Camden, NJ, Bishop Joseph Galante, a prominent figure in the U.S. Bishops' Conference, has gone on the record stating that he will deny the Eucharist to New Jersey's pro-abortion Governor James McGreevey. Bishop Galante is to be installed today as the new bishop for the Camden Diocese. Bishop Galante cited the fact of McGreevey's irregular marriage and anti-Catholic positions on life issues. As David O'Reilly reports in today's Philadelphia Inquirer [requires free registration]:
Galante said he was taking the stance primarily because the divorced governor, who is Catholic, remarried without receiving a church annulment. Also, he said, McGreevey's record of "pushing" for legalized abortion, stem-cell research, and other positions the church views as immoral "is almost like he throws the gauntlet down."
Add Bishop Galante to the list of no nonsense bishops like St. Louis, MO, Archbishop Raymond Burke and Lincoln, NE, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz. Even if the majority of bishops are quiet at the moment, something is changing in the American episcopate. And make no mistake that Galante is a leading member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Here is an excerpt from a diocesan news release noting Galante's credentials in the conference and the fact that he holds a doctorate in canon law:
He holds a Doctorate in Canon Law (1968, Lateran University, Rome) and a Master of Arts in Spiritual Theology (1991, University of St. Thomas, Angelicum, Rome).
Bishop Galante serves on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Communications, Committee on Canon Law, Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse and the Ad Hoc Committee on Economic Concerns of the Holy See. Previously, Bishop Galante was Chair of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Communications and Chair of the U.S. bishops' Religious Life Committee, as well as committees on Science and Human Values and African American Catholics.
Unlike a broken pencil, it is unlikely that the writers of the following three letters to the editor, published in the April 26 edition of Time magazine ever had a useful point. And, yes, Virginia, these were the only letters on "Kerry and the Church" that Time printed.
In "A Test of Kerry's Faith," on the conflict between Roman Catholic Church authorities and John Kerry on issues like abortion [April 5], Time reported, "For now, theologians say, Kerry's conduct is principally a matter between the candidate and his own Archbishop."
As a practicing and struggling Catholic, I believe that Kerry's conduct is a matter between him and God. His Archbishop should have nothing to do with it.
Gloria W. Smith Eden Prairie, MN
Why should a priest come between man and Godl? Where have we heard that lie before? With all due respect, I suggest you "struggle" a little harder, Gloria, to understand what you profess to "practice." And I recommend that we do the same.
Many modern Catholics have adapted their beliefs to the realities of today's world. St. Louis, MO, Archbishop Raymond Burke's public warning to Kerry "not to present himself for Communion" because of his stance on abortion will not deter Kerry from making it to the White House. That warning will, however, further impede the Catholic Church's ability to meld relevant spiritual values with the choices all Catholics face today.
Jill Holdaway San Jose, CA
You may well be right about the White House, Jill. "Many modern Catholics" are practical atheists; that's why most Catholics voted for anti-life candidate Al Gore in the last presidential race. Bishop Burke, however, to his credit, is concerned with saving Sen. Kerry's immortal soul, not Pres. Bush's re-election bid. And that's how it should be.
If every Catholic who uses birth control or has had a vasectomy or an abortion were denied the sacraments, there would be very few people at the Communion rail on Sunday morning.
Gretchen W. Maring Ellison Bay, WI
And if that's the case—and I do not doubt it—that's the way it should be, too—absent a sincere Confession, of course. Thanks though, Gretchen, for reminding us why Communion lines—even with umpteen Eucharistic ministers—are long and Confession lines virtually nonexistent.
. . . And take a wild guess at who they recruit to write the article: None other than Thomas Fox, publisher of the National Catholic Reporter.
Fox: "Unfortunately, some Catholic bishops and conservatives now fail to distinguish moral from civil law, the ideal from the real."
Again, Evangelium Vitae: "Consequently there is a need to recover the basic elements of a vision of the relationship between civil law and moral law, which are put forward by the Church, but which are also part of the patrimony of the great juridical traditions of humanity. Certainly the purpose of civil law is different and more limited in scope than that of the moral law. But 'in no sphere of life can the civil law take the place of conscience or dictate norms concerning things which are outside its competence,' which is that of ensuring the common good of people through the recognition and defence of their fundamental rights, and the promotion of peace and of public morality. The real purpose of civil law is to guarantee an ordered social coexistence in true justice, so that all may 'lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way' (1 Tim 2:2). Precisely for this reason, civil law must ensure that all members of society enjoy respect for certain fundamental rights which innately belong to the person, rights which every positive law must recognize and guarantee. First and fundamental among these is the inviolable right to life of every innocent human being" (71).
There must be panic these days in the Kerry camp. David Broder, the "dean" of Washington pundits, a liberal columnist at the liberal Washington Post, has pointed out the obvious: the American public has figured out that Kerry is an unprincipled opportunist. Here is Broder quoting in part, and devastatingly, from the liberal (!) Boston Globe's biography of Kerry:
"Unlike many who are driven to succeed in public life by a core belief system, the arc of Kerry's political career is defined by a restless search for the issues, individuals and causes to fulfill a nearly lifelong" ambition for the White House. The election is still six months away. But Kerry's reputation has been built over 40 years. And the voters seem to be sniffing it out.
And what Broder does not say, but implies is that, in contrast, Bush stands for certain core beliefs, however unpopular with the liberal chattering classes and the liberal mainstream media. In this sense, Bush is following in Reagan's footsteps. They hold to core conservative beliefs and stick to them. A public that yearns for strong leadership reacts positively. But Kerry is a symbol of a larger problem in American politics that emerged most dramatically with the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960. Kennedy was the product of a family obsessively driven to obtain the presidency at all costs. Ask someone what were Kennedy's core beliefs, and they will be hardpressed to be specific about anything. The usual response is that Kennedy's eloquence, glamour, and charm made the nation feel good about itself. "Vigah" is not the basis of a core belief system. In this sense, Kerry is indeed like Kennedy and like that other politician besotted with Kennedy hero worship: Bill Clinton. Both Clinton and Kerry are empty suits in the Kennedy model of ambition for the sake of ambition. But problematically for both of them, neither are as remotely eloquent or charming as the original. Kennedy didn't stand for much of anything, but he made America feel good. Clinton and Kerry leave American cold. Don't believe the media chatter about Clinton's eloquence or charisma. Clinton can't even approach the Kennedy standard on those traits. Remember this is the same media that in 1988 labelled the Rev. Jesse Jackson's childishly rhyming speech to the Democratic Convention as extraordinarily eloquent. The standards for applying the adjectives "eloquent" and "charismatic" have gone through the floor. In my view, Kerry, like Clinton, has had presidential political ambitions from a very early age due in no small part to being smitten with Kennedy's glamour. Like Kennedy, both men lack a distinctive core of belief to bring to politics. Unlike Kennedy, both men are personally dull. But what does this have to do with a Catholic analysis? Well, the empty suit in politics brings that same lack of core conviction to the Catholic Church. The Church is a welcome affiliation in historically Catholic Massachusetts, and is part of the Kennedy legend. The rest is pure "liberal" religion, which George Weigel has aptly defined, as the religion that we make up as we go, as opposed to revealed religion. And so Kerry is the quintessential liberal, cafeteria Catholic. In fact, he is a perfect caricature of the empty suit that is the liberal Catholic. In Kennedy's time, no Catholic politician would publicly diverge from the Church's fundamental moral teachings. American society in 1960 still held to a broad, Judeo-Christian moral consensus. We now know, after the fact, that Kennedy recklessly and compulsively defied that moral consensus in private, but we also know that he correctly feared its ever becoming public because it would end his political career. In today's America in which the moral center of gravity has shifted, Kerry does not share the fear of flaunting his lack of a foundational moral core. And so after rallying pro-abortion forces, he gingerly steps into the communion line.
