Commentary Page

Hero Award - Bishop Robert J. Hermann
Hero Award - Bishop Joseph F. Martino
Hero Award - Father Jay Newman

Millstone Award - Father Leon Alexander

(The Millstone Award is given to those who commit public scandal undermining the Faith.)

Father Leon is pastor of an unnamed parish in West Virginia. One of his publications included a column called, "Down Guthrie Lane," in which he quoted from a talk given by Rev. Addison Wright. In pondering what Jesus would say from the cross today, he states in part:
"Don't weep for me - I'm not working on your guilt here or paying a penalty…You had nothing to do with my death."
"…be sure your religion doesn't get pre-occupied with the next world or become an introspective finale thing…"
"Religion is a social challenge, and not a private relationship with me."

We do not know how many letters, emails and phone calls Father Leon received regarding this blatant heresy, but our letter to him went unanswered.

There is no excuse for what he quoted. This is serious sacrilege. Father Leon should know better than to quote a presumed heretic.

Of those who read the article and expressed an opinion to us, most thought Father should be sent back to the seminary for retraining. However, his superior, Bishop Michael Bransfield, responded to our letter to him by admitting Jesus did indeed die for our sins and the sins of the whole world (Jn 1:29), but at the same time, this soteriological truth is and should be connected to a moral truth. He indicated Christ’s salvific death for our sins should motivate us to look at the world around us and work for peace and justice.

If we listen to Rev. Wright’s words I assume we would have more time to work for peace and justice if we spend less time feeling guilty for and repenting for our sins; not being preoccupied with the next world or our religion; and not letting our religion be a social challenge. Hmmm! Does this sound like the words from leaders in our Catholic Faith?

Jim Fritz

Hero Award - Bishop Robert J. Hermann

(The Hero Award is given to those who Defend the Faith with courage and conviction.)

At the annual fall assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Bishop Robert J. Hermann stated, "We have lost 50 times as many children in the last 35 years as we have lost soldiers in all the wars since the Revolution. I think any bishop here would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow to bring about an end to abortion. If we are willing to die tomorrow, then we should be willing to, until the end of our lives, take all kinds of criticism for opposing this horrible infanticide."

The following were some of his comments during a follow up interview by the St. Louis Review: “People do not realize that it is 50 million children that we have killed. We have campaigned to save the baby whales, and yet we vote in pro-abortion politicians - which doesn't make any sense whatsoever.”

“If American youth are willing to go to war and lay their [lives] down to defend our freedoms, then every bishop should be willing to give up his life, if it mean[s] putting an end to abortion. And if we're willing to do that, then we should be totally fearless of [in] promoting this cause without being concerned about political correctness, without trying to build coalitions with pro-choice people.”

“Pope John Paul has made it very clear that while some people say that the economy, or the war in Iraq or immigration should be of prime consideration. But he said those rights mean nothing if the fundamental right to life is not guaranteed. Before these other rights mean anything, we have to guarantee the fundamental right to life. When someone is denied life, then all the other rights don't mean anything.”

“I encourage all priests to continue to pray about the issue, to study the teachings of Pope John Paul II, and Cardinal (Joseph) Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) on this issue, and then address it with love and patience and courage. We do not condemn proponents of abortion; we condemn their beliefs and their practices. We pray for them, and we want their salvation as we desire our own. When we preach pro-life from the pulpit, we're doing everyone in the congregation a great favor by presenting the truth of our faith in a very clear, concise and effective manner. The truth shall set you free.”

When asked if there was anything he could offer to our Catholic readers which would give them hope for the future, Bishop Hermann responded, “I would encourage [readers] to study the Church's documents - perhaps to start with Pope John Paul's, "The Gospel of Life," ("Evangelium Vitae") and then to follow that up with encyclical, "Humanae Vitae," ("Of Human Life") so they can clearly understand the nature of man and woman and the sacredness of God's calling for man and woman. The more they study that and begin to live those teachings, the more they're going to come into freedom to promote the Gospel of Life, first of all, by the witness of their very lives. And secondly, they will be courageous in sharing their witness to others.”

