Why Bishops must guard the name “Catholic”

Why do Bishops have an obligation to oversee which groups or publications can use the word “Catholic”?

There is a White House response to the online petition against his recent moves against the 1st Amendment entitled “Protecting the Health of Women While Accommodating Religious Liberty” by Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council.

It is as mendacious as you would expect, since it avoids the true problem with the President’s mandate.
Not only that, the White House shut the online petition down.

The White House Statement about the petition relates declarations of groups which have come out in favor of the President’s new bitter “Plan B” pill:

Here are a few statements from groups involved in the issue:

Catholics United:

President Obama has shown us that he is willing to rise above the partisan fray to deliver an actual policy solution that both meets the health care needs of all employees and respects the religious liberty of Catholic institutions.

Catholic Health Association:

We are pleased and grateful that the religious liberty and conscience protection needs of so many ministries that serve our country were appreciated enough that an early resolution of this issue was accomplished.

Planned Parenthood:

The Obama administration has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring all women will have access to birth control coverage, with no costly co-pays, no additional hurdles, and no matter where they work.


Today’s announcement makes it clear that President Obama is firmly committed to protecting women’s health.

It is nauseating to see the word “Catholic” anywhere near NARAL and the death merchant Planned Parenthood.

If these groups are in favor of what Pres. Obama is doing, then no Catholic can support it.

The American bishops should meet in a special plenary session to discuss matters relating to the President’s attack on religious liberty and on the Catholic Church.

One of the action items should be to issue a statement that Catholics United and the Catholic Health Association may not use the word “Catholic”.

Any entity with the word “Catholic” in its title who supports what the President is doing (which is an attack on our very identity) must be formally stripped of the word “Catholic”.


In the manner of Cato, I am compelled to repeat that it’s time that can. 915 be applied to Nancy Pelosi and other highly public figures who commit scandal by their words and actions, by promoting abortion.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Dogs and Fleas, Emanations from Penumbras, Our Catholic Identity, Religious Liberty, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. APX says:

    I’m assuming the Church can’t make “Catholic” a registered trademark to prevent its misuse or have some control over it, can it?

  2. Maltese says:

    One of the action items should be to issue a statement that Catholics United and the Catholic Health Association may not use the word “Catholic”.

    I agree, but would they have the courage to do that? And even if they did, would the “Catholic” Health Association comply? What would be the penalty for non-compliance when even major politicians call themselves “Catholic” and support abortion with impunity?

  3. Elizabeth D says:

    I completely agree. There needs to be a willingness to declare, in accord with Canon Law, that some particular organizations are not Catholic and may not call themselves that.

    “Catholics United” seems to be a progressive/Democrat group that exists to issue press releases declaring their opinions “as Catholics”, for political messaging purposes. The profile of the group’s president on their website indicates that he is a “progressive Catholic” involved with various peace and justice things, and “oversaw the Kansas Democratic Party’s faith outreach efforts, including messaging work for Governor Sebelius.”

  4. tcreek says:

    What about educational establishments that are identified as “Catholic” but have an 80% failure rate for students’ learning “Catholic” ?

  5. New Sister says:

    Signed – The Politburo

  6. Joshua08 says:

    In fairness, they did not shut down the petition. When they issue a response to a petition, it closes the petition, regardless of deadlines or how many they already have. Hence the pro-contraception mandate petition is also closed

    There have been court cases over the use of names connected with the Church.

  7. mike cliffson says:

    Who’s catholic? What’s catholic?
    Did not St Augustine refer to the man in the street’s understanding (as opposed to Donatists, I recall, who were certainly locally very numerous ) when asked the way to the catholic church ? You got directed to the right one!
    The bishops must indeed act, someone maybe even bring civil cases, but this is also part of Government being the ultimate arbiter of everything, top down , rather than society up, all as per history, as Steyn says.
    Let alone men-in-the-street, 21st century Anglosphere Catholics’ sensus fidei on the rocks thru 4 masses a year compared to 5 hrs a day TV and media- if it looks like a duck and quacks “catholic” like a duck, its catholic if the media say so – DV we Catholics may get back old common sense in a generation,, and hence spread it to men-in-the-street, in another generation.Long haul.
    If then nutjob – at the most charitable-associations called themselves catholic they would be as much believed and noticed as, say, the associations of reincarnated Egyptian Pharoes, act or act not the Bishops.

