Time to “Bell, Book and Candle” them all

January 25, 2019 (Steven O’Reilly) – By now, I am sure most Catholics who follow either political or religious current events are well  aware of the recent abortion law that recently passed in the state of New York.  The law — the “Reproductive Health Act”— passed with the lead and support of Governor Cuomo and, no doubt, many legislators, who — like Cuomo — bear a nominal affiliation with the Catholic Church.

In olden days, a Catholic who directly participated in such a public, evil act would have been excommunicated.  St. Ambrose, for example, excommunicated the Roman emperor Theodosius for a massacre of thousands in Thessalonica.  But that was then, this is now—though the magnitude of the current evil exceeds that emperor’s act, and the direct guilt of which extends to generations of politicians who enacted our Moloch state.  Yet, one is hard pressed in our time to find a bishop with the courage of an Ambrose or an Athanasius among our bishops in the US — or in the whole world for that matter.  Instead of standing up in any substantial way to the so-called Catholic politicians; the vast majority of bishops prefer to avoid appearing incorrect in the eyes and opinion of the liberal media.  Thus; for example, in the case of the Covington kids, their bishop still cared more to virtue signal to the media —- even when the innocence of the Catholic kids had become evident.

The episcopate today is an awful state and mess.  Lay Catholics should not need to be calling for the excommunications of Gov. Cuomo and the Catholic legislators who voted for and cheered the passage of the law — as if they were spectators of some human blood spectacle in the Roman coliseum or the Circus Maximus. We shouldn’t need to call for them—the bishops should beat us to the punch.

There have been a couple bishops calling for excommunications on social media — but these bishops are the rarity.  Unfortunately, as the whole McCarrick debacle points to, the process for selecting and promoting bishops was for the great part usurped and corrupted by a network of homosexuals and homosexual-friendly heretics years ago.  A network that produced too many bishops who rose to prominence, e.g., Wuerl, Bernardin and McCarrick, and who water-downed the Church’s witness in countless ways, not least of which was turning a blind eye to blatant, public opposition to natural and divine laws of which the Church is meant to be the guardian.  They offered the “seamless garment” theology which allowed an unseemly alliance with the political left; thereby muting the Church’s voice against abortion and other evils.  Instead of firm and proactive resistance, we all too often see our bishops and cardinals offering mealy-mouth expressions of “sadness” when confronted by such evil acts; only for us to later see them yucking it up with these very same abortion-Catholics at parades, fancy dinners, etc.

God is not mocked.  A day of reckoning is coming for the Church—and for the many quisling bishops and cardinals who aid and abet the evils of our time, such as abortion, by their silence (see The Historicity of Miracles: The case of Julian the Apostate and a lesson for our time ).  While I expect it is more likely the bishop of Albany and Cardinal Dolan of New York will do nothing; what the situation demands are a number of public excommunications.  Not just any excommunication.  I, for one, would like to see the old rite of excommunication revived…the old “Bell, Book and Candle” as described below:

“Bell, book, and candle, in Roman Catholicism, a ceremony formerly used in pronouncing the “major excommunication” or “anathema” (seeexcommunication). Its origins are not clear, but it dates back certainly to the late 9th century. The bell represented the public character of the act, the book the authority of the words spoken by the presiding bishop. The candle was believed to symbolize the possibility that the ban might be lifted by the repentance and amendment of its victim. The ceremony was performed in some conspicuous place, and, upon its termination, letters were written to bishops of other sees to report the fact. When the assemblage had been convoked, a bishop appeared with 12 priests, and all 13 held lighted candles. The bishop, wearing violet vestments, then recited the formula, ending thus: “We separate him, together with his accomplices and abettors, from the precious body and blood of the Lord and from the society of all Christians; we exclude him from our holy mother the churchin heaven and on earth; we declare him excommunicate and anathema; we judge him damned, with the devil and his angels and all the reprobate, to eternal fire until he shall recover himself from the toils of the devil and return to amendment and to penitence.” Those present answered, “So be it!” Then the bishop and the 12 priests extinguished their candles by dashing them to the ground, and (as a general rule) the ceremony then ended.  (Source: Encyclopedia Britannica)

The ceremony should be televised (NB: If it were, it might look something like this scene from the movie Beckett, as some readers have suggested to me on twitter and by email).  But, I won’t hold my breath; but this would be a very worthwhile and instructive ceremony for Catholics in the pew and the excommunicated—-many of whom  have lost all reverence and understanding for the Real Presence in the Eucharist.  Disgraceful, yes —- but for this the episcopate bears great blame.  It should be no surprise that many have lost a true understanding of the Eucharist when for so many decades our bishops and cardinals have allowed it to be trampled upon by all sorts of manifest, public sinners.  For over a half century much of the episcopate has been in bed with the world (figuratively and quite literally); allowing communion for manifest, public sinners—a dereliction of apostolic duty that now includes the possibility of communion for manifest adulterers (see The Errors of Mr. Walford’s ‘Pope Francis, The Family and Divorce’).

Folks old enough might remember the police television series called “Hawaii-5-O.”  When Lt. Steve McGarrett arrested someone, he’d list the crimes and then tell officer Danny Williams: “book ‘em, Danno.”   There are enough excommunicable offenses here to keep the bishop of Albany and Cardinal Dolan — and rest of that state’s bishops very busy. Time to “book ‘em, Danno”.  Time to “bell, book and candle” them all.

