Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

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.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Feb. 10, 2018 2:05 PM ET USA

    Doggonit, Phil. Didn't you read to the very end of the article? The happy prelate gives the answer to your key question. His answer is found in the 3rd paragraph from the end: ", work, work. There is no other way." He then cites St. Paul: "he who doesn't work, doesn't eat." So there you have it: the best implementation of Catholic social doctrine is not the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, not the "preferential option for the poor," not bringing God to the masses. No. It is slavery.

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Feb. 10, 2018 12:48 AM ET USA

    Perhaps bishop Sorondo has done us a service, unintentionally of course. People have a pretty shrewd notion of the awful kind of place the People’s Republic really is. Now here comes someone representing the Vatican’s current direction, saying “See, if everyone would follow our shiny new modernist Catholicism, the whole world could be like China!” Thanks for clearing that up for us, bishop.

  • Posted by: Retired01 - Feb. 09, 2018 2:04 PM ET USA

    Whomever appointed Bishop Sanchez Sorondo as chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences should certainly be embarrassed.

  • Posted by: MWCooney - Feb. 07, 2018 9:29 PM ET USA

    And he will be publicly reprimanded by Pope Francis, right? Bueller? Bueller?

  • Posted by: feedback - Feb. 06, 2018 10:23 PM ET USA

    I can think only of three possible reasons for the chancellor of a Pontifical Academy to praise China for being the world's best shining example for Catholics: (1) His complete lack of understanding of the regime's attitude towards Christianity and Christians, or (2) Some kind of a delusion, or (3) The common old-fashioned moral corruption with disregard for the truth. Being a Bishop of the Church doesn't make his remarks sound any better; quite the opposite.

  • Posted by: [email protected] - Feb. 06, 2018 10:20 PM ET USA

    If this is the best he can come up with, then indeed the world is lost. His foolish and unmistakable support for China as an example of Catholic social justice shows a strong pro-marxist bent. This should concern many of the faithful and pray this poison does not spread.

  • Posted by: polish.pinecone4371 - Feb. 06, 2018 8:27 PM ET USA

    Oh, come now, Phil. It's obvious the one he's referring to. It's the social doctrine that says countries should force their people to have only child per couple. I’ve read that doctrine – it’s in No. 17 of Humanae Vitae. I saw it, with my own two eyes. Honest.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Feb. 06, 2018 7:49 PM ET USA

    Well said! As I read the article in the Catholic Herald I couldn't believe what I was reading. I think this confirms that Pope Francis is going to sellout the legitimate Catholic Church in China.

  • 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?