Writing in today's Daily Standard, Terry Eastland, publisher of The Weekly Standard, describes "John Kerry's Catholic Problem":
American Catholics now find themselves having to think about a question that concerns their church and the Democratic party's presumptive presidential nominee, John Kerry. The question is: Can Kerry be a good Catholic and yet take positions as a lawmaker that contradict the teachings of the church on "life issues," especially abortion and stem-cell research?
The answer for Roman—as opposed to American—Catholics is self evident. Of course, as Eastland points out:
The question didn't arise only with Kerry, who hardly is the first Catholic politician to support abortion rights. Church leaders have been mulling for some time how to respond to politician-parishioners holding views at odds with the church's. And John Paul II approved a "doctrinal note" two years ago advising Catholic politicians of their duty "to oppose any law that attacks human life." A task force now is developing guidelines for use by American bishops in their dealings with Catholic lawmakers.
The same Roman Catholics, no doubt, will experience an understandable queasy feeling in their stomaches on seeing the words "American bishops" and "task force" used in the same sentence. After all, the task force is not being chaired by either Bishop Burke or Bishop Bruskewitz, I'm willing to bet—more likely, Bishop Business A. Usual.
And please Weekly Standard, drop the "abortion rights" and "pro-choice" double-speak, lest you be confused with the Weakly Standard, as the bishops' standard surely will:
Most church leaders don't appear ready to use the Eucharist as an instrument of sanction. Most seem of the same mind as Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the archbishop of Washington, who has made vague allusions to milder sanctions.
A roll of the episcopal eyes heavenward, perhaps? At least, they'd be looking in the right direction for a change.
But whatever sanctions might be used, for many leaders there is the matter of fair enforcement, for if Kerry is to be disciplined, they argue, there surely are others who also should be dealt with.
Ah, there's the rub, as Bishop Usual might say in the privacy of his chancery among friends, we'd have to deal with the whole tribe of CINO candidates and just when the scorecard is about to come out. Darn those trouble-making "right-to-lifers" who flood our e-mail boxes with their unnuanced passions—which are only enflamed by the Pope's doctrinal note! They probably can't even spell "dialogue," which is why there is no purpose in even talking with them. Besides, as we say in politics, "Where can they go?"
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.