Deacon hailed for blasting pro-abortion politician at Mass

Buffalo, Jan 26, 2007 / 12:02 pm (CNA).- The Buffalo Regional Right to Life Committee on Wednesday praised a deacon who blasted Rep. Brian Higgins during Mass on Respect Life Sunday in St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.

Deacon Tom McDonnell's admonishment of the Buffalo Democrat for voting for federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research led Higgins and his family to walk out of the church. Higgins also has a clear history of supporting abortion and Planned Parenthood.

"God bless the deacon a thousand times. He did his job," said Stacey Vogel of the Buffalo Regional Right to Life Committee. “If every bishop, every clergy member of all faiths did their jobs, we wouldn't have the shedding of innocent life in our country.”

Higgins apologized for walking out of the church, saying that the people of St. Thomas deserved better. He said his relationship with the parish, where he was baptized and married, is "very deep, very meaningful and very long."

"The lesson here is that the Catholic Church has enough problems and should take greater care before allowing nonpriests to use the church as a forum to advance what clearly was a political agenda," Higgins said.

The pastor, Fr. Art Smith, said he felt "horrible" about the Higgins family's departure and offered an apology from the pulpit.

Bishop Edward Kmiec of Buffalo later issued a statement criticizing Deacon Tom McDonnell's action.

"The pulpit is not the appropriate place for confronting a member of the congregation. It is my belief that in situations like this, we are more effective when we have substantive, one-on-one conversations with individuals outside the context of the Mass," said the bishop.

Subsriber Comments

Published by: Bob Rice
New Hartford/CT/USA 29/01/2007 06:16 PM EST
The guilty party got up and left, ashamed in his sin. The Pastor without a backbone apologized for the truth being preached from the pulpit? Is it no wonder we need priests with courage to preach the Gospel! God bless the deacon. I would have the Pastor offer the Sinful Rep an opportunity to confess and amend his life.

Published by: Robert
Illinois, USA 29/01/2007 04:09 PM EST
Was this a permanent deacon or a transitional deacon?

Published by: Dean
USA 29/01/2007 03:22 PM EST
Yes Rep. Higgins is wrong in supporting abortion. Sin is sin. Abortion is murder. At the same time, the deacon used the Mass to personally go after Higgins which is wrong. The Sacrifice of the Mass is not a personal pulpit to single someone out. A deacon knows that. Should we all make out a list of our sins and set them on the ambo to be read out? I doubt any of us would do that.

Published by: Maria Antonia Mariscal de Zabiega
Bolingbrook 29/01/2007 11:41 AM EST
Although I'm not in favor of deacons saying the homilies, I will have to agree and applaud the deacon's action. We need priest like him!

Published by: Marliese Huell
Huntsville, AL 28/01/2007 04:29 PM EST
Hats off to the deacon. Woe to you shepherds (priest and bishop)

Published by: Marc Aurilio
Syracuse, NY 27/01/2007 09:27 PM EST
My question is why this pro-abortion politician masquerading as a catholic was even allowed to enter the church for mass. Higgins presence as an unrepentant evil-doer blasphemes the Church and our Lord in the Tabernacle. Higgins has bowed down and worshipped the evil one in exchange for his power.

As usual, the Pastor and Bishop are in cahoots with these evil politicians, and in fact, say nothing to them in private about their perverse support of slaughtering babies. Sophism is alive and well with the compromising worms who are leading the destruction of the Church. There is truly only a remnant of good clergy left.

Published by: Judith Ann
Buffalo,NY 27/01/2007 07:48 PM EST
Interesting that this Deacon who was not supported by his pastor or Bishop,yet the Bishop who will not see this Deacon for at least a week without an appointment has already seen Higgins supporters in his office..perhaps, Deacon Tom should enter politics and then he can see the Bishop!!! God Bless Deaacon McDonnell for his courage of convictions to spread the teachings of our church.

Published by: Joel Torczon
Bakersfield, CA USA 27/01/2007 04:23 PM EST
Bravo to the deacon for discerning who among the flock are really the "brood of vipers" and crushing their heads with his heel!

How arrogant of the legislator to snivel about the deacon playing politics when the lawmaker himself has played fast and loose politics with the church's teachings. Maybe he should consider abandoning his faith for our sake if he isn't going to do a Peter and heed Christ's admonishment to "get behind thee, Satan!"

Lastly, how unseemly of Rep. Higgins to apologize to his fellow parishioners for being subjected to a public admonishment when he himself has publicly mocked the church's teachings and and pandered to the Culture of Death, drawing a 100 percent rating from both NARAL and Planned Parenthood. Rather, he should've apologized to them for confusing and scandalizing them by divorcing his political views from his faith.

