Action Now - Questions Catholics Face

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Questions today's Catholics often face


What's the best way to pray for priests and bishops?
How can I encourage more homilies on contraception, abortion, euthanasia and respect for the dignity of the human person?
How can I encourage my bishop and pastor to be more encouraging about pro-life efforts in the diocese and the parish?
How should I alert my pastor or bishop to the presence of anti-life people in the parish or diocese?
How should I alert my pastor or bishop to the presence of anti-life material in religious education, Catholic school or seminary curricula?
What should I do if I witness a priest distribute Holy Communion to (or preside at a Church wedding for) someone who is openly anti-life?
What should I do if someone who's openly pro-abortion is allowed to speak (or is given an honor) at a church-related function, or at a function on church property?
How do I approach my bishop to ask him to excommunicate a pro-abortion "Catholic" politician?
What should you do if your priest doesn't think life begins at conception?
What should I do if I get stonewalled or if I'm given the runaround by the bureaucracy, either at the parish or diocesan levels?
Should I try to organize fellow members of my parish or diocese if the pastor or bishop seems unconcerned with erroneous teachings (or lack of any teaching) on matters related to the Gospel of Life?
Should I forward concerns to the papal nuncio or specific Vatican office?
Where do you draw the line? The Church, after all, is not a democracy!
What's the best way to pray for priests and bishops?


We suggest you check out A Prayer for Priests and the Prayer for Pope John Paul II to assist you in asking for the Lord's guidance for His priests, bishops and vicar.

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How can I encourage more homilies on contraception, abortion, euthanasia and respect for the dignity of the human person?


Visit with your pastor and explain to him the desire you feel in your heart to hear more about these subjects from the pulpit, and give him a few examples from your personal life on how this might have helped you because of discussions or family situations you have had to face without the kind of knowledge of Church teaching you wish you had.

Ask him whether or not he would consider using the Catechism of the Catholic Church as the basis for a series of sermons on these subjects, that would benefit the people in a couple of ways: learning what the Catechism teaches and how to apply those teachings in daily life

American Life League has a series of six articles on how contraception affects all aspects of our lives. Msgr. Vincent Foy has prepared each article in a simple format, perfect for a sermon outline. Suggest this to your pastor as well.

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How can I encourage my bishop and pastor to be more encouraging about pro-life efforts in the diocese and the parish?


The first answer to this question is a question for you: will you lead the effort, support the effort, or what? Your personal view of your own availability will help you sell the idea. If your main interest is counseling expectant mothers, for example, then that is how to approach the topic. If it is sidewalk counseling or prayer vigils at abortion mills or offices of anti-life groups like Planned Parenthood, then that is how to approach it. Be a part of the solution.

Be prepared with materials that are "how to" in nature, such as the guidebook for a "Face the Truth" campaign, or a set of brochures from the local pregnancy care group, or information on pro-life youth outreach. If you want a speaker to come to the parish to start the program off on the right foot, know who you want, how you plan to pay for it, and when you hope to see the plan begin. The better prepared you are, the less the pastor will think he has to do himself. His time is limited, and your request must come with an offer of help.

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How should I alert my pastor or bishop to the presence of anti-life people in the parish or diocese?


Know exactly who they are, and precisely how they are involved in promoting the culture of death.

Be prepared to ask why they are allowed to receive communion and/or be lectors at mass! Bring a copy of Canon 915 with you and focus on the closing words, which apply to a Catholic who is involved in grave sin such as the advocacy of abortion.
Canon 915 states: "Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."


If you perceive problems, let us know and we will make an effort to help you in this regard.

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How should I alert my pastor or bishop to the presence of anti-life material in religious education, Catholic school or seminary curricula?


Bring the proof; do not ever make a presentation on a matter as critical as this without proof. Sometimes that is going to be a story from a child, but whatever it is, be sure you have the evidence when you begin because this could be a long struggle, and you need to be armed with facts.

Know what exact Church teaching is violated by the material or individual you are discussing with your pastor, priest or bishop. If you want details about the teaching or do not have access to it, let us know and we will help you.

When you do not get satisfaction at the parish level, you must be prepared to go to the bishop or even higher if needed.

