Monday, September 27, 2004

USCCB - Headed toward Schism?

Fifth Column blogger Steven Kellmeyer offers an interesting reflection on the transitory nature of pro-choice "Catholic" politicians in the United States:

Florida hurricanes have delivered two body blows, an uppercut and a vicious right hook, transforming the Sunshine State into an awesome example of what a whirlwind can do. Catholics in America should take careful note.

It has long been the contention of pro-life supporters that geographical location cannot define personhood. A child is a child no matter where that child is located. It cannot be the case that the individual in question becomes a child when she is outside the womb, but remains only a tissue-mass when she is inside the womb.

The USCCB, however, finds the geographical argument compelling in another context, however. Apparently, geographical location does define heresy. For example, John Kerry, Frances Kissling, Ted Kennedy and all the rest may be Catholics in good standing when they step on a plane in Boston, but they are not Catholics in good standing when they step off that same plane in St. Louis. Heresy is diocese-specific. . . .

As Steve develops his line of thought, he arrives at the conclusion that the USCCB is on the verge of schism, or at least balanced precariously on the edge, awaiting that moment when one bishop decides that another's decision to continue giving communion to obstinate sinners in a state of public, even defiant, disobedience to the Church, is tantamount to profaning the Eucharist.

. . . You cannot publicly and vociferously support legal abortion and be in communion with the Church. Now, the bishop who first announces that he cannot give Jesus to his fellow bishops because they profane the Eucharist will hardly be looked on with great love by Rome. Formal schisms are terrible things. But, on the other hand, Rome can hardly disagree with such a bishop by arguing that the USCCB’s ruling is (theo)logically coherent. It manifestly isn’t. Worse, Rome has no other basis upon which to dispute the justice of such a decision. She would have to go along with the formal break. The Catholic Church in America is hanging by the merest thread, dependent upon the willingness of every single bishop to remain quiet, to refrain from pronouncing the final, damning words that severs the erring bishops from communion with the Church. Once those words are pronounced, we will have created another Protestant Church.

Undoubtedly, the USCCB is praying the whole issue will just curl up and die after the campaign. That’s why certain bishops have insisted on refraining from judgment until after the elections. Contrary to popular belief, it may very well be the case that these bishops do not give a damn about the elections. They are undoubtedly much more worried about the impending schism the elections have forced out into the open.

It's certainly an interesting theory. But could it be true? Have things really come this close? -- Read his post, then please, discuss. I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Update: Jamie Blosser has a thoughtful response to Steven's concerns in a post to his blog ("Ad Limina Apostolorum"): "A New Donatism?".

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