|Catholic NY governor Andrew Cuomo celebrates|
passage of legislation allowing murder of babies
in the womb through birth and beyond!
Editor's comment: In 1077 Pope Gregory VII excommunicated King Henry IV stripping him of his right to rule the Holy Roman Empire and releasing his vassals from their obligation of service? Why? Because Henry demanded the right to name bishops. (Hmm...does this sound like the current situation in China?) Henry, fearing loss of power, went to Canossa in winter, waited three days to see the pope, and then walked barefoot through the snow to meet him and beg for forgiveness. Since then a "walk to Canossa" has come to mean a humiliation. It also indicates that controversy between Church and state is nothing new. James Thunder gives us a modern situation that is a Canossa moment. Will the hierarchy of the Church in the United States take any action to address the horrifying attacks on life? Or will it be the hierarchy bending their knees to the state out of fear of losing the Almighty tax dollar? How will our bishops respond to these evil attacks on the unborn popping up like poison mushrooms all over our beloved country?
RESPONDING TO THE
SO-CALLED NEW YORK “REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH ACT”
by James M. Thunder *
On January 22, 2019, the Body of Christ, world-wide, suffered a grievous wound when 134 men and women [95 members of the New York Assembly (listed here) 38 members of the New York Senate (listed here) and the governor], many of whom identify as Catholics, enacted the so-called “Reproductive Health Act.” (So-called because it has nothing to do with health.) The formal statement of the bishops of New York spoke of their sorrow and spoke of mourning for the children who would die under this Act. If you want to see what a wound to the Body of Christ can look like, if it were visible, search the Internet for images of gangrene. You will be horrified.
Calls have been made to Cardinal Dolan to excommunicate Governor Andrew Cuomo. The Cardinal has responded that he would not do this because he would not use excommunication as a weapon and, in any case, it would be “counter-productive.” We could ask how it might be counter-productive. (Would the Governor and the legislators respond by vilifying the Church, by discriminating against Catholics in employment and housing, by closing Catholic hospitals, by depriving Catholic institutions of tax exemptions?) We could ask what would be productive, that is, what would be more effective, that we haven’t already tried. We could ask if there is any sort of activity that would incur the Cardinal’s excommunication. (An assault on the person of a bishop, but not an unborn child? A law that legalized the murder of children under the age of two, but not the unborn?) But instead of asking these questions and considering possible answers, let me share the following.
The action of January 22 has cast a pall on us. We are, in the words of the folk tune, people “of constant sorrow.” It is a time for lamentation. We recite the penitential psalms (Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143) because we are, like David, full of remorse for our sins. Yes, all of our sins. We are like Rachel weeping for her children (Matt. 2:18), weeping for the adults who supported this Act, weeping for the women who will commit abortion under this Act, and weeping for the children who will die from it. We are like Jesus weeping over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41; Matt. 23:37), weeping over Albany and New York State. The Gospel reports what He said as He wept, “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! “ (Matt. 23:37) We are like the Lord Who called to Paul from heaven, “Why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4; 22:7) We weep for the men and women who have betrayed the Son of Man.
|King Henry IV begs Pope Gregory VII to lift the |
papal bull of excommunication.
One appropriate response would consist or public acts of penitence. A penitential service in one or more cathedrals or parish churches? A penitential pilgrimage? It could be difficult to walk from a place like New York City to Albany, 150 miles, even in shorter segments, especially in winter. A penitential pilgrimage for a morning, or a day, around the State Capitol? I’m not talking about a protest or a demonstration, but about a long and sad time of prayer.
What might we do more than we have already done in the way of prayer, in the way of caring for mothers and children, of informing our elected officials of our grief and dismay?
One possibility is that the laity announce, by signing an online statement, that they will not attend any Mass at which one of the Catholic legislators and governor who supported this Act are expected to attend and to receive Communion. (We want them to attend Mass. Indeed, we want them to attend daily Mass. We just don’t want to be with them if they receive Communion.) To assist us, the online statement would identify by name the Catholics among the 134, post a picture, and identify their local parish. Let me be clear that this online information is provided most decidedly not to harass them. It is meant to inform the rest of us.
Another possibility, short of excommunication, is a directive by the New York bishops, singly or jointly, or a directive by any number of pastors of parishes, stating that these men and women, all 134, whether or not they identify as Catholic, are forbidden from serving in any capacity with the Church, the Body of Christ, they have so grievously wounded: not as deacons, not as lectors, not as Eucharistic ministers, not as choir members, not on any board of a Catholic institution, not in any role for fund-raising, not as a speaker, and certainly not as an honoree.
The souls of these men and women are at stake. Whether they are Catholic or not, they need to repent of their grievous sin, and do so publicly.
*The author is a Washington, D.C., attorney. He served as general counsel of Americans United for Life, a grand knight of a Knights of Columbus council, and on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Bar Association’s Legal Clinic for the Disabled.