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What should I do if I witness a priest distribute Holy Communion to (or preside at a Church wedding for) someone who is openly anti-life?


Ask for an appointment with your priest, and discuss this with him. Bring Canon 915 with you, and let him know how concerned you are about scandal, about the impression this leaves on young and old alike, and how disturbing it is to see someone who advocates murdering babies receive the Body of Christ. It is a sacrilege.

After you have discerned the reasoning being used, we would be happy to help you enter into a dialogue on the question, for the concerns you have are not only for those who see such a travesty occur, but for the soul of the one who is clearly uninformed, and committing an additional grave sin by receiving the Blessed Sacrament in such a state.

Begin immediately praying for that person and for the priest so that the Holy Spirit will use you in a way that will most effectively bring about the will of God.

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What should I do if someone who's openly pro-abortion is allowed to speak (or is given an honor) at a church-related function, or at a function on church property?


Your first obligation is to let the priest or bishop know that you are aware of this award, you are aware of the record of the individual receiving the award, and you are prepared to go to the media and to organize a protest if something is not done to cancel the event.

Follow through with the protest and call the media.

By bringing pressure to bear before and during such an event, those who organized it are given good reason not to repeat the event. Don't let it die there, either. Write letters; if donations can be redirected to some other facility, recommend that as well.

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How do I approach my bishop to ask him to excommunicate a pro-abortion "Catholic" politician?


There are several things you must have in hand before writing an initial request to your bishop. You should have a copy of the person's voting record and/or official position statement on abortion. You should know which parish this individual attends and who the pastor is so that you can share this with the bishop and send a copy of your letter to the pastor himself. You should also be prepared for the following: either no response at all, even after repeated letters, or the argument "this is not a matter we are obliged to discuss with you."

If you can show that this individual is pro-death, is in fact a practicing Catholic and is focusing attention on the fact that he or she is "Catholic," you must make that case to your fellow parishioners if attempts to contact the bishop fail. You can initiate a letter writing campaign to the bishop; you can issue statements to the media, letters to the editor, and create educational material (a one-page check list, for example) so that word of this scandalous problem spreads further into the parish community.

After a reasonable period of time, you can communicate with the bishop a second time, asking him to revisit the question. By then you will be assured of additional letters to him, letters to the editor of local newspapers and the diocesan papers, and you might just have created such a problem that the questionable politician will leave or repent through the grace of God.
We make every effort to be sure people understand that the worst aspect of this contradiction between infallible Church teaching which binds all Catholics and the pro-abort who flaunts his or her support for the killing is the impression it give to the young, individuals who may be led into sin because they think it is really is OK to ignore Church teaching and may also think, God forbid, that there really is no such thing as sin or hell. This is why efforts to right such wrongs are most important, not to mention the salvation of the soul of the politician who is in error.

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What should you do if your priest doesn't think life begins at conception?


My first reaction is to explain to you that it really doesn't matter what he "thinks." The science is clear and irrefutable, regardless of the pronouncements of those in the pro-death arena. Anyone who has studied biology in high school knows that a human sperm, united with a human ovum (egg) results in a human being who has his or her own DNA at conception. That is not a matter of opinion nor is it Church teaching. It is scientific fact.

I would take the following steps, in an effort to expose this priest and his modernism, which is precisely what he is teaching.

Get a copy of "When Do Human Beings Begin?" by Dianne Irving, Ph.D. She is a scientist.

After he has absorbed it, explain to him that bioethics expert Father Joseph Howard, Jr., director of our American Bioethics Advisory Commission, would be happy to exchange letters or e-mails with him if he has specific scientific or theological questions.

Take a couple of people with you if he appears intransigent, and discuss it with him again.

If all else fails, get the members of your group to write a joint letter to the pastor, with a copy to the bishop.

Then we can go further if needed. This priest is denying Church teaching, reason and scientific fact -- all at the same time. So pray for him as well, but do not let him get away with this without putting up a struggle because defending Truth is worth it.
We will never stop surgical abortion until we expose the root cause of it all, which is contraception, the act that says no to God and His gifts.

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What should I do if I get stonewalled or if I'm given the runaround by the bureaucracy, either at the parish or diocesan levels?


