Can. 915 – Lunge, parry, riposte – Dr. Peters, Bp. Hubbard and Gov. Cuomo (D. Albany), Dr. Peters

The great canonist Ed Peters, on his blog In the Light of the Law, let’s us know about an exchange over an issue of canon law he has had with the Diocese of Albany, NY.

Dr. Peters, a referendarius (consultant) to the Apostolic Signatura, has opined that, in view of can. 915 of the 1983, CIC, New York’s governor, the Honorable Andrew Cuomo, should not receive Holy Communion. Dr. Peters was interviewed HERE.

Peters specifically cited Cuomo’s cohabiting with Food Network hostess Sandra Lee as “publicly acting in violation of a fundamental moral expectation of the Church,” and that “as long as he persists in such conduct, he should refrain from taking Holy Communion” and “if he approaches for Holy Communion, he should be denied the august sacrament in accord with Canon 915.”

The Bishop of Albany, New York’s seat of state government and therefore the residence of Gov. Cuomo, released a statement as a response to Dr. Peter’s. Thus, Bp. Hubbard:

There are norms of the church governing the sacraments which Catholics are expected to observe.

However, it is unfair and imprudent to make a pastoral judgment about a particular situation without knowing all the facts.

As a matter of pastoral practice we would not comment publicly on anything which should be addressed privately, regardless if the person is a public figure or a private citizen.

Dr. Peter’s has responded to Bp. Hubbard saying:

It is Albany Bp. Howard Hubbard’s responsibility to see to it that the common discipline of the Church is promoted and that all ecclesiastical laws are observed, exercising particular vigilance against abuse of the sacraments and the worship of God. 1983 CIC 392. Unfortunately, Hubbard’s rah-rah inaugurational homily before Cuomo and Lee, in which, without admonition for their objectively and publicly sinful status, the prelate seemed to have anointed the pair as his kind of evangelizers in government, and his complicity in the administration of Communion to Cuomo, amounts, in my opinion, to another dereliction of pastoral duty.

Gov. Cuomo himself?

After an appearance this morning on Long Island, Cuomo commented on the matter in a style similar to Hubbard’s: “My religion is a private matter and it’s not something I discuss in the political arena,” he told reporters. “For me, I choose to keep my religion and my religious practices private and not discuss it in the political arena.”

Consistent with the view promoted by his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, that a Catholic can abdicate being a Catholic in the public square and vote in favor of abortion, and all manner of evil, etc.

That said, going back to Bp. Hubbard’s response, one might say brush off, of Dr. Peter’s canonical opinion, Dr. Peter’s himself makes a response.  This is the sort of thing that brought the Z-protocol out, whereby I emphasize and make my own comments in the text itself in red.  Dr. Peter’s uses another method, whereby he emphasizes the original of Bp. Hubbard, and then adds his own comments in regular typeface.  Perpend:

[Bp. Hubbard:] There are norms of the church governing the sacraments which Catholics are expected to observe.

Agreed. I helped point them out.

However, it is unfair and imprudent to make a pastoral judgment about a particular situation without knowing all the facts.

Agreed. Has someone done that? I responded to reasonable questions that I received about public behavior, as known from public sources, about which public canon law, which is my area of expertise, has something to say for the welfare of the faith community. I did so calmly, accurately, and with due respect for the persons involved, per Canon 212 § 3. I do not see how anyone could reasonably construe my comments as making improper ‘pastoral judgments’.

As a matter of pastoral practice we would not comment publicly on anything which should be addressed privately, regardless if the person is a public figure or a private citizen.

Agreed, the diocese should not do that, nor should I. Nor did I. Canon 915, if it means anything at all (and it most certainly means something), is about public consequences for a Catholic whose public behavior is seriously odds with important Catholic Church teaching. I can, and certainly should when asked, tell people what canon law says about such matters. I cannot, however, enforce the law. That responsibility rests elsewhere. + + +

Media note: I have too many requests to do live interviews on this topic, whether Catholic or secular, and it’s not the best use of the limited time I have available. I would be happy to try to reply to written media questions, as always. I aim for 24 hour turn around, depending. Short, concise questions are more likely to get a quick response. For more background on the application of Canon 915, check out this page.

