No one who knows the Crusader's heart of Fr. Rob Johansen would doubt for a moment that he shares Catholic Kerry Watch's nonpartisan commitment to equal-handed treatment of all public CINO pro-aborts who impiously approach the Sacrament of the Altar to profane the Body and Blood of Christ with hands stained with the blood of countless babies. Indeed, we could have said it no better:
There is no doubt that there are some pro-abort "Catholic" politicians in the Republican Party. And the bishops should, and in fact must, hold their feet to the fire as much as they do Democrats.
And yet, there is a reason why this blog bears the name it does:
The fact is, that John Kerry put himself squarely in the middle of this imbroglio. He insisted in proclaiming loudly that he is a "Catholic in good standing", and that he can remain a good Catholic while yet defying Church teaching on a fundamental moral issue. And he attempted to mislead Catholics and obfuscate the Church's teaching on abortion. In short, Kerry has been brazen about his advocacy of the abortion license in a way that no previous pro-abort Catholic politician has been before.
And, let us pray, shall be hence. As customary, you'll want to read every word of Fr. Johansen's cogent analysis on Thrown Back. I'll simply conclude with these words, which echo my thoughts:
Have no fear, CINO pro-abort Republicans. Your turn under the microscope is coming....I for one will be just as happy to denounce Pro-abort CINO Republicans as Democrats.
But "if everyone knows that the Democrats are The Party of Abortion...that's not the fault of the Bishops or the Church, but the fault of the Democratic Party itself." And a grievous fault it is.
Sunday, May 30, 2004
Pontius Pilate was personally opposed to executing Jesus
From the pages of Times Against Humanity . . . "'Catholic' homosexuals have an agenda set up for this weekend," Kevin McCullough reports for Crosswalk [May 26, 9:18 am]:
As an act of protest and defiance a new "Rainbow Coalition" of sorts has been set up. This Sunday, Catholics who are supposedly gay are encouraged to wear a rainbow sash to make a statement.
As the Chicago Sun-Times reports, however, another statement -- one faithful to Christ, His Church, and His Father's Commandments -- has been made by Chicago's Cardinal Francis George:
The Rainbow Sash movement wants its members to be fully accepted in the Church not on the same conditions as any Catholic, but precisely as gay. With this comes the requirement that the Church change her moral teaching which is from the Lord and his Apostles. The policy of the U.S. Council of Bishops is not to give Communion to those wearing the sash.
Predictably, those who wish to turn the Church Militant into the Church Negligent are disturbed not by defiant deviates seeking to profane the Body and Blood of Christ but by Cardinal George for defending the Holy Eucharist. Hence, Fr. Richard Predergast of Berwyn, IL, on receipt of the directive, parroted the Cardinal McCarrick party line:
I think the question of the increased usage of bishops withholding communion as a punitive measure is a slippery slope.
To his credit, Kevin McCullough gets it right:
There will be those who will no doubt try to make the case that the Cardinal is being prejudiced, that he is in some way perpetrating the furtherance of hate and intolerance to an already "picked on" community. Besides the fact that homosexuals nationwide are some of the most materially well endowed people in the nation today, the Cardinal's memo has nothing to do with hate or intolerance. The Cardinal has taken the path of God's truth on the matter. The fact that there are those who oppose the memo are really doing nothing more than demonstrating their opposition to the mandates, teaching, and understanding of God's ideals for sexual morality. It is the Cardinal's position to encourage people to move towards God's ideals. And I for one am glad he is!
Some items of interest discovered while making the rounds of St. Blog's Parish:
"I Have to Represent All the People" . . . such is the claim put forth by many a Catholic politician defending their "pro-choice" record on abortion. Fr. Rob Johansen of Thrown Back critiques this excuse.
John Allen, Jr. recently interviewed Cardinal George for the National Catholic Reporter. The full text of the interview was posted to NCR's website this past Wednesday.
As posted by my fellow pundit Barbara Kralis on Fidelis . . .
