Special Report: Bishop of Lincoln Warns of Excommunication

Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, has issued a formal canonical warning, effective April 15, to Catholics in his diocese who, on pain of excommunication, are forbidden to be members of certain groups that are “perilous” to the Catholic faith. Catholics loyal to the Church and its Magisterium welcomed the news of this statement with hundreds of faxes, phone calls, and letters.

Msgr. Timothy Thorburn, chancellor of the Diocese of Lincoln, told CRISIS that the announcement of Bishop Bruskewitz is “the action of a local bishop seeking to shepherd his own flock.” He further explained that “all the organizations condemned in this announcement have had a recent impact on his diocese, and so this statement serves to clarify the unequivocal position of the bishop in the face of his pastoral problems.”

“Excommunication is the just and proper consequence for Catholics who knowingly choose to remain in these organizations. The bishop’s authoritative teaching regarding the activities of these groups in his diocese must now be recognized.” For those Catholics who think this announcement infringes upon their personal conscience, Thorburn replies that the purpose of this announcement is to inform them that the activities of these organizations are fundamentally incompatible with the Catholic faith.

For those Crisis readers who are unfamiliar with some or all of these groups, we offer the following brief descriptions.


Freemasons, a centuries-old secret society that espouses naturalism and attacks Christ and the Catholic Church, has been condemned by the Church since the nineteenth century. In 1983 the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s Declaration on Masonic Associations reiterated that Masons continue to take vows and observe rituals, however unwittingly, that are fundamentally at odds with a full commitment to Christ. Job’s Daughters, DeMolay, Rainbow Girls, and Eastern Star all are Masonic organizations.

St. Pius X Society, a schismatic group was formed by French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre who was excommunicated in 1988 when he ordained four bishops in defiance of the Vatican. The St. Michael the Archangel Chapel in Lincoln, Nebraska, where the Society says mass, is not a Roman Catholic church.

Planned Parenthood was founded in 1916 as the American Birth Control League in New York City. With its international headquarters in London, Planned Parenthood spends $478.3 million on spreading the use of contraception and abortion. This organization used to talk about eugenics; now its expressed aim is population control and unrestrained sexual activity.

Catholics for a Free Choice has no affiliation, formal or otherwise, with the Catholic Church. Like Planned Parenthood, CFFC promotes an extreme pro-abortion agenda, which in every instance it defends as a good moral choice.

The Hemlock Society supports, promotes, and engages in the direct killing of certain people through physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. The group is involved in legal advocacy aimed at changing state laws forbidding their actions.

Call to Action, in direct opposition to the teaching authority of the Church, advocates the establishment of doctrinal and moral issues by consensus. Specifically, Call to Action opposes Church teaching on artificial birth control, the male priesthood, and the discipline of celibacy.


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