WIVBTV 4 in Buffalo has pretty news story on this matter (pace their assumption that “the Vatican” has said anything about the case). And yes, I saw the clip of Whoopi and friends on “The View”. As Uncle Claudius might say: “it was. . . . .indescribable.” [ROFL!  The reference is to the old Masterpiece Theatre adaptation of I, Claudius by Robert Graves starring Derek Jacobi.  Claudius react to a dance by the deranged Caligula (John Hurt) depicting Rosy-Fingered Dawn.  The dance was indeed … indescribable.  Pretty much sums up the situation in NY, I think.  I have the remastered DVDs, a gift from my wishlist from one of you readers, FW.  Wanna see the dance?  Go HERE.  This is a clip of a whole section of an episode, but it has the famous dance.  The famous line after the dance comes at about 4:12… but watch the whole thing to get the full impact.]

Some other follow-ups, as occasions suggest.

For those who agree with what I wrote, thank you for your kind words.

For those who disagree with what I wrote, I’ve already been informed that: the law killeth and the Spirit giveth life, that I am a Pharisee, that I am worse than a Pharisee, that Jesus forgives everyone (except possibly me and people like me), that I am a sinner, that the Church should deal with child molesters, that religion is a private matter, that Church and State are separate, that Bp. Hubbard is a gracious man, that Republicans (long listed omitted) commit sins too, that lots of people live together who aren’t married, that people get divorced and it might not be their fault, that Jesus came to unite not to divide, that many bishops ignore canon law, that many priests ignore canon law, that many lay people ignore canon law, that only psychologically insecure people think that law is important, that the wafer is just a symbol, that I need a life, that some European politicians behave far worse but their bishops give them Communion anyway, that the Bible says ‘Judge not lest you be judged’, etc.  [Indescribable.]

For both groups: I am not an official of the Vatican, I am a consultant (Referendary) to the Apostolic Signatura. All opinions are my own (and, no, the pope did not tell me to say that.) I am not a priest or a pastor; I am a layman.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Bryan Boyle says:

    But Father! But Father!

    That laundry list just about sums up the justifications for doing anything (non sequiturs included) we want without suffering the consequences of our actions, as corporate sinners.

    As my spiritual director calls it: “Hair splitting on inconsequential matters so as to come up with a reason for not doing the right thing”.

    The dioceses in northern NY have been in a shambles for years. Based on the past, and +Hubbard’s ‘independence’, I’ve no doubt that this is his firmly held belief and am not surprised that this exchange is going on. But, I think he’s showing up for a gun fight with a butter knife in taking on the esteemed Dr. Peters (who needs no defense…).

    As hard as it may be, I think +Hubbard needs our prayers.

  2. Dr. Eric says:

    Ms. Goldberg should stick to acting.

  3. “As a matter of pastoral practice we would not comment publicly on anything which should be addressed privately…”

    Indeed, but did not Bp. Hubbard’s very pubic inauguration homily contribute a great deal toward ushering the matter into the public arena such that it is no longer reasonable to say that it should henceforth be “addressed privately?”

    Private matters may be best addressed privately, but once they are clearly public, they demand a public response, especially from bishops who help put them in the public spotlight.

    Seems to me that anything else is like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

  4. Centristian says:

    “…that only psychologically insecure people think that law is important.”

    The next time I get pulled over for a traffic violation I’m using that one on the trooper.

  5. benedetta says:

    Also a dueling “canon law expert” quoted in the local newspaper asserted his so-called more “modern” interpretation of canon law on this matter…Apparently the -ist was left off that word as a typo! Have to add that to the list of judgements/accusations in the last paragraph…”not modern”…

  6. Andrew says:

    Wow! That “for those who disagree” list might be called the “syllabus of post-modernist errors”. Excellent summarium. I’ll try to memorize it. In Latin off course.