Several U.S. bishops have recently voiced their opposition and ersatz reasoning why no one should be denied the Eucharist according to Code of Canon Law n. 915.
Those in the pews are perplexed. Which bishop is correct? Why would some bishops teach that the laws are binding and other bishops teach that they are not?2
Quizzically, people are asking ten questions:
1. Why should the Church deny the Eucharist to hundreds of "Catholic" pro-abortion politicians?
The Catholic Church condemns abortion3, euthanasia4, sodomy5, cloning6, embryonic stem cell research7, as well as other attacks against the sanctity of life and the family. It is the obligation of the bishop to follow canon law. Canon 915 mandates the denial of Communion to all "manifest, obstinate, persistent sinners," including but not exclusive to politicians.8
Canon 915 not only protects the Eucharist from sacrilegious reception, but also prevents the faithful from sorrowful scandal.
It's important to understand what "manifest, obstinate, persistent" means. Many wrongly think it applies only to politicians.9 This is not so.
If a Catholic is a "manifest" sinner, that means he is known, or public. This must be differentiated from the Catholics who are in the state of private grave sin, whose sin is known only to themselves and God. The private grave sinner cannot be denied the Eucharist because their sin is unknown to the bishop, to his priests, and his ministers of the Eucharist.
If a Catholic is gravely "manifest" and "obstinate" in his sin, that means he pigheadedly continues to persist or stand firm in grave sin that is public in nature and causes scandal to others. This is quite different from those who persist in private sin.
"Catholic" pro-abortion politicians are certainly manifest, obstinate and persistent sinners and they are thus subject to the provisions of Canon 915.10
2. If they deny politicians, then shouldn't they deny all public sinners?
Not only does this canonical discipline, Canon 915, include the estimated 500 so-called "Catholic" pro-abortion politicians in the United States, but it also includes other manifest, obstinate, persistent sinners such as homosexual couples approaching the Eucharist arm-in-arm or with sodomite rainbow banners over their shoulders, those divorced and "remarried" without benefit of annulment11, directors of abortion mills and Planned Parenthood, Mafia figures, drug lords, notorious criminals, couples living openly in fornication or adultery (this is certainly not an exhaustive list of manifest sinners).
3. What about the couple or individual who lives in grave sin privately and their Pastor is made aware of their sin? Should the Pastor deny them the Eucharist?
No. Not if most people do not know this. He cannot make their sin known to people. The priest cannot make know the sin of another, if it is not already manifest. This is related to the seal of confession.12 If it becomes known by most in the parish, then the priest might then be obliged to deny the Eucharist under Canon 915 so as not to cause scandal.
4. Isn't there supposed to be a separation of Church and State?
The Founding Fathers of our nation believed in the promotion of religion. Thus, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...
The Fathers merely wanted to avoid a state church or any other favoring of one Christian denomination over another. In other words, the object was to avoid favoritism and compulsion, nothing more.13
It would be a sad day in America if only Catholics believed in protection of innocent life.14
5. Can the Church tell its members how to legislate and vote?
The Church is not asking Catholic legislators to impose her beliefs on unwilling populace. Rather, the Church is calling upon her Catholic legislators to defend human life, which is a basic responsibility of all civic institutions.15
The Church is not trying to influence legislation but instead is protecting the dignity of the Sacrament and addressing the grave scandal of Catholic legislators who fail to defend innocent life.
Implying that the Church is trying to tell its members how to vote is erroneous. It never directs its members to cast their vote for any specific party or candidate. It is reiterating that abortion, euthanasia, sodomy, cloning and embryonic stem cell research (this is not an exhaustive list) are intrinsically evil in and of themselves; all other human rights pale in comparison to the right of life of the unborn.
6. Isn't the Church turning the Eucharist into a weapon? No one should be denied the Eucharist. Where is the freedom of conscience?