Five pro-life college students were forcibly removed from a pro-abortion rally held by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry on Friday. The students were literally dragged off after they began leading a pro-life chant and one woman suffered injuries to her feet as a result.
LifeNews ran the story on Tuesday, and today posted an interview with two photographers who witnessed the incident.
According to LifeNews, this is the second time pro-life people have been victimized at a Kerry campaign rally. At a Kerry event in Tampa, Florida in March, Kerry campaign staffers destroyed the signs of two pro-life women.
The Kerry campaign has refused to comment on the matter.
The Hill, a must-read paper for citizens concerned about congressional affairs, continues to provide an inside view of Capitol Hill's take on abortion.
In today's issue, Klaus Marre reports reactions by two Catholic Senators on different sides of the aisle and issue to Cardinal Francis Arinze's recent declaration that "unambiguously pro-abortion" lawmakers should be denied communion.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) chastized Cardinal Arinze for having "crossed a serious line." Let us pray that it's the line between mouthing empty platitudes and actually doing something for a change.
Parroting the "seamless-garment" party line, the CINO senator whined that Catholic leaders--presumably bishops like Cardinals Theodore McCarrick and Edward Egan--should "understand people shouldn't be judged on their position on one issue"--especially. a small matter like the abortion holocaust, no doubt.
Besides, Landrieu adds the abortion "issue is more complicated than laid out." Apparently, this could even be the case for Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), "a prolife Catholic" [who] said that:
The Church has the right to establish its own standards but that every bishop could "set the rules within the boundaries the Vatican has set forth."
Santorum indicated that if he were denied communion because of a position he took as a senator, he would have to think seriously about the stance. "God comes first, then my family and then this job," he said.
But how does this self-serving sound bite square with the simple fact that Santorum not only endorsed but vigorously campaigned for his anti-life colleague Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), enabling him to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat (51% vs. 49%) at the hands of anti-abortion Rep. Pat Toomey (R-PA) in yesterday's GOP Senate primary?
The truth of the matter is that the seamless garment is used by politicians on the right as well as the left to cloak their support of abortion or beguile "pro-life" voters into voting for anti-life candidates by treating prenatal murder as just another issue. It is only in the political colors of the threads with which they weave their threadbare rationalizations for voting anti-life that their tailor-made garments differ.
As previously reported on Catholic Kerry Watch, Fr. Rob Johansen has utterly refuted the lame attempts of Ono Ekeh and his ilk to rationalize their capitulation to the Culture of Death on the bloody killing fields of the abortion holocaust.
Evil, however, being as persistent as it is perverse, our priest-warrior's convicing rebuttal appears to have convinced some proponents of the of the "seamless garment" scam to regurgitate their confusions in his comment boxes—scroll down.
Fr. Johansen is more than ready for their challenge. Thus, once again, he ably wields the sword of truth to hack away at their lies and half-truths so that honest men and women, seeking truth rather than self-justification, may have a clear view.
You'll want to read and savor Father's entire defense of truth and life, but here's an appetizer:
A number of commenters in my "More Than One Way..." post have advanced various arguments for why things like the death penalty and the war in Iraq are of equal moral weight as abortion. Some seem to think that their lack of distinction in these issues adds up to freedom to vote for pro-abortion politicians. They're wrong, and I'm going to show why.....
If we treat all matters of moral judgment as having equal weight and equal binding force, that will lead us to moral absurdities. For example, if, as some commenters claim, "killing is wrong in every form", that would make a cop who kills an armed perpetrator about to shoot someone the moral equivalent of Wanda Holloway, the infamous Texas "Cheerleader Mom", who murdered her daughter's rival for the cheerleading squad....
I could go on, of course, for Father's table serves a rich fare of reason, but I simply wish to whet your abet, not detain you any longer from the sold nourishment that only the truth can provide. Bon appetit!
John Kerry made a familiar statement about abortion last week. Bill Clinton said it before him. Many Democrats who wish to remain in the good graces as well as the political clutches of the abortion-rights lobby say it. Kerry said he wants to keep abortion "safe, legal and rare."
I understand "safe" (though it's never safe for the baby and often not the woman). I understand "legal" (though contemporary jurisprudence is shifting sand). I don't understand "rare." Unless the pre-born child is human and worthy of the law's protection, why care if abortion is rare or common? Is Kerry attempting to satisfy the tug of conscience deep within this professed Roman Catholic that the teachings of his church are true and that he needs a kind of moral cover - genuflecting in the direction of truth but making no effort to slow or stop abortions should he gain the power to do so?
...In his memoir, "Inside: A Public and Private Life," Joseph A. Califano Jr. - a Catholic Democrat who worked in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations - expounds on his struggle with the abortion issue. After being nominated as Johnson's secretary of health, education and welfare, Califano, who opposed federal funding for abortion unless the woman's life was jeopardized, consulted his pastor, a Jesuit priest named James English. Califano writes, "I first confronted the tension between my religious beliefs and public policy on the searing issue of whether Medicaid should fund abortions." He says his priest told him while most of our laws are founded on moral values, "my obligation to my personal conscience was satisfied if I expressed those views forcefully. If another view prevailed, however, I was free, indeed obliged, to enforce the law. 'In a democratic society, you are free to struggle to change the law even as you enforce the one on the books,' he said." (Califano was interviewed on my TV show, where he talked about this and other issues.)
The problem for Kerry is that he won't even go that far. He is pro-abortion, for any reason and at any time. He has not said how he would work to make abortion "rare," except that like others who hold this position he would probably advocate more birth control, which would also place him in opposition to the teachings of his church.
Like the pro-life hospital administrator and nurses, Kerry has a choice: either "resign" as a Catholic, or withdraw from the presidential race. To be president and not even attempt to make abortion "rare" by changing the law that has permitted so many, even for convenience, ignores the power of the presidency and trivializes his faith. In the one case, it leaves an individual open to a charge of hypocrisy. In the other, it puts him in jeopardy of being labeled a heretic.
Actually there is a third option. Remain a Catholic and repent of the positions contrary to the faith. Which would be as Ms. Hays says in a article below a "Holy Flip Flop."
There is an excellent interview via Zenit News Service today with American theologian Father Thomas Williams, dean of the School of Theology of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum, addressing the issues involved in withholding communion to Catholic politicians supporting abortion. Suffice to say Fr. Williams covers the issue from every possible aspect, including the criteria (four essential elements in Canon 915) involved in determining when one "obstinately persists in manifest grave sin":
The first element is "gravi peccato," or grave sin. This can only be taken to refer to the matter of the action -- or omission -- without necessarily implying a judgment of subjective culpability. "Grave sin" in this case simply means objectively evil conduct of a serious nature.
The second requirement specified by Canon 915 refers to the "manifesto," or overt, character of the sin. This stipulation limits the sanction to sins of a public nature, and reiterates the public and ecclesial dimension of Holy Communion, which signifies moral, spiritual and doctrinal union with Christ and with his Church.
Thirdly, to be refused Communion a person must persist -- "perseverantes" -- in this openly sinful behavior. To say that a person persists in a public sin means that he somehow makes it known that he plans to continue engaging in his sinful behavior.
Finally, the code speaks of obstinate persistence. The Latin adverb "obstinate" here means that the person has been duly informed of the evil of his behavior but deliberately chooses to persist in it anyway.
There is such a thing as inculpable persistence in evildoing, when a person is unaware that a certain habitual activity is sinful. But once the evil of his actions has been brought to his attention, his persistence qualifies as obstinate.
Judging from the foregoing considerations, it seems clear that a politician who votes in a way that fails to defend innocent human life on a consistent basis and gives every indication of his intention to keep doing so despite warnings from ecclesiastical authorities can be said to obstinately persist in objectively evil behavior of a public nature. And in this regard he fulfills the requirements of Canon 915.
