Action Alert!

Selective use of authority?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Mar 18, 2003

The astonishing statement by Bishop Botean, informing Romanian-Catholic Americans that they must not cooperate in war against Iraq-- under pain of mortal sin!-- puts me to wondering:

Does a bishop have the authority to bind his flock in this way? At least one canon-law expert believes that the Holy See must answer that question quickly, to resolve the coflicts that will inevitably arise in the consciences of Romanian-rite Catholics.

My question is this: Has Bishop Botean-- or any other American bishop-- issued a similarly blunt statement indicatying that it is a mortal sin to vote for a politician who supports legal abortion? For that matter, has any bishop recently stated in public that it is a mortal sin for priests to engage in homosexual acts?

It would be much easier to accept bishops' authoritative statements on issues that are at least arguably outside their jurisdiction if they made equally bold statements about issues that are clearly within their jurisdiction.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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