California Catholic Daily has posted excerpts from "the March 18 keynote address by Fargo, North Dakota, Bishop Samuel J. Aquila (bio) at the 10th Annual Symposium on the Spirituality and Identity of the Diocesan Priest, held in Philadelphia:
One must honestly ask, how many times and years may a Catholic politician vote for the so called "right to abortion", "murder" in the words of John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae (58), and still be able to receive Holy Communion? The continual reception of Holy Communion by those who so visibly contradict and promote a grave evil, even more than simply dissent, only creates grave scandal, undermines the teaching and governing authority of the Church and can be interpreted by the faithful as indifference to the teaching of Christ and the Church on the part of those who have the responsibility to govern. If we honestly pray with the Gospel we can see that hesitancy and non-accountability is not the way of Jesus Christ, but rather it is a failure in the exercise of governance.
Bishops and priests, as an act of loving obedience to Christ, must return to a full exercise of the governing authority of Christ witnessed in the Gospel. If we do not exercise that authority, are hesitant to exercise it, or doubt it, then it only leads to the ―father of lies‖ taking hold of the minds and hearts of the faithful, and their continuing to act in the ways of man and not the ways of God.
Pope Benedict XVI, in his conversation with Peter Seewald in the book Light of the World, made the following observation concerning the sexual abuse crisis among clergy, after speaking with the Archbishop of Dublin. In their conversation they spoke to a mentality prevalent after Vatican II. ―The prevailing mentality was that the Church must not be a Church of laws but, rather, a Church of love; she must not punish. Thus the awareness that punishment can be an act of love ceased to exist. This led to an odd darkening of the mind, even in very good people. Today we have to learn all over again that love for the sinner and love for the person who has been harmed are correctly balanced if I punish the sinner in the form that is possible and appropriate. In this respect there was in the past a change of mentality, in which the law and need for punishment were obscured. Ultimately this also narrowed the concept of love, which in fact is not just being nice or courteous, but is found in the truth (emphasis added). And another component of truth is that I must punish the one who has sinned against real love" (Pages 25-26).
As the Holy Father notes love corrects for the good of the person. Correction can be difficult and painful, as parents know, yet as a shepherd I am willing to suffer the rejection and anger of another when I speak the truth for the good of the person and the Bride of Christ. To correct and/or to punish someone who has gravely sinned against real love is an act of servant love and is found in the truth!