Bp. Martino instructs Sen. Casey on the Mexico City Policy

Bishop Martino of Scranton is really defining the issue … AGAIN:

Bishop Again Voices Concern Regarding Sen. Casey’s
Mexico City Policy Vote

The following letter has been sent to Sen. Bob Casey:

Dear Senator Casey,

It is a matter of deep concern that your recent vote against the Mexico City Policy  is continually misrepresented by your staff as a pro-life vote intended to promote “contraception and other family planning that avoid unintended pregnancies” (Times-Tribune, February 6, 2009).

The Mexico City Policy is, first and foremost, about abortion, not about family planning. First put in place in 1984, the policy required all non-governmental organizations that receive federal funding to refrain from performing or promoting abortion services abroad. The policy required such organizations to agree as a condition for receiving U.S. foreign aid dollars that they would “neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations.” The policy included exceptions for abortions done in cases of rape, incest or life-threatening conditions.

Furthermore, the Mexico City Policy did not take funds away from family planning; its effect is quite the opposite. Tom McCluskey of the Family Research Council reported the following: “. . .The Mexico City policy halts U.S. family planning funds from going to foreign . . . [NGOs] that perform abortions or ‘actively promote’ abortion as a method of family planning in other countries. . . The effect of President Obama rescinding the Mexico City Policy is that now millions ($461 million in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008) of dollars are taken away from family planning groups that do not promote abortions, and delivered into the hands of organizations that are the most militant in promoting abortion as a population-control method—especially in countries that find abortion objectionable on moral grounds” (my emphasis). Contrary to the claims of your staff, the absence of “Mexico City” regulations insures (1) that money is taken away from family planning, (2) that abortion is promoted as a method of family planning, and (3) that countries that have moral and cultural objections to abortion are encouraged to abandon their policies against it.

Finally, it is never permissible to use immoral means such as artificial contraception to achieve a good end, namely, the reduction of unplanned pregnancies. In fact, the mistaken view that artificial contraception may be used to regulate population growth and the size of families has led to countless evils in America and abroad, including the attitude that having and raising children is a burden to be avoided. This attitude has contributed mightily to the acceptability of abortion as a means of contraception both at home and abroad.

My letter of January 30 urging you to rescind your vote on the Mexico City Policy was in no way mistaken regarding the nature and the effect of President Obama’s order to rescind America’s long-standing policy to avoid using U.S. tax dollars to support organizations that promote abortion abroad. It is imperative that this fact be made known to the public.

It is also imperative that there be utter clarity when it comes to the teaching of the Church on matters that pertain to the taking of innocent life and the special responsibilities that fall to you, Senator, as a lawmaker to oppose abortion and other clear evils.

In closing, I refer you to the words of Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to President Obama urging him to retain the Mexico City Policy.

The Mexico City Policy . . . has wrongly been attacked as a restriction on foreign aid for family planning. In fact, it has not reduced such aid at all, but has ensured that family planning funds are not diverted to organizations dedicated to performing and promoting abortions instead of reducing them. Once the clear line between family planning and abortion is erased, the idea of using family planning to reduce abortions becomes meaningless, and abortion tends to replace contraception as the means for reducing family size. A shift toward promoting abortion in developing nations would also increase distrust of the United States in these nations, whose values and culture often reject abortion, at a time when we need their trust and respect (January 23, 2009).


Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, D.D., Hist. E.D.
Bishop of Scranton


Is there any question that the Senator in question has been instructed by his bishop?

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  1. No questions here, the instruction has been given, now what’s next?

  2. Make me a Spark says:

    I applaud the Bishop. An even stronger argument from a secular perspective, however, is that abstinence programs can save lives. Encouraging any kind of Contraception will expose more people to serious STD’s and many more adults will die also.

    The most serious and most highly contagious STD (HPV)is very easily contracted and will not be prevented by ANY kind of contraceptive device.

    Despite its bad PR, pregnancy is NOT the worst “consequence” of pre-marital sexual activity.

    I am proud that the Bishop is taking the wholly Catholic stance that we are to be open to life, unfortunately, most out there in the secular environment have no clue what this is all about, they walk in pure darkness in this respect. But at least we can appeal to them to help save their lives.

    What God tells us is the right way is always better for us–Father knows best:-)

  3. Chris Altieri says:

    Dear Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    You know how glad I am to see bishops step up, generally; I have praised bishop Martino publicly, here and at mine (v.s.).

