Church's role in correcting Catholics publicly


Somebody help me here.

For decades now I’ve watched high profile Catholics promote and legalize what the Church has clearly taught as being intrinsically evil.

I’ve yet to see their bishop call them out, personally and publicly, on anything.

But teenagers where’s a MAGA cap and the Bishop is all over rebuking the kids for their heinous crime against humanity. We’ve got priests who can’t wait to get on CNN to call them out.

What exactly is the Church’s role supposed to be in calling out individual / public error?

Is there any clear teaching on the subject?



I don’t follow the bishop’s actions everywhere. In our Diocese it has occurred. NCR -Durbin

A lot of what is covered in the news is determined by the secular media. This is often colored by their opinions, and biases.


1 Timothy 5:20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest also may stand in fear. 21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels, I warn you to keep these instructions without prejudice, doing nothing on the basis of partiality.


Somebody should remind Cardinal Dolan of 1 Timothy 5:20


The U.S. Bishops in general today are more concerned about stepping on toes and upsetting the status quo than they are about correcting or sanctioning Catholic politicians. The working mantra seems to be that if we avoid upsetting people too much right now we have a chance to convert them later. So they’ll make their opinion known in a strongly worded letter at best, but won’t actually do anything even if it is within their power as bishops.

As Dr. Phil says, “…well, how’s that working out for you?” Not well. Not well at all.

Look at the new abortion bill passed in New York by Catholic governor Andrew Cuomo. It is one of the most if not the most expansive abortion law in the U.S. It allows unrestricted abortion up to 24 weeks, but allows abortions up until birth for broad reasons for a women’s health, which leaves abortion up until birth virtually unrestricted as well. It also loosens restrictions on who can perform abortions, among other things.

Not only was Andrew Cuomo the driving person behind this bill, he ordered NY state landmarks to be lit pink in celebration of the bill’s passage. The NY bishops wrote a letter strongly condemning it, but so far, that’s all they have done. This is scandal of the highest order, but it is unlikely that the bishops will take any action because they want to maintain their good standing and connections with the leader of the NY state government. So in the end, nothing will change. And if no penalties are assessed because of the passage of such an extreme bill as this, then nothing will ever be punished.


Maybe it’s a more specific cannon lawyer question.

Does “anything” warrant formal public excommunication?

Even when they address something they don’t really call out the individuals action as being “sinful” or breaking “their” communion with the Church.

Here for example:

As strong a statement as I can find but it still dances around the issue.

How about something along the lines of “your support of this legislations is a gravely sinful and you cannot continue to support such legislation and remain in communion with the Catholic Church”.

Is something like that just not allowed, or is it simply a pastoral choice?

I’ve always assumed it was a matter of it being more important to deal with someone’s personal salvation in private.

But at some point allowing this kind of blatant disregard for Church teaching by powerful people declaring themselves “Catholic” with no repercussions must be doing terrible harm to the Body of Christ.



His bishop could excommunicate him or assess some other kind of punishment, if he chose to (probably either by the Archbishop of NYC, where he resides, or the Bishop of Albany, where the action took place). In fact, a bishop in Tennessee posted about it on Twitter:

It is essentially a pastoral choice, and could be kept private as well. But I think in a case such as this with a very public figure in a very public display of scandal, any action taken would merit it being made public. Especially since taking such an action would in my view be primarily for the benefit of other Catholics in the state of New York and in the U.S., since it is highly unlikely to alter Andrew Cuomo’s views on abortion or change his mind.


There appears to be great cowardice.


Cardinal Dolan’s reluctance to impose a sanction on Cuomo seems to stem from the possibility that Cuomo won’t take the excommunication seriously, and will not convert and change his views. This seems to be a misguided approach. I agree that punishment shouldn’t be wielded like a weapon, because it should not be used as revenge; rather, its purpose is to restore order to the soul, and to society (the Church is a perfect society, and the wrongdoings of one member will impact the others).

