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Vatican has turned down excommunication appeal by Call to Action: Heretics need not apply

3/5/2005 9:50:00 PM -

The nine-year-old decision of Lincoln Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz to excommunicate members of Call to Action and other groups has withstood an appeal, the Diocese of Lincoln announced Friday.

The diocese said that the Vatican rejected the appeal "some time ago." Call to Action Nebraska filed the appeal in protest of the blanket excommunication, but the group never heard back from Rome.

The Rev. Mark Huber, a spokesman for the diocese, said the appeal was rejected because it challenged a church law - specifically, legislation from the 1996 Synod of the Diocese of Lincoln - that prohibited membership in the organizations.

"They can't appeal a particular law," he said. "They can appeal a judicial sentence or an administrative decree. Excommunication is part of the law."

Patty Hawk, the national and state president of Call to Action, a group pushing for change in the Catholic Church, said no one has ever told her organization that the appeal was rejected.

"The Vatican, by rule, should have to contact us," she said. "We're the ones who requested (the appeal)."

The excommunication and appeal had been a nonissue until recently.

In 1996, the bishop excommunicated members of 12 groups, ranging from Call to Action to Planned Parenthood, but he said he did not intend for confrontations during communion. He said excommunication was a matter of the heart.

Members of Call to Action Nebraska, saying that the excommunication was invalid, have continued to take communion.

A few weeks ago, however, the bishop waved away one group member at communion time. Two other priests later denied communion to that member, co-founder John Krejci.

Hawk said no other Call to Action members have been denied communion, as far as she knows.

But even if the appeal has been rejected, she said, that shouldn't change things for members of the group.

"Most people see the excommunication as invalid," she said. "Regardless of what happens with this, it doesn't change our understanding of ourselves as Catholics



Copyright 2004 Victor Claveau. All Rights Reserved