  7. Glad you liked the Claudius hommage, Pater! And now, I must away to shed more light. Te he!Te he!

  8. frjim4321 says:

    Bishop Hubbard’s response seems measured and well thought out. Ed Peters, on the other hand, seems to have some kind of personal grudge against the governor that he is trying to justify. He certainly seems to be expending a lot of energy on this silly vendetta.

  9. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Dr. Ed Peters as always is so gracious as well as erudite. And if Bishop Hubbard were not sitting on his episcopal honker doing little to no damage control about this scandal, Dr. Peters would not have to address this matter in the public forum. I am ashamed and saddened to wear the Roman collar when the laity are forced to intervene and admonish because we the shepherds do not have our act together (once again!).

    Bishops and priests are more and more like the dysfunctional and enabling parents who scream at judges when their drunkard kids are being sentenced for DUI’s. Instead of acknowledging the problems of teenage drinking and the need for parental oversight and tough love intervention, they would rather deny, rationalize, and justify their teen’s delinquency and their own parental negligence.

    The clergy acted the same way with the sexual abuse crisis until public outcry forced us to come up with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. But in the Cuomo case, it is the Blessed Sacrament and the Catholic faithful who are subjected to, not sexual abuse, but spiritual abuse and spiritual molestation as they are told to witness and ignore, then to applaud and celebrate concubinage and cohabitation. “Spiritual sensitivities be damned” is the clergy mantra as they throw in the towel to every type of sin against the sacrament of marriage and against the sanctity of Holy Communion at the liturgy.

    And when Dr. Peters has the good, common sense to point out the obvious, what we should actually be doing if we really take our moral and liturgical beliefs seriously, he is the one that gets admonished! And for what?? Because Bishop Hubburd is indignant that he is discussing in public those matters better reserved for the internal forum. I am laughing out loud because this kind of episcopal indignation is risible when one thinks that Peters is doing what Hubbard should be doing. This is so like the days when we admonished people for discussing which priests were buggering which boys instead of actually doing something to protect the kids!

    Perhaps it is now time for the bishops to sit down and right the Charter for the Protection of the Blessed Sacrament, so that He is no longer spiritually molested in His sacramental Presence by people who should know what mortal sin is, by people who should not be receiving Him sacrilegiously while the clergy look on and applaud.

    Fr. Z's Gold Start for the Day

  10. Brooklyn says:

    Fr_Sotelo, thank you for that impassioned and elegant response. A beautiful mea culpa on behalf of the clergy. With priests like you, I know all is not lost. Do not be ashamed of wearing your collar, anymore than we lay Catholics are ashamed of who we are just because of the actions of other lay people such as Mario Cuomo. I love your proposal of “Charter for the Protection of the Blessed Sacrament.”

    frjim4321, we can always depend on you to give the “fair and balanced” point of view. However, I don’t think it will work too well when approaching the Blessed Sacrament. As Fr. Sotelo pointed out, spiritual molestation of the Blessed Sacrament. is one of the gravest sins that can be committed.

  11. benedetta says:

    I certainly don’t see any evidence whatsoever of a so-called “vendetta” or “personal grudge” against this politician. Surely if voraciously pro-abortion politicians feel entitled to always present themselves in a public manner for communion as bona fide Catholics then canonists should also feel free to comment about the scandal and very poor example the spectacle presents. However in this case this pair of Catholics got the “royal treatment” that regular folk are denied. Would love to see both of them exercise leadership as Catholics in such a way as to inspire and not totally discourage young people to live faithful lives.

  12. frjim4321 says:

    Hi, Brooklyn, I sure agree with you that defending the Blessed Sacrament from profanation is a worthy pursuit, however it is a prudential judgment on the part of this individual canonist whether Governor Cuomo’s communion is a profanation. I wonder if a majority of the CLSA would agree with Peter’s theory.

    All that aside, I am saying a private prayer now for our beloved astronauts who are preparing to take Discovery on her final voyage in just a few moments.

  13. St. Rafael says:

    Not only should canon 915 have been applied to Gov. Cuomo already, but Gov. Cuomo should be excommunicated for his pro-abortion position.

