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Vicki Kennedy denied honorary degree from Catholic college.

Looks like it's RNS day at dotCommonweal.David Gibson reports: "A small Catholic college in Massachusetts has been pressured by the local bishop into cancelling an invitation to Sen. Ted Kennedy's widow to deliver the school's commencement address because of her support of abortion rights and gay marriage." Bishop Robert McManus also told officials at Anna Maria College not to give Vicki Kennedy an honorary degree.In a statement, Kennedy said that she was "disheartened" by the decision:

I am a lifelongCatholic and my faith is very important to me. I am not a public official. I hold no publicoffice nor am I a candidate for public office. I have not met Bishop McManus nor has hebeen willing to meet with me to discuss his objections. He has not consulted with mypastor to learn more about me or my faith. Yet by objecting to my appearance at AnnaMaria College he has made a judgment about my worthiness as a Catholic.

(You can read the full statement here [.pdf].)Perhaps the bishop believed this was a teaching moment. What do you suppose the lesson was?Update: Bishop McManus explains his decision:

My concern basically was that to give this type of honor to Mrs. Kennedy would in fact undercut the Catholic identity and mission of the school. And that in so far as that that happens, the communio or the unity that exists between the local church and the local Catholic college is strained and hurt, he said.

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Mark --The Holy Spirit is always there to help us with the difficulties of making right moral decisions. His help is especially available to the popes and bishops. But they too are just human and can reject the help, just as we can. They do not lose their wills by becoming bishops. They are not automatons.What this implies is that, no, we cannot always be completely certain that a certain decision is right. But we can be certain that we have done our best to reach a right decision. God has not guaranteed us that *any* kind of good will come to us necessarily if we will only do our duty. He has not promised us, for instance, that if we act as justly and fairly as we know how with our neighborsthat we will necessarily prosper. (Yes, the prosperity preachers say otherwise, but just look around you and you'll see that they are wrong.) Analogously, He has not promised that if we are honest in our moral deliberations we will always find the correct answers to our moral questions.God has promised neither total happiness nor total wisdom in this world.

David, one problem with the texts you cite is that, interpreted broadly, they contradict common sense. Claire,It would be a mistake to interpret the statements on infallibility "broadly." As I have noted earlier, the conditions required for the pope to speak infallibly are so narrow that it is generally agreed that popes have met them twice. Some argue that Humanae Vitae is infallible, but there is no consensus, so it is a very weak argument that uses Humanae Vitae as an example of an infallible teaching. If one believes the Catholic Church is what it claims to befor example, if Jesus really named Peter as the head of his Church, the popes are Peter's intended successors, and the bishops are the successors to the apostlesthen there is nothing remarkable about the Church's claims of infallibility under certain conditions and in certain matters.

P. S. Even if you think that the popes and bishops are always right, you have no assurance from God that *you* will always apply those principles correctly in your own moral thinking. In other words, *your* conscience can be mistaken in applying the rules. We can be wrong, Mark, and God never promised us otherwise. But no doubt He forgives us when we do our best.

P. S. Even if you think that the popes and bishops are always right, you have no assurance from God that *you* will always apply those principles correctly in your own moral thinkingAnn,But it is not Catholic teaching that the pope and the bishops are always right. It is Catholic teaching that sometimes, under limited and fairly well defined conditions, the pope and the bishops speak with certainty on matters of faith and morals.

"He has not promised that if we are honest in our moral deliberations we will always find the correct answers to our moral questions."No, but he has promised the bishops that whatever the bishops bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. I don't see where you've given that due recognition.

Mark --I know the text. What I don't see is how you relate it to the question of infallibility. Neither the text nor the context (Matthew 18) has to do with the truth of propositions. Jesus does say there that when someone is accused of something there must be two or three witnesses, or the whole church, which must be brought to bear in reaching a determination about the truth of the accusation. That does seem to be a plea for looking at evidence before reaching a conclusion, and that could be relevant to the infallibility claim, especially the claim about the sensus communus (the whole church).

Mark --The sort of binding that bishops may do is a matter of some dispute. But as I understand it, it is NOT a matter of simply saying something is true thereby making it true. You seem to think that a bishop can bind us to thinking that something is true just because he *says* it's true == that his saying it will make it true both on Earth AND in Heaven. So far as i know the Church has never taught that. Or just what does "binding" have to do with the problem?

"You seem to think that a bishop can bind us to thinking that something is true just because he *says* its true..."You're dodging, Ann. My initial comment was in response to yours of April 6, 5:30 pm, where you called into question the infallibility of the popes and bishops. I never said anything as silly as what you say I seem to think.Happy Easter!

Mark --When you say that the bishops may "bind" on earth and in heaven, and we're talking about what we ought to think,then I concluded that you meant that the bishops could somehow affect the truth of propositions. Or, as I also asked, what does "binding" have to do with teachings? The Bible doesn't refer the binding text to teachings, does it? If so, where does it do so?

Ann--Matthew 18:18.

The claim of infallibility is the weakest argument the Church can make in its teaching.

This thread IMO has degenerated into discussion of the 'teaching" office of the Church.The notion of infallible teaching has and is quite limited.What has expaed is the notion of other doctrines put forward in the magisterium and the amount of assent the faithful must give - and as we've discussed, we've moved from theological notes to the more JPII notion where we are at today and which many reject on conscience basis. Hence a call for rexamination of lots of stuff as Bishop Robinson urged on his peaking tour.Then there's the teaching role of the bishop and how one frames that anlogously.How the Pegrine Office is excercised is hardly clear as the s called Council of Jerusalem in Acts makes clear.Ecclesial models will continue to be influenced by historical circumstances and needs.Thus the discussion here on what "communio" should imply is very much in play.

A quick note -since we're discussin ga kennedy, I was bemused by catdinal Dolan's defense of JFK and Sanrourum in the same breath on CBS Sunday.A teaching moment?????

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