Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Bonfire Cancelled 

Whew! We have been on a round-the-clock heresy watch since Monday, when Zemblan patriot J.D. forwarded the following, from an outfit called Catholic World News:
A consultant to the Vatican has said Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has incurred the penalty of excommunication from the Catholic Church.

The consultant made his statement in a highly unusual letter to Marc Balestrieri, a Los Angeles canon lawyer who formally sued John Kerry in ecclesiastical court for heresy.

Balestrieri, who launched his case earlier this year by filing a heresy complaint in Kerry's home archdiocese of Boston, told EWTN's "World Over" program on Friday that he had received an unusual, indirect communication from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the pro-abortion stance.

That communication provides a basis, he said, to declare that any Catholic politician who says he is "personally opposed to abortion, but supports a woman's right to choose," incurs automatic excommunication. It also provided a basis for Balestrieri to broaden his canonical actions and file additional complaints against four more pro-abortion Catholic politicians: Democrat Senators Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Tom Harkin of Iowa; Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine; and former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, a Democrat.
Today, however, we are pleased to report that, according to the New York Times, John D'Arc is being cut loose from the stake, and Mr. Balestrieri has been summarily pope-slapped:
The Roman Catholic Church's official news service quoted an unnamed Vatican official on Tuesday as saying John Kerry was "not a heretic" for his stance on abortion rights.

The article by The Catholic News Service also quoted an unnamed Vatican official as saying Mr. Kerry was not about to be excommunicated because "you can incur excommunication" automatically "only if you procure or perform an abortion."

The article came after a conservative Catholic canon lawyer who is trying to get Mr. Kerry excommunicated publicized a letter that was drafted at the request of a high-ranking Vatican official, a letter that the lawyer said indicated that Mr. Kerry should be excommunicated because he supported abortion rights . . . .

But on Tuesday, Father [Augustine] Di Noia, an American priest who is highly influential in his position as under secretary of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, took steps to distance himself from the letter. He told The Catholic News Service that "the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has had no contact with Mr. Balestrieri" and that Mr. Balestrieri's "claim that the private letter he received from Father Basil Cole is a Vatican response is completely without merit."

Father Di Noia's remarks to the news service seem to reflect a reluctance by at least some Vatican officials to be perceived as trying to meddle in an American presidential election, experts on the Vatican said.
UPDATE (10/21): Memo to self: never, ever hoodwink the Vatican!

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