Action Alert!

Zero is a minimal number

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jun 10, 2013

Although Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin pleaded for the Irish government to allow a “conscience vote” on the legalization of abortion, the Irish Times reports that he “appeared to shy away from talk of excommunicating politicians” who vote for the proposed legislation.

Actually Archbishop Martin didn’t “shy away” from the topic. He just didn’t raise it. For the past month, Irish newspapers have been suggesting that the bishops might threaten to excommunicate pro–abortion politicians. The bishops themselves have made no such threats.

But the silence of the Irish bishops has not prevented journalists from continuing the one-sided discussion. So when Archbishop Martin made an argument in favor of individual conscience, saying that lawmakers should not be pressured to approve the legislation, the media quickly shoved the discussion back into the Church-bullying-politicians pigeonhole. The Irish Times reports:

Asked about calls made by US-based Catholic cardinals and archbishops, Dr Martin said: “If you look at the numbers of people who have been formally excommunicated in the US, it is minimal.”

Since he should have known that the question was coming, it’s unfortunate that Archbishop Martin wasn’t ready with a more convincing reply. The number of American politicians who have been formally excommunicated because of their support for legal abortion stands at zero. Minimal indeed.

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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  • Posted by: Defender - Jun. 10, 2013 5:52 PM ET USA

    Catholic prelates are more concerned about how they look in the press, not being mean and having dinner with the politicians. After all, isn't this the People's Catholic Church in America (as stated on the Jesuit Alumni of Arizona website) - not the Roman Catholic Church?

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Jun. 10, 2013 4:02 PM ET USA

    I remember that certain bishops in the south, in Louisiana I believe, excommunicated Catholic leaders of segregationist movements in the 60s. Racism is serious matter, no question about it, but murder of children is morally more serious. Scandal a serious matter also. Do Catholic prelates both here and in Ireland really think their cowardly refusal to excommunicate the likes of Joe Biden and Enda Kenny is NOT scandalous? Do they think they will NOT some day be called to account for this?