  14. DisturbedMary says:

    I’m not waiting for Bishop Hubbard. If I’m on line for Communion and Gov. Cuomo is ahead of me. Am I permitted to tap him on the shoulder and ask him to step off the line and make a spiritual communion instead?

  15. benedetta says:

    What kind of a Catholic example does it set, to say, by all means, expand coverage for abortion, let the NYS genocide continue unabated, but, to those who are “wanted” enough to be spared, welcome to you? And, publicly present a person as your partner who is supposed to be esteemed by press and voter who is fabulous just not enough to finally commit to before God? And what of the parents of so many young people who do recognize that the Eucharist is best received worthily? Are they just, second-class? I see nothing remotely pastoral in promoting this particular political pair. No news here. More pro-choicers who feel that communion is their right and entitlement, no matter what. I would respect them as Catholics a lot more if they themselves decided to send the message that it means, more than just a personal accoutrement.

  16. asophist says:

    Is it not justice that public Catholics involved in public scandals are to be publicly rebuked and invited to desist their untoward behaviour? That seems like obvious common sense, no? If I were the bishop of Albany. . . well, OK, we should thank the Good Lord there’s no possibility of that.

  17. everett says:

    Frjim, I do not understand your claim that Ed Peters has a personal grudge against the governor. Pointing out the objective truth of sinful action that is made manifest publicly is not a “grudge”. Applying Canon Law (which is his area of expertise) to said action is once again not a “grudge”. I understand that Bishop Hubbard is attempting to be pastoral, but my fear is that he is actually not being pastoral in allowing Governor Cuomo to persist in grave sin and compound that sin by receiving while in such a state, thereby damaging his soul.

  18. @St. Rafael: I do not believe that is possible; I believe current canon law requires direct involvement in a particular abortion. I do, however, think the canon law SHOULD say that, as the scandal of pro-abortion Catholic politicians who don’t seem to see the conflict between their professed faith and their actions has grown to a horrific level; but I do not believe that it DOES say that at the moment.

  19. Brooklyn says:

    Everett, isn’t it interesting that “compassion, understanding and love” from a liberal, i.e. disregard of the law, point of view always leads to death and destruction? As an old song said, when will they ever learn.

  20. PhilipNeri says:

    Dr. Peters is experiencing what most orthodox priests experience when we merely describe the contents of the faith. No application, no judgment calls, no nothing but a simple: “Here’s what the Church teaches about X.” The Flying Monkeys of Inference and the Moonbats of Implication are let loose from their respective belfries. Lots of biting, lots flapping about, and lots screeching and no one stays behind long enough to clean up the inevitable piles of excrement. Welcome to the club, Doc. Your gold-plated, embossed shovel is on its way.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  21. flyfree432 says:

    “The Flying Monkeys of Inference and the Moonbats of Implication are let loose from their respective belfries. Lots of biting, lots flapping about, and lots screeching and no one stays behind long enough to clean up the inevitable piles of excrement.”

    As a DRE, I am borrowing that for my next monthly regional meeting. That completely made my day.

  22. pablo says:

    Freemasons in positions of authority in the Vatican, and Dioceses worldwide have done far more damage to the Blessed Sacrament than any other group or activity.

    Protect the Blessed Sacrament?

    Let’s protect it from the Cardinals, Bishop’s and Priests that have joined the priesthood of Judas through Freemasonry.

    Maybe even in Father Sotelo’s Diocese.


  23. Jacob says:

    I wish Dr. Peters’ comments on continence and married members of the clergy were getting as much attention as his comments on Governor Cuomo. The former have far more wide ranging implications for the Church, especially in light of the new circumstances.

  24. More interesting comments. Except that one from “frjim4321”. I am mystified as to what it could possibly refer to.

  25. moon1234 says:

    “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People”

    Isn’t this where the Virtus “Sex Ed” and “How to be a pedophile and not get caught” video and book form training came from?

    I agree with you Fr. S. We really need a “grow a backbone” charter for many prelates.