Steven O’Reilly is a graduate of the University of Dallas and the Georgia Institute of Technology. He lives near Atlanta with his wife Margaret. He has written apologetic articles and is working on a historical-adventure trilogy, set during the time of the Arian crisis. He asks for your prayers for his intentions.  He can be contacted at StevenOReilly@AOL.com (or follow on Twitter: @S_OReilly_USA).


8 thoughts on “Time to “Bell, Book and Candle” them all

  1. Amen to this article. I read “Goodbye, Good Men” by Michael Rose in the late 90s and it opened my eyes to the root of the scandals going on for the last 30 years. Those years have resulted in the promotion of the errant unqualified individuals who now populate the ranks of higher positions in the hierarchy of the Church. Nothing short of laisizaton of all these proven to be unqualified individuals, in these positions of authority in the Church, will remedy the problems the Church is experiencing today.


  2. While I echo the sentiments of Mr. O’Reilly, I think we need to be careful, as faithful and intelligent Catholics, to not misdirect our anger in a way that pushes bishops in directions they cannot go. Dr. Ed Peters in his last three articles on his blog, I think, has exhaustively explained why excommunication is not on the table for Governor Cuomo. Still we have a right to demand that our bishops provide moral and spiritual leadership, something that has been desperately lacking for a long time. My take on it is that the majority of bishops simply don’t have the temperament for what it is they are required to do in their role as bishop and by virtue of their episcopal consecration. Most of those who have been selected as bishops were adept at maneuvering through ecclesiastical politics with the ability to offend as few people as possible or at least not offend the “right” people. They caught the eye of their bishops, as priests who were bridge-builders, dialogue facilitators and fund raisers. But as bishops, they must be the first to pick up the cross – and their cross requires them to speak the Truth even when it ends up burning bridges, ending dialogue and losing donors. Their cross requires them to offend people – with the Gospel! We will not see any excommunications – or, sadly, anything else from the vast majority of bishops. They may be shrewd church politicians but they are no match for the snakes in civil politics.


    1. Thanks for the reply. While I certainly respect the aforementioned canon lawyers; I frankly find it not credible to say Cuomo cannot be excommunicated. For example, what he has done is no less egregious than what Emperor Theodosius had done to merit excommunication. All that said, I share your take on how we’ve ended up with the sorts of bishops we have-i.e., ones allergic to controversy, scaring off donors, bad press, etc. Unfortunately, we have run into a “perfect storm.” As the world descends further into moral chaos, the Church–under the leadership of such men– is at the same time in the worst position possible to address the crisis.

      Thanks for reading the blog.




      1. I do agree with Dr. Peters proposal to prosecute Governor Cuomo under c.1369 for a lesser penalty and then elevate it to excommunication for that sanction is spurned. My point is that I am not even remotely an expert in canon law (knowing just enough to be dangerous to myself and others) and the bishops have to rely on their experts too. They have to get this right or a failed attempt at excommunication would only make matters worse as Dr. Peters states. True, there is no difference between Cuomo and Theodosius but what is different is the code of canon law that our current bishops have to work with. I do like a proposal by Fr. Z that the bishops of NY perform an exorcism similar to Bishop Paprocki in Springfield, IL. That would go a long way to reassuring the faithful that they have not been abandoned – Cardinal Dolan and the NY bishops gathered in St. Patrick’s Cathedral performing the rite of exorcism live in primetime on CNN. Unfortunately, I think the bishops in NY have been hamstrung fighting state legislation that would relax the statute of limitations on sex abuse offences. I believe that legislation just passed which would open up the NY dioceses to a lot more civil complaints of clergy sexual abuse and with the expected payouts, could bankrupt several of the dioceses. On another note, I think something much bigger is going on – not just with the NY law but also the failed law proposal in VA. It may just be at the political level with the expected death of RBG giving DJT another SC pick, but my hunch is that it’s much bigger at the spiritual warfare level. Satan seems to be making very big moves. .


  3. Dr.Peters is blatantly wrong when he says pro-abortion is not heresy because it is not contrary to Divine Revelation……


    41. With these words the Instruction Donum Vitae sets forth the central content of God’s revelation on the sacredness and inviolability of human life.

    53. “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves ‘the creative action of God’, and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can, in any circumstance, claim for himself the right to destroy directly an innocent human being”.

    Sacred Scripture in fact presents the precept “You shall not kill” as a divine commandment (Ex 20:13; Dt 5:17)
    Taken up and brought to fulfilment in the New Law, the commandment “You shall not kill” stands as an indispensable condition for being able “to enter life” (cf. Mt 19:16-19).

    Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral. This doctrine, based upon that unwritten law which man, in the light of reason, finds in his own heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15), is reaffirmed by Sacred Scripture,


    1. Chris, thanks for the input. One would have read Mr. Peters own comments on his position.

      If someone denies a teaching, say “adultery is against the ten commandments,” then that is heresy. If one is simply an adulterer, they are committing the sin of adultery — without being a heretic. Again, that might be the distinction he draws…I don’t want to speak for him. But, in a similar fashion, a politician who facilitates abortion may share the guilt of the abortion, but not necessarily having committed the specific crime of heresy.

      Regardless of the distinction above, I think anyone in a position of authority over the question of abortion who cooperates with that evil — as a manifest public sinner –, should be refused the sacraments.

      Regards…thanks for reading.



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