It is true that Canon 912 does say, "Any baptized person who is not forbidden by law may and must be admitted to Holy Communion." However, the canon's commentary further explains: "unless the existence of some impediment is evidence in the external forum of Canon 915."16
Canon 915 states:
Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are forbidden by law from receiving Holy Communion.
It is dishonest to use Canon 912 to justify permitting grave manifest, obstinate, persistent sinners to the Eucharist. It is a mockery of the faith and belies ones identity as a Catholic believer.
True freedom is not doing what you want to do, but doing what you ought to do.17 The Church teaches, "Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions."18
Conscience is not the same as your opinions or feelings. Conscience is the voice of truth within you and your opinions and feelings must reflect your well-informed conscience.19
A well-informed conscience is one that is totally in accord with the church's magisterial teachings. If one is well informed (catechized), their conscience will be correctly informed. This transcends any choice for political party or candidate.
No pope or ecumenical council has ever said that Catholics who hold public office are excused from living by the teachings of the Church.20
Christians, like all people of goodwill, are called upon under grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God's law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. Such cooperation occurs when an action, either by its very nature or by the form it takes in a concrete situation, can be defined as a direct participation in an act against innocent human life or a sharing in the immoral intention of the person committing it. This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it. Each individual in fact has moral responsibility for the acts, which he personally performs; no one can be exempted from the responsibility, and on the basis of it, everyone will be judged by God Himself.21
7. Why not deny Communion to politicians and laity who support the death penalty and the Iraq war?
The Church has never taught, and does not teach now, that the death penalty and war are evil in all instances. But, the Church has always clearly condemned abortion, sodomy, euthanasia, cloning, and embryonic stem cell research in all instances.
The Church teaches that it is the right and responsibility of the legitimate temporal authority to defend and preserve the common good and citizens against the aggressor, even if it has to resort to the death penalty if no other means of defense is sufficient.22
8. All I hear about is the "right to life." What about the right to employment, the right to water, the right to food and clothing, the right to protection of the environment?
Without the right to life, no other rights are possible.
As men and women of good will we strive to achieve true justice for all people and to preserve their rights as human beings. There is, however, one right that is inalienable, and that is the right to life. This is the first right. This is the right that grounds all other human rights. This is the issue that trumps all other issues.23
The Didache24, written around A.D. 80, declares:
You shall not kill by abortion the fruit of the womb and you shall not murder the infant already born.
The Catholic Church's social teachings are vast and complete. However, faithful Catholics may legitimately disagree on different points of view and on how to implement these social teachings.25 One can never disagree on the teachings regarding the right to life of the unborn, persons with disabilities, and the elderly.26
9. When "gays" and lesbians march up to the altar arm in arm for Communion, should they be denied?
Canon 915 states that if they are gravely manifest, obstinate, and persistent in their sins, then they must be denied. The Church condemns the sin of sodomy.27
Sodomites who approach the Eucharist wearing Rainbow sashes or who are living known lives of perversion are certainly manifest, obstinate and persistent in their grave sin.28
Legal recognition of same-sex unions actually does homosexual persons a disfavor by encouraging them to persist in what is an objectively immoral arrangement.
There are absolutely no grounds for considering same-sex unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts "close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved."29
10. What is Canon Law 915 that I hear so much about?
You may remember that Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, D.D., J.C.L., a canon lawyer, on January 8, 2004, promulgated a canonical notification in the diocese of La Crosse, WI, based on Canon 915. In other words, he imposed sacramental disciplines or regulations concerning the unworthy reception of the Holy Eucharist.
Canon 915 is a sacramental law, not a penal law, and applies only to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, not other Sacraments. It is not an excommunication or interdict.
Canon Law is the Church's Sacred Discipline and is binding on all Catholics, not just politicians, who reject Church law.
There are, however, other legislative powers that the Pope and diocesan Bishops possess which gives them the right to enact laws for their dioceses, including penal laws which impose latae sententiae ("automatically without sentence") penalties (Canons 1311, 1315, 1318, 1369, 1398). Here we are discussing only Canon 915.