  26. Supertradmum says:


    I would not tap the said person on the shoulder, but many years ago at Notre Dame, I did tell the priest in charge of the Liturgy, as I was at that time on the lector roster, that a certain popular faculty member, who was a regular lector, was living in sin with a woman before his divorce and annulment came through. The students knew it and it was a public scandal. The priest honestly did not know, and gently asked the man about the situation. The man was no longer a reader after that, as he did not get his new marriage “regularized”. I think if lay people approach the pastor, in this case, writing to the Bishop as to the scandal of the situation, that is a duty and a right falling under our care. As long as we do this in charity, concern for both the congregation and the person’s soul, I think a sustained and intense organized writing campaign to the Bishop is appropriate.

    If a person is in a public position, that person must not cause scandal, period.

  27. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:

    Bishop Hubbard’s response seems measured and well thought out. Ed Peters, on the other hand, seems to have some kind of personal grudge against the governor that he is trying to justify. He certainly seems to be expending a lot of energy on this silly vendetta.

    1 Cor 11:27: Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.

    It seems that St Paul and Ed Peters share the same silly vendetta.

    Here are the known facts:

    Andrew Cuomo, who is divorced from a daughter of Robert Kennedy, is shacked up with Sandra Lee, who is also divorced. (Having see her often on TV, although his moral judgment is deficient, I have to say there is nothing wrong with his taste in women. )

    Gov Cuomo received Holy Communion. Neither I nor any other man can judge the state of his soul, but external behavior is another matter. A man living in that state–especially a highly public figure–creates public scandal if he receives Communion. Re scandal: I suggest you consult the Catechism.

    Bp Hubbard is correct that the question of Gov Cuomo and Holy Communion should be addressed privately. It would appear, however, from events that His Excellency was negligent in this matter.

    BTW, I knew a man who a few years ago looked into studying for the Albany priesthood. He was asked whether he favored women priests. After his negative answer, the interview was concluded, and he never again heard from the vocation director.

  28. Supertradmum says:

    And, if I may ask a real question of all the priests who read this blog, why is it that bishops do not refuse Communion to such as Cuomo, Biden, Pelosi, Sibelius, etc.? Is it money, or that the bishops do not believe in the scandal? Is is a lack of courage? Is it that the bishops are friends with these people and do not want to “hurt” them. I honestly do not understand why bishops would be silent in all of these cases.

  29. Charles E Flynn says:

    This is a very confusing play, in which the canon lawyer sounds like a bishop, the bishop sounds like a politician, and the politician sounds like someone who needs more catechesis.

  30. robtbrown says:


    It is all part of detente with secularism, which was favored by the Vatican diplomatic corps (which ran the Church for about 40 years) in order to make the Vatican the clearing house for international politics.

    On more than occasion Papa Ratzinger has said that this detente is a failure. And Cardinal Bertone made it known that as Sec of State, he would be interested in the internal life of the Church as much as relations between the Vatican and other nations.

  31. Supertradmum says:


    I am sure you would agree with the great Solzhenitsyn, who stated that you cannot have detente with unbelievers.

  32. Childermass says:

    Father, there is no public scandal here.

    The “public scandals” have been going on for decades, with no impunity.

    Now it’s a scandal if a bishop acts like a bishop. It’s too much to expect Bishop Hubbard, least of all, to do this.. Not until the Church in upstate NY is finally run into the ground will things seriously change.

  33. Bishop Hubbard, along with his friend Bishop Matthew Clark of the nearby Diocese of Rochester, is one of the last of the Bernardin-Jadot bishops. The best thing you can do is pray for them, their long suffering flocks (each man has governed his respective diocese for close to thirty years), and their successors. The last of these will need incredible courage and resolve given the state of both dioceses.

  34. St. Rafael says:

    “@St. Rafael: I do not believe that is possible; I believe current canon law requires direct involvement in a particular abortion.”


    Not according to the Mexican Bishops and Pope Benedict who advocated excommunication for politicians who dissent from the morals and doctrines of the Church. Pope Benedict got into trouble and made news in ’07, on the matter of excommunication:

    “Catholic politicians who vote for legal abortion are subject to excommunication, Pope Benedict XVI told reporters during a May 9 flight from Rome to Brazil.

