When Bishop Bruskewitz first issued his statement in 1996, the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago and other bishops questioned the move. And no other U.S. bishops have issued similar declarations regarding membership in these 12 organizations.
That is not exactly an indictment of Bishop Bruskewitz. It is like complaining about the hero that steps forward and acts when everyone else looks on.
As can be expected, the news 10 years ago and this past November were met with press releases and statements galore. But what was missing and continues to be missing is dialogue.
And threatening those who do want to engage in dialogue is hardly the way to start the conversation. Bishop Bruskewitz’s actions come off as the equivalent of a parental “Because I said so” to the “why’s?” and “why not’s?” of an adult laity.
Condemning organizations that support abortion, euthanasia, active homosexuality, that deny that God has revealed himself or established a Church is not exactly a parental "because I say so." It is simply what the Church teaches.
We have just begun to emerge from a very painful time in our Church with the clergy sex-abuse crisis. Polls are showing that confidence in our bishops is growing and so are numbers for Mass attendance. This raises the question: Is this really the best time to be showing people the door? Maybe first we should seriously talk about areas of disagreement.
First off the excommunications were issued 11 years ago so the timing argument is rather silly. The other point is that excommunication as an ecclesial penalty is not showing people the door, it is calling them to repentance and entering that door that is Christ. To enter the narrow way that leads to salvation.
What we need is a greater spirit of dialogue in our Church. And that means some real, honest, open-minded and open-hearted dialogue—on all sides. No more threats, no more name-calling, no pushing our agendas. Let’s just talk and listen. In the process we might learn something or see things from a different perspective. It can’t hurt to talk. We are, after all, members of one Church.
The Church has talked and dialoged, but most of all taught through her teaching authority. Killing children in the womb is not a different perspective, killing the elderly or the severely ill in a false sense of compassion is not a different perspective. Outright disobedience and denial of the Church’s authority again is not just a different perspective. Perspectives can be quite mistaken no mater how sincerely believed and when this happens informing those of the truth is the "greater sprit of dialogue." Excommunication is an act of dialogue when dialogue has broken down and by its very communication is a call to conversion and repentance.
If the Bishop had only excommunicated members of the Society of St. Pius the X we wouldn’t hear this endless mumbling from progressives on this issue. I bet they were not upset when the Archbishop of New Orleans excommunicated several people because they fought against segregation. Racism is certainly a great moral evil and shouldn’t the deliberate killing through abortion and euthanasia received the same treatment?