Also addressed is the meaning of grave public sin and scandal ("Because of their high public visibility and moral authority, politicians can, by their example, lead others to good or to evil"); the possibility of such refusal by the bishops as being construed as "partisan politics." Fr. Williams own opinion on the matter is apparent:
Where a political party takes an anti-life stand as a fundamental component of its platform, the Church may have no choice but to denounce it.
If the Church's pastors were to make it clear to politicians that abortion is truly a non-negotiable question and one on which they were prepared to "go to the mat," they would exert considerable moral, and political, pressure on all politicians to give this moral issue the weight it deserves.
Sometimes a prophetic voice is needed to shake people out of their moral lethargy, especially when people have come to accept as "normal" something which by rights should provoke moral outrage.
If publicly supporting abortion doesn't constitute a sufficient pastoral reason to justify the denial of Holy Communion, it is hard to imagine when recourse to this measure would be appropriate.
Thanks to Dan Jasmin for the link, who has a fine post on his own blog "Working It Out" on the subject.
In a column for BeliefNet.com, Charlotte Hays (describing herself as a Republican, and Arinze as "one of her favorite cardinals") makes her case that the Church should -- for the time being -- continue to give Senator Kerry communion "if he asks for it", regardless of whether he stands in opposition to his Church's teachings (You can read her column here).
Ms. Hays contends that
The Church must do a better job of forming consciences in general, and John Kerry's conscience in particular. Kerry deserves to know, and to be told repeatedly, first in private and then in public, that he cannot claim to be a good Catholic as things stand. Public sinner though he is, Kerry deserves lengthy, intense, and private consultation from his Church before, if it comes to that, he must be turned away from communion. In a way, it's possible to regard Arinze's remarks as a way to open the campaign to educate John Kerry about what it means to be a Catholic. . . .
The important thing is to offer John Kerry the chance to do the right thing. Is a holy flip-flop impossible? Improbable? Yes, but with God all things are possible, and John Kerry deserves the chance to embrace his faith publicly. If he refuses, and if he becomes president, then the Church should turn him away. Having a Catholic of such stature flout the teachings of the Church would be untenable. The matter would no longer revolve around one politician's conscience but around the edification of the entire flock.
Ms. Hays makes some good points in her column, and I agree with her on this:
The problem with sanctioning Kerry is that part of the blame lies with the Church itself. The Church has not done an adequate job of forming consciences in this regard. Ordinary Catholics do not realize why certain difficult teachings are of paramount importance to leading a Christian life. So many Catholics think of abortion as something on which the Church has a "rule," but they do not realize that the Church's defense of innocent life has a direct link to Christ himself. There is a connection between killing an innocent child and killing Christ all over again. The Church teaches that every life matters. Every human being is offered redemption by that one oblation made on the cross. Because every life is important, even the most inconvenient among us cannot be snuffed out in utero.
However, I disagree with her proposal that the prudential and compassionate route would be to continue to give Kerry communion and postpone the "final sanction" until his presidency for the following reasons:
From the Pope's encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" to the recently published "Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life" (specifically for those in Kerry's line of work) to the Bishop's document "Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility" to the public responses of several courageous bishops to Kerry's own private meeting with Archbishop Kerrick, who I'll wager reiterated the Church's teaching -- I believe the Church has already put forth a significant amount of effort to educate Kerry (and other Catholics) on the incompatibility of supporting abortion and being a "Catholic in good standing." If Kerry doesn't get the message, he's either deaf or unwilling to listen.
Ms. Hays' plea to give Kerry communion EVEN IF he persists in supporting abortion would contradict the Church's chief obligation to care for the salvation of his soul. If Kerry's priest values his soul, and takes seriously St. Paul's warning of "eating and drinking to one's damnation," then -- until Kerry publicly renounces his stance and indicates that he will adhere to the Church's teachings -- I would think it far better to refuse communion, causing temporary public embarassment, than risk jeopardizing his soul for eternity.
Finally, getting philosophical for a moment, I find the dilemma is reminiscent of "Pascal's Wager": supposing that the Church's teaching were true, and that one could indeed merit damnation by unfaithful reception of the Eucharist . . . wouldn't it be in one's best interest to refrain? And seen in this light, wouldn't it be the greatest sign of personal disrespect and carelessness as Kerry's priest to continue to dispense communion under the present circumstances?
Kill-'Em-Young Rally Embraces Kerry Throws Down Gauntlet to Church
Writing in today's New York Times about Sunday's anti-life March for Women's Lies, Robin Toner reports, "The day had a decidedly partisan edge, with many in the crowd carrying signs for Sen. John Kerry, D-MA, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee."
Signs whose ink, no doubt, was drying while the CINO Senator chatted behind closed doors with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
"The event was billed as nonpolitical, but the anti-Bush sentiment was palpable," reported the Los Angeles Times.
Speakers at the rally on the Mall criticized Attorney General John Ashcroft for seeking medical records of women in defending a law Bush signed last year banning a medical procedure that opponents call "partial-birth abortion." Other speakers expressed concern about the long-term prospects for the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade if Bush were re-elected and vacancies on the high court occurred....Speakers from a number of foreign countries shared first-hand accounts of the effect of Bush administration policies limiting funding for international clinics that provide abortion counseling.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) addressed the prenatal lynch mob, boasting that the last time the pro-abortion lobby rallied in Washington, the nation elected her husband, Bill Clinton, to the presidency just six months later.
We didn't have to march for 12 long years because we had a government that respected the rights of women. The only way we're going to be able to avoid having to march again and again and again is to elect John Kerry president.
Several members of [Kerry's] family were among the marchers, as was Howard Dean, who had also sought the Democratic nomination; Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco and Democratic leader of the House; and Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic Party Chairman.
Dean, one of several anti-life also-rans for the Abortion Party's presidential nod—for which no "pro-life" Democrat contended—has, of course, endorsed Kerry, as has Pelosi, who scored a hefty 64% on the Dem's "seamless-garment" scorecard for her faithfulness to political positions embraced by the AmChurch bureaucracy.
It was Chief Party Hack McAuliffe, who recently dismissed prospects for a favorable response by the episcopal task force headed by Cardinal McCarrick to mounting pleas to protect the Eucharist from sacrilegious reception by such public defenders of child slaughter as Sen. Kerry. "I doubt it will come to that," McAuliffe, yet another pro-abort CINO, predicted confidently. "I think it would be a huge mistake for the Catholic Church."
Indeed, as Toner points out:
The religious and political faultlines on the abortion issue were apparent [at the march]. Several speakers took note of the debate within the Roman Catholic hierarchy over how to respond to Catholic elected officials who support abortion rights [sic], including Kerry. Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, took the stage and declared, "I am a mother of five, a grandmother of five and a devout Roman Catholic," as well as a supporter of "abortion rights."
Once again, Judas' amen corner has thrown down the gauntlet, proclaiming before the marchers and the world their brazen lie that "devout Roman Catholics" can also worship Moloch, that faithful communicants can aid and abet the murder of defenseless babies in the free-fire zone of their mothers wombs, no longer a sanctuary.
As the impious cries of CINO apologists for the abortion holocaust grow louder and louder, will the ears of our bishops grow deafer and deafer? Will their hearts grow harder and harder?
On the answer to this question rests not only the fate of the unborn but of the Church's credible witness to the sanctity of life.
[For extensive coverage of the march, including first-hand reports and extensive links, visit After Abortion.]
Impending clash between Cardinal Egan / Senator Kerry?
Will Edward Cardinal Egan try to block Sen. John Kerry from the 59th Alfred E. Smith Dinner? The annual gathering, sponsored by the Archdiocese of New York, isn't until October, but organizers are already said to be worrying about whether Egan may take a hard-line against the Democratic candidate because he supports abortion rights.
Last week, we hear, members of the Al Smith Foundation met to discuss what to do if Egan takes a similar position, or tries to bar Kerry from the dinner, named for New York Gov. Al Smith, who ran for President in 1928 against Herbert Hoover.
