Wednesday, May 2, 2007

More Accountability Needed

I have always been bothered by the lack of ecclesiastical discipline exercised by the Roman Catholic Church. High profile politicians (John Kerry and Rudy Giuliani, for example) have been allowed, by the Church, to call themselves Roman Catholic, while promoting views and practices that oppose "their" church. Only in a few cases has the RC Church exacted any discipline on her members who defend to such sinful practices as embryonic stem cell research and abortion. I have long marvelled at the deafening silence of the RC Church as it relates to our own governor's (Kathleen Sebelius) advocacy of abortion rights. The lack of discipline exercised by the RC Church, particularly here in the United States, is one of the reasons it has become a non-factor in the political and legislative arenas. Still, having said all that, I was pleased to read the following today:

Senator Claire McCaskill Disinvited From Daughter's High School Commencement Over Stem Cell Debate

ST. LOUIS — Sen. Claire McCaskillwas disinvited from speaking at her daughter's Catholic high school commencement because her positions on abortion and embryonic stem cell research are at odds with those of the church.
Students at St. Joseph's Academy in the St. Louis suburb of Frontenac wanted to have McCaskill speak at their graduation this month, McCaskill spokeswoman Adrianne Marsh said Tuesday.

But the offer was rescinded last week. The senator was told by the school that the decision came from St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, Marsh said. Marsh said the senator, a Catholic, understands that her positions supporting abortion rights and stem cell research are different than those held by the church, but she's made peace with them.

The Democratic senator had seen the chance to speak at commencement as a special opportunity because her daughter is one of the graduates, McCaskill said in a statement.
"I'm disappointed that the Archbishop has made this decision. It does not diminish my respect and admiration for St. Joseph's Academy, their faculty, and students."

Archdiocesan spokeswoman Anne Steffens said, "The decision was not made by the archbishop." She said he wasn't part of discussions on the matter.

The president of St. Joseph's Academy, Sister Michaela Zahner, said she made the decision to rescind the invitation to McCaskill after receiving a call from the archdiocesan education office.
She was told of an archdiocesan policy that forbids providing a public forum for speakers who do not hold to truths as they are presented by the Catholic Church. Zahner said the policy clearly reflects Burke's position.

I would only ask for more wide-spread disciplinary actions on the part of the RC Church toward it's members, especially those who are in positions that have influence in promoting wickedness. Not allowing such people to speak at graduations is a start, but how about excommunication if there is a refusal to repent of such positions?

I am appreciative of the pro-life efforts of many Roman Catholics. Frankly, I wonder how many people would be picketing the various abortuaries across our country if it weren't for Roman Catholics, not to mention the many counselors serving at various crisis pregnancy centers as well. This is a case of the leadership letting down it's people. If you analyze the RC pro-life movement, it's largely promoted by "regular" priests and many lay people. The RC hierarchy in the U.S. has largely been inactive regarding the official discipline of members who support and promote such wickedness as embryonic stem cell research and abortion. Eventually this lack support in the form of formal ecclesiastical discipline will demoralize the troops who are keeping the pro-life issue ever before our culture.

The Bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals, and Pope need to apply much more accountability to the members of the RC Church.


GUNNY said...

I agree. I always found it quite inconsistent to have RC church members vocally promoting agendas contrary to their church (e.g., abortion).

Of course, we as Southern Baptists have some of our own crow to eat when his church did nothing to discipline a certain president who had trouble with the definition of "is" and "sexual relations."

JDogg said...

Pardon the length, but below is an extended quote about Ambrose of Milan taken from The Kingdom and the Power by Leithart.

Ambrose of Milan (c. 340-97) was a churchman's churchman. He is perhaps best known as the bishop whose preaching and energetic apologetic efforts led the brilliant but confused young philosopher Aurelius Augustinius to embrace Christianity. If Augustine is the father of the Western church, Ambrose is the godfather.

We are interested, however, in Ambrose's confrontation with Roman civil authorities, which serves as a healthy guide for modern churchmen. In 390, according to the early church historian Sozomen, the people of Thessalonica, after a series of incidents, finally broke out in rioting against the Roman general Buthericus and killed him. The Christian emperor Theodosious immmediately retaliated, killing seven thousand Thesselonians without trial, so that Sozomen wrote, "The city was filled with the blood of many unjustly slain; for strangers, who had just arrived there on their journey to other lands, were sacraficed with the others."

News of the slaughter reached Milan. When Theodosius tried to enter the Milan cathedral, Ambrose blocked his way. Reminding the emperor of the enormity of his crime, Ambrose called him to account with these words:

We must not because of the sheen of the purple fail to see the weakness of the body that it robes. You are a sovereign, Sir, of men of like nature with your own, and who are in truth your fellow slaves; for there is one Lord and Sovereign of mankind, Creator of the Universe. With what eyes then will you look on the temple of our common Lord - with what feet will you tread that holy threshold, how will you stretch forth your hands still dripping with the blood o funjust slaughter?

Finally, Ambrose ordered him out of the temple. "Begone. Attempt not to add another crime to that which you have committed."

Theodosius sought to change Ambrose's mind, but the strong-willed bishop refused to annul the sentence of excommunication. Finally, Theodosius relented, publicly confessed his sin, refrained from wearing his imperial robes during the period of penance, and decreed that imperial edicts would be executed only after a 30 day waiting period, during which cool heads would presumably prevail. Ambrose, without for a moment overstepping the bounds of his office, had effectively challenged an ujnust act, and, using the tools of the bishop - Word, sacrament, and discipline - forced the adoption of a more just imperial practice.

What would Ambrose do with our Christian politicians who permit and even defend the slaughter of innocent babies? No doubt he would have responded much as he did to Theodosius: "How in such hands will you receive the all holy Body of the Lord? How will you who in your rage unrighteously poured forth so much blood lift to your lips the precious blood?"

AJF said...

Good point Gunny. None of our denominations are without sin in this matter.

Good post jdogg. Ambrose was indeed a stud.

GUNNY said...

Sad, but true, brother.

Just last year I was ask to help intervene by a man because a "minister" (PCUSA) was having an affair with his wife.

We were not happy when the presbytery wasn't interested in handling up or taking any steps beyond a cursory investigation whereby they were confident "it was over" and nothing needed to be done.

Needless to say, the man seeking my help is not any closer to the kingdom as a result of this travesty of justice.

Church discipline is just so out of vogue in an era where we all feel pressured to be "tolerant" and accepting of all manner of lifestyle.

Hey, it's one thing in the world, but we have an obligation to police those professing to be believers. Amen?!

Heck, true love is caring enough TO confront.

merjoem32 said...

Great post. ined to support any advocacy campaign that is against abortion. However, I understand that there are circumstances where abortion is the mother's only chance of surviving a failed pregnancy.