"Consequently, if a Catholic publicly and obstinately supports the civil right to abortion, knowing that the Church teaches officially against that legislation, he or she commits that heresy envisioned by Can. 751 of the Code. Provided that the presumptions of knowledge of the law and penalty (Can. 15, s. 2) and imputability (Can. 1321, s. 3) are not rebutted in the external forum, one is automatically excommunicated according to Can. 1364, s. 1."
Rome has spoken, the matter is nearly closed. As those who obtain their news from sources other than the MSM know, Marc Balestrieri, a lay canon lawyer, initiated a formal charge of heresy against Senator Kerry in the spring of this year. For having the hubris to do so, he was fired from his job by Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles, who is apparently not averse to profaning the Eucharist as long as the political situation is not disturbed. In August, the lawyer in question took his case to Rome, proposing two formal dubiums (questions). The paragraph above is Rome's official response.
With that response, there is now no question that Senator Kerry is a material heretic, as this forum and dozens of others have pointed out for quite some time. All that now needs to be demonstrated is that Senator Kerry was formally made aware of the gravity of his stance on abortion and he refused the instruction. With that demonstration, Senator Kerry is formally a heretic.
Now, keep in mind that this was not rocket science. A lay person was forced to bring this suit (something only possible with the 1983 update to canon law) precisely because American bishops have been largely too lazy and too ignorant to take it upon themselves to touch the matter. But much more needs to be pointed out.
With Rome's pronouncement in hand, the canonical trial under Archbishop O'Malley is pretty much pro forma. After all, it is Archbishop O'Malley's duty as bishop to teach the Faith, especially public unrepentant sinners like Senator Kerry. So, either O'Malley admits malfeasance by pointing out that he failed to instruct Senator Kerry or he admits that he informed Kerry and is forced, by the canonical trial, to formally declare Senator Kerry a heretic and an excommunicate.
Now, one wonders why something so obvious to Rome (it only took 11 days for Rome to rule on the matter, which is equivalent to less than five minutes in American time), was so obscure to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)? Of course, there can be but one explanation - the USCCB has been dancing around the problem of schism so hard that it felt it couldn't deal with the doctrinal issue at all. They permitted the Eucharist to be profaned by a heretic because they feared schism. They didn't have the guts to teach the Faith. That's one explanation. The other is that the vast majority of American bishops are as stupid as rocks and/or as ignorant as the unwashed savage, because they couldn't figure out in months what it took Rome only days to pronounce on.
It's hard to know which explanation is more charitable. Is it better to assume most of America's bishops are mental incompetents or spiritual cowards? Given the speed of the Roman response, it's hard to see what other alternatives are available.
In any case, Rome has probably headed off formal schism for the moment. If the USCCB has demonstrated anything, it is precisely that only a handful of bishops have any backbone. Thankfully, the bishops with backbone are the orthodox ones who have already cut Kerry off from communion. The rest are jellyfish. Now that Rome has provided the blueprints for how the case under O'Malley is to proceed, the good archbishop would have to be enormously incompetent to hand down any verdict other than "heretic;" indeed, he would be proclaiming himself incompetent on a number of fronts. Thus, within scant weeks, all the bishops, all the Catholics in the United States, will be back in full communion. The possibility that an orthodox bishop would pronounce someone like Cardinal Mahoney out of communion with the Church is very likely closed, barring acts of the greatest stupidity on the part of the Los Angeles bishop and his kind.
Kerry can't afford to change his stance - it would kill what little hope he has for the Presidency. Thus, Kerry is as good as condemned. Cardinal Mahoney, Father Greeley and the rest have had all their normal avenues for confusing the issue cut off. Archbishop O'Malley must either proclaim himself an incompetent shepherd or Senator Kerry a heretic. Senator Kennedy and company will follow on immediately, with Frances Kissling and her ilk undoubtedly waiting in the wings.
There's a lesson in all of this. Like God Himself, Rome will not intrude into our lives unless we petition. She respects the principle of subsidiarity, the exercise of free will. Even though John Paul II reformed canon law so that lay people could do an end-run around heretical bishops, he did not force anyone's hand. Like God in the Garden of Eden, he made sure everyone knew the rules, then sat back and waited for us to decide what we wanted to do. He's had to wait 20 years for anyone to pick up on the hint.
We lay people are slow and stupid, but we have finally got the message, Holy Father.
Now, let's clean house.