    This letter does an even better job of things than does the Jan. 30th Letter, about which you also blogged.

    That said, it really does sound to me as though there is a misunderstanding here between the bishop and the Senator.

    Sen. Casey (about whom I know very little, beyond his lineaage) did not vote against the Mexico City Policy per se. He voted against an amendment to a pediatric health care bill that would have restored the Mexico City Policy.

    The pediatric health care bill did pass, and as +Martino has said, accomplishes laudable things, so the senator’s support for the bill was as such a morally permissible act.

    In attempting to see the bill through the Senate, the senator voted against an amendment to the bill.


    A vote against a BILL that would reinstate the Mexico City Policy as a matter of federal law is virtually impossible to justify (not just for Catholic legislators, but especially for them), especially since such a bill would have no chance of passing the Senate at present.

    A vote against a controversial AMENDMENT to a bill that aims to accomplish laudable things may well be a different matter.

    Being a legislator – being involved in the political process at all – involves give-and-take, compromise, and most importantly, the ability to know when to choose one’s battles.

    The Jan. 30th letter perhaps went too far in calling for the Senator to rescind his vote – an extremely complicated matter procedurally, and something he does not have a right to do, but for which he requires the unanimous consent of the Senate (It’s rule 12 section 4, I believe, but I’m going from memory at this point).

    This letter sticks to statement of principle and clarification of pertinent matter.

  4. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    Bishop Martino is appearing on WDTPRS with increasing frequency and always in glowing terms. Much more of this and he might quietly start to be called papabile ;)

  5. Diane says:

    Sen. Casey (about whom I know very little, beyond his lineaage) did not vote against the Mexico City Policy per se. He voted against an amendment to a pediatric health care bill that would have restored the Mexico City Policy.

    I thought the same thing at first. And, in fact, it was a vote against the Martinez Amendment, but ultimately against the Mexico City Policy.

  6. Diane says:

    Fr. Z, I don’t know if you missed it, but at the same time the Diocese of Scranton made public the letter sent to Bishop Martino, the Chancellor released an Official Notice:

    OFFICIAL NOTICE: Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion -February 26, 2009

    At the end, it quotes then Cardinal Ratzinger’s statement to the US bishops – you know, the one that was not fully disclosed to the full body bishops until after the 2004 election.

    But here was the relevant part of that press release:

    Therefore, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, Bishop of Scranton, reminds all ministers of Holy Communion, ordinary and extraordinary, that:

    1) To administer the Sacred Body and Blood of the Lord is a serious duty which they have received from the Church, and no one having accepted this responsibility has the right to ignore the Church’s law in this regard;

    2) Those whose unworthiness to receive Holy Communion is known publicly to the Church must be refused Holy Communion in order to prevent sacrilege and to prevent the Catholic in question from committing further grave sin through unworthy reception.

  7. Diane says:

    Oops my opening sentence should have read, “letter sent to Senator Casey”. It’s early!

  8. Christian says:

    The instructions on Holy communion were printd in the Diocesan newspaper, with a big black border around it so you couldn’t miss it. As an Extraordinary Minister in the diocese myself, I was wondering what prompted the emphasis in the instruction. Turn the page in the Newspaper, and in the same position, also with a Black border around it was the letter to Sen. Casey. Ohhh, I thought.

    It does set up a temporary problem though. It is not entirely Clear that Senator Casey is publicly acknowledged by the Church to be in a state unworthy of reception. My opinion is that he is — but that is only my opinion. If he appears in my communion line this Sunday, what do I do without further instruction?

  9. …and if he does NOT repent?

    The time is coming – and has really already arrived – when the “mighty” need to be brought low for their contribution to the serial murder of the unborn. Like Henry IV barefoot in the snow…

  10. Father Totton says:

    Being an outsider, and not too familiar with politics in Penn, it is rather sad that Sen. Casey seems, by his votes, to repudiate the principled outlook of his pro-life (dem) father.

    H.E. Bp. Martino, on the other hand, provides a sterling example of the teaching role of the Bishop. Would that others take notice and boldly do likewise.

  11. Calvin Hazelwood says:

    There’s obviously no question…and it’s very nice to hear a hierarch laying down the lay against artificial contraception, to which many bishops turn a blind eye as they focus on abortion.

