What Does Someone Have to Do to Get Excommunicated?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that people who oppose abortion and same-sex sex are radicals who are not welcomed in New York. Does this include the millions of practicing Roman Catholics and the priests and bishops as well? These Catholics are welcome in New York because they stand by while the Governor and the Democrat Party wreak havoc on the once Empire State.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’s a practicing Catholic. He attends church with his live-in girlfriend, supports abortion on demand to the extreme, and supports the legalization of homosexual marriage and the fraud of gender fluidity.

Where is the priest of his parish? Where is the Bishop of his diocese? Why are they silent?

Cardinal Dolan refused to consider excommunication of a Roman Catholic Church member. Here’s a portion of what he said in a written statement:

I will not discuss any individual. Anything that follows is a statement of some general principles and should not be considered to be a comment on any specific person.

First, excommunication should not be used as a weapon. Too often, I fear, those who call for someone’s excommunication do so out of anger or frustration.

Second, notable canon lawyers have said that, under canon law, excommunication is not an appropriate response to a politician who supports or votes for legislation advancing abortion.

If an abortion is the killing of a person, something the Roman Catholic Church believes,1 then please tell me under what circumstances can a Catholic be excommunicated? What does a church member have to do to get excommunicated?

Is the church afraid of reprisals?

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Protestant churches aren’t exempt from internal corruption and the lack of church discipline. A recent report in the Houston Chronicle, gathered from public records, show that there have been “seven-hundred victims and over two-hundred victimizers” in the past 20 years in Southern Baptist churches.

Russian Orthodox priests in the Ukraine stood between soldiers with loaded weapons and angry protestors in the frigid cold to resist the dictates of their government:

As a barricade of blazing tires belched thick black smoke in Kiev last week, a line of priests stood between hundreds of angry protesters and ominous riot police.

The priests have been one of the most visually arresting parts of the protests that have gripped this former Soviet republic for the last two months. . .

Every freezing morning, priests sing prayers to the demonstrators gathered on the Ukrainian capital’s main square, a solemn and soothing interlude to hours of vehement speeches calling for revolution.

They have been an element of calm and aid, even providing shelter to protesters who had been beaten and were in fear of the police. When police violently dispersed an early protest gathering, many of the injured and the frightened took sanctuary in the St. Michaels Monastery, a hilltop complex in the heart of Kiev.

It’s possible that the Russian Orthodox Church learned a lesson from its passivity during the Bolshevik Revolution:

It is a sad but irrefutable fact that the Russian Orthodox Church at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution was engaged in a fruitless attempt to preserve its religious treasures (chalices, vestments, paintings, icons, etc.) and was therefore unable to relate meaningfully to the tremendous social upheavals then taking place.2

Where are New York’s Catholic priests and bishops? Why aren’t they standing in the gap opposing the fascist governor of New York and his attack on people of good will and moral integrity?

Ecclesiastical confrontation and even excommunication used to be serious business. Consider the 1964 film Beckett that starred Richard Burton as Thomas Becket and Peter O’Toole as King Henry II.

Henry was in continuous conflict with the elderly Archbishop of Canterbury, who opposed the taxation of Church property that the king wanted to use to support his military campaigns in France. “Bishop, I must hire the Swiss Guards to fight for me — and no one has ever paid them off with good wishes and prayer!”

When Henry heard of the Bishop’s death, he appointed his carousing buddy Thomas Beckett to be the new Archbishop of Canterbury. Beckett took his new ecclesiastical position seriously. He acts as an archbishop should.

Shortly thereafter, Becket sides with the Church, throwing Henry into a fury. One of the main bones of contention is Thomas’ excommunication of Lord Gilbert, one of Henry’s most loyal stalwarts, for seizing and ordering the killing of a priest who had been accused of sexual indiscretions with a young girl, before the priest can even be handed over for ecclesiastical trial. Gilbert then refuses to acknowledge his transgressions and seek absolution.

The battle between king and bishop continued until Beckett is murdered and Henry finally repents.

It’s time that New York’s Catholic leadership leads. Andrew Cuomo denounced the teachings of his own church and dismissed its authority. It’s no wonder that young people consider the modern-day church irrelevant.

“‘I will protect the German people,’ Hitler shouted. ‘You take care of the church. You pastors should worry about getting people to heaven and leave this world to me.'”3 Adolf Hitler’s angry response was directed at Martin Niemöller, a decorated submarine commander in World War I, an uncompromising nationalist, and a minister of the gospel. Niemöller had written From U-Boat to Pulpit in 1933, showing that “the fourteen years of the [Weimar] Republic had been `years of darkness.’ In a final word inserted at the end of the book he added that Hitler’s triumph at last brought light to Germany.”4 He soon learned that the light was an incendiary bomb that would destroy the hopes and freedoms of the German people. That light would also be used to ignite gas ovens in the extermination of millions of Jews and other “undesirables.” By 1935, “Niemöller had become completely disillusioned.”5

Niemöller became an ardent critic of Hitler and his policies, “protesting against the anti-Christian tendencies of the regime, denouncing the government’s anti-Semitism and demanding an end to the state’s interference in the churches.”6 Not everyone followed Niemöller’s lead. Numerous pastors swore a personal oath of allegiance and obedience to Adolf Hitler. Other pastors were sent to concentration camps for their defiance. Niemöller was imprisoned for his efforts.

Why did many in the church comply with Hitler and his policies? Hitler understood the church of his day. Hermann Rauschning, a Hitler confidant, relates what he heard Hitler say about the clergy:

“The Protestants haven’t the faintest conception of a church,” I heard Hitler saying. “You can do anything you like to them–they will submit. They’re used to cares and worries…. They are insignificant little people, submissive as dogs, and they sweat with embarrassment when you talk to them.”7

For many church-going Germans, their heavenly citizenship obligated them blindly to accept the prevailing civil requirements of citizenship and to remain silent no matter what atrocities were being committed. “In no country with the exception of Czarist Russia did the clergy become by tradition so completely servile to the political authority of the State.”8 Niemöller tried in vain to awaken the church against Hitler’s plans: “‘We have no more thought of using our own powers to escape the arm of the authorities than had the Apostles of old. No more are we ready to keep silent at man’s behest when God commands us to speak. For it is, and must remain, the case that we must obey God rather than man.'”9

A Christian’s heavenly citizenship, Niemöller concluded, must have an impact in the world in which he lives.

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  1. “The Catholic Church opposes all forms of abortion procedures whose direct purpose is to destroy a zygote, blastocyst, embryo or fetus, since it holds that ‘human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life’”: “Catechism of the Catholic Church – IntraText.” []
  2. Donald G. Bloesch, Crumbling Foundations: Death and Rebirth in an Age of Upheaval (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 30. []
  3. Quoted in Charles Colson, Kingdoms in Conflict (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987), 140. []
  4. William L. Shirer, The Nightmare Years: 1930-1940 (Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1984), 152. []
  5. Shirer, The Nightmare Years, 152. []
  6. Shirer, The Nightmare Years, 153. []
  7. Hermann Rauschning, The Voice of Destruction (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1940), 54. []
  8. William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960), 236. []
  9. Quoted in Shirer, The Nightmare Years, 154. []
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