In a hard-hitting op-ed, Monsignor Charles Pope says the bishops need to do more than issue statements expressing sadness and ringing a church bell in mourning after the state’s Governor championed the most radical abortion bill in the country into law. Enough is enough. The time has come for real penalties.
“There comes a time when something is so egregious and boldly sinful that it must be met with strong ecclesial and canonical penalties and remedies,” writes Monsignor Charles Pope in the National Catholic Register.
As an example, he refers to the McCarrick case and the sex abuse scandals that have rocked the Church lately which will also require punitive action.
“A similar situation has set up in New York where one of the most permissive and callous state abortion laws was not only passed, but was also greeted with applause by the New York state senators as it passed,” Monsignor Pope continues.
But the governor took this even further. He not only signed the bill on the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, but decreed a celebration. Cuomo said, “I am directing that New York’s landmarks be lit in pink to celebrate this achievement and shine a bright light forward for the rest of the nation to follow.”
One of the structures which turned pink on Tuesday night was the Freedom Tower.
“Recall that more than a thousand people died at the World Trade Center site now occupied by the Freedom Tower,” the Monsignor pointed out. “They were murdered by terrorists on 9-11. How callous and bold to use this very site to celebrate the unjust killing of infants in the womb.”
The Monsignor goes on to lament the weak response of the state’s bishops, who issued a statement expressing dismay and “profound sadness” and rang a Church bell in response. The only “glimmer of hope” that he found was in a statement by Albany’s Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger who questioned if supporting and signing this law could impact Cuomo’s standing in the Catholic Church and ability to receive communion.
“This legislation threatens to rupture the communion between the Catholic faith and those who support the RHA even while professing to follow the Church, something that troubles me greatly as a pastor,” wrote Scharfenberger.
While a step in the right direction, “Respectfully, that is not enough,” Monsignor Pope wrote. “Canonical penalties are due to the Governor and other Catholics who voted for this legislation. This is necessary both for the common good, to avoid the scandal of tolerance of evil, and as a strong summons to the governor and others to repent before the Day of Judgment.”
He is calling upon the bishops of New York to apply any and all canonical penalties that apply to this situation. Not only did the Governor and so many “Catholic” politicians vote for this law, but the actually celebrated it afterward!
“This cannot be allowed to stand without canonical penalties. I am not a canon lawyer, but the truth is clear that Governor Andrew Cuomo is not in communion with the Catholic Church. At this point canonical penalties forbidding him to receive Holy Communion — or even, if possible, issuing a formal excommunication — are simply affirming what is already true and what he himself has done. To fail to issue all possible canonical penalties at this point would, to my mind, show the Church to be irrelevant and a laughingstock.”
Regardless of how badly the Church’s moral authority has been tarnished by the sex abuse scandals, this is not an excuse to forgo doing what is right in this situation.
“Even a compromised judge still has the obligation to apply the law. Even an imperfect parent must still insist on what is right with his children and apply necessary punishments,” Monsignor Pope reminds.
“It is time to end the charade, even the lie, that Andrew Cuomo and others like him are Catholics in good standing. They are not, and this must be made plain to them and to others. Join me in praying that Bishop Scharfenberger and other bishops in New York with jurisdiction will do what is right and necessary.”
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