  12. Gavin says:

    I’m in full agreement with Chris Altieri. Sen. Casey is known as a pro-life legislator. The Martinez amendment was not a life issue, since neither it nor a bill with it attached would have passed. Perhaps Bp. Martino should leave the legislating to the legislators. There’s certainly a Vice President who needs some correction if the bishop needs someone to correct.

  13. wsxyz says:

    I have to start this comment by saying that I am competent neither in moral theology nor in canon law. I do not pretend to instruct anyone in what I am about to say:

    Every time Father Z posts about a bishop giving instruction, especially to politicians, on the subject of support for abortion, I cringe when I see comments by two readers: Chris Altieri and Christopher Sarsfeld.

    The first of these is like a smooth defense lawyer – ever ready to contradict the bishop on some point of canon law or moral theology. He may well be technically correct, but the impression I receive is always that Chris Altieri is ever ready to provide the offender with an escape hatch and confuse the uninformed faithful (such as myself) about the validity of the bishop’s instruction.

    The second of these seems to regard most any bishop’s pronouncement on the subject of abortion to be sure evidence of a the bishop’s partisan political motive: the desire to drag down Democrats and to promote war. Christopher Sarsfeld claims to support neither Republicans nor Democrats (and I believe him), but the impression I always get is that he for some reason feels it necessary to discredit the bishops instruction on the subject of abortion.

    I do not intend to suggest any false motivation or bad intention to either of these persons. I do not know what their intentions and motivations are. I believe that they both act out of a good intention. However, I also believe that their comments are usually unhelpful and serve mostly to confuse the faithful and to provide ammunition for the enemies of The Church.

  14. Chris says:

    First let me say this is fantastic. Great job Your Excellency!

    Now, let me make one more request. And this is a request from me, someone who knows something. I know something because, recently, I knew nothing! I was totally ignorant on tradition and the Faith. And sometimes more long-term learned folks on the Church don’t understand how far we have fallen and how basic we have to speak to the overwhelming majority of Catholics.

    Here’s my request from all bishops. Put this in writing for every parish: CONTRACEPTION EQUALS MORTAL SIN. Then, write: MORTAL SIN ON YOUR SOUL UPON DEATH MEANS ETERNAL HELL.

    Why can’t anyone just write that? I visited a church in Virginia last weekend that had panthlets called “Abortion, Contraception and Columbine” and anotherone called something like “Contraception, is it immoral?”

    All good, right? Then, I read them both. A bunch of quotes from JP II about loving God, hope, etc. Then, the strongest line was that contraception was “immoral.” Well, what does that even mean? Eating too much, getting drunk, watching some R-rated movies are all immoral. Contraception is a mortal sin. Then the pathelets start pushing NFP but never say it’s just for dire circumstances — they make it sound like natural contraception.

    Why can’t our bishops, who are starting to shoot straight on abortion, just start shooting straight on contraception?

  15. Phil Steinacker says:


    Senator Bob Casey “inherited” that reputation as a pro-life legislator because of the completely unambiguous words – backed up by a lifetime of equally unambiguous action fulfilling those words – of his father, the late Senator William Casey.

    The current Senator Casey has, however, raised eyebrows and a lot of concern among pro-life Catholics because his words have too often seemed awfully ambiguous where his father’s were not. In addition, his actions to date have also raised the prospect that his commitment to the staunch pro-life positions of his father may have been set aside to instead represent the concerns of the Democratic Party.

    Unfortunately, this kind of thing is all too common among Catholics today. There are many willing to substitute their own desires for the teachings of the Church. We have ALL witnessed how 54% of Catholics sold out their faith by rationalizing that the Democrats will reduce abortions by other means (by further leading the nation into socialism).

    That notion is a joke. Planned Parenthood’s own stats reveal that only 17% of all abortions are committed for financial reasons. We will not lower the incidence of abortion even if we miraculously solved ALL poverty issues, a goal at which socialism has been proven time and again to fail. Besides, Jesus said for a reason that the poor shall always be with us. He meant it, you know?

    The bishop has it exactly right. The legislators cannot be trusted to handle these matters without guidance. Your suggestion is risible, indeed.

    You might consider whether it is appropriate for a Catholic to be advancing such positions as yours (as well as C. Sarsfield and C. Altieri) that only serve to provide cover for the pro-abortion Catholics in our midst. It seems some commenters here have thrown in with that famous defender of the authority of the Magesterium in matters of Church teaching, Douglas Kmiec.

