Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bishop Vasa: Prelates should publicly rebuke wayward politicians

Devoting his diocesan newspaper column to the topic of excommunication, Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker (Oregon) writes that publicly confronting wayward Catholic politicians is an act of charity not only towards politicians but also towards the faithful who are scandalized.

“Allowing error, publicly expressed, to stand without comment or contradiction is discouraging.

“When that moral error is espoused publicly by a Catholic who, by the likewise public and external act of receiving Holy Communion, appears to be in ‘good standing’ then the faithful are doubly confused and doubly discouraged,” he writes. “In that case, the error is certainly not refuted. Furthermore, the impression is given that the error is positively condoned by the bishop and the Church. This is very dis-couraging to the faithful. In such a case, private ‘dialogue’ is certainly appropriate but a public statement is also needed. In extreme cases, excommunication may be deemed necessary.”

“Failing to name error because of some kind of fear of offending the person in error is neither compassion nor charity,” he continues. “Confronting or challenging the error or evil of another is never easy yet it must be done.”

“The Lord has called bishops to be shepherds. That shepherding entails both leading and protecting. In an era when error runs rampant and false teachings abound, the voice of the Holy Father rings clear and true. The teachings of the Church are well documented and consistent. Bishops and the pastors who serve in their Dioceses have an obligation both to lead their people to the truth and protect them from error.”

Read the full letter here.

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