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.
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.