    Have you?

  16. Jim says:

    We are reaping the harvest of 40 years of non-catechesis, evident in the cafeteria Catholicism of Casey, Pelosi, and others.

  17. I am not Spartacus says:

    Between the beginning and the end of 2007, the number of Catholics in the United States declined by nearly 400,000 to 67.1 million, according to the newly published 2009 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches.

    And Casey’s excommunication would make it 67,099,999

  18. DavidJ says:

    Excommunication doesn’t make you non-Catholic.

  19. Maureen says:

    Re: NFP and “grave” reasons

    Fr. Z’s gone over this before, I think; but “grave” in this case means good, serious reasons, not dire circumstances.

    For example, you shouldn’t miss Mass except for grave reason. I broke my arm on Sunday on my way to Mass, 2 blocks away. If “grave” meant “dire”, it would have been the only proper thing to continue to Mass, or at least to go to Mass after getting out of ER while all drugged up.

    However, since “grave” just means “serious”, I called the ambulance instead; and after I got out of the ER, my mother who always made Mass attendance a must didn’t worry about the fact that I was missing Mass, or that she had missed Mass in order to take care of me. We both had grave reason not to be there.

  20. This is a good thing. Yay Bishop Martino, you tell ’em how it is.

  21. kate says:

    Are those who do not agree with basic Church teaching really Catholic??? Have they not been converted to other religions, state worship, for example? You can\’t serve 2 masters. Those who define themselves as Catholic but refuse to follow Church teaching really are not Catholic, it is simple.

    Better to simply accept that many people have been paganized and regroup with the faithful. Holding to the Rock of Christ will be increasingly seen as the only truth as the state worship bankrupts and enslaves the people.

    All of this is the result of poor catechesis and the leaving of children to be indoctrinated and converted to state worship and groupthink in government schools, it is the fault of the Church in many respects. Now many Church leaders themselves turn to government to \”fix\” things instead of to God. Instead of relying on and praying for a human law against abortion Catholics need to change the morality of the culture. This means providing education to every Catholic family, if nothing else at least assistance with homeschooling, childcare, even match-making assistance (to those who wish it) to strengthen the family. These are things that would draw people TO the Church and encourage compliance with Church teaching.

  22. joe says:

    Is it just me or are we seeing a bit more cervical fortitude from the ranks of the bishops?

  23. Fabrizio says:

    Chris Altieri is of course VERY wrong and doesn\’t even take the time to check his facts. Like Senator Casey\’s staff with Bishop Martino, he must think that we don\’t know our Catechism, supposing we can read at all.

    Sen. Casey (about whom I know very little, beyond his lineaage) did not vote against the Mexico City Policy per se. He voted against an amendment to a pediatric health care bill that would have restored the Mexico City Policy.

    \”Herr Kasey he didn\’t vote for killing Jews and enslaving blacks per se, he just voted against an amendment that would\’ve saved them\”. Does it work that way?

    The pediatric health care bill did pass, and as +Martino has said, accomplishes laudable things, so the senator’s support for the bill was as such a morally permissible act.

    Nooo First off, in his FIRST letter whose content you misrepresented Bishop Martino thanked Casey for voting \” in favor of the Hatch Amendment to the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reorganization Act of 2009 which would have made unborn children eligible for child health assistance had it passed\”, so the Bishop is not saying that the whole ACT per se was a proportionate reason to have a provision blocked that entailed denying funds to abortion and contraception. The two things are totally unrelated.

    Secondly, the only reason why the Martinez amendment didn\’t make it (check the Senate\’s roll call)was because only 6 out of 25 Catholic senators voted for it. Since it was defeated 37 to 60, do the math and see that it was the 18 \’Catholic\’ votes that provided the critical majority that stopped the pro-life amendment (37+18=55). Since one of them is of Martino\’s flock, Martino took action, and instructed the Senator by reminding him also of relevant Magisterium.