"They're concerned that Egan may do something to win favor with the Pope," says a source. "Some people were nervous that the Cardinal wouldn't recognize a Catholic who is pro-choice."
. . . urge bishops to revive the ancient and honorable practice of shunning. Individual bishops should refuse to share the head table at any Catholic event (not just those sponsored by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops) with antilife politicians (including jurists) or the dais at events at Catholic colleges, universities, and other institutions. They should refuse to be photographed with such people or permit themselves to be used by them to any political advantage. They should ensure that such persons are never honored by Catholic institutions in their dioceses or given the podium in any context other than one designed to highlight the disgracefulness of their support for the "culture of death."
The shunning of antilife politicians would vividly remind ordinary lay Catholics of the seriousness of the Church's teachings regarding the sanctity of human life and would send the clear message that Catholics and other Christians who serve the "culture of death" are tragically weakening their relationship with Christ and alienating themselves from the community of Christian faith.
On Saturday at the Vigil Mass, Mr. Kerry received Communion again from the Paulist center.
Fr. Joe Ciccone (Paulist Center): "We're following the directive of our archdiocese," said Father Joe Ciccone, who gave Kerry the Eucharist. "They have said we should give him communion."
This reply by Fr. Ciccone does not ring very true. In another story today on the Paulist center.
Sen. John Kerry regularly receives Communion attracts Catholics uncomfortable with some of the Vatican's orthodox teachings or who otherwise feel alienated from the Roman Catholic Church.
The Paulist Center's congregation includes gay couples, whose adopted children are baptized there, unlike in some other Boston parishes. In November, its leaders refused to read aloud during Mass from a letter opposing gay marriage, as requested by the Massachusetts bishops.
The congregation is not geographical, but ideological, drawing people from as far as away as New Hampshire, said Drew Deskur, the center's music director and a parishioner for 25 years.
"It's not St. Around-the-Corner," Deskur said. "It's an intentional community that draws people from all over Boston. It tries to make sure that everyone feels welcome and that everyone participates in the liturgy."(source)
I had once written that many of these places should rename themselves to the Saulists since they have reversed St. Paul's conversion and fallen back onto the horse. There is more than just the scandal of giving Communion to people who stand opposed to basic teaching by the Church on life, but also those pockets of resistance that while being part of a diocese have become heretical in many of the sexual teachings of the Church. It is hard enough for a Bishop to be responsible for teaching the faith to the flock without priests un-teaching the faith.
"It's a tragic day in the lives of everybody when abortion is looked on as an alternative to birth control or as an alternative to having a child. I think that's wrong. It should be the very last thing if it has to be anything, and I say that not just because I'm opposed to abortion but because I think that's common sense." (source)
Good news from Kerry? Sorry this was a statement Kerry gave the the Lowell (Mass.) Sun when running for Congressman in 1972. So this continues a not so proud Democratic part tradition in the vein of Al Gore, Bill Bradley, Jesse Jackson, Teddy Kennedy, Dick Gephardt, and many others of starting to support abortion when running for national office.
Fr. Ciccone (on giving communion to Kerry): "my bishop made me do it!"
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry received communion from a Catholic priest Saturday, one day after a top Vatican cardinal said politicians who support abortion rights should be denied the Eucharist.
We're following the directive of our archdiocese," said Father Joe Ciccone, who gave Kerry the Eucharist. "They have said we should give him communion."
Cardinal Arinze has properly delegated the responsibility for a response to Kerry on the American bishops. Unfortunately, various members of the hierarchy have resorted to a strategy of deferment, with several members of the Boston clergy sending mixed or contradictory signals:
Cardinal Arinze: "The norm of the Church is clear," he said. "The Catholic Church exists in the U.S.A. and there are bishops there. Let them interpret."
Archbishop McCarrick (of Washington): "Every archbishop has the right to make his own decision in his own area."
Archbishop O'Malley (Boston, MA): "These politicians should know that if they're not voting correctly on these life issues that they shouldn't dare come to communion."
Rev. Coyne (aide and spokesperson for Archbishop O'Malley): "The position of Archbishop O'Malley has been that when people come forward to receive communion, we give them communion."
Fr. Joe Ciccone (Paulist Center): "We're following the directive of our archdiocese," said Father Joe Ciccone, who gave Kerry the Eucharist. "They have said we should give him communion."
With Fr. Ciccone having placed responsibility squarely on the shoulders of his bishop, it would appear that the ball is now in O'Malley's court.
How long can this circus drag on? -- As Catholic apologist Karl Keating wondered in a recent newsletter:
What a difference four decades makes! In 1962 Leander Perez and several other Catholic politicians in Louisiana were excommunicated by New Orleans Archbishop Joseph F. Rummel. Their offense? Opposing Rummel's pleas to end racial segregation in schools.
Segregation was a Bad Thing. As bad as it was, at least it wasn't a species of homicide. But abortion is homicide, which means it is a Worse Thing. You will look in vain to find an analogue to Archbishop Rummel in today's American episcopate.
Even the level of the umbrage has changed. The discussion hasn't been about excommunicating politicians who, through their votes, end the lives of unborn children. No, the discussion has been whether these politicians should undergo the inconvenience (which is about all it would be for them) of not being able to receive Communion.
If the leaders of the Church refrain from giving even a slap on the wrist, who can take them seriously? Bishops who don't "bish" undermine their own authority, and everyone under their care suffers from that.
(Borrowing the phrase of fellow blogger Mark Shea): Enough passing the buck. It's high time we saw some signs of "episcopal spine" from the Boston diocese.
Washington Notebook: More Than Just a One-Trick Pony?
Beginining his latest Washington Notebook, Joe Feuerherd trots out the typical liberal claptrap one might expect to find on the pages of the paper Bill Cork aptly dubs The National Catholic Distorter. Thus he describes the Machiavellian machinations of the motley House band led by pro-abort Dems Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Nick Lampson (D-TX), as reported in The Hill [here and there] and analyzed on Catholic Kerry Watch [here and there] in the following Newspeak:
A small group of Catholic House Democrats have been meeting over the past several months to thrash out where their faith, their cultural heritage, and their jobs intersect.
...The half-dozen members of Congress meet informally, DeLauro told NCR, with a goal of promoting dialogue among Catholic elected officials and the church hierarchy. Some are pro-life, others pro-choice, but they are united in frustration that the range of issues they and the church care about—such as economic justice, immigration, foreign policy, and war—don't get nearly the attention as the 'one or two issues'—such as abortion and gay rights—that dominate public discussion of religion and politics.
"We are not having a full and open conversation about the whole range of social teachings that the church has been a leader on," whined DeLauro, whose clique had requested a meeting with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who recently met with the Catholic poseur par excellence, Sen. John F. Kerry, as reported by the Associated Press and discussed on Catholic Kerry Watch.
To this point it would seem that DeLauro was talking to the group's de facto press secretary.
And yet, Feuerherd goes on to report "another view" on "the obligations of a Catholic politician when it comes to abortion" from Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ):
If the actual deed of abortion is what I and Catholics and Protestants and so many others say it is—an act of violence against children—then why wouldn't you want to treat it as a severe act of child abuse, and exploitative of women, rather than something you can disregard?"
To which, Feuerherd, to his credit, responds, "Good question" before proceeding to quote Smith further:
If Kerry or someone like him were to say "I am for abortion" then they would have my opposition and I will argue against them, but I will at least respect them. But I find it very hard to respect someone who says I'm against it, but I'm going to vote for it, I'm going facilitate it, I'm going to defend it, I'm going to fund it, [and] I'm going to try to make it reach the four corners of the globe by repealing the Mexico City policy [which restricts U.S. foreign aid funds to countries with liberal abortion laws]
While I do not respect anyone who supports the murder of babies in their mothers' wombs, Feuerherd's honest response to Smith's question in the midst of his apologia for the latest anti-life scam on Capitol Hill leads us to ask, "Could Washington Notebook be more than just a one-trick pony, after all?"