    Fielding questions from reporters during the trip, the Holy Father was asked whether he supported the Mexican bishops who have threatened the excommunication of politicians who voted to approve legalization of abortion in Mexico City. The Pontiff replied that he did.

    “They did nothing new, nothing arbitrary or surprising,” the Pope said of the Mexican bishops. “They simply announced to the public what is stipulated by the law of the Church.”

  35. brianwalden says:

    In this situation, the bishop is similar to the President. He doesn’t make the laws, but he’s obligated to enforce them whether he personally wants to or not. I know it’s hard to imagine, but what’s happening here would be like if the President decided to come out and say that he wasn’t going to enforce a law.

    Oh wait…

  36. amenamen says:

    O tempora o mores.

    What exactly can the governor mean by “private”?
    Which of his actions and statements made in public can now be considered private?
    Which information, which he himself has made publicly available, is not really public?
    For example, his campaign speeches?
    His address?

  37. “However, it is unfair and imprudent to make a pastoral judgment about a particular situation without knowing all the facts.”

    The question that comes to my mind is whether anyone has made any effort to determine all the facts. I see some heads in the sand here.

    I saw Cuomo’s angry face in the paper this evening with my dinner, which I somehow managed to keep down. All I can think is that he has no right to be angry; he is hardly a victim. Also, if I were in charge of St. Joseph’s College, I would not have allowed him on the premises.

    614 days until Bishop Hubbard is retired. Maybe Father Z can rig up a countdown clock for us.

  38. Joseph-Mary says:

    Lets see: Public SIN, Public SCANDAL= public repentance.

    It is not a private thing at all when public scandal is involved. No private confession covers it and surely the ongoing pro-abortion, live in lover with impunity stances mean there has been norepentance at all.

  39. bookworm says:

    “isn’t that where the Virtus “Sex Ed” and “How to be a pedophile and not get caught” video and book form training came from?”

    If you are referring to the “Protecting God’s Children” training program, I went through that about 7 or 8 years ago when I was still employed by a diocese, and I don’t know how ANYONE could describe it as teaching people how to “be a pedophile and not get caught.”

    The video portion of the training did include on-camera interviews with convicted pedophiles who discussed how they “groomed” potential victims and how they avoided detection. However, the purpose was NOT to endorse such behavior but to help participants understand how to thwart the tricks abusers use. The training program, in my opinion, contained many helpful tips that not only help protect children from falling victim to predators but can also protect people with a genuine and healthy interest in children from false accusations.

    I know one very helpful principle that was emphasized was that if you work with children or youth, you must always be completely open with their parents — always let them know what you are doing with the child, when and where; never give a child any gift or special privilege without the parent’s permission; and always conduct yourself with the child as you would if their mother or father were present. The idea, of course, is to prevent potential abusers from latching onto an intended victim and cultivating a “special” or “secret” relationship behind the parent’s back.

    But, I digress from the main topic.

    There is definitely public scandal here which Bp. Hubbard completely fails to address. Even if he didn’t go so far as to invoke Canon 915, he could be doing more than he is. For example, was his “rah-rah inaugurational homily” singling out Gov. Cuomo for praise as an example of Catholic evangelism really necessary?

    Contrast this approach with that of my own bishop, Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., in the case of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, also a pro-abortion Catholic. You remember when Bp. Paprocki called out Gov. Quinn for supporting civil unions. When inauguration day came in January, the festivities included an interfaith prayer service at a Protestant church with various clergy in attendance. Several priests from the Chicago area, whom I assume are personally acquainted with the governor, took part, but neither Bp. Paprocki nor Cardinal George participated in ANY inaugural ceremonies — and their absence, along with their recent admonitions to Gov. Quinn regarding civil unions and other issues, was duly noted in the local press. No dramatic gestures, just a quiet but firm lack of endorsement. Surely any other bishop could at least manage that.

