(Once again it is the women who lead in the preaching of the Gospel. God bless them!)
The National Coalition of American Nuns is profoundly saddened as cafeteria bishops try to toll the death knoll for conscience. Extending a proposed ban on receiving the Eucharist to include not only certain politicians but also all of us who will vote for these politicians is surely as divisive as it gets. As more bishops join to promote this idea, perhaps they need to be reminded that repetition does not make something true.
Michael Sheridan, bishop of Colorado Springs, was still a teenager when the Second Vatican Council issued its long-awaited document on religious liberty; perhaps this might excuse his unfamiliarity with the strong statements on conscience contained therein. For example:
"The human person sees and recognizes the demands of the divine law through conscience. All are bound to follow their conscience faithfully in every sphere of activity...Therefore the individual must not be forced to act against conscience nor be prevented from acting according to conscience, especially in religious matters."
Sheridan informs us that those of us who differ from him are living in deep sin and must agree 100% with every teaching of the church in order to consider ourselves faithful Catholics. (Has anyone ever tried even counting the number of such "teachings"?) We have a long memory for some of those "teachings" : and their results. The Crusades come to mind, as do the Inquisition, the burning of heretics, human slavery, and the mortal sin of eating meat on Fridays. This latest appalling misrepresentation of our faith would excommunicate nearly every thinking Catholic among the laity, hierarchy, clergy and sisterhoods.
Bishop Sheridan and his like-minded confreres are in fact exactly what they accuse us of being: cafeteria Catholics. His choices for burning include those who would allow abortion, stem-cell research, euthanasia and same-sex marriages. Missing from his outright condemnation are those who support or condone such issues as unjust wars, unbridled capitalism, environmental destruction, rape, the death penalty and abuse of children.
We call on Catholics who are the church to ignore such abusive condemnations from those who have insulated themselves from the Gospel and from life. Isn't it strange that this small and marginalized group of men feels they can hold for ransom all the Catholics in the world? That they can enjoy tax-free status in this country and still intrude into the processes of our elections? Perhaps it is time for both the government and individual parishioners to consider whether this arrogant effort at coercing consciences any longer deserves our financial or moral support.