WASHINGTON - Sen. John Kerry ignored a Vatican cardinal's denunciation yesterday of pro-choice Catholics who take Communion and vowed to fight to protect a woman's right to choose.
"We deserve a President who understands that a stronger America is where women's rights are just that - rights, not political weapons to be used by politicians of this nation," Kerry told activists ahead of an abortion-rights march tomorrow in Washington.
Francis Cardinal Arinze rekindled the debate when he told reporters at a Vatican news conference that a Catholic politician who supports abortion rights "is not fit" to receive Communion.
Arinze said "Yes," when asked whether priests should refuse to give Communion to pro-choice politicians. "If the person should not receive it, then it should not be given," Arinze said. "Objectively, the answer is there."
Kerry and fellow Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy both signaled they won't change how they worship as Catholics.
"This is an opinion by one member in the Vatican circle ... but he's not speaking for the Pope. That's a major difference," Kennedy said.
10. If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favour of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications.
When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.
The celebration of the Eucharist, however, cannot be the starting-point for communion; it presupposes that communion already exists, a communion which it seeks to consolidate and bring to perfection. The sacrament is an expression of this bond of communion both in its invisible dimension, which, in Christ and through the working of the Holy Spirit, unites us to the Father and among ourselves, and in its visible dimension, which entails communion in the teaching of the Apostles, in the sacraments and in the Church's hierarchical order. The profound relationship between the invisible and the visible elements of ecclesial communion is constitutive of the Church as the sacrament of salvation.71 Only in this context can there be a legitimate celebration of the Eucharist and true participation in it. Consequently it is an intrinsic requirement of the Eucharist that it should be celebrated in communion, and specifically maintaining the various bonds of that communion intact.
Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Kerry are not in communion with the beliefs of the Church so they should end the lie that they are until such time as they actually believe in some of the most basic tenants of the faith.
This excuse about the Pope not saying it is just posturing. Francis Cardinal Arinze being the Prefect of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, his statement is more than just an opinion of someone working at the Vatican.
Priests at the Paulist Center on Boston's Beacon Hill, where Kerry often worships, have said they won't deny the senator Communion, but didn't immediately comment on the statement from Rome.(source)
One of the organizations supporting Senator Kerry and sponsoring the abortion march this past Friday was Catholics For Free Choice (a clear example of CINO if I ever saw one). I decided to check out their website, which is a virtual goldmine of lazy reasoning and deceitful presentation of Catholic doctrine. Case in point: this questionable advice to Catholic women who are considering abortion:
The official Canon Law of the church at the present time states that anyone who commits the sin of abortion automatically excommunicates herself from the church. To commit the sin of abortion, you have to think that an abortion in your case, with all the circumstances of your life and your pregnancy, is a sin against God. You then have to decide that you are going to do it anyway, thus going against your conscience.
The Catholic church officially teaches that the conscience of an individual is supreme. If you carefully examine your conscience and then decide that an abortion is the most moral act you can do at this time, you are not committing a sin. Therefore, you are not excommunicated. Nor need you tell it in confession since, in your case, abortion is not a sin.
If you do feel you committed a sin by having an abortion, you can seek reconciliation with the church by speaking to a priest in the sacrament of Reconciliation (confession).
Now, this strikes me as very flawed reasoning. It designates the human individual -- not God -- as the final arbiter of the moral law, of what constitutes sin: "It's only sin if you think it is." To illustrate what I mean, let's take their advice and substitute the term "abortion" with actions I'm sure even the most liberal Catholic would find morally objectionable:
If you carefully examine your conscience and then decide that beating your wife is the most moral act you can do at this time, you are not committing a sin. . . . nor need you tell it in confession since, in your case, beating your wife is not a sin.
If you carefully examine your conscience and then decide that raping a child is the most moral act you can do at this time, you are not committing a sin. . . . nor need you tell it in confession since, in your case, raping a child is not a sin.
Catholics For Free Choice may protest at this point, but hey, it's their logic. The fact of the matter is that they use "invincible ignorance" as a cop-out, deliberately ignoring the full teaching of The Catechism of the Catholic Church on "erroneous judgement":
1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.
1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man "takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin." In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.
1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one's passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.
1793 If - on the contrary - the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.
Unfortunately, I think that most women considering abortion are already aware of the grave implications of their act. As one perceptive commentator on Amy Welborn's blog observes:
To formally and voluntarily cooperate in the unjust taking of innocent human life is an objective mortal sin. A given individual may, stress may, not be subjectively guilty of sin while committing the objective act. Why? Well, ignorance, etc. However, one of the strongest imprints that God has place on the human mind, soul, and will is that deliberately taking the life of someone else who is not guilty of harming you, indeed is incapable of harming you, is wrong. Not just a bit wrong, but so wrong as to be evil. You don't have to study the precepts of all religions, or even adhere to any religion, to understand, to KNOW that is true. So genuine excuses are likely to be few and far between.
I think that very few women, religious or otherwise, are capable of having an abortion with a trouble-free conscience, and no comprehension of the gravity of what they have done. The common experience of organizations like Project Rachel which assist victims in coping with "emotional, psychological and spiritual trauma" that often follows abortion is a testimony to this.
And so I tend to think that most Catholic women who turn to Catholics For Free Choice for moral advice are long past the point where they can plead "invincible ignorance" as justification for their actions.
I'm no expert in moral reasoning myself, so I'll leave it to my esteemed colleagues to provide further commentary on this issue.
Most St. Bloggers See CINO as Bad Practice--Not Bad Words
As an editor, I have a bias for concise writing, having cut my teeth on Strunk & White. That being said, I am amazed at the wealth of information that Lane Core Jr. manages to convey on The Blog From the Core with what are essentially three words: lege, vide, and vide.
The lege brings you to the beginning, my analysis of the question of Catholic In Name Only (CINO) as reported below. You'll want to read what our astute commenters have to say. (You can also read many of their comments on Times Against Humanity.)
The first vide brings you to Josh LeBlanc's Dei Gratia, where he concludes:
I can call a rose a tulip, but that does not make it so. I can change the shape of its petals and even its color so much to make it look like a tulip, but it will always be a rose in disguise. Senator Kerry can call himself a Catholic and even perform all of the outward appearances of one (which he has not), but if he is not Catholic at the very center and core of his being, then he is no Catholic at all!
The second vide brings you to Bettnet, where Dom Bettinelli sums up his case succinctly:
The term CINO simply means someone who calls himself Catholic for having received the sacraments, but who doesn't hold to the vital, bedrock, basic teachings of the Church, and in fact publicly rejects them. In the old days, we'd call them heretics. In the new politically correct days, we call them CINO.
I think we can put this issue to bed, as they say in the newspaper trade, but I asked my friend Peter Vere, a canon lawyer, for his take on the matter, with a prayer that this did not constitute inside trading and land me in a jail cell more poorly decorated than Martha Stewart's. Although enroute to—would you believe—a conference of canon lawyers, Pete graciously took time to post these words, with which we close, on Catholic Light:
A debate is brewing around St. Blog over the appropriateness of refering to pro-abort "Catholic" politicians as Catholic In Name Only (CINO). Initially, I intended to stay clear of this controversy since I'm personally not fond of the CINO label. This has nothing to do with canon law and everything to do with taste -- I prefer the much more inflamatory (and I would argue accurate) designation of Demoncrat.
Nevertheless, over at Catholic Kerry Watch my friend Earl Appleby posted a good post on why he believes the CINO term is appropriate. Additionally, Earl dropped me an email soliciting my thoughts as a canonist and inviting me to respond.
