July 13, 2024

Every Sunday at Mass, we profess our faith by saying the Nicene Creed. Its origins date back to the First Council of Nicaea in 325 when Church leaders summarized God’s revealed eternal truths as found in Sacred Scripture (the Old and New Testaments) and Sacred Tradition. Jesus, as God, fulfilled the revelations of the Old Testament. He instituted the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, the Catholic Church, to pass on the fullness of revealed truths, and he called disciples to never deviate from them.  

How blessed we are as Catholics to have the full deposit of revealed truths preserved and passed on to us! May our weekly profession of the Nicene Creed, beginning with “I believe…,” be what “we believe…,” which is God’s revealed truths.  As bishop I have the responsibility of teaching Catholics on matters of faith and morals. It is both a great privilege and daunting responsibility, especially if there are serious violations of faith and morals being promoted by Catholics.   

If any baptized Catholic’s personal “I believe…” is something other than what “We believe..,” that is, God’s revealed truths, we sin against God and bring spiritual harm upon ourselves, others and the Catholic Church. Essentially we are saying to God, what “I believe,” that is, my personal willful choice, is superior to what you, God, have revealed to us. 

May we not be deceived by erroneous thinking, ignorance, the devil or others and choose to reject God’s revealed truths and will like Adam and Eve did. They wanted to be independent of God’s perfect will for them and the common good of humanity. They wanted to be god and decide for themselves what was right and wrong. Their disobedience to God’s divine plan for human flourishing caused serious spiritual hardship for them and us.  

Such serious ongoing spiritual hardship is rampant today in our world, country, state, families and even churches. Every time a baptized Catholic makes a personal choice of  “I believe,” which is contrary to what “We believe” (God’s revealed truths and will), it adds to the spiritual harm of souls and the Church. 

Serious spiritual and moral harm occurred when the disobedient and willful  “I believe” in abortion was effectively legalized throughout our country in 1973. This was a defining  moment when many individuals and civil leaders chose to no longer live as one nation under God’s authority by following the Divine Law of loving God and neighbor. The ravages of abortion to our country and state have brought serious spiritual, emotional, physical and moral harm upon us.  

More than 64 million innocent babies have been killed in our country since abortion was civilly legalized. More moral harm is being promoted within our state of South Dakota by some residents and others outside our state. They are advocating for the serious morally sinful state constitutional amendment of abortion. This is especially spiritually harmful when those who call themselves Catholic choose or promote abortion and violate God’s commandments of  “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind… [and] your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39).

We are all called to examine our consciences for the ways that we have sinned against others, rejoicing in God’s boundless mercy and knowing that He is always ready and willing to forgive even the gravest of evils. Therefore, as Catholics and all people of good will, let it be known:

  • That any baptized Catholic who cooperates, in any way whether directly or indirectly, implicitly or explicitly with the inherently and intrinsically evil act of abortion is spiritually responsible for their own degree of cooperation in a grievous offense against God, others and the common good.
  • That any baptized Catholic who, with full knowledge and full consent, advocates or cooperates with the serious (grave) sin of abortion is spiritually responsible for the sin they commit. Any and all cooperation with the serious sin of abortion should be brought to the Sacrament of Confession. It is spiritually imperative that cooperation with abortion be renounced and confessed, with a firm resolve to never cooperate again. Without renunciation of the grave sin of abortion, one brings spiritual condemnation upon oneself and remains at risk of eternal damnation because of the violation of the Divine Law of  “You shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13) and the greatest of all the commandments as Jesus taught us: “You shall love the Lord your God… and your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39). 
  • That baptized Catholics in the Diocese of Sioux Falls are asked to follow God’s Divine Law by respecting and promoting the wellbeing of every human life from the moment of conception until natural death. Knowing that the human intellect is able, even apart from divine revelation, to recognize the evil of abortion, we ask that all people of good will join us in this effort.
  • Catholics who promote and support abortion in public discourse or among their personal acquaintances are a cause of scandal and are teaching others to sin. This support is entirely contrary to the Catholic faith and should be confronted as such. Persons who persist in cooperating with and/or promoting the sin of abortion ought not  present themselves for  reception of  Holy Communion in the Diocese of Sioux Falls until they go to Confession, renounce the sin, receive sacramental absolution, firmly resolve to not commit that sin again and do their penance.
  • That every baptized Catholic in the Diocese of Sioux Falls who has authority over others,  as parents, educators, medical professionals, legislators, civil leaders, religious leaders, etc., are asked to actively practice their “I believe” in full accord with God’s revealed truths in what “We believe” in God’s one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. I humbly and fervently ask this for the spiritual well being of one’s own soul, the good of others, the common good, and the good of the Church. 
  • Every baptized Catholic is asked to pray diligently, and actively promote what is true, good and beautiful in the inherent goodness and value of every human life.  
  • Every baptized Catholic is asked through their words and actions to never bring spiritual harm and scandal to themselves and others. 
  • Every baptized Catholic is asked to take action through prayer, promoting the inherent dignity of every person at home and others, especially those in roles of authority who enact laws and govern people.

Pope Francis has described the Church as a “hospital for sinners.” Thanks be to God that in the Church we can encounter the loving mercy of our Lord, who desires the salvation of all.