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Very important message; very strange form

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Oct 18, 2004

Is John Kerry excommunicated, or isn't he?

That's a fairly important question, wouldn't you agree?

But the form of the answer from Rome is simply bizarre.

A ranking official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asks an American theologian-- who is himself a consultor to CDF-- to answer a question from a layman. And in his answer, that priest-- who certainly seems to be speaking on behalf of the Vatican-- says: Yes, Kerry is excommunicated!

Now that's a bombshell statement. But it was handled like an arcane scholarly query. ("Yes, the Monophysite heresy was condemned by the 2nd Council of Constantinople. Thanks for asking. And by the way, the "Catholic" candidate for the world's most powerful political office is excommunicated.") Why?

Could it be that the CDF sent this message unofficially, because it was clear no official pronouncement would survive the vetting of the Vatican bureaucracy?

Is it a coincidence that this statement came (indirectly) from the same dicastery that "leaked" Cardinal Ratzinger's comments on giving Communion to pro-abortion politicians-- after Cardinal McCarrick withheld those comments from the other US bishops?

Is it a coincidence that this statement became public shortly after Cardinal Sodano conferred a papal knighthold on a politician who, it seems, has earned excommunication in the same fashion as Kerry?

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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