against the victims. So in loving the sinner, they fail to love the victim.

Okay, but the analogy is weak in that it seems to consider bishops as fathers, which makes adult politicians, with lots of expertise and life experience children. Let's change it every so slightly then. Treat them as brothers and sisters in Christ. If my brother did something evil, like beat his wife, I would chastise him. If he continued to do so I would like to think that I would have him arrested and testify against him at court accordingly. I love my sisters-in-law and my many nieces and nephews. I could not forget their good, and my responsibility to protect it, out of love for my brother. To permit my brother to go on sinning against God and neighbour would not really be loving him either. And so I say, there is no excuse for bishops not to censure, for instance, pro-abortion politicians with up to and including excommunication.

Now, the case of the African bishop and the USCCB, or what have you, the same thing holds. That bishop must exercise the fullness of his apostolic ministry and formally excommunicate the bishops rendering indirect material cooperation in this evil.

People speak as if only the Apostolic See can excommunicate bishops. I think it would be outstanding for a family spate to break out in this manner. A family that fights is one on its road to healing. A family that ignores its problems is on its way to destruction. We call that denial and the elephant in the living-room syndrome.

Our brother, Justin, needs to be excommunicated. Our sister, Nancy, needs to be excommunicated. I hear Justin is moving to Ottawa. ;-)

LifeSite has an excellent article on the issue with respect to the USCCB. Please read it here. My only gripe is that they attach the contact info for the SCDF Prefect, Archbishop Muller, only. They should attach the contact info for the complainant bishops whom they mention in the article. It is their right too to take disciplinary measures, Archbishop Tsarahazana and Archbishop Odon Razanakolona. We should be able to write to them and encourage them to defend their flocks.

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