JOE HESCHMEYER SAID:
“1) As background, there are real limits to what the Church hierarchy can do with Notre Dame both legally and canonically. And since at least the Land O' Lakes Declaration in the 60s, ND has made it clear that it isn't going to be docile about accepting pastoral oversight.”
i) Last time I checked, the president of ND is a Catholic priest. Is Heschmeyer telling us that the Vatican, or the Diocesan Bishop, has no control over the actions of its priests?
Yet Catholic apologists fault Protestantism because we lack an accountability system. We’re a law unto ourselves. Freelance agents. “Ecclesial deism” and all that good stuff.
If, however, Catholics priests are also freelance agents, who are canonically at liberty to defy their religious superiors, then Catholicism suffers the same systemic problem that it imputes to Protestantism.
ii) Isn’t it circular to excuse the hierarchy because there are “canonical” limits to what the hierarchy can do to rein in a “stubborn” priest? After all, isn’t the Vatican the source of canon law in the first place? So if there are “real limits,” then these are self-imposed limits. Why not rewrite canon law?
“If you're arguing in good faith here, you presumably want the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to enforce orthodoxy on the abortion issue. That's exactly what they tried to do here. There was a small and recalcitrant group legally in charge of deciding whether or not to honor Obama. They refused the exhortations of literally dozens of Catholic bishops.”
So the hierarchy can only “exhort” a “stubborn” priest to do the right thing? If a priest disobeys his religious superiors, is he not subject to ecclesiastical discipline?
“You can determine this pretty empirically. Look to the first-responders to the abortion issue, trace who's given the most money, who's got the most volunteers praying and protesting, who makes up the overwhelming majority of March for Life marchers, however you want to measure it. The Catholic Church manned the pro-life cause virtually single-handedly prior to the early 1980s.”
Of course, Catholic politicians have also been in the vanguard of legalizing abortion. If we want to determine this “empirically,” we could begin with all the proabortion Catholics in Congress. Or what about the late Justice Brennan, who was instrumental in legalizing abortion. What about proabort Catholic governors? And big city mayors?