When the diocesan bishops ignore enforcing Canon Law, they are giving license to all manifest sinners to commit Eucharistic sacrilege and cause grave scandal to the faithful.30
Editor's Note: A complete annotated edition of this article with endnotes can be found on Lifeissues.net
Friday, May 28, 2004
Newsweek Religion Writer Opines on Abortion Controversy
Newsweek religion writer Kenneth Woodward publishes an opinion piece in today's New York Times [free reg'n required] discussing the coming clash between pro-abortion politicians and Catholic bishops. Woodward clearly does not favor denying the Eucharist to these politicians. Yet, there are signs that the debate on this issue has focused the issue and advanced the defense of life even among those like Woodward who shrink from the obvious and long overdue need to deny the Eucharist to those pro-abortion celebrities who obstinately persist in propping up legal abortion.
The first positive sign is that Woodward eventually points out—after an initial erroneous description of papal teaching—that the abortion issue cannot be put on a par with issues like the death penalty and the Iraq War:
But this line of reasoning [the much misused "Seamless Garment" line of reasoning] is fraught with peril. For the pope, the bishops and—if polls are to believed—for most practicing Catholics, abortion is the taking of innocent life and therefore violates the most fundamental of human rights. By contrast, the pope's opposition to capital punishment is conditional, not absolute, and the church's application of just war principles is open to reasoned debate. When it comes to abortion, there is far less room for discussion.
Not only is there far less room for discussion when it comes to abortion—there is no room for discussion as to a Catholic supporting abortion. In a culture that shrinks from any absolutes—except perhaps when it comes to the evil of tobacco or "homophobia"—the Catholic Church announces that direct abortion is intrinsically evil. That is the source of the conflict because our culture finds any absolute, non-negotiable moral stand intolerable.
Woodward also reports that the U.S. bishops may release their task force report on the issue of pro-abortion politicians earlier than anticipated because of the controversy. An early release would be a sign that our opinions do count. When you write a letter to the editor or e-mail a bishop, your voice can have an impact on evolving events. Woodward in the paragraph quoted above faces the reality of Catholic teaching, instead of hiding behind the misuse of the Seamless Garment argument that falsely puts abortion, the death penalty, and war on the same moral level. They emphatically are not on the same moral level. The death penalty targets convicted criminals, not the innocent. The decision to go to war in Iraq was motivated by Saddam Hussein's defiance of the U.N. on disarmament. The Iraqi dictator was also a genocidal tyrant who routinely engaged in torture, mutilation, and massacre as an open and official instrument of state policy directed at innocent civilians.
From reading Woodward's column, it appears that he anticipates that the task force may favor telling the pro-abortion politicians to voluntarily refrain from receiving the Eucharist. The task force may even recommend imposing some lesser sanctions such as barring such politicians from making speeches at Catholic institutions. That is some progress, even if it fails to live up to the full moral imperative. Yet, no committee or task force can tie the hands of a courageous bishop. Some bishops will continue to be bold and apostolic on this issue. They will continue to move the ball down the field even if all we get is a field goal.
The truth is making progress when even someone like Woodward recognizes the moral problem of pro-abortion Catholic politicians and the sophistry of the excuses made in the past by such luminaries as former New York Governor Mario Cuomo. Yet, Woodward himself has room to grow. He refers to the stand of Bishop Sheridan of Colorado Springs as "eccentric" for calling on Catholic voters who vote for pro-abortion politicians to refrain from the Eucharist unless they repent and go to confession. Sheridan just stated the obvious, but the obvious becomes "eccentric" when compared to the timidity of many other bishops. It reminds me of one Catholic biblical scholar who refers to Jesus as a "Marginal Jew." I guess Bishop Sheridan should take comfort that on this issue he is the "Marginal Bishop." He has good company in his so-called "eccentricity."