To read Bishops Hermann’s article on abortion, I thought You Should Know: Save our Children, go to

Hero Award - Bishop Joseph F. Martino

(The Hero Award is given to those who Defend the Faith with courage and conviction.)

An election forum at St. John's Catholic Church in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, in October 2008 was organized to allow Catholics the opportunity to defend their support for a particular candidate. However, the forum took a surprising turn when an unexpected guest showed up to guide his flock: the Bishop of Scranton, Joseph F. Martino.

Certain panelists used their own erroneous interpretations of the USCCB’s statement on Faithful Citizenship, to justify their political positions and to contradict the Church's actual teaching on the centrality of abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research as intrinsic evils.

When the bishop heard the speakers using the USCCB’s statement to justify their choice for president, he reminded the audience that those "groups and individuals who make statements about Catholic teaching do not speak with the same authority or authenticity as their bishop."

The prelate then clarified his authority as bishop and the Church's teachings on abortion as an election issue.

"No USCCB document is relevant in this diocese," said Martino according to the Wayne Independent. "The USCCB doesn't speak for me. The only relevant document my letter," he continued, "There is one teacher in this diocese, and these points are not debatable."

He was referring to a pastoral letter to his entire diocese published in the first week of October. In his message, Bishop Martino stated that a candidate's abortion stance is a major voting issue that supersedes all others due to its grave moral consequences.

He wrote: "To begin, laws that protect abortion constitute injustice of the worst kind. They rest on several false claims including that there is no certainty regarding when life begins, that there is no certainty about when a fetus becomes a person, and that some human beings may be killed to advance the interests or convenience of others."

He further stated, "No other social issue has caused the death of 50 million people," noting that he no longer supports the Democratic Party. "This is madness, people."

When the prelate concluded his speech, most audience members gave him a standing ovation.

We at The Defenders of the Faith also applaud Bishop Martino.

Jim Fritz

Hero Award - Father Jay Newman

(The Hero Award is given to those who Defend the Faith with courage and conviction.)

Father Jay Newman of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville South Carolina has stated from the pulpit that all those Catholics in the parish who voted for Barack Obama and other pro abortion politicians must seek forgiveness in confession and do penance before they can legitimately receive Holy Eucharist.

Here's what Fr. Newman had to say in last Sundays bulletin:

“Dear Friends in Christ,
We the People have spoken, and the 44th President of the United States will be Barack Hussein Obama. This election ends a political process that started two years ago and which has revealed deep and bitter divisions within the United States and also within the Catholic Church in the United States. This division is sometimes called a “Culture War,” by which is meant a heated clash between two radically different and incompatible conceptions of how we should order our common life together, the public life that constitutes civil society. And the chief battleground in this culture war for the past 30 years has been abortion, which one side regards as a murderous abomination that cries out to Heaven for vengeance and the other side regards as a fundamental human right that must be protected in laws enforced by the authority of the state. Between these two visions of the use of lethal violence against the unborn there can be no negotiation or conciliation, and now our nation has chosen for its chief executive the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president. We must also take note of the fact that this election was effectively decided by the votes of self-described (but not practicing) Catholics, the majority of whom cast their ballots for President-elect Obama. In response to this, I am obliged by my duty as your shepherd to make two observations:
1. Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exits constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.
2. Barack Obama, although we must always and everywhere disagree with him over abortion, has been duly elected the next President of the United States, and after he takes the Oath of Office next January 20th, he will hold legitimate authority in this nation. For this reason, we are obliged by Scriptural precept to pray for him and to cooperate with him whenever conscience does not bind us otherwise. Let us hope and pray that the responsibilities of the presidency and the grace of God will awaken in the conscience of this extraordinarily gifted man an awareness that the unholy slaughter of children in this nation is the greatest threat to the peace and security of the United States and constitutes a clear and present danger to the common good. In the time of President Obama’s service to our country, let us pray for him in the words of a prayer found in the Roman Missal:
"God our Father, all earthly powers must serve you. Help our President-elect, Barack Obama, to fulfill his responsibilities worthily and well. By honoring and striving to please you at all times, may he secure peace and freedom for the people entrusted to him. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever."

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