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Lawyer Wants Kerry and Others Excommunicated for their Policies

By Pam Belluck

The New York Times -- BOSTON

A canon lawyer who is seeking to have Sen. John Kerry excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church because of his stance favoring abortion rights said on Monday that he had received ammunition for his effort in the form of a letter issued at the request of a senior Vatican official.

The lawyer, Marc Balestrieri of Los Angeles, who heads a conservative Catholic nonprofit organization called De Fide, also said Monday that, based on the letter, he would now seek to have four other Catholic politicians excommunicated: Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.; Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Mario M. Cuomo, the former governor of New York.

“Senator Kerry, and all pro-choice Catholic politicians, who publicly call themselves Catholic yet who blatantly violate canon law by continuing to profess heresy and receive Holy Communion, must publicly reject their abortion advocacy for the sake of their own souls, and the others they have scandalized,” Balestrieri said in a statement. “They have been excommunicated.”

The letter to Balestrieri, written by another American canon lawyer at the request of a Vatican official, says that “if a Catholic publicly and obstinately supports the civil right to abortion, knowing that the church teaches officially against that legislation, he or she commits that heresy” and is “automatically excommunicated.”

The letter, which was first reported Friday by Eternal Word Television Network, a Catholic station in Alabama, was written last month after Balestrieri met with an official at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In June, Balestrieri filed a complaint accusing Kerry of heresy and seeking to have him excommunicated. The complaint was filed with the Archdiocese of Boston, where Kerry lives.