By Hilary White

  LINCOLN, February 21, 2007 (  The Vatican’s second highest juridical authority has rejected the appeal of an American leftist group, Call to Action (CTA), to overturn a decree of excommunication by the bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska, who called the group an “anti-Catholic sect”.

  A letter from the Apostolic Signatura, the Catholic Church’s supreme tribunal and the highest judicial authority after the Pope himself, dismissed the group’s attempt at appeal with a terse message that it had “no competence” to overturn the decree.

  The Signatura’s letter reiterates a December letter from the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, Giovanni Cardinal Battista Re, upholding the 1996 decree. In his letter, Re said CTA and the other groups were “causing damage to the Church of Christ” and that the bishop’s action “was properly taken within your competence as pastor of that diocese.”

  Re agreed with Bruskewitz’s description of the groups named in the decree as “totally incompatible with the Catholic faith”. They also included the abortion lobby groups Catholics for a Free Choice and Planned Parenthood and the euthanasia advocacy group the Hemlock Society.

  Call to Action is the US’ leading anti-Catholic organization, founded in the 1960’s to agitate within the Catholic Church to overturn Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life, marriage and the meaning of the priesthood.

  At the time, CTA responded to the decree by holding a press conference in Washington DC and boasted that the decree had caused a “bonanza” of publicity for their cause and a wave of new memberships.

  A formal decree of excommunication has always been extremely rare throughout the history of the Catholic Church and has typically been used as a last resort. It can be overturned by the bishop or the Pope when the individual concerned pledges to return to the normal practices and beliefs of Catholicism.

  Rachel Pokora, president of Call to Action-Nebraska responded that the group would continue to attempt to overturn the decree saying they would be consulting canon lawyers. She told local media that she objected to the term “sect” because it implies Call to Action is “somehow heretical”.

  Read related coverage:
  Vatican Approves Excommunication of Liberal Catholic Group “Call to Action”


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