Catholics & the 2004 Presidential Election - Collected Readings & Resources

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Is excommunication the answer? 

Posted by Christopher Blosser at 11:10 PM

Grassroots Catholic websites are springing up all over the internet in response to the Kerry scandal, prompted by righteous indignation over Kerry's disrepect for the Church and the Eucharist. Catholics Against Kerry gives tips on how to protest (and to whom), and promises to post Kerry's campaign schedule (just in case he comes to your parish for a photo-op)., another one-man operation, advocates harsher measures than the mere withholding of communion. And judging from his latest email newsletter, it would seem that Catholic apologist Karl Keating would agree with the proposal:

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.

Mark Shea, on the other hand, questions the prudentiality of expelling pro-choicers from the Church, and the possibility of schism were such action taken by the bishops:
Would most of me love to see it happen? Sure! And I'll bet the cry "Hulk Smash" is cathartic for Dr. Bruce Banner too. But do I think that the final result of the American episcopacy sending that message could well end in catastrophe? Yeah, I do.

At the very least, I'd be interested in seeing some real discussion and thought about what such a move would logically entail. Some of my readers seem to think "Bring it on!" is the only Truly Christian approach to possibility of major schism. I think schism would be catastrophic.

Orthodox Catholics will continue to remain divided on this question. However, I think that most of us will agree that a clear and firm response is needed on the part of the Bishops -- not just individually, but as a collective voice. As one commentator noted on Mark Shea's blog today:
"The problem with the Kerry situation is that it is a PUBLIC scandal. And as such needs a timely public response. Should they try to manage it privately with Kerry at first, absolutely. Is the decision theirs to make, absolutely. However, by not making a decision, and allowing different priests to make up their own mind on whether it is appropriate for a pro-abortion Catholic to recieve communion, the bishops feed into the modern "as long as my conscience tells me it's okay then it is okay" mentality."

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.


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Contributing Editors:

Oswald Sobrino of
Catholic Analysis

Earl E. Appleby of
Times Against Humanity

Jeff Miller of
The Curt Jester

Ad Limina Apostolorum

Christopher Blosser of
Against The Grain

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Kerry's Critics


Ad Limina Apostolorum
The Black Republican
The Blog From The Core
Catholics for Bush [Blog]
Catholic Light
Defensor Fidei (Jimmy Akin)
Domenico Bettinelli, Jr.
The Galvin Opinion
Just Being Frank
Laudem Gloriae
Let's Try Freedom
Mark Shea
[The Meandering Mind of a Seminarian]
The Mighty Barrister
Open Book
Thrown Back
TriCoastal Commission


Catholics Against Kerry
De Fide
Kerry Wrong For Catholics
Priests For Life

News Resources

Google News
Mallon's Media Watch
New York Times
Yahoo News

Kerry Communion Watch @

The Candidates on Abortion: Where do they stand?




National Catholic Reporter
National Catholic Register
The Hill
Crisis Magazine
National Review
Weekly Standard

Related Documents & Articles

Worthiness To Recieve Communion: General Principles
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Evangelium Vitae
Pope John Paul II

Worthy to Receive the Lamb: Catholics in Political Life and the Reception of Holy Communion, from Archbishop Donoghue (Atlanta, GA), Bishop Baker (Charleston, SC) and Bishop Jugis (Charlotte, NC).
August 4, 2004

Catholics in Political Life U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. June 7, 2004.

Catholic Politicians and Bishops. By Most Rev. Raymond L. Burke, Archbishop of St. Louis. America June 21-28, 2004.

A Time For Honesty, Pastoral Statement by The Most Reverend John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark. May 5, 2004.

Why Communion Could Be Denied to Anti-Life Legislators. Interview with Father Thomas Williams, dean of the School of Theology of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum.

Why Don't Catholic Politicians Practice What the Catholic Church Preaches?, by Judie Brown. Washington Dispatch April 19, 2004.

How to tell a Duck from a Fox: Thinking with the Church as we look toward November, by Archbishop Chaput. Denver Catholic Register April 14, 2004.

On the Dignity of Human Life and Civic Responsibility, a Pastoral Letter by La Crosse Bishop Raymond L. Burke.

Blood On Their Hands: Exposing Pro-abortion Catholic Politicians, by Mark Stricherz. Crisis May 2003.

The Failure of Catholic Political Leadership, by Robert P. George & William E. Saunders. Crisis 18, No. 4 (April 2000).

Denying Holy Communion: A Case History, by Bishop Emeritus Rene Henry Gracida. [PDF Format].

Ten questions regarding the denial of the Eucharist, by Barbara Kralis.

Recommmended Reading

John Kerry, Abortion and the Catholic Church

Irreconcilable Differences", by Matthew Mehan. NRO Sept. 16, 2004.

John Courtney Murray and the 'Liberal Catholic' Justification of Abortion Investigative report by Christopher Blosser. August 30, 2004.

"Please answer the question, Senator Kerry", The Mighty Barrister. August 2, 2004.

You wouldn't even ask. Fr. Pavone (Priests for Life). July 2004.

Kerry isn't making abortion stand clear, by Raymond J. Keating. Newsday July 27, 2004.

Senator Kerry May Be Human . . . But is He a Person?, Catholic Kerry Watch. July 23, 2004.

Kerry's Catholic Problem, by Brent Bozell. July 7, 2004.

The Body Politic and the Body of Christ: Candidates, Communion and the Catholic Church. Debate btw/ Thomas J. Reese, S.J. and George Weigel. June 23, 2004.

The Kerry challenge, by George Weigel. May 5, 2004.

Rites and Wrongs: Why John Kerry should not take communion, by Philip F. Lawler. Wall Street Journal April 30, 2004.

John Kerry's Catholic Problem", by Cal Thomas. April 26, 2004.

Kerry Distorting Catholic Doctrine. interviews George Weigel. April 16, 2004.

"Personally Opposed, But…" Five Pro-Abortion Dodges, by Todd M. Aglialoro. Crisis April 1, 2004.

On Embryonic Stem-Cell Research

Reagan vs. Reagan and The Stem-Cell Cover-Up, Catholic Kerry Watch, August 14, 2004.

Senator Kerry dismisses religious convictions as "ideology"  Catholic Kerry Watch. August 9, 2004.

Ron Reagan & Functionalism, Revisited, Catholic Kerry Watch. July 29, 2004.

Out of Touch, by Michael Fumento. Refuting Kerry's claims on the use of embryonic stem cells. Citizen Magazine August 2004.

Stem Cell Defection, by Ramesh Ponnuru. National Review August 16, 2004.

Stem Cell Research: Fact Sheets, Letters to Congress and Articles from the USCCB.

On Voting, "Proportionality" and Cardinal Ratzinger's Memorandum

What Ratzinger Said, by James Akin. Sept. 9, 2004.

Bishops Refute Flawed Theology (of Andrew Greeley) Barbara Kralis. August 22, 2004.

Thoughts on Proportionality, Catholic Kerry Watch. July 12, 2004.

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