Truth be told, I really don't know what canon law says about calling a pro-abort "Catholic" politician a CINO. Nor am I all that interested in researching the question, since I really don't care about the answer. I only have so much sympathy to go around, and as long as innocent children in the womb are being brutally dismembered limb-by-limb, I'm not gonna waste a drop of sympathy on some panty-waist pro-abort who claims to share the same faith as I do. Guess what? You don't.
So if pro-abort "Catholic" politicians find the CINO designation offensive, I don't care. Why? Because try as I might, everytime I get past my outrage at their abuse of the name Catholic, the horror of abortion stops me before I can give the CINO debate any serious thought. In short, every pro-abort Catholic politician is, in my opinion, an offense that should be met with excommunication or public refusal of Holy Communion.
So rather than cry over a few lost votes, pro-abort "Catholic" politicians should sit down, shut-up and thank God their mother didn't similarly dissent from Catholic moral teaching.
The scandal over Kerry's reception of communion has been reinvigorated by Cardinal Arinze's statement that politicans who are "unambiguously pro-abortion" are "not fit" to receive communion. However, in covering the story the Washington Post prints this little gem of a defense from the Boston diocese, on why they have declined to carry out Arinze's recommendation:
A spokesman for Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley of Boston said Kerry had not been barred from taking communion in his hometown, and he indicated that no ban was likely.
"The position of Archbishop O'Malley has been that when people come forward to receive communion, we give them communion. The moment of communion is not the moment in which to raise the question of whether someone should or should not be receiving it," said the spokesman, the Rev. Christopher Coyne.
Coyne said that it would be appropriate for a priest or bishop to counsel a politician whose positions are contrary to church teachings. "But this is something that's handled privately with the Catholic," he said. "It's not something where you would make any kind of public action or public statement to withhold communion."
Unfortunately, what Coyne fails to realize is that the Boston diocese' very reluctance to take a stand against Kerry is, in itself, "a public action and a public statement."
Catholics are obligated to regard the Body of Christ with the respect and honor He deserves. St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience: "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself." Most Catholics -- well, those that are properly catechized at least -- know that to approach the Eucharist in a state of unrepentance and obstinate sin is a source of grave scandal.
Obviously, the individual is in the best position to determine whether he or she is properly disposed to receive. One cannot expect the priest to stop each communicant in line and inquire where they stand. It is our own responsibility to do so as Catholics.
Nevertheless, there are indeed cases where a Catholic can be a source of grave scandal by receiving communion, and where a priest's compliance in giving a Catholic communion can in turn perpetuate that scandal. This is precisely what Cardinal Arinze meant when he refers to politicans who are unambiguously pro-abortion -- not mentioning by name, but obviously alluding to Senator Kerry.
Kerry's bishop, Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley, has stated that "politicians should know that if they're not voting correctly on these life issues that they shouldn't dare come to Communion." Kerry has already met privately with Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, who -- we may presume -- said something along those lines as well. But as far as we can tell, whatever happened at that meeting failed to persuade Kerry to reconcile with the Church's teaching. Rather, he has launched a campaign of television advertisements affirming "pro-choice" and criticizing the President's opposition to abortion. Today attended a public rally, where he gladly received the endorsement of Planned Parenthood, and reaffirmed his support for Roe vs. Wade.
Which, of course, creates no small amount of confusion for many Catholics -- catechumens, teachers, parents, clergy -- being counseled (or counseling others) on responsible reception of the Eucharist.
For when Kerry and like minded, unambiguously pro-abortion politicians continue to receive communion at the hands of complacent priests, one is tempted to wonder whether the Church is operating under a double standard, and whether St. Paul's admonishment truly applies in this day and age.
The political arm of taxpayer-supported Planned Parenthood Federation today threw its support to Sen. John Kerry. It's the first time the group has ever endorsed a candidate for president, according to the Associated Press, and is thus a signal of the importance the polarizing issue will play this year. (source)
Kerry and Kissling Cry That Religion Should Not Be Election Issue
Pro-abortion stalwarts John Kerry and Frances Kissling, President of the misnamed "Catholics for Choice," are upset that Cardinal Arinze has spoken in defense of the Eucharist (see extraordinary Associated Press report). They claim that religion should not be an election issue. The cardinal is not concerned about the election. He is concerned about the Most Blessed Sacrament and its defense. If Kerry does not want this issue to come up, then he can do the honorable thing and stop receiving the Eucharist until such time that he can bring himself to disavow his pro-abortion crusade. Kerry has it in his hands to defuse the issue concerning the Eucharist by taking responsibility for his views instead of trying to have things both ways. You can't receive the Eucharist and support abortion. In politics, taking contradictory positions is considered normal, especially in Kerry's case. The problem is that it doesn't work that way in Catholicism. It is Kerry who is mixing religion and politics by trying to make Catholicism bend to his political position on abortion.
Kissling remarks in disbelief that if the Church refuses the Eucharist to Kerry, the Church must do likewise with numerous other politicians, including the grand, red-faced Old Plutocrat himself, Edward Kennedy. She's right on that narrow point: the Church must disassociate herself strongly from the powerful purveyors of sacrilege, including Kennedy. This can be the Church's finest moment in American history when, in the tradition of Saints Thomas á Becket and Thomas More, she refuses to succumb to the embraces of the powerful. Archbishop O' Malley of Boston has correctly gotten rid of the old episcopal palace in the suburbs of Boston. It is time for him to disentangle the Church from the corrupting embraces of the likes of Kennedy and Kerry. And let the chips fall where they may.
If they should not receive, then they should not be given
A top Vatican official close to the Pope, Cardinal Francis Arinze, emphasized today that priests must not give communion to pro-abortion politicians who claim to be Catholic.
Arinze, a Nigerian who has been mentioned as a possible successor to Pope John Paul II, did not comment specifically on whether presidential candidate John Kerry should be excommunicated.
But the inference was clear - and Reuters news wire as well as others said the Cardinal's remarks were a clear shot across Kerry's bow.
The cardinal left no doubt about Kerry by saying that an "unambiguously pro-abortion" politician "is not fit" to receive communion.
"If they should not receive, then they should not be given," he noted. (source)
Meanwhile Kerry has done everything to drop the "personally opposed but.." and go into full blown support of abortion. Previously he had said he says he agrees with his church on abortion as a matter of faith but doesn't think he should legislate personal beliefs. I wish a reporter would ask him if he still would use those words in light of his outright pandering to abortion providers.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrat John Kerry was shifting his attention to women voters, underscoring his support for abortion rights days before tens of thousands of people stream into the nation's capital for a women's rights rally.
After three days spent discussing the environment, the Democratic presidential candidate scheduled a rally Friday with leaders of women's groups to compare his stand on abortion with what he says are President Bush's extreme anti-abortion positions.
Kerry supports abortion rights and has said he would nominate only Supreme Court justices who support his position. Bush approves of abortion only in cases of rape or incest or when the pregnancy endangers a woman's life.
... Kerry has added a line to his stump speech warning that expected openings on the Supreme Court in coming years could jeopardize the right to an abortion.
"If you need any motivation let me give you three little words - the Supreme Court," Kerry says at every stop.
Kerry's rally on Friday comes ahead of Sunday's march in Washington, organized by groups such as the National Organization for Women, NARAL Pro-choice America and the Planned Parenthood Federation. (source)
My esteemed colleague Christopher provides us with his customarily insightful analysis of the lame excuses proferred by one Ono Ekeh in seeking to rationalize his pathetic "political orientation," a phrase reminsicent of another common euphemism used to mask evil.
Chistopher also draws our attention to the eminently readable Amy Welborn, whom he describes as understandably mystifyed by Ekeh's apologia pro se. Others, however, appear to be not so much mystified as confused. [See comment box.]
I am pleased to report for the edification of all concerned that Fr. Rob Johansen, St. Blog's resident Fr. Brown, has cracked the case and Thrown Back Ekeh's sophistries in the bargain.
