Kerry "excommunication" scam exposed
An official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has claimed that a Californian canon lawyer seeking a formal decree of heresy against Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry of Massachusetts has misrepresented his contact with the Vatican office.
The canon lawyer has claimed publicly that he received a communication from the Congregation implying that Kerry is excommunicated because any Catholic politician who says he is "personally opposed to abortion, but supports a woman's right to choose," incurs automatic excommunication. If credible, the claim could cause significant damage to Kerry's chances in an election that some pollsters say hinges on the Catholic vote.
"The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has had no contact with Mr (Marc) Balestrieri," said Congregation undersecretary Fr Augustine DiNoia.
Fr DiNoia told Catholic News Service: "His claim that the private letter he received from (Dominican) Fr Basil Cole is a Vatican response is completely without merit".
Balestrieri is the head of De Fide, described on its Web site as an organisation created "to deal with the burgeoning scandal of Catholic politicians supporting the 'right to choose' murder."
In an interview on the Eternal Word Television Network last week, and in a statement posted on his Web site, Balestrieri said he had "received a written response prompted by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith affirming that Catholic politicians who persist in supporting the right to abortion are 'automatically excommunicated.'"
He said Fr Cole "was delegated" by Fr DiNoia "to formally respond" to questions Balestrieri had sent the congregation. Fr DiNoia denied that Fr Cole, a theologian who resides in Washington, was delegated in any way to address the questions on behalf of the congregation.
Fr Cole's letter to Balestrieri, also posted on De Fide's Web site, begins by saying he had been asked by Fr DiNoia "to respond unofficially" to Balestrieri's questions.
The priest concluded that "if a Catholic publicly and obstinately supports the civil right to abortion, knowing that the church teaches officially against that legislation, he or she commits that heresy envisioned by Canon 751 of the Code" of Canon Law.
Vatican officials contacted by Catholic News Service yesterday said they did not agree with Fr Cole's conclusion that Kerry has incurred excommunication.
"You can incur excommunication 'latae sententiae' (automatically) only if you procure or perform an abortion," one said.
In Washington, Fr Cole told Catholic News Service that the Holy See "gets these requests ... tons of them," and that Fr DiNoia asked him to respond to Balestrieri in a private capacity.
"I have no relationship to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ... and the letter that I wrote to Balestrieri was purely private," he told CNS Oct. 19. "I wrote it as a private theologian, not with any authority. It has no authority whatsoever.
Vatican denies it responded to lawyer seeking Kerry's excommunication (Catholic News Service 19/10/04)
Kerry said to be excommunicated (Catholic World News 18/10/04)
Is Kerry excommunicated? (WorldNetDaily 18/10/04)
Vatican response in Kerry heresy case (De Fide 18/10/04)
Should Kerry be Excommunicated for Heresy? (Fox News 12/7/04)
John Paul II Reminds Politicians of Their Duty to Defend Children (Zenit 18/10/04)
Balestrieri's response (Bettnet.com 19/10/04)
A pro-choice Catholic politician speaks out (National Catholic Reporter 22/10/04)
20 Oct 2004