In March 1996, Bishop Bruskewitz had announced the excommunication of all Catholics in his diocese who were members of Call to Action or several other dissident groups which he described as “totally incompatible with the Catholic faith.”
The Nebraska chapter of Call to Action appealed the bishop’s decision to the Vatican. In his November 24 letter to Bishop Bruskewitz, Cardinal Re reports that Vatican’s finding that the disciplinary action was “properly taken.”
It's interesting that CTA would bother appealing to an entity who's authority they routinely reject. It's like an anarchist in queue for the dole, he only regards the entity inasmuch as it's beneficial to his ends. In this instance, the Vatican wasn't sympathetic to the plaintiff's cause.
The Vatican has determined that “the activities of ‘Call to Action’ in the course of these years are in contrast with the Catholic Faith due to views and positions held which are unacceptable from a doctrinal and disciplinary standpoint,” Cardinal Re writes. He concludes: “Thus to be a member of this Association or to support it, is irreconcilable with a coherent living of the Catholic Faith.”
This appears to be a fairly potent indictment of the Call To Action movement as a whole, and so begs the question voiced by others: If Call To Action is bad for Catholics in Nebraska, isn't it bad for Catholics everywhere else as well?
I wonder if other bishops are paying attention, or if they're ducking in hopes of not being noticed for being conspicuously silent on this issue.
The Lincoln Journal Star picked up on the story, and got reactions from local CTA members.
Local CTA member Jim McShane, who signed the original appeal of Bruskewitz’s ruling, said the local group has never received any response from Rome or been given the opportunity to state its case to Vatican officials.
“This letter is very unfortunate,” McShane said. “I’m deeply distressed by it. There’s every evidence that Rome is acting on misinformation.”
Rather than getting correct information about the beliefs and purposes of Call to Action from members of the organization itself, Vatican leaders have received incorrect information from Bruskewitz, McShane said.
Bishop Bruskewitz had advice for the sanctioned group:
Bruskewitz said Re’s letter makes clear the Vatican’s opposition to Call to Action and other groups considered incompatible with the faith.
“My prayer will always be that when people understand they have taken a wrong turn, they will stop and take the right turn,” he said.
The bishop urged local Catholics to “repudiate their membership in these groups” and then seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation in order to be reinstated with the church.
He's giving them every opportunity to repent and reconcile. Why are these people so stubborn?
Rachel Pokora, president of Call to Action-Nebraska, said she plans to continue attending church in the Lincoln Diocese and taking communion, as she has in the past.
“It will be interesting to see what the implications (of Re’s letter) are,” she said. “Will other dioceses take stronger actions against Call to Action?” So far, Bruskewitz is the only bishop to issue an excommunication ruling.
Obstinate, aren't we? But then, it's to be expected that CTA folks won't listen to a Bishop that they didn't vote for. My advice? Either repent and reconcile with the Church, or go join the Episcopalians. If you're going to join the TEC, though, you'd better hurry. They're about to throw themselves over a cliff, and may end up being Unitarians.