Hopefully, you've bookmarked—and, if applicable, blogrolled—Thrown Back, which is another excellent source for following the twists and turns of the Danse Kerry in which bishops pirouette around the truth, while the CINO-evil senator dances with the devil.
"Catholic Democrats", if they want to be taken seriously, should be devoting their energies to breaking the absolute lockstep conformity on abortion, and acquiescence to the Gay agenda, required by their Party. Unless and until they do so, they deservedly incur the suspicion that they are Democrats first and Catholics second.
By removing the protection of unborn life to an undefined Democratic utopian future, one might as well say "come the Parousia, then we'll do something about abortion." It turns protecting unborn human life into a meaningless abstraction. It puts defending innocent unborn life on the back burner.
As for Catholics, in the halls of government or the back rooms of chanceries, who seek to put the holocaust of the unborn on the backburner, Catholic Kerry Watch pledges the fire of truth. After all, it is far preferable to the fire to come!
Now, go and read the rest of Fr. Johansen's analysis or, as my friend Lane Core Jr. would say, lege.
I think that it is a positive sign that so much has been written about the contradiction in Mr. Kerry's political life and his professed faith. When Teddy Kennedy ran for the presidential nomination against then President Carter there was not much public outcry on his contradictory stances to the faith. The pro-life movement has gained momentum since the apathy of the 70s and 80s on this issue is partly responsible for this. Also I believe the availability of news other than what was the dominant mainstream sources has also led to the media reporting on issues such as this. The media for the most part has not covered this story very well, but at least they are making some attempt.
I found this article via a post by Ramesh Ponnuru at The Corner.
Joseph Bottum has an article in the Standard on the subject. This seems as good a time as any to respond to the couple of emails I got taking issue with, or asking me to clarify, my remark the other day that "I think that Catholic bishops are probably obligated to withhold communion from pro-abortion politicians (after first talking with them privately)."
I think two things have often been lost in the discussion about that idea. First: The withholding of communion should be seen not as a punishment so much as an act of charity. The Catholic church teaches that the act of denying justice to the unborn (by voting for abortion) is a grave sin. The politician who persists in it is endangering his soul. To encourage him to mend his ways is to do him a favor, albeit one that he will understandably not recognize as such. Second: The church cannot fail to offer this charity. If my reasoning is correct, this is not a discretionary matter for the bishops. Thus: Even if the bishops knew to a certainty that withholding communion from Kerry would generate a backlash that helped him, and the Bush campaign were pleading with them not to do it, they would, if I am right, still have to do it for Kerry's sake.
I hope the Bishops do respond as a whole out of charity for Kerry's sake and to stop a public scandal. If they don't act now and Mr. Kerry does become President then the scandal will only be escalated a hundred fold.
It provides an overview of the history of Catholic politicians who with the help of the usual suspects came up with dodges to explain their Catholic faith and their support of abortion in their political life.
Responding to Ekeh's defense of his "political orientation"
Ono Ekeh was a former program coordinator for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. This past March he was asked to resign when, at the urging of Deal Hudson and others, the USCCB conducted a review of his postings to his blog and the Catholics For Kerry internet forum. In this week's edition of The National Catholic Reporter, Ekeh defends his "political orientation" and participation in Catholics For Kerry, criticizing the notion that being Catholic and Democrat are mutually exclusive,
What precisely does "more engagement" mean? What is meant by "working within political parties"? Does it not allow for Catholics to seek similar goals of creating a culture of life and human dignity, even if our political orientation impels us to seek it in different ways?
The response, of course, lies in the Bishops' call -- within the same document -- to:
. . . encourage all citizens, particularly Catholics, to embrace their citizenship not merely as a duty and privilege, but as an opportunity meaningfully to participate [more fully] in building the culture of life. Every voice matters in the public forum. Every vote counts. Every act of responsible citizenship is an exercise of significant individual power.
Every voice matters. Every vote counts. Precisely why some Catholic clergy and laity have a hard time believing that putting Kerry in the White House will contribute towards this end, what with his consistent voting record on ending the lives of the unborn. Catholics may have legitimate disagreements and grievances with the Bush administration, but how does one support a presidential candidate endorsed by NARAL and for whom pro-choicers are marching on Sunday? -- how does Ekeh square his support of Kerry's candidacy with the bishop's admonishment:
In protecting human life, "We must begin with a commitment never to intentionally kill, or collude in the killing, of any innocent human life, no matter how broken, unformed, disabled or desperate that life may seem. . . . We urge Catholics and others to promote laws and social policies that protect human life and promote human dignity to the maximum degree possible. Laws that legitimize abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia are profoundly unjust and immoral.
I agree with Ekeh that Catholics should seek to "change a culture, not just a law" -- and the battle to end abortion requires not just the prohibition of the procedure but to work to alleviate the economic and social conditions that compel women to make this choice. I agree with Ekeh that "issues such as health care, child care, family leave, wage inequity, domestic violence" should be effectively addressed. There is no question that all of this should be part of the struggle to build a "culture of life."
But working for the latter simply does not excuse or justify supporting a politican whose distinctly anti-Catholic voting record on abortion (not to mention verbal promises to his supporters) indicates that his administration will be a direct impediment to ending this profoundly unjust and immoral horror visited upon so many innocent lives.
Update Amy Welborn was likewise mystified by Ekeh's defense -- good discussion here.
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Let's Not Duck the Issue: Trading Rhetoric for Substance
My good friend and esteemed colleague Jeff Miller calls our attention to Minute Particulars' critique of the use of the phrase "Catholics In Name Only" (CINOs), an expression that I have used on this blog and elsewhere to describe anti-life, anti-family Catholic politicians who have betrayed not only the lives of defenseless babies but the most fundamental beliefs of our faith.
When I use—and continue to use—the expression "Catholic In Name Only" or CINO to describe Catholic Judases like Sen. Kerry and his ilk, it is in the same sense as the words with which Archbishop Chaput concludes "How to Tell a Duck From a Fox," posted by Jeff below and linked under "Related Documents & Articles and discussion" in our right nav bar:
Candidates who claim to be "Catholic" but who publicly ignore Catholic teaching about the sanctity of human life are offering a dishonest public witness. They may try to look Catholic and sound Catholic, but unless they act Catholic in their public service and political choices, they're really a very different kind of creature.
In short, they are Catholics In Name Only.
Of course, if the Catholic Senators and Congressmen who vote in support of abortion religiously were excommunicated for aiding and abetting the murder of babies, this would resolve the dilemma of those who may confuse rhetorical expressions with ecclesiastical sanctions.
I'd gladly trade the one for the other. Wouldn't you?
Archbishop Chaput: "Elections are never `faith-free' zones"
Vatican II can never be invoked as an alibi for Catholics ignoring grave public evil or failing to act on their faith in the political sphere. That's a distortion of the council's message. It also misreads the U.S. Constitution. America's Founding Fathers did not say, and never intended, that religious faith should be excluded from civic debate. They intended one thing only: to prevent the establishment of an official state church. A purely secular interpretation of the "separation of church and state" would actually result in the "separation of state and morality." And that would be a catastrophe for real pluralism and the democratic process.
If we're sincere about our faith, "conscience" can never be used as an excuse for dismissing what the Church teaches by pointing to her theological critics, voter surveys or public opinion polls, and then doing what we find more convenient. That's dishonest. And God made us for something better than that.
Required reading for Senator Kerry, although it's doubtful he'll get around to it what with his busy campaign schedule.
Chaput's latest column, by the way, appears to be motivated by the overwhelming response (positive and negative) from Denver Catholics to his previous column, his bold defense of the faith making him unpopular in certain circles. God bless Archbishop Chaput for his display of courage, and may other bishops follow his example!
The Catholic Church is one of the fastest-growing churches in the United States, and many pundits—including this one—are predicting that the Catholic vote will determine the outcome of the 2004 presidential race.