If this happens at the parish level, go to the bishop's office and persist until a meeting is arranged and you (or several people) are given the opportunity to discuss the problem at length. The point of doing this is not to have a meeting per se, but rather to meet for the purpose of resolving the problem.

The next step after the bishop is the apostolic delegate. This individual is the Vatican's representative in the United States, and through the "diplomatic pouch" that his office has, you can request that a message be sent to Rome, if you prefer communicating directing with the Vatican as well as the apostolic delegate. Following is his name and address.

In Rome, the place to write first, for most of these problems, is Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Hichborn, get this address and email it to Tom

When writing to offices in the Vatican, please remember that you must not expect a speedy response, or in some cases, a response at all. That does not mean they are not aware of the problem you have called to their attention. It means they are treating problems the world over, and after careful study some type of action occurs but we, the laity, are unlikely to hear about it. That is the way it works. But have faith; they are listening.

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Should I try to organize fellow members of my parish or diocese if the pastor or bishop seems unconcerned with erroneous teachings (or lack of any teaching) on matters related to the Gospel of Life?


We caution you, before you begin such an effort, that the role of a group formed because there is a problem is not to change the Church, or alter the manner in which things are done. The Catholic Church is not a democracy, and please do not forget that. We are not as lay people at war with the hierarchy, we merely wish to see the teachings of the Church taught in a manner that is consistent with the truth. So in all things we are charitable, prayerful, and willing to discuss until a resolution that is in keeping with Church teaching is realized.
This requires patience, consistency and the will to defend the Truth. If those are the components upon which your effort to build a growing effort to defend the Truth is built, then you will be blessed with the fruits of God's will in all that you do to restore the truth where error currently exists. But be sure you are, in all that you do, respectful and holy. Try to imagine, no matter how frustrated you may become, how Christ would handle the situation and do likewise.

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Should I forward concerns to the papal nuncio or specific Vatican office?


As we told you above, there is a time for this, but be sure that previous steps and efforts have been exhausted. You will have to document what you have already done, with paperwork, when you communicate with the Vatican representatives.
Never make wild accusations, use disrespectful terms or point the finger. Personal attacks are never in good taste; it is the truth you wish to defend; God will judge personal error.

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Where do you draw the line? The Church, after all, is not a democracy!


That's right! But the Church is the deposit of faith, founded by Christ, entrusted to His apostles, and given directly to the care of St. Peter, the first Holy Father, and from him to each of his successors. And as we have learned in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it is the bishops, in union with the Holy Father, who are entrusted with the teaching of faith and morals.
Sadly, and in our age of subjectivism, pragmatism, and moral relativism, too often the truth of Christ's teaching in the Word of God, Church tradition and magisterial teaching is misrepresented or simply ignored. But the truth does not change, as the Holy Father teaches us in the Gospel of Life. It is worth noting the Gospel of Life, Section 57, on the duty of bishops:

Faced with the progressive weakening in individual consciences and in society of the sense of the absolute and grave moral illicitness of the direct taking of all innocent human life, especially at its beginning and at its end, the Church's Magisterium has spoken out with increasing frequency in defense of the sacredness and inviolability of human life. The papal Magisterium, particularly insistent in this regard, has always been seconded by that of the bishops, with numerous and comprehensive doctrinal and pastoral documents issued either by episcopal conferences or by individual bishops. The Second Vatican Council also addressed the matter forcefully, in a brief but incisive passage.(50)

Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his successors, and in communion with the bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral. This doctrine, based upon that unwritten law which man, in the light of reason, finds in his own heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15), is reaffirmed by Sacred Scripture, transmitted by the Tradition of the Church and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.

This then is not debatable but is the infallible teaching of the Church to which every single Catholic, regardless of vocation, is compelled to adhere to in order to remain true to his or her faith.

In other words, that is where each Catholic draws the line: discerning by the commandments of God, truth written on the heart of every man, what is needed and what is not needed to defend and protect the Church from error. In the final analysis, God will handle each individual human being. But wherever error is being taught, it is that error that we are striving to focus attention on for the good of every soul and their eternal salvation.

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