When I was travel back to these USA from Tokyo, I was addressed by fellow travelers about Gov. Cuomo. “When is he going to excommunicated?” They were really angry.
People are angry. Rightly so. They want action, not words, from bishops. Rightly so. They have vague notions about something dramatic called “excommunication”, so they want that.
Frankly, I wouldn’t mind some Richard Burton/Becket style bell, book and candle against Cuomo’s backside, but only if the law truly supported it.
However, the fact remains that we have laws in the Church. When it comes to application of censures to people who commit sins we have to interpret the law as strictly as possible in order to protect the rights of the accused. That makes the “prosecution’s” case much harder to argue.
Today, canonist-galore Ed Peters has long and pretty comprehensive look at another canonists idea that Gov. Cuomo could be tried for heresy: “the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith”. Peters breaks down all the terms and looks at the feasibility of such a case.
Anyone interested in what “heresy” is, or how canonical procedures work, would do well to read his whole offering. It is a mini-workshop and very informative. At the very least it will give the average reader a new view of how high the bar is for imposing a sanction on a person.
Peters also make the point that a failed attempt at imposing a censure on Cuomo would make matters worse. Whatever is undertaken has to be done meticulously.
NB: In another state capital, Springfield of Illinois, after the governor signed same-sex marriage legislation, Bp. Paprocki performed an exorcism over the whole state. HERE It may be that excommunication will be difficult to impose. That doesn’t mean that bishops must do nothing.
Every single bishop of New York can take up his copy of the Rituale Romanum and perform an exorcism over the whole state.
Abortions are sins that attract demonic influence and oppression. Exorcism of any place where abortions are performed is appropriate and necessary.
Once again, the well-known observation of St Thomas More comes to mind, that was strikingly portrayed in the movie A Man For All Seasons. According to Thomas’ biographer William Roper, the saint did say indicate something along these lines, and it made it into Robert Bolt’s play and screenplay. But the dramatic version makes the point crystal clear.
Scene: Richard Rich, who later betrays Thomas, leaves the room.
ALICE MORE: Arrest him!
SIR THOMAS MORE: For what?
ALICE: He’s dangerous!
WILLIAM ROPER: For libel, he’s a spy!
MARGARET MORE: Father, that man’s bad.
MORE: There is no law against that.
ROPER: There is! God’s law!
MORE: Then God can arrest him.
ALICE: While you talk, he’s gone!
MORE: And go he should, if he were the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
ROPER: So! Now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!
MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
ROPER: Yes! I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
MORE: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!
And just because I mentioned Becket, above, here are scenes which serve to increase my desire to see bishops of this stripe today.
When people come up to priests on airplanes and in airports to vent about Gov. Cuomo, what they are really calling for a bishops who bishop.
First, how a bishop ought to deal with errant, obstinate Catholic politicians in serious matters. Sure, it reverses the role here, where the state accuses a bishop, instead of the other way around, but… damn… backbone!
Very dramatic. But people today long for the spirit of this episcopal display.
Next, the excommunication scene. Again, theatrical. But, people want the strength and conviction of this moment, after decades of hand-wringing and placating.