  8. ies0716 says:

    Unfortunately, many bishops in the US are more concerned about a Traditionalist such as Michael Voris using the term “Catholic” than they are about the many heretical organizations that do so.

  9. Amerikaner says:

    The deepest part of my soul is saddened by those “catholics” who no longer believe and love the Catholic Church. Oh the damage that they have done and continue to do. Dear Bishops, you have much to answer for…

  10. EXCHIEF says:

    Waiting for most of the current crop of Bishops, reared in the era of political correctness and lacking even a basic understanding of what leadership is about, to take formal action against the Pelosi’s et al of the world is like waiting for hell to freeze over. It is incumbent upon each of us as Catholics to point out to others when asked that such people are no longer, by their choice, words and actions in full communion with the Church. I have had no problem getting some of my non-Catholic friends who have asked about it to understand what “self excommunication” is all about. Judgemental? Yep and no apology for it. It the Bishops will not defend the Church it is up to us lowly lay people to do it.

  11. pm125 says:

    I wish one of the catholics in the executive branch would have the character to say something like “I won’t be able to stand with my former fellow Catholics while I support the President.”

  12. acardnal says:

    Speaking of excommunication, Bishop Bruskewitz of Lincoln, NE is not afraid to exercise his episcopal authority. He excommunicated members of Catholics for a Free Choice, Call to Action, Freemasons, Planned Parenthood supporters, SSPX. He is a BIG supporter of the TLM and the FSSP has a seminary in his diocese. He is now 76 and has submitted his resignation to the Pope in accordance with Canon Law. I LOVE Bp. B. I hope he continues in office for many more years, but if he needs replacing due to declining health, for example, I think Father Z would be a great choice!


  14. “Once indeed We had hopes of recalling them to a better sense, and to this end we first of all showed them kindness as Our children, then we treated them with severity, and at last We have had recourse, though with great reluctance, to public reproof. But you know, Venerable Brethren, how fruitless has been Our action. They bowed their head for a moment, but it was soon uplifted more arrogantly than ever. If it were a matter which concerned them alone, We might perhaps have overlooked it: but the security of the Catholic name is at stake. Wherefore, as to maintain it longer would be a crime, We must now break silence, in order to expose before the whole Church in their true colours those men who have assumed this bad disguise.”
    Pope St. Pius X, Pascendi dominici gregis, Against Modernism

  15. Elizabeth D says:

    Many bishops probably would deny Nancy Pelosi Communion, if she approached them in the Communion line at Mass.

    I wonder if the reason there are so rarely declarations of excommunication, is the large scale use of EMHCs and the extensive number of dissenting priests in many places makes it hard to enforce it consistently even with a well known figure. Even within a parish it makes it more or less impossible for a pastor to deny Communion to a particular individual who is determined to receive (in this circumstance the word “take” makes more sense) Communion. There is arguably risk of further scandal if the bishop is public that the individual may not receive Communion, and then it is in the news that they are given Communion in that diocese anyway by priests or EMHCs knowingly defying the bishop.

    Maybe saving the liturgy IS important for saving the world.

  16. jse says:

    Speaking of petitions…

    I know the Church is not a democracy, thank God. But I suggest the “democratic” idea (in our post-democracy and no-longer-republic USA) of launching a worthy petition. Let’s get one going that calls for the excommunication of Sibelius, Pelosi, Keehan, et al. Perhaps, with the prompting of thousands of [angry] signatures, certain red hats and purple hats will finally get enough backbone to toss them out. Yes, one can argue their actions have caused them to excommunicate themselves. However, too many of us have a very hard time understanding, let alone explaining to non-Catholics, why these anathemists continue to be able to receive Holy Communion.

    The primary responsibility of the bishops is to teach and safeguard the Catholic Faith. It’s high time they get back to doing this, because in case they haven’t noticed, THE HOUR IS LATE.

  17. BLB Oregon says:

    Since there are already several sects not loyal to Rome that operate with names that incorporate the word “Catholic”, I don’t think this would be easy to accomplish. “Roman Catholic” might make it as a trade name, but since Roman Catholic Womenpriests have been using it without a trademark infringement suit, even that is doubtful. Besides, the Church herself teaches that the baptised don’t become “un-Catholic” by sinning. The mark of baptism is indelible. I’m not saying there is not a logical case, only that as a legal case it would be a hard one to make.

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