    Thirdly, with the audacity of all Obamista Catholics, Casey released communiques to claim that he voted against the Mexico City Policy to ensure family planning that reduces abortion, and we all know that this is a lie, because a) contraceptives DO NOT reduce abortion but are in fact the first cause of its expansion, culturally and quantitatively speaking, as Catholics who know their Magisterium and stats know very well b) they are impossible to support for a Catholic anyway and c) they often work as abortifacients. How do you reduce abortion by funding abortion and contraception? The above demonstrates that his vote was due neither to technicalities nor smart pro-life tactics, but outright treason for political convenience as his voting record of years shows clearly enough.

    As to Casey\’s \”pro-life\” record mentioned by \”Gavin\” elsewhere, Casey has voted to end the Mexico City Policy other times in the past when it was not just an amendment to other bills. he also supports (and is on record for having voted to that effect)the federal funding of contraception and abortifacients (incredibly, a Senator who calls himself a Catholic and pro-life calls the morning after pill \”contraception\” and supports contraception!). He also supports – and has voted for – homosexual adoption of babies and homosexual unions.

  24. It does set up a temporary problem though. It is not entirely Clear that Senator Casey is publicly acknowledged by the Church to be in a state unworthy of reception. My opinion is that he is—but that is only my opinion. If he appears in my communion line this Sunday, what do I do without further instruction?

    My understanding (limited as it is) is that you as an Extraordinary Minister have no idea if he is in a state of Grace, and should assume that he is unless expressly told otherwise. You and I have no idea if he should not receive because 1) it hasn’t been clearly stated by anyone, and 2) we aren’t in a position to know if he has repented.

    Of course, the flip side is that since his opposition has been public, he must likewise make a public statement making it clear that he has realigned his views to match those of the Church.

    The best answer I can see is to consult your priest. If he says Casey should still receive, and you find that you can’t accept that, then perhaps it would be a good idea to not be an Extraordinary Minister for a time. If he says that Casey should not receive, then you know you have the backing of the priest should you be put in such a position for real.

    Interesting to note that this wouldn’t be a problem if we didn’t have Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion at all.

  25. Chris says:


    in terms of NFP, by “dire” I mean that there is a circumstance such as the mother is dying, or there is absolutely no money coming in and no family to help feed your kids anywhere close by so you cant have more in that immediate time frame, etc.

    Unfortunately, the few Catholics not contracepting artificially are using NFP for selfish reasons such as: mom is working along with dad to afford their “lifestyle” so they can’t have more kids. That is not a reason to use NFP.

    I work with a woman who has been married for nearly 10 years with no children but she says it’s fine because they’re using NFP. While I bite my tongue because it’s a work setting, she should know that her contraceptive mentality is no different than using a condom. There is no reason for a woman whose husband makes a great wage to be working to “fulfill herself” and use NFP to prevent children.

    But where are the bishops and priests in teaching this? Where are they teaching what is and is not a mortal sin and what the consequence of dying with a mortal sin on your soul is?

  26. ssoldie says:

    Ah! the ‘double tongued’ that has crept into our Catholic faith in the last forty-five years such fruits, new slogan “Way to go Martino”

  27. RANCHER says:

    Thanks for your comments regarding several frequent posters. The “preaching” on canon law which one frequently offers is, as you indicate, not always well founded in facts AND being preached to by an academic, indeed a student himself, is not always well received.

  28. ssoldie says:

    Have any out there ever read ‘Casti Cannubi’? NFP for 10 years,now thats cafeteria catholicism.

  29. Corleone says:

    TO EVERYONE HERE: PLEASE send his excellency bishop Joseph Martino a fax/letter in support of his recent actions. When our bishops do good we need to support, just as when they do evil we need to react.

    His fax is 570-207-2236. Thank God for bishops who take their duty as God’s appointed shepherds seriously.

  30. Ken says:

    While the bishop is to be commended, my chief complaint is that most bishops and priests seem to be weeks behind. Do this BEFORE the vote.

    When the pro-abortion Catholic governor of Kansas is nominated to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services next week, will we see bishops speak BEFORE the Senate confirmation vote? No — we’ll see them a week later.

  31. I am writing to defend my friend Chris Altieri from the personal attack by wsxyz.

    wsxyz seems to want condemnations to stand. He would rather hate and think a legislator condemned, than think there may be a justifiable reason for the legislator to act.

