Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


When Prelates Teach Their Own Opinions

June 30th, 2019, Promulgated by Diane Harris

It was reported on June 13, 2019 that the USCCB had voted to revise the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) to change, in effect, the Church’s Teaching on the death penalty. An article can be found here (CAREFUL! the R in NCR is not for EWTN’s Register, but for the notorious R of the National Catholic Reporter):

Nevertheless, the statement is clear:

BALTIMORE — “The U.S. bishops voted June 13 to revise what the U.S. church teaches its adult members about the death penalty in a passage on the issue in the U.S. Catechism for Adults.

The full body of bishops approved the revised passage by a vote of 194 to 8 with three abstentions. It now will need the approval, or ‘recognitio,’ of the Vatican.” 

Since Pope Francis has explicitly avowed that the death penalty is “inadmissible,” there is no doubt the change will be approved by the Vatican (unless the Lord intervenes). And such a vote on June 13th! That is a remarkable date–the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua. Those bishops must have lost their minds, and even forgotten to ask St. Anthony’s help to find them.

The vote is outrageous. Less than 5% of the US Bishops could find the courage to uphold 2000 years of Catholic Teaching! And that, dear friends, is exactly where the buck stops on so much other failure of prelates in the Church — voting for what somebody else wants, caving in to liberal pressure, rather than with hearts fully embracing the Teaching of God, no matter how difficult it is. However, we must also allow that there is a remote possibility of failed teaching in the seminaries, of errors in their texts, of invincible ignorance on the part of 95% of the bishops, or that the 95% are masons or communists or under physical threat. Well, not a real   possibility, so I’ll cease making excuses for them. After all, every bishop but St. John Fisher caved to Henry the VIII rather than be hung, or drawn and quartered, or both. Standing up for God is not often painless. When you hug a Man wearing a Crown of Thorns, you are bound to get some scratches!

In writing the reflection I did on CF for “Sifting Simon” during Lent this year, I came across many criteria for righteous judgment on the part of the judges in Sanhedrin trials. It was interesting to note that a guilty verdict for a capital crime, such as murder, could not be carried out if all the votes were against the defendant. Such an overwhelming vote would indicate the defendant’s being unfairly prosecuted, or a hidden agenda. A vote of less than 5% of the US bishops to uphold millennia of Church Teaching indicates lack of thought, belief, or obedience, a dire prospect for the future of the Church in the US, and introduces more than a hint of voting without freedom or proper discretion.

Why? Because the Moral Teaching of the Church cannot be changed. It is the Pope’s responsibility to protect the Deposit of Faith, not to keep tweaking it. And that goes triple for the Amazonian cover afforded to clerics’ desire to be able to marry, women’s desiring to be deaconesses or priestesses, proposals which would invalidate the matter for the Eucharist, and much more (may we not be so naive as to believe we are hearing the full agenda!)

It is simply NOT POSSIBLE to revise the Deposit of Faith and 2000 years of Teaching to now make a sin what has never been a sin, and for which great and saintly scholars and theologians have provided outstanding defense and explanation. What it is possible to do is for the bishops, those who know their faith, to provide a “prudential judgement” that in each prelate’s own opinion we should try to reduce the use of the death penalty and seek other alternatives to protect the rights of innocent people. In other words, it should NOT be made a contradictory moral issue (nor can it be); but it is a matter of “prudential judgment” aka “carefully formed personal opinion.”

Perhaps they thought we wouldn’t care. After all, how many people must face a decision in such an area? More than one might think. The USCCB is reprehensible in aligning itself with the Democratic Party, the party of murdered babies, 98 genders and — watch for it soon — euthanasia. So alleging that eliminating the death penalty is a moral matter tips the scales again to the blue. Even promoting it as a prudential judgement, without giving the biblical basis and persistent teaching, tips the election scales. So, too, making the Wall an issue by only focusing on one side of the issue, and ignoring the Vatican Wall and Nehemiah’s following God’s Will to protect the returning exiled Jews from Babylon by building a wall, tilts the election playing field as well. And if we really read the articles about CRS and CCHD collections, just follow the money to see how it is rerouted to democratic programs.

But there is more involved than tipping elections. Such arrogant dismissal of long standing Church Teaching among the hierarchy inhibits those who have counter opinions from expressing them, thus giving rise to the perception that only one side is right. The laity (and clergy) most surely have the right and, as Canon 212 points out, “sometimes the duty” to exercise their rights, e.g. to express their opinions on prudential judgment matters. Keep in mind the greater injuries that changing a Church Teaching can do. Perhaps this is part of paving the way for the Amazonian changes seemingly coveted by the Vatican? There are also impacts on people who work in the judicial system. What about Catholic judges who must from time to time hand down a death sentence? It is one thing if the state forbids it; quite another when the Catholic Church attempts to bind the judges’ consciences with a “new teaching.” May they no longer judge? What about jurors? wardens? the willingness of witnesses to come forward? Eventually, many people will not know even how to find out the true Teaching. (See what God said to Noah in Genesis 9:6).  This change is not only disloyal to God’s Teaching, but it also makes second class citizens out of those prepared to live righteously under the unchangeable moral law of the Church.

The machinations (read Bp. Barron’s wimpy, waffling explanation in the link above) would be laughable if not so sad, when considered vs. the reluctance of the USCCB (and its predecessor) to fight strongly against abortion, commanding from the pulpit that Catholics NOT support a candidate who advocates legalizing abortion. “Oh, no, we’re not allowed to do that… (oh yes you are)….” But many bishops don’t even have the courage to deny the Eucharist to advocates of abortion, let alone confront the issue. And in that silence, abortion in the first trimester escalated to dismemberment and infanticide.  And a huge, dark evil cloak fell upon us. Rather than speak strongly and timely against the alleged multiplicity of genders, against the threat to the Seal of Confession when a priest tries to save souls from their sexual sins, and when those who refuse to yield to normalizing ‘two moms or two dads’ are severely punished by the courts, and ravaged by social attack, some prelates are marching instead in the parade.

Prior Statements on Cleansing Fire re: Death Penalty

This death penalty issue has been on the horizon for years. See the CF posting from Mar. 7, 2015 here:

and from: Oct. 12, 2017 here:

and from Aug 2, 2018 here:

and from Aug. 5, 2018:



2 Responses to “When Prelates Teach Their Own Opinions”

  1. avatar christian says:

    The interesting thing is that many on the liberal side of theology and traditional Church teaching who oppose the death penalty for heinous crimes, support abortion (the killing of innocents) as they are pro-choice.

  2. avatar BigE says:

    It’s not the first teaching that has been changed. It probably won’t be the last.

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