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Catholics in politics.

Washington, DC--the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recently issued two documents on Catholics in politics, first in January (Doctrinal Note on Catholics participating in political life, C.I., March 2003, pp. 22-23), and then on July 3, 2003 considerations re unions between homosexual persons (C.I., September 2003, pp. 23-24).

Practical considerations arising from these Notes concern not only the politicians themselves, but also the role of local bishops in emphasizing the contents of the Notes with politicians resident in their sees. Reasonable guidelines on how bishops should proceed have been released by one American bishop, who served on the Church's highest court in Rome for a number of years.

According to Bishop Raymond Burke of La Crosse, Wis., he can issue a precept against the politician that could do three things:

* Order the person to cease sinning in such a public way and leading others into sin;

* Warn him that "you risk excommunication;" and/or

* Admonish him that he should not receive the sacraments until he amends his life. This is something that can be done privately or it can be made public as well according to the bishop's discretion.

"Surely you try {to effect change} first through conversation with the person," said Bishop Burke, a canon lawyer who once served as the defender of the bond at the Apostolic Signatura, the Church's highest court. "But if the person won't budge" from his position, he said, the bishop has little option but to exercise episcopal authority.

"Otherwise," Bishop Burke said, "what happens is confusion among the people. 'Well, so-and-so is a practising Catholic, but he votes prochoice all the time and he's still receiving Communion.'"

Episcopal authority can include excommunication, the bishop said, something he believes can be effective.

Several bishops have issued warnings to local Catholics, including the Bishop of Sacramento, Cal., William Weigand, to California's governor Gray Davis who supports abortion. So far Davis has shown no repentance.

Indeed he is doing the contrary. In August with leading pro-abortionists such as NARAL president Kate Michelman at his side, he signed five bills that increase "Planned Parenthood" type of sex education in schools and lower fees for emergency contraception to $10. per woman, streamline the distribution of contraceptives, fund contraception programs, and prohibit insurance companies from canceling coverage on abortion facilities because of what he calls "anti-reproductive hate-crimes."

In September he signed a law to permit research on embryonic stem cells. Perhaps the bishop is waiting for the outcome of the recall election bid. If Davis maintains his position after October 10; further episcopal silence will be interpreted as Davis successfully calling the bishop's bluff. In fact, Davis was defeated by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the October 7th recall election.
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Title Annotation:United States
Publication:Catholic Insight
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Words:454
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