    How would you feel if someone condemned your actions (be it a bishop, newspaper, or the civil authorities) and your defense was “technically correct”, but those who judge you, admittedly incompetent in moral theology and canon law, said it would be “unhelpful” to “let you off the

    I have no bone to pick in this fight, and do not know what either the bill nor
    amendment say, but do believe that condemnations, by anyone, must be based upon the best moral principles, with the greatest charity given to those condemned, especially when it comes to anything that could eventually lead to someone losing access to the sacraments of salvation.

    Again, Martino’s condemnation may be correct, and Casey’s actions unacceptable-

    In which case I would say to wsxyz argue with Mr. Altieri’s arguments, as opposed to his “slick lawyer manner”, because if he is “technically correct”, then the condemnation of Casey is unjustified.

  32. Fabrizio says:

    In which case I would say to wsxyz argue with Mr. Altieri’s arguments, as opposed to his “slick lawyer manner”, because if he is “technically correct”, then the condemnation of Casey is unjustified.


    since “Chris Altieri” is in fact “technically” wrong and Casey had no justification whatsoever (see above posts and most of all Martino’s 2 letters), your advocacy is totally pointless

  33. Corleone says:

    Fab – ben fatto!

    Charles/Chris – As Fabrizio says, there is no need on splitting anyone’s hair here. Casey is wrong and out of line here. Rather than spending (wasting) your energy on what the definition of “is” is, just say, “well, done, Your Excellency” and work towards Casey acting and voting like a Catholic in good standing.

  34. DavidJ says:


    “Unfortunately, the few Catholics not contracepting artificially are using NFP for selfish reasons such as: mom is working along with dad to afford their “lifestyle” so they can’t have more kids”

    Thank you for blanketly painting all NFP-using Catholics as sinners. We really appreciate that.

  35. supertradmom says:

    I invite Gavin and others supporting the Mexico City rescinding to check out the counter and statistics at http://www.wickedshepherds.com/AbortionCounterandStats.html Thanks be to God for Bishop Martino, an excellent and brave shepherd.

  36. Ann says:

    The Bishop stepped up to the plate and spoke out. GOOD!! Was he perfect? He is human so perhaps not, should he speak up before the vote? Don’t know cause the reasons for not speaking up before the votes have not been given.

    But lets not snark at each other or at the Bishops who are doing well to make public statements of Catholic teaching.

    Even if imperfect, I love seeing our Bishops speak out!

  37. Chris says:


    I did not paint them all as sinners. I made, yes, a blanket statement about the majority of the users of NFP and all of the official pamplets from numerous dioceses that I have read in terms of teaching NFP, including the NFP class that my wife and I were forced to take in our diocese when we married.

    Without assigning sin, which is not my place to do, there is indeed black and white with NFP. And if a couple is using it so they only have one or two kids for their entire marriage with no dire reason, simply because they don’t have 5 or 6 or more children, then they are in direct violation of Church teaching.

    But I’m not going to fall into this deeper discussion on NFP as that is not what father intended this thread to be. My original point was that, sooner or later, these same “pro-life” bishops need to make the same strong stand on contraception as they are with abotion, and that includes the rampent abuse and distortion of NFP. If not, this crisis will go on forever.

  38. Dear wsxyz,

    I assure you my intention is not to confuse the uninstructed; you will forgive me if I confess that the confidence with which you express your knowledge of Church teaching on these matters (one need not be trained in the sacred sciences – the ability to read and a Catechism will suffice) makes your expression of concern for the possible ill effects of my considerations to sound somewhat disingenuous in my ears. I will allow this to be due to an infelicity of expression, and leave the matter there.

    You and I both know what the Church teaches about human life, its sanctity, the rights that inhere in it, etc., as well as the duty of legislators to assure the protection of those rights.

    I am simply trying to apply my understanding of the Church’s law and my understanding of moral science informed by faith, to an extremely complex and complicated situation.

    I am always motivated only by a desire to “think with the Church” – sentire cum ecclesia – as our Holy Father calls it, following the great masters of our intellectual and spiritual tradition.

    The idea that I am interested in providing pro-abort Catholic politicians with an “out” is absurd.

    I have never defended Senator Casey’s votes as a matter of good legislative policy. I have tried to show how they might be reasonably defensible, and then asked whether they are, on their face, wrong and awful enough to warrant cutting him off from the sacraments, which provide the only ordinary means for his soul’s salvation.

    Bishops need to speak more clearly on these matters, and there are many Catholic pro-abort politicians who would benefit from strong medicine.

