Here in Canada, we usually associate Nebraska with three things: good folk, endless cornfields and top-notch football players.

Recently, however the Roman Catholic bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska released a controversial statement which has shaken things up in the sleepy mid western state.

Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz has taken the stnon Catholic pro-lifers, have long awaited.

On the editorial page of the March 19 Southern Nebraska Register, listed (in bold type for all the world to see) organizations whose goals are “perilous to” and “incompatible with” the Catholic faith.  Catholics who are members of these organizations “are by that very fact (ipso-facto-latae sententiae) under interdict and are absolutely forbidden to receive Holy Communion, “wrote Bruskewitz.

There, at the very top of the list, was the world’s largest pro-abortion group- Planned Parenthood, followed by other notables: The Hemlock Society (a pro-euthanasia group), Call to

Action (a pro-women’s ordination group) and Catholics for a FREE Choice (a pro-everything –the church is against group). Also on the list were the Freemasons and the society of St. PIUS X, a Catholic order which denies the validity of Vatican 11.

The bishop’s statement, of course, drew national media attention and sent dissenting Catholics to brush up on their cannon law. When they found that Bruskewitz’s action was ecclesiastically legal they resorted to epithets, decrying the bishop as “extreme” and “medieval.”

Bishop is not trying to make a national name for himself. Nor is he trying to purge the Church  the Church of all liberal Catholics. Far from it. He has simply clarified for the misguided or uninformed some of the Church’s longest-held and most loudly voiced positions. He is calling all Catholics who may have  gone astray to come back to the fold.

The Bishop told the Southern Nebraska Register that he “would have failed in his office and in his duty to protect the Catholic faith, unless he had acted as he did.”

Some critics maintain that Bruskewitz’s edict will on deaf ears. After all, these  Catholics have long ignored any bishops statements, why would the listen to his?

Others feel that he should have garnered the support of his fellow bishops before making such a statement. A bishop’s immediate concern is his own flock, and Bruskewitz backs this up by quoting the Second Vatican Council document:

“Bishops…govern particular Churches assigned to them by their counsel, their exhortations, and their examples, but, over and above that, also by their authority and sacred power.”

Finally some feel that his edict is too sweeping, but can the act of banning organizations which actively work against the Church and the protection of life be considered too sweeping?

It is difficult to judge the intricacies of Bruskewitz’s action and we won’t presume to do it. We do feel however, that certain positives will arise from this affair:

Those who have remained faithful to Rome on life issues will receive a much- needed shot in the arm.

Those who hold public office can no longer justify holding pro-abortion or pro-euthanasia positions nor can the do so with impunity.

Those who belong to the banned organizations may feel an urge to quit them.

Taking action against Catholics who publicly hold pro-abortion or pro-euthanasia positions has been discussed for a very long time with very little done in the way of action. Now a bishop has broken the ice. May others follow his lead.

The editorials of the Southern Nebraska Review, “applaud and thank our Bishop for this service of clarification.”

We join them.