  40. Ezra says:

    In England, we have a similar situation with Tony Blair. In his case, public support for “reproductive rights” and homosexual unions – including personal responsibility for a raft of socially revolutionary measures – proved no impediment to reception into the Catholic Church. Not a word of public retraction or repentance, despite requests for such. Many Catholics’ worst fears were proven well-founded when, only a matter of months after his much-publicised reception into the Church, the ex-Prime Minister opined that the Pope should change his mind about homosexual relationships. Who received Blair into the Church? The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster himself.

    Dietrich von Hildebrand – in the chapter of The Devastated Vineyard titled “The Lethargy of the Guardians” – summed up the present state of affairs pretty well:

    The drivel of the heretics, both priests and laymen, is tolerated; the bishops tacitly acquiesce to the poisoning of the faithful. But they want to silence the faithful believers who take up the cause of orthodoxy, the very people who should by all rights be the joy of the bishops’ hearts, their consolation, a source of strength for overcoming their own lethargy. Instead, these people are regarded as disturbers of the peace. And should it happen that they get carried away in their zeal and express themselves in a tactless or exagger­ated manner, they are even suspended. This clearly shows the cowardice which is hidden behind the bishops’ failure to use their authority. For they have nothing to fear from the orthodox; the orthodox do not control the mass media or the press; they are not the representatives of public opinion. And because of their submission to ecclesiastical authority, the fighters for orthodoxy will never be as aggressive as the so-called progressives. If they are reprimanded or disciplined, their bishops run no risk of being attacked by the liberal press and being defamed as reactionary.

    This failure of the bishops to make use of their God-given authority is perhaps, in practical consequences, the worst confusion in the Church today. For this failure not only does not arrest spiritual diseases, heresies, and the blatant as well as the insidious (and this is much worse) devastation of the vineyard of the Lord; it even gives free rein to these evils. The failure to use holy authority to protect the holy Faith leads necessarily to the disintegration of the Church.

  41. Kerry says:

    If the Governor’s religion (sic.) is a private matter, why is he seen, in public, at the Communion rail?

  42. Jenny bag of donuts says:

    We could ask for Dorothy Day’s intercession. She cohabitated for several years before her conversion. Maybe there’s hope for the governor’s change of heart yet. Uh. . . maybe.

  43. Clinton says:

    Ezra, thank you for that excellent extract from von Hildebrand. Too true.

    I agree with Joseph-Mary’s observation above that public sin, public scandal, needs to be
    publicly known to have been addressed. Didn’t St. Ambrose publicly deny the emperor
    Theodosius himself entry into the cathedral until he did penance for a notorious massacre?
    Without such a public chastisement of the emperor’s objectively and publicly sinful status,
    the people of Milan could have been forgiven for assuming that their bishop was either
    indifferent, cynical, cowardly, or for sale.

    The Bishop of Albany declines to ‘comment publicly on anything which should be addressed
    privately, regardless if the person is a public figure or a private citizen’. His Excellency would
    seem to have such serene confidence in his reputation as a defender of the Faith that he
    needn’t stoop to the behavior of a St. Ambrose.

  44. nanetteclaret says:

    frjim4321 –

    I am assuming from your name that you are a priest. Therefore, please explain to those of us who must be ignorant, since we support this “silly vendetta:”

    1) How a person who publicly suppports abortion is not in a state of Mortal Sin? Gov. Cuomo has not publicly retracted his stance. “Thou Shalt Not Kill.”

    2) How a person who is publicly cohabitating with another, both divorced, is not committing Mortal Sin? I say “publicly” because they are seen together and there is no attempt to hide the fact. “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery.”

    3) How a person in a public state of Mortal Sin can receive the Blessed Sacrament and not a) be a cause of scandal to other Catholics and b) put his soul in even further danger by committing the Mortal Sin of receiving the Blessed Sacrament while in a state of Mortal Sin? “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.” I Cor. 11:29

    Thank you for your response. Inquiring minds want to know.

