Catholic Culture Podcasts
Catholic Culture Podcasts

Episcopal Clarity

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Dec 17, 2009

Interesting episcopal news today:

  1. Irish bishop resigns under criticism for abuse cover-up
  2. Archbishop Milingo stripped of priestly status
  3. New Milwaukee archbishop condemns ‘Young Catholics for Choice’

All bad news, right? Actually, no. It's all good news.

When a bishop has ruined his ability to serve as a credible shepherd for this people, to resign—even if only at long last—is an honorable act. When a bishop, or in this case an archbishop, is disciplined by the Pope for the abuse of his position, that discipline is an honorable act. And when a bishop properly discharges his office by making it clear that pro-abortion Catholics damage their relationship with the Church, this profoundly pastoral exercise of his authority is an honorable act. I admit that it is somewhat unusual to come across so much episcopal clarity all on a single day, but it is still welcome.

Of course, the prelate who earns the most respect here is Bishop Jerome Listecki of La Crosse, who will be installed in January as the new Archbishop of Milwaukee. Bishop Listecki was faced with an advertising campaign involving a "new" organization, young Catholics for Choice (yCFC), which is actually a project of Catholics for Choice, which is actually a new name for the well-funded (but poorly populated) Catholics for Free Choice, which has been condemned by the Church. Here are the opening words of the young Catholics for Choice web page:

Young Catholics are having sex. We are using contraception and condoms. We are having abortions. We are bisexual, gay, lesbian, straight and transgender. And none of this makes us any less Catholic than conservative Catholics who speak out against us. The truth is, they don’t represent what the majority of Catholics—especially those of us in our 20s and 30s—think about sex. It comes down to Catholic teaching on conscience. Basically, every individual has the right and responsibility to follow his or her own conscience—and respect others’ right to do the same. With conscience and respect, good Catholic sex is not only possible, it’s already happening. [emphasis in original]

Ooh, aren’t these youngsters just so sweet! Now here is Bishop Listecki’s response:

‘Young Catholics for Choice’ is attempting to convey the message that Catholics can disregard Church teaching regarding contraception, abortion and human sexuality in general and remain Catholics in good standing. Nothing could be further from the truth. While people can call themselves whatever they want, it is my duty as a bishop to state clearly and unequivocally that by professing and disseminating views in grave contradiction to Catholic teaching, members of organizations like ‘Young Catholics for Choice’ in fact disown their Catholic heritage, tragically distancing themselves from that communion with the Church to which they are called. We pray that they may reconcile their position which is contrary to the Catholic Faith they claim to profess.

Wherever you encounter it, praise God for episcopal clarity. In the long run, it makes all our lives easier.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: - Dec. 20, 2009 11:13 PM ET USA

    Thank God for Bishop Jerome Listecki! We need to stand up for the Truth, in private and public life!