There are two types of penalties mentioned in the Code of Canon Law, expiatory and medicinal, and it is the latter group to which excommunication belongs. Now, even if punishment doesn’t convert Cuomo himself, this would not be enough reason to refuse to impose a just penalty, because order still needs to be restored to ecclesial society. If Cuomo were punished, then it would send a clear message to the faithful as to what kinds of actions and positions are incompatible with the faith. As such, failing to impose a just penalty in this case could be a cause of scandal.


There’s been a number of cases of “formal public excommunications” of which I’m aware. They all involved individuals who continued to participate in an organization or a “faith community” of some sort after their Bishop had warned them to stop. They didn’t stop and were excommunicated.

People don’t tend to be excommunicated over their individual political expressions or stances, unless perhaps they are clergy.


A number of thoughts occur to me.
Would that bishop be ready to live up to the standard that he is setting for those young men?
Maybe he could come up with an index of forbidden logos.
The archbishop did excommunicate Leander Perez and he did place Placquemines parish under an interdiction.


That was a pretty easy call though. Perez was openly committing crimes right and left (bribery and strong arm tactics to get votes, for one thing). He wasn’t just voting for something the Church didn’t approve of.


I feel kind of neutral about this when Catholics promote abortion just by itself

However when they claim that they are still practicing Catholics/say that abortion is not a sin etc…I think the Church has the right to correct them publicly since they are directly involved in this.


Yes, but if Perez stole the election from the people, do you think it is fair to punish the people who live in his civil parish also?


No, I don’t think it’s fair to punish his entire parish, as there are likely some people who objected to his tactics but couldn’t do anything about it and got unfairly punished.


The media writes stories based on the information at hand.
Sometimes a story may appear to be slanted, but solely because only one side of an issue is cooperating on a story. That is the only information available.
Any personal biases that reporters have, as we all have, are filtered out by their editors.


The Church works best when each does the role assigned to them. The media tries to blur roles. Fathers and mothers are urged to be interchangeable. Children are made equal to parents. The priest is praised if he acts “like e a regular guy”, nuns campaign for partisan political issues.

The laity are supposed to out in the public square impacting directly on things like politics. In NY State the laity (Catholic and Protestant) have greatly reduced our efforts for Prolife.

As a result, Cuomo and dozens of Catholics, Protestant and Jewish legislators who should have been defeated by the laity, weren’t.

I am not for or against a given excommunication, a given annullment, or some other particular decision. Each case is different and should be decided by the appropriate party.
The pro abortion media loves it when laity critique the bishops. They dislike it when laity work for change in the political arena.


First, let’s look at the religious demography of NY state:

Cathoics - 39%
Protestants - 32%
other Christians - 3%
Jews - 10%
Muslims - 3%
Buddhists - 1%
non religiious - 17%
others/won’t answer - 2%

As you can see, Catholics are the biggest group, but they are the minority.

The governor, or president, or Congressman or Senator represents ALL the people, not just the Catholics. (Although theoretically someone could run on the platform that they were Catholic and that they would support all the positions of the Catholic Church; and if they got elected, that wold be what the voters voted for.)

Although pro-life supporters don’t acknowledge it, there is a difference–a BIG difference–between being “pro-abortion” and “pro-choice.”

Catholic politicians don’t always follow Catholic teachings. Pro-life supporters act as if abortion is the only issue that matters. But there are a host of other issues: the death penalty, gun laws, immigration, health care, etc. etc. Should bishops sanction any politician who goes against Catholic policy on ANY issue? Or just “intrinsically evil” issues?

And, practically speaking, how would that play out in future elections? Or, appointments to judgeships? If public condemnation by the Catholic Church were a constant issue that was in the news, might a non-Catholic voter be more apt to say “I don’t want to vote for any Catholic because they don’t want to represent me, they want to follow whatever their church tells them to.”?

Remember how all the conservatives got their dander up because Kamala Harris talked about the Knights of Columbus having extremist views, and how she asked a nominee for a judgeship if they would follow the law or the Knights of Columbus positions? Is that what you want to happen?


Please explain this statement.


ALL whether public figure or not will face their Creator and will have to answer for their actions.

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