Despite the growing anxiety of several national Roman Catholic leaders, Senator John Kerry took communion here on Sunday at Easter services at the Paulist Center, a nontraditional church that describes itself as "a worship community of Christians in the Roman Catholic tradition" and which attracts people drawn to its dedication to "family religious education and social justice."
Mr. Kerry's decision to receive communion amounts to a challenge to several prominent Catholic bishops, who have become increasingly exasperated with politicians who are Catholic but who deviate from Catholic teaching. . . .
In November, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops organized a task force headed by Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the archbishop of Washington, to study how the church should treat Catholic politicians like Mr. Kerry, who say they are personally opposed to abortion, for example, but support abortion rights legislatively. . . . The task force has not issued specific recommendations, but some members have discussed a range of penalties, from withholding communion to excommunication.
Speaking of Cardinal McCarrick, he was interviewed by Christ Wallace on the television show Fox News Watch this Sunday.
WALLACE: At least one archbishop has said that he would not like to see Senator Kerry take communion there in St. Louis. How do you feel about that?
MCCARRICK: I think every archbishop has the right to make his decision in his own area. I think that there are many of us who would feel that there are certain restrictions that's we might put on people, that there are certain sanctions that we may put on people. But I think many of us would not like to use the eucharest as part of the sanction.
WALLACE: Would you, if Senator Kerry were at mass that you were...
MCCARRICK: I think I would want to get to talk to him, get to see him and get to understand him before I would make a decision like that.
If a man said to me, "I don't believe in Jesus Christ, I don't believe in the church, I don't believe in holy communion," and then comes up to me, I wouldn't give him communion.
WALLACE: But what if he said, "I disagree with the church's position on abortion and stem cell research"?
MCCARRICK: Well, I'd have to know exactly what his disagreement is all about.
The Cardinal shouldn't find it that much of a challenge to discern the nature of Kerry's disagreement with the Church. Here's Kerry's stance on "women's issues," directly from his campaign website:
John Kerry believes that women have the right to control their own bodies, their own lives, and their own destinies. He believes that the Constitution protects their right to choose and to make their own decisions in consultation with their doctor, their conscience, and their God. He will defend this right as President. He recently announced he will support only pro-choice judges to the Supreme Court.
I don't think Kerry could make any clearer to McCarrick where he stands on this issue. These aren't just empty campaign promises to the pro-choice lobby. Kerry's got the voting record to prove it, and his recent endorsement by NARAL as a "President pro-choice Americans can relay on" is a good indication that, once in office, he will commit himself to repealing whatever progress the pro-life movement has made during the Bush administration.
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.