Famed cardinal visits diocese - Catholic Courier

Famed cardinal visits diocese

ROCHESTER — It’s difficult to come up with a one-size-fits-all rule that can be applied to pro-choice Catholic politicians who receive the Eucharist, according to Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, one of the nation’s leading theologians and church authors.

It’s up to a local bishop to decide whether he should discuss with a pro-choice politician his or her relationship with the church, Cardinal Dulles said during a press conference at Our Lady of Victory-St. Joseph’s Church on Pleasant Street.

The cardinal, a professor of religion and society at Fordham University, was in town to preside at the 59th annual Red Mass at Our Lady of Victory-St. Joseph. The Mass, which is promoted by the St. Thomas More Lawyers Guild, is for judges, lawyers and others associated with the legal community. An overflow crowd of more than 300 people greeted the cardinal for the event.

“It’s hard to form a law that specifies who can and cannot go to Communion,” Cardinal Dulles said during the press conference. He noted that the U.S. bishops recently pointed out that individual local bishops must decide whether denial of Communion to pro-abortion politicians is necessary.

In July, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released “Catholics in Political Life,” which noted such decisions about Communion should be made “in accordance with established canonical and pastoral principles.” Cardinal Dulles mused that should John Kerry, a pro-choice Catholic candidate, be elected president in November, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., might “discuss the matter with him.”

“The church’s teaching is pretty clear on these life issues of euthanasia and abortion,” Cardinal Dulles said. “The church does require that those who receive (Communion) be in communion with the church. Primarily, the responsibility is on the person receiving Communion that they have the mind of the church.”

On another current controversial issue, the war in Iraq, Cardinal Dulles said he didn’t wish to state whether he thought it was a just or unjust war. However, he noted that terrorist attacks on the United States by nongovernmental groups have presented a challenge to the just-war theory, which was designed to deal with a world in which clearly definable armies led by recognized governments fought each other.

“An adequate defense (against terrorism) may require an aggressive or pre-emptive kind of strike,” he noted, though he added that he thought the issue needed “a lot more discussion.”

A handful of Catholic pacifists on the sidewalk across from Our Lady of Victory’s entrance held signs protesting the church’s endorsement of the just-war theory, and questioned the cardinal’s support of it. One of the protesters, Mark Scibilia-Carver, a Trumansburg Catholic, said he believes the church is abdicating its moral authority by allowing governments to decide what wars are just.

“I don’t think any government has said that a war that it wants to fight is unjust,” Scibilia-Carver said.

An Auburn native, Cardinal Dulles is a convert from Presbyterianism to Catholicism, and is the son of the late Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who served under President Dwight Eisenhower. Past president of both the Catholic Theological Society and the American Theological Society, the cardinal has authored more than 700 articles and 23 books. He agreed during the press conference that some observers have seen him as becoming more and more conservative in his theological views, but he questioned that observation.

“I think I’ve been consistently a theologian of Vatican II,” he said, noting the council’s innovations were used by some to question “every doctrine of faith.”

“At this point, I said that this is going too far,” he said, adding, “I think if I appear more conservative, it’s because I’m emphasizing things taken for granted in the 1950s and 1960s.”

During the Mass, Cardinal Dulles gave a homily about the man for whom the guild was named, noting More enjoyed worldly success as King Henry XIII’s lord chancellor. However, he had to forsake his position because he opposed Henry’s divorce, and was eventually beheaded for refusing to abide the king’s break with Rome, Cardinal Dulles noted.

“(More) respected the law in the realm, but he was clear in his mind that when human law comes into conflict with God’s law, it has overreached itself and must be resisted,” he said.

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