Anna Maria College in Paxton, Massachusetts, after having invited Ted Kennedy's widow Victoria Reggie Kennedy, to speak at their college now seems to have had to rescind that invitation per order of Bishop Robert J. MacManus. The Bishop cited, " her positions on abortion, homosexuality, and the Obama administration’s mandate on insurance coverage for abortifacient contraception and sterilization were incompatible with Catholic teaching." LifeSiteNews reported.
Of course, the liberal reaction was knee-jerk as it always is when things are not to their liking. One of the reactions that made me laugh was from Steve Krueger, chairman of the Catholic Democrats. He said, “Increasingly, we see more and more bishops playing the role of enforcers of the faith rather than shepherds of souls, because they squandered the trust that they once had and the authority that came with it.”
Playing the role of enforcers of the faith? They ARE the enforcers of the faith which is part and parcel of their responsibility of being shepherds of souls. Part of this enforcement is also a defending of the faith. As far a squandering their trust, though it may not be at its highest since the sex abuse scandal, many Catholics still trust their bishops in teaching and defending the faith within the authority of their office, unless that authority is taken away by the Pope with or without Krueger's approval.
The first line of Krueger's statement is the one that gives me hope that Krueger is right, that the bishop's roles in enforcing and defending the faith is increasing. This is the second time in just a few years that the Kennedy's have been at odds with bishops. In late 2009, Bishops Tobin of Providence, RI instructed and requested that Patrick Kennedy be denied Holy Communion because of his support of abortion and now Victoria Kennedy has been denied to appear at Anna Maria College.
In her defense Kennedy said “by objecting to my appearance at Anna Maria College he[Bishop MacManus] has made a judgment about my worthiness as a Catholic. This is a sad day for me and an even sadder one for the Church I love.” Of course she is wrong. By objecting to her appearance, the Bishop made sure the integrity of the Catholic education at Anna Maria not be compromised by a high profile woman who's beliefs about abortion, contraception and homosexuality conflict with the Church. That is his job. If there was a judgment made of her worthiness as a Catholic it was made by her defiance to Church teachings and by no one else.
What has happened here is very important in more ways than one. What we are seeing, slowly I'll admit and not by all, are the bishops exercising their authority not only in demanding that Catholic Colleges adhere to the Church's teachings on abortion, if they are to retain their Catholic identity, but speakers who are invited to Catholic Colleges are also not to be in contradiction with the Church and what she teaches. The Notre Dame scandal with Obama receiving an honorary degree is to be thanked for that.
But, here is something else that should give us hope. The confrontation was with none other than another member of the Kennedy name. This is significant because that indicates that the bishops are courageously standing up against those who are considered untouchables by the Camelot Faithful and who believe the Kennedy name second only to the Pope, perhaps first in some opinions. Also, by the latest survey, these bishops exercised their authority in the least religious section of the country: the Northeast United States, a hotbed of liberalism. This should give encouragement to other bishops in the country when faced with defending the faith in face of controversy. They can succeed in defending the faith and survive at the same time.
I believe we will see more and more of this type of shepherding from other bishops as they begin to renew their own faith and encourage each other as Apostles of the Church. Bishops Tobin, MacManus and Archbishop Dolan will be good company to be in for any bishop intent on exercising his office in the Church.
Pray for our bishops.