    It is, however, a misuse of the episcopal office and a sin against charity to punish someone with excommunication just to make a point.

    Bishop Martino is sensible of this, as is clear from both his letters; the substance of some comments on this thread suggest that their authors are perhaps less so.

  39. Dear Fabrizio,

    I have referred explicitly only to facts that Bishop Martino has reported in his letters, and it were inappropriate to give a wider scope to the application of any of my comments, on this or the other thread.

    You will recall that, on that other thread, when mrteachersir of the diocese of Scranton brought my attention to a specific point on which my reportage of the record was in error, I immediately recognized, revised and extended my remarks.

    I am certainly not infallible, but I am careful and precise.

    I am also certain that you did not intend to impugn my bona fides, though I would invite you to consider that your remarks in my regard could bear such an interpretation.

  40. Maureen says:

    If somebody has been married for ten years and has no children, I would think that it was none of my business why that is. Even if the person openly says it’s because of NFP, I think it would still be none of my business.

    Criminently. If married people want to have sex or not have sex, on a certain day of the month or on no day of the year, how is it any of my business? Am I their confessor or their spiritual director? Am I Padre Pio? No? Then I should butt out and keep my thoughts charitable — or not think about it at all, and mind my own spiritual business.

  41. Fabrizio says:


    Without assigning sin, which is not my place to do, there is indeed black and white with NFP. And if a couple is using it so they only have one or two kids for their entire marriage with no dire reason, simply because they don’t have 5 or 6 or more children, then they are in direct violation of Church teaching.

    Again you show your penchant for contradictory satements all in the same sentence: first you say that assigning sin is not your place to do, then you say “simply because they don’t have 5 or 6 children” people are intentionally violating Church teaching, which, in other words, is sin, and you have assigned it.

    More interestingly, with the obvious aim of defending undefensibly disloyal Catholic politicians you prove the quality of your knowledge of moral theology, canon law and the duties of bishops by confusing public sin with private sin or maybe the confusion is deeper because you seem to think think that if the bishop runs into a family with less than 5 children he should deny them communion for that fact alone. As if the reason for having less than that many children could be just one – sin – as is certainly the case for having a consistent pro-abortion adn anti-family voting record, and especially for a vote agaisnt a pro-life provision which moreover didn’t pass because ‘Catholics’ like Casey voted against it, plus Casey supports contraception – certainly and in public -, is in Bishop Martino’s diocese, and is on (public) record with words and deeds.

    Because, however, supposing for a moment your absurd reasonment had any factual basis, Casey’s vote was still wrong regardless of how many children Scranton’s families have.

    You also seem to think that the way to address the number of children of families should be the same of correcting a disloyal politician like Casey: send letters of warning to families the bishops suspects of living in sin for the sole fact of not having 5 children, as you say.

    It seems that you can’t help being gravely mistaken on several accounts at every new post. Ideology does that.

  42. ALL: Two things.

    If there is going to be discussion here, I ask that it be civil.

    My mood today, and the list of things to do I face, are such that I will simply lock people out of the blog for a while if they cause me additional work.

    I want to be edified today, not annoyed.  Really.

  43. Ann says:

    I’d like to comment on the NFP issue from personal experience–especially to point out that judging anyone based on the number of their children is ill advised.

    I was married for 15 years. The first year we had our first child, before that child’s second birthday we had our second child, and after that–nothing. No miscarriages, nothing. We even used NFP for a couple of years trying to get pregnant.

    And the memory of the number of times people assumed we used the pill to avoid more children still stings.

    So before you judge someone for the lack of more children, consider there may be someone there who is grieving silently that no more were given.

  44. Maureen says:

    I definitely agree that our bishops and priests, and indeed everybody in a teaching postiion, should teach more clearly on these issues. You don’t get much more vital than life and sex.

    We just don’t want to get in the position of fuming at some guy who never kneels, when later we find out he’s got no knees capable of kneeling with. There are a lot of times when there’s something going on that we don’t know about, and sometimes everybody else in the parish does know. Seeing as I’m usually the last person to know what’s really going on with Mrs. Y, I am very strong on MYOB. (Based on sad experience.) And even if somebody else is being a twit, sometimes it still isn’t any of our business.

    I’m sorry I chased the off-topic rabbit, folks. And… um… yay, Martino!

  45. DavidJ says:

    Another vote for vocal, clear, and consistent teaching!