In addition, the title of Woodward's piece "A Political Sacrament" is vaguely offensive, if not outright blasphemous. The Eucharist is not a political sacrament in spite of the best efforts of pro-abortion politicians to make receiving the Eucharist a false public statement of their standing as Catholics. The Eucharist is, like all sacraments, an Ecclesial Sacrament. It is a sign of unity and communion with the Catholic Church. And that is the source of the problem for the politicians. On this Memorial Day weekend, it is good to recall the famous World War II saying, dating from Pearl Harbor, to "praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition." Keep praying and keep speaking out. The truth is our ammunition.
The Catholic News Service is reporting that Pittsburgh Bishop Donald Wuerl spoke recently to a Catholic audience and stated that denying the Eucharist was not part of the "pastoral tradition" of the Church. My initial reaction is that canon law clearly envisions denying the Eucharist to pro-abortion politicians, as canonists have pointed out (see, for example, this analysis by Dr. Edward N. Peters). Does pastoral tradition nullify the explicit words of canon law? In my humble view, if it is in canon law, it is part of the pastoral tradition of the Church. Canon law reflects the pastoral tradition of the Church, and cannot contradict it.
The Pope's own words in promulgating the current Code of Canon Law bear witness to this organic and close relation between canon law and the pastoral practice of the Church by noting the purpose of canon law:
[I]ts purpose is rather to create such an order in the ecclesial society that, while assigning the primacy to love, grace and charisms, it at the same time renders their organic development easier in the life of both the ecclesial society and the individual persons who belong to it.
Source: Apostolic Constitution Sacrae Disciplinae Leges, available at this link (scroll down document).
Canon law, theology, and pastoral practice are intended to reflect the same truth. If American pastoral practice contradicts the carefully redacted text of canon law duly promulgated by the Pope, then it seems to me that something is amiss in pastoral practice in the United States (see Canon 24).
The Diocese of Pittsburgh website provides the entire text of the bishop's address on May 25, 2004. Most of the address is an eloquent affirmation that abortion and voting to keep abortion legal are both grave evils. The surprising problem is that the bishop fails to draw the logically required conclusion from his own eloquent statement of the relevant premisses! Instead, when you think he is about to concur that politicians who obstinately persist in supporting abortion should be denied the Eucharist, he pulls back citing concerns about Church interference in politics. The bishop puts forth three inadequate reasons for pulling back from the conclusion required by his own statement of Catholic teaching on abortion:
1. That the issue of supporting legal abortion is on a par with other issues such as the death penalty--but he himself states earlier in his remarks that the right to life is "the most fundamental of all human rights";
2. That we have to consider under what circumstances we would deny the Eucharist to any Catholic--but the issue, as he himself earlier pointed out, focuses on the peculiarly public position of politicians, not on the situation of unknown Catholics;
3. And that the Church recoils from judging the "state of the soul" of those presenting themselves for Holy Communion--but canon law does not require such a subjective assessment but merely a determination that the individual is in an objective state of grave sin, and certainly the Church makes that sort of determination in her rule barring divorced and remarried Catholics from the Eucharist without delving into the reasons for their marital situation.
The bishop's own analysis begs for the conclusion that pro-abortion politicians should be denied the Eucharist. His eloquent statement of the foundations for that conclusion lead me to hope that he will, sooner or later, come to the manifestly required conclusion.
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Bishop Olmstead considers measures "beyond those of moral persuasion"
Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix, AZ today responded to what he charged was a misrepresentation of his position on the "Kerry communion scandal" by the Arizona Republic:
The headline in the Arizona Republic (5/21/04), "Bishops won't link politics, Communion" misrepresents my position. Abortion is the killing of a completely innocent life and thus bad news for both unborn children and their mothers. It is a horrible wrong. It is intrinsically evil. We have a serious obligation to protect human life, and especially the most innocent and vulnerable. Whoever fails to do this, especially when they are able to do so, commit serious sins of omission. They jeopardize their own spiritual wellbeing and they are a source of scandal for others. Should they be Catholics, they should not receive Holy Communion.