Published by: Rev. P. Persinger
Wofford Heights, CA 27/01/2007 01:29 PM EST
Abortion is not a political issue. It is a moral/spiritual issue and is properly and appropriatedly addressed from the pulpit. Both the bishop and pastor have told this good deacon to ignore the Scriptural injunction to correct a brother who stands in sin. To not make such correction convicts the senior clergy guilty of the same sin, or worse. Pro-abortion politicans use the silence of the clergy as the platform for their own agendas. Pray daily for the clergy. We need your prayers.

Published by: Ann Hessenius
Boston MA 27/01/2007 08:53 AM EST
I DO agree that the Mass isn't the place to address a PARTICULAR politician who is in attendance...BUT I also think that most authentic Catholics are SOOOOOOOOOO frustrated by the clergy's lack, in general,of the proper COURAGE AND SPIRITUAL ACCOUNTABILITY necessary to finally, openly CONFRONT THE BLATANT VOTING PRACTICES OF ANTI-LIFE "Catholic" POLITICIANS that they don't know what else to do, as the Deacon must surely have also felt. I

f our Bishops and priests did what they are supposed to do, and speak out in love about evils all around us, and pastorally truly challenged those they are charged to guide, this kind of error in judgement such as the Deacon made would no doubt not happen! (*YES, in fact , I DO FEEL STRONGLY ABOUT THIS ISSUE!!!!! :)

Published by: Maria Elena Forina
Alamo, TX, USA 27/01/2007 07:35 AM EST
I applaud the deacon for defending the position of the Catholic Church. I can't imagine an ordained member of the clergy apologizing for defending one of the basic beliefs of the church. We must stop being so politically correct that we deny our faith.

Published by: Linda
Brantford, Ontario, Canada 26/01/2007 11:05 PM EST
Deacon McDonnell seems to be the only member of the clergy in this article who understands his responsibility to the faithful and has the courage to speak the truth. The pastor and Bishop Kmiec should be ashamed of misleading the faithful. Why has it become acceptable to call oneself "Catholic" when one is in opposition to the Church. If you don't like the standard, just leave, but please stop expecting the standard to drop. Truth is objective, reliable and intelligent. Moral relativism is self-centered and idiotic. We need leaders in the church and government who are reliable and intelligent.

Published by: Marie Tronnes
Fairport, NY USA 26/01/2007 11:04 PM EST
The apologies and comments by the pastor and bishop are exactly why politicians know they can get away with this. If the clergy would speak out against abortion and embryonic stem cell research, politicians and others would get a clear picture of where the church stands on these issues. Shame on the pastor and bishop and God bless the deacon for defending the Catholic faith.

Published by: Dorothy Swingle
Zanesville, Ohio USA 26/01/2007 10:15 PM EST
Too bad more don't speak ufor our babies

Published by: Joseph L. Zimmer
San Antonio/Texas/USA 26/01/2007 10:07 PM EST
Our Bishops had best get a clue of why should any one listen to what they have to say. If we in the pew have to live by the 10 Commandents why should politicians get a pass.

Published by: R. Thomas
India 26/01/2007 09:56 PM EST
What the Rev Deacon said is very correct and his action is very much encouraging.

But the acts of the parish pastor and the local bishop is very much codemnable because there are acting aginst the spirit of the Catholic Church they represent which beatified a doctor who willingly refused to abortion eventhough it affects her health. We should be more mature.. and peole expects more from Bishops in these social issues. Infact the the Bishop is playing politics...

Let me predict the consequence of this incident. That ordination of that Deacon to priesthood will be delayed or will not be ordianed to the priesthood. Dirty Bishops playing dirty politics !!!

Published by: Jeff Johnson
collegeville 26/01/2007 07:13 PM EST
Why shouldn't CNS hail this "bahavior?"

This is Catholic News Al, and here is a tale of a Catholic who has the bravery to stand up and call heresy heresy.

Taking a pro-abortion politician to task? I would call this news.

Published by: Lance Patrick Mashburn
Columbus/GA/USA 26/01/2007 06:11 PM EST
It is sad that the Bishop and Pastor had failed to the point that the Deacon felt this was the only recourse. Excommunication of the congressman would have been a more appropriate action. It could have started the healing process for him and others who persist in the sin of supporting abortion if they saw their error, obtained absolution, and returned to the Church as faithful members.

The shame is on the Bishop and the Pastor for looking the other way while this politician chose to publicy take communion while in a state of grave sin. One more thing, does the congressman not realize that his support for abortion advances a politcal agenda that is contrary to his proclaimed faith? His statements show hows he really regards the Church.

Where do these Bishops come from? A loving shepherd would not hesitate to help one of his flock instead of allowing them to continue to hurt not ony themselves but others.

Published by: Albert Hovis
Rehoboth Beach, DE 26/01/2007 05:32 PM EST
CNA should have labeled this as an editorial rather than news. Clearly, CNA felt that some people were "HAILING" the deacon, while the Bihop and pastor's comments were hardly in support..."hailing"? Does CNA encourage this kind of behavior? Is this what we should expect during the Eucharist when all too often the average Catholic is left starving for a scripture based homily?