Writing in the current issue of Insight on the News, Peter Roff, a UPI senior political analyst, provides analysis of the Catholic vote from informed sources on both sides of the partisan divide.
Applied Research Consultant's Johnny Morgan provides demographic analysis to Republican candidates. He believes that in places where the Catholic vote is up for grabs, Kerry's doctrinal vulnerabilities could tip the balance in Bush's direction.
According to Morgan, the election will be won and lost in states such as Northeastern and Midwest states such as Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Wisconsin—states with considerable numbers of Catholic voters, many of whom take a more traditional approach to church doctrine and who may look at Kerry's record on faith issues in his professional and personal life in deciding how to vote. As Morgan puts it:
Rural Catholics in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Missouri tend to be Democrats by registration but place high value on their Catholic faith. Kerry's position on abortion and a move to take Communion in defiance of a bishop's order could be a significant factor in pushing these voters out of the Kerry column.
Donna Brazile, who ran Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign, agrees with Morgan that Catholics "are a very important vote."
Brazile, who is Catholic, said that Kerry would do best to ignore the two issues currently causing him trouble and focus on "the compassionate issues." "I think Gore did very well among these Catholics," she said, suggesting that Kerry appeal to them with arguments about economic justice rather than social issues such as marriage and abortion.
Once again, we see the "seamless garment" card being played to trump fidelity to the faith. Whether it wins the game remains to be seen. The stakes are high.
...Donna Brazile, who ran former vice president Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign, found much to agree with in Morgan's analysis. Catholics "are a very important vote," Brazile said, pointing to the states in play for 2004 where Catholics make up a large segment of the electorate. "We targeted Catholics in the 2000 race, trying not just to reach the bishops and parishioners but also the Catholic lay groups that agree with Democrats on many social policy issues."
Brazile, who is Catholic, said that Kerry would do best to ignore the two issues currently causing him trouble and focus on "the compassionate issues."
"I think Gore did very well among these Catholics," she said, suggesting that Kerry appeal to them with arguments about economic justice rather than social issues such as marriage and abortion. "Kerry," she said, "will have to make a direct appeal to them. He cannot rely on other Democrat politicians to carry his message to them."
Some years back Donna Brazile wrote an article arguing that those on the pro-abortion side should go ahead and admit that abortion results in the death of a human being, but that this can still be defended. And now she is advising that Kerry not talk about abortion and marriage and concentrate on as she says "the compassionate issues." The destruction of the family is what leads in many cases to the issues that come under the umbrella of social justice. If you want to see the prime indicator of poverty you don't have to look much farther then divorce and single parent families.
And just to show that there are plenty of confused Catholics also in the GOP.
...Christine Sculti is the executive director of the Republican Party organization in Westchester County, N.Y., a mostly upper-income area just north of New York City. A suburban single Catholic, Sculti represents what is to both campaigns a targeted demographic. "The Catholic vote in Westchester," she said, "registers Democrat, and you often see them vote as a bloc when a particular social issue like abortion becomes significant in a national, statewide or local election."
But that is only part of the equation. Sculti, like Kerry and other prominent national politicians who seek to keep their own faith separate from political matters in a sop to the diversity of opinion among the electorate as a whole, is moved by her faith to reach conclusions that are, in a word, personal.
Some may find it surprising, but Sculti said she finds herself more troubled by Kerry's annulment than by his stand on abortion. "As an observant Catholic, I think it is unconscionable to annul a marriage when there are children involved -- even if the children are adults," she said, admitting that her position may put her among the minority of Catholics in her own community.
I certainly hope that opinion puts her in the minority. Fr. Rob had a good post on whether or not Mr. Kerry had an annulment and why we shouldn't go there. Regardless of how bad the destruction of the family is via divorce, abortion is much more destructive. Plus the effects of abortion also ripple and cause problems in the family leading to divorce.
To answer a question that occurs from time to time in our comment boxes, Catholic Kerry Watch is not a partisan blog in the usual sense of the term; i.e., we do not pledge allegiance to a particular political party.
Our sole partisanship is for our Holy Catholic Faith and for the moral principles that it espouses, in particular, respect for innocent life and traditional marriage as ordained by God. Thus our focus, as noted below our banner, is on "chronicling Democratic presidential frontrunner John Kerry's desperate attempts to maintain his status as 'a Catholic in good standing' while publicly flouting the moral teachings of the Catholic Church."
That being said, common sense is common sense from whatever quarter it is voiced. In this case, it happens to be the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), critiquing the "seamless garment" scorecard scam, on which we have previously reported.
According to Michael Rochmes, writing in today's issue of The Hill:
The NRCC has accused Rep. Nick Lampson (D-TX) of trying to mislead voters by preparing a "Catholic Voting Scorecard" that compares the votes of Catholic lawmakers on both sides of the aisle on issues important to Catholics. Citing an article in last week's issue of The Hill, the NRCC said Lampson is trying to "draw attention away from his own voting record that flies in the face of Catholic teachings."
"The scorecard and the NRCC's counterattack demonstrate the extent to which the clash of Catholic doctrine with political policy has come to the fore in this year's election," Rochmes observes, noting that "the content of the scorecard has raised eyebrows because it appears to give equal weight to issues that many Catholics say are of utterly dissimilar moral valence—such as opposition to abortion and support for a higher minimum wage."
Thus Lamson, who voted with Planned Parenthood 80% of the time between 1995 and 2001 and. in two of the votes used by the bogus scorecard, voted to force military doctors to peform abortions and against a ban on human cloning, nevertheless managed to score an impressive 80%.
As NRCC spokesman Carl Forti cogently concludes:
Nick Lampson hasn't voted in line with the Catholic Church since he came to Congress. Instead of changing his votes to reflect Catholic teachings, Lampson appears to be trying to change Catholicism to be more in line with his votes.
To which we say, "Change your votes—not our faith!"
Kerry's television ad campaign and his "personal opposition"
As my brother noted, it's interesting to see Kerry's little Catholic scandal making "front-page news" on CNN.com. This is not something that will fade into the woodwork or be put on the back-burner -- it should rather be a burr in Kerry's saddle all the way to the White House, as faithful Catholics should raise their voices in protest and demand a response from their bishops.
But let us be clear on one thing: in their presentation of Kerry, CNN simply recites the ever-pervasive "personally against" formula of liberal Catholics:
Kerry says he is personally opposed to abortion, but supports the rights of others to make that choice. He argues that church doctrine allows Catholics the freedom of conscience to choose that stance.
Like many other Catholic politicans in his position, Senator Kerry tries to have it both ways. Assuming for a minute that Kerry means what he says when he proclaims his "personal opposition," this might very well imply his recognition that abortion takes a human life -- indeed, why else would anybody be opposed?
But if this were the case, it only reveals the hypocrisy in his position, for one can no more be "personally opposed to abortion, but respectful of other's right to choose" than one can be with regards to slavery, cannibalism, racism, sexism, [insert the evil of one's choice here].
I for one have a difficult time believing Kerry's "personal" opposition to abortion as presented by the media, for the following reasons:
And now, Kerry campaign has launched a television ad campaign blasting the President for his efforts to stop abortion.
Simply put: Kerry's actions and statements as a politician are not those of a committed Catholic "personally opposed" to abortion and yet regretfully duty-bound to serve the political will of his constituents. Rather, he strikes me as one doing everything in his power to support and promote it. As Cardinal Chaput put it:
Candidates who claim to be "Catholic" but who publicly ignore Catholic teaching about the sanctity of human life are offering a dishonest public witness. They may try to look Catholic and sound Catholic, but unless they act Catholic in their public service and political choices, they're really a very different kind of creature.
Ongoing commentary by the editors of CatholicKerryWatch
Sen. John Kerry stands with Kate Michelman (right) President of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Since 1995, Michelman's group has given Kerry a 100% rating for his voting record to defend abortion.