No one who is conscious of having committed a serious sin should receive Holy Communion. For the Eucharist is the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, our most precious gift in the Church. And St. Paul warns us (I Cor 11:27-29): "Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself."
I call upon all Catholics, especially those in public life, to examine their consciences, and to refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they are unambiguously pro-abortion. As a bishop, I shall continue to pray for an end to abortion and other sins against life; I shall stand up for the life and dignity of every human person and I urge all people of good will to do the same. Should some Catholic politicians who are presently pro-abortion obstinately persist in this contradiction to our faith, this becomes a source of scandal and measures beyond those of moral persuasion would be needed. As God tells us in the Book of Leviticus (19:16), "You shall not stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake."
Some might regard Olmsted's statements as akin to Cardinal McCarrick's -- perhaps more strongly worded than the latter, but begging the question: what is the next course of action when an "unambiguously pro-abortion" Catholic persists in his stance and disregards the Bishop's request? A discussion of this is taking place over at Amy Welborn's blog. I thought the following comment was helpful in understanding Olmsted's approach:
Canon law and Catholic Theology do not impose on the minister of Holy Communion the responsibility of judging the worthiness per se of everyone who comes up to receive -- that would be an impossible burden, for many reasons. The obligation of denying Communion to a baptized, non-sanctioned Catholic under Canon 915 is related to the problem of scandal rather than "complicity in profanation," which is one of the reasons why Bishop Olmsted said, "Should some Catholic politicians who are presently pro-abortion obstinately persist in this contradiction to our faith, this becomes a source of scandal and measures beyond those of moral persuasion would be needed."
Monday, May 24, 2004
Exactly which Catholic doctrine does Mr. Kerry support?
Salem, OR (LifeNews.com) -- In an interview with an Oregon newspaper, likely Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said he supports states' decisions whether or not to allow assisted suicides. Kerry also appeared to disagree with an effort by President Bush to disallow federally controlled drugs to be used in suicides in the state.
Kerry said, "I think it's up to the states to decide" whether or not to legalize assisted suicide.
"It's a very complicated, thorny, moral, ethical issue that people wrestle with. And I don't think it's the government's job to step in," Kerry told the Salem Statesman Journal newspaper.
To Tom Marzen, a leading pro-life attorney who monitors end of life issues, Kerry is taking out of both sides of his mouth.
"As usual, it seems that Kerry wants a foot in both camps without firm footing in either," Marzen tells LifeNews.com. "First he says that assisted suicide is a matter for the states. Then he says the whole business is all-so-very-complex that the government shouldn't be involved at all."
Kerry's comments make it appear he disagrees with the Bush administration about the use of federally controlled drugs in assisted suicides in Oregon.
Citing the Controlled Substances Act, Attorney General John Ashcroft ruled last year that the drugs used in Oregon assisted suicides, all of which are federally regulated, can no longer be used. The state took the Bush administration to court over the decision and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to rule soon on the outcome of the case.
But, when asked whether he would direct his attorney general, if elected, to back off of Ashcroft's decision, Kerry refused to answer directly.
"I think the states have the right to wrestle with those kinds of issues," Kerry told the paper. "I have my own personal beliefs about life and about what you do."
Catholics Less Likely to Back John Kerry on Abortion, Stem Cell Research
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- A new poll shows that Catholic voters are less likely to support Catholic candidates, such Sen. John Kerry, who favor abortion and embryonic stem cell research.
A Zogby International poll of 1,388 Roman Catholics in the U.S. shows the likely Democratic presidential nominee getting the support of only 20% of Catholic voters on issues where he disagrees with the position of the church.
Sixty-five percent of respondents said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who would appoint only judicial nominees who backed the Roe v. Wade decision allowing abortion. Only 16 percent said they would be more likely to support such a candidate.
That opinion is held by both churchgoing Catholics (71% less likely) and Catholics who attend church infrequently (57% less likely).