  46. wsxyz says:

    Charles Collins said: I would say to wsxyz argue with Mr. Altieri’s arguments

    I am not qualified to do so. I can read and understand the plain words of the catechism, but Mr. Altieri doesn’t make an argument on the basis of the catechism, rather on the basis of what I will call qualifying justifications for refusing to support a moral good. Alternatively he will often argue based on points of canon law. I have no ability to argue on these bases.

    Charles Collins said: wsxyz seems to want condemnations to stand. He would rather hate and think a legislator condemned, than think there may be a justifiable reason for the legislator to act.

    I do not hate any legislator and I do not want to see anyone condemned. My concern is simply that it seems to me that, although it is rare for a bishop to make a clear an unambiguous statement regarding the failure of politicians to combat intrinsic moral evils such as abortion, when a bishop does make such a statement there is a throng of eager internet moral theologians and canon lawyers ready to pick apart the bishop’s statement and explain to everyone why the bishop is incorrectly applying moral theology and/or canon law.

    The effect of this is to confuse and frustrate people like me who just want some straight answers and unambiguous teaching from bishops.

    Chris Altieri said: I assure you my intention is not to confuse the uninstructed … The idea that I am interested in providing pro-abort Catholic politicians with an “out” is absurd.

    I never questioned your intentions.

  47. Dear wsxyz,

    my e-mail address is craltieri@yahoo.com

    Please drop me a line so we can continue this conversation privately. There are a few things I need to clarify, things I would rather not have to say in this forum.

    Yours in CHrist,

    Christopher R. Altieri, Ph.L.

  48. Chris says:

    Fabrizio/Ann: I truly want Fr. Z. to be edified today, so I’m am going to self sensor myself a great deal. I simply want to say this.

    1.) I’m not comparing a politician voting for abortion and promoting public sin with private sin.

    2.) I’m not stupid enough to think any family with less than X number of children are contracepting. I understand secondary infertility. It happens, it’s sad and I always try to believe that is the case with some families.

    3.) NFP, when used to drastically limit the size of a family to one or two kids, when it’s not the life of the mother at stake or a complete inability to feed those children is a mortal sin. I’ve been taught that by numerous, very learned priests in full commiunion with the Church who have the highest theological degrees availble to earn in the United States.

    So please don’t paint me as some guy looking at every couple with two kids and picking up a stone and screaming “sinner!” That’s not me. But I also believe in black and white in some Church teaching. Not everything is grey.

    I will not comment on this again. If you want to, feel free to email me at athanasiuscatholic@yahoo.com

    And if I personally offended you, I sincerely apologize. That was not my intention.

  49. Fr. Terry Donahue, CC says:

    Concerning the legitimate criteria for using NFP, here are the two relevant quotes from Humanae vitae taken verbatim from the Vatican website:

    “With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.” (Humanae Vitae 10)

    “If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which We have just explained.” (Humanae Vitae 16)

    From the above it is clear that well-grounded reasons for using NFP extend far beyond situations where the life of the mother is at stake or there is absolute inability to feed the child. Nowhere does the document restrict “physical condition” only to situations where the life of the mother is at stake. Furthermore, there exist “well-grounded reasons” arising from “psychological conditions” and from the condition of the husband.

  50. irishgirl says:

    I’ll make this short and sweet….

    Yay for Bishop Martino!

    A Bishop who knows how to ‘bish’!

  51. ssoldie says:

    Again,,,,, Have any of you read Casti Cannubi??????? It is and was ‘before’ Humane Vitae…..very easy to read and very easy to understand and issued by Pope Pius XI, back in 1930 when the Lambeth council (Anglican) announced artifical contraception was o.k. for ‘married people’. Oh ! how we want the Catholic Church to adopt the thinking of the protestant sect’s. I almost think from some of the comments, that a few of you out there were once students or alumnie of collegeville St cloud.

  52. ssoldie says:

    Hey Chris! “let your yes be yes and your no be no” Christ taught truth, it is black or white, Christ did not speak in gray tones, only man does that, and one wonders why the Church of Jesus Christ is in such chaos, confusion, disarrey, and disunity, the Church is a Hierarchy not a democracy, something that the American Catholic Bishops have forgotten, and have neglected to teach the priest, laity,converts,etc for at least three generations, Ahhhhhhh! the fruits, the fruits.

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