  45. Henry Edwards says:


    Perhaps we ought not be too hard on priests of a generation that received essentially no formation before ordination. I recall one saying that he had no clue about the Mass when ordained, because his only liturgical instruction in the seminary was a one-term course taught by a bitter feminist ex-nun using as textbook a thin paperback written by a Methodist laywoman. From which he’d learned less than from making banners back in confirmation class.

  46. Jenny bag of donuts says:

    Let’s not pick on frjim now. It seems to me that he essentially agrees with many of you on the whole. Someone can still think that the bishop should talk to the governor and that Dr. Peters way of going about things wasn’t a preferable method. That’s all.

  47. Fr_Sotelo says:

    You could ask for Dorothy Day’s intercession. I for one will wait until I actually see her beatification.

    But on the subject of her cohabitation, I believe she would not hesitate to remind you that she was not a believer at the time. She would also not hesitate to remind you that for a person who professes to be a Catholic, as the Governor does, this behavior is reprehensible, sinful, and scandalous to the Catholic community. She insisted, always, that if you were going to call yourself a Catholic, then you needed to give public witness as a Catholic. The fork-tongued, mealy mouth conduct of “do as I say, not as I do” would leave her quite unamused.

  48. Jenny bag of donuts says:

    Father, she’d probably be disappointed in Bishop Hubbard too.

  49. AvantiBev says:

    Do not stop at politicians. Time for a counter-revolution ladies!
    I have always thought that priests should preach JOHN 4:15-23 each Sunday until we gals understand how evil the Sexual Revolution is and how stupid we were to surrender to it.

    I am tired of hearing my fellow Catholics declaring themselves pro-life and praying for an end to abortion while ignoring the shack-ups, hook-ups, and roommate-with-benefits arrangements in their own families. From whence do you think all those “unplanned pregnancies” spring? Some Catholics are content to rail against one of the fruits of the tree called “Sexual Revolution” but will not attack the trunk and roots of this evil tree which bears no good fruit.
    Change is gonna come, as the old blues song says, but it won’t be the men – even good men like Dr. Peters or Father Z — who bring it. We women have to hear Christ speaking to us and our daughters, sisters, nieces when He says: “You are right to say you have no husband for you have had FIVE and the one you are with now, to whom you are not even married “

  50. Martial Artist says:

    @ Dr. Eric,

    If you saw Whoopi Goldberg on The View, then she is “stick(ing) to acting.” She was playing someone with a knowledgeable opinion to offer. The fact that you didn’t notice that suggests that you didn’t realize it was just an act.


    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  51. nanetteclaret says:

    Henry Edwards,

    It’s a real shame that the priest you spoke with had no knowledge of the Mass when he was ordained. Let’s hope he does now. If not, I can recommend for starters, “My Catholic Faith A Catechism in Pictures A Manual of Religion” by the Most Reverend Louis LaRavoire Morrow, D.D., who was Bishop o9f Krishnagar when the book was written in 1949. It covers everything in the “Baltimore Catechism No. 3” and more. There’s even a section (108) on “Bad Example and Scandal!” No excuses for ignorance! As a matter of fact, I think I will re-read it for my Lenten study as a refresher in the Faith.

  52. Yes Bishop Hubbard needs a lot prayers since according to his actions if he does not repent he will spend eternity in a very uncomfortable place- Hell.

    Please pray for us here also. Instead of a shepherd we have a wolf who mauls the flock. Thanks be to God we still have a few good priests here. Without them and the mercy of God the diocese would be an utter wasteland without a sign of life. The new bishop in a few years will need an immense amount of prayers. If Rome doesn’t tell Hubbard to rein in his horses there will not be much left for a new bishop to work with.

    I wouldn’t dream of applying to the priesthood here and so am looking somewheres else. I have heard of too many horror stories from those who did and from other experiences with the diocese. Besides I don’t want to continously have to use evasive answers, pretend to be unorthodox, place myself in a position where I know there will be a temptation to lie, be constrained to witness acts and not be able to defend orthodoxy or possibly prevent sacrilege . To become a priest at the cost of offending our Lord would make me sorrowful since it would be a betrayal. Maybe if there was an orthodox bishop but that is neither here nor there.

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