Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Bishop and the Whopper

Not the "do you want fries with that?" kind of whopper. The "go to confession immediately" kind of whopper.

A few months ago, I blogged about Bishop Bruskewitz, Call to Action's excommunication in his diocese, and the Vatican's upholding of the excommunication. You can go here to read it: Mala Lex; Nula Lex. It's a certainty, though, that other people have written about the circumstances more powerfully.

But here's the news. The Bishop ...ummmm..... misrepresented, shall we say.... the Vatican's decision. Call to Action members finally received a copy of the appeal decision, and contrary to the Bishop's claims, the Vatican has not endorsed the attempted excommunication. They didn't rescind it either, though.

Here's what did happen. The Apostolic Signatura wants to define the attempted excommunication as a "local legislative action" which means that they can render no decision at all. Instead, CTA needs to appeal to the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts. (Who knew that there were so many #$()* councils and judicial bodies? You don't suppose they do this on purpose to make appeals prohibitively burdensome, do you?)

So, Cardinal Re's opinion on the subject is no more legally binding under the circumstances than mine is. I am so very not a canon lawyer, but it looks to me like the decision as to how to classify the appeal could go either way. It could be a decision regarding "administrative acts of ordinaries and dicasteries (including penal cases decided without using a court)," which would put it within the purview of the Signatura. Or it could be seen as "interpreting the laws of the Church", which would put it with Legislative Texts. By moving the decision, however, the Signatura has bumped the importance of the decision rather noticeably down the hierarchical ladder.

I'm not sure what difference that makes. Nor am I sure that this body will be any more inclined to make a sensible and just decision. Bishop John Myers serves on the Council, I'm pretty sure, and that can't be good news. Nonetheless, I am sure that Bishop Bruskewitz misrepresented the actual decision to his diocese and to the rest of the world, in the press. I wonder what kind of penalties there are for that?

I continue to admire the tenacity and faith of these Catholics in a sad diocese, who stand so steadfastly for justice. My prayers are with all of you.

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