Despite a recent flip-flop on the issue, Kerry has affirmed that he will only appoint pro-abortion judges to the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, 53 percent of Catholic voters would be less likely to support a candidate, like Kerry, who backs embryonic stem cell research, which involves the destruction of unborn children in their earliest stages of life. Only 23 percent said they would be more likely to back a candidate who favors such destructive research.
Churchgoing Catholics oppose such a candidate by 65 to 13 percent margin, while non-churchgoing Catholic voters are split (37-36) on whether they are less likely to vote for such a candidate.
The poll was commissioned by Associated Television News (ATN) and the O’Leary Report and conducted by Zogby International from a database of Roman Catholic likely voters from identified in previous surveys
If this is a true indicator of Catholic voting trends this is good news. Especially since the last election Catholics were evenly split between Bush and Gore.
This story came from an unreliable souce- The New York Times, yet it likely true.
NEWARK, May 21 - Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark said on Friday that he was "deeply disappointed" that his recent criticism of Roman Catholic elected officials who supported abortion rights had been interpreted by some New Jerseyans as a political slap at Gov. James E. McGreevey.
In an interview, Archbishop Myers said Mr. McGreevey was not the target of statements he had made in a pastoral letter saying that Catholic officeholders who did not share the Vatican's opposition to abortion should not seek communion. He said he had apologized to the governor for any misperception by the public.
"I didn't name him specifically in the letter,'' Archbishop Myers said. "We have an understanding that I won't personally criticize him. And we are working together on a lot of issues, like providing social services for the poor and helping people with H.I.V. So I think we reached an understanding. I actually like him, and I think we have a cordial relationship."
"...Catholics who publicly dissent from the Church's teaching on the right to life of all unborn children should recognize that they have freely chosen by their own actions to separate themselves from what the Church believes and teaches. They have also separated themselves in a significant way from the Catholic community.
"The Church cannot force such people to change their position; but she can and does ask them honestly to admit in the public forum that they are not in full union with the Church.
"One who practices such dissent, even in the mistaken belief that it is permissible, may remain a Catholic in some sense, but has abandoned the full Catholic faith. For such a person to express 'communion' with Christ and His Church by the reception of the Sacrament of the Eucharist is objectively dishonest."
But with abortion (and for example slavery, racism, euthanasia and trafficking in human persons) there can be no legitimate diversity of opinion. The direct killing of the innocent is always a grave injustice. One should not permit unjust killing any more than one should permit slave-holding, racist actions, or other grave injustices. From the perspective of justice, to say "I am personally opposed to abortion but…" is like saying "I personally am against slavery, but I can not impose my personal beliefs on my neighbor." Obviously, recognizing the grave injustice of slavery requires one to ensure that no one suffers such degradation. Similarly recognizing that abortion is unjust killing requires one-in love and justice-to work to overcome the injustice.
His pastoral letter was obviously not set as a specific attack at the Governor, but against all who hold views contrary to the faith. But even if he didn't name the Governor specifically in the letter it certainly described people such as Gov. McGreevey who have advocated for legalized abortion and embryonic stem-cell reseach. I am sure the Archbishop is not saying that his letter applied to people who hold views like the Governors, but just not Governor himself. But to then go on to say that he has a understanding with the governor just contradicts the teaching office of a Bishop. It sounds like a deal with the devil. I'll ignore your pro-abortion advocacy if only we can work on providing social services for the poor. One of the social services pro-abortion supporters want to provide to the poor is free abortions. And then to add that he personally likes the Governor is just adding something that doesn't matter to the argument. We can like many people that we might vehomently disagree with on many issues, but we should never turn liking a person as equivalent to liking their culture of death they advocate. We are called to love our neighbor, but we can't fully love him if we don't want them to turn away from sin. Did not Jesus love those very people he called "A brood of vipers?" Did he not say this because in fact he did love them?
This espiscopal flip-flop if accurate will just affirm those who hold positions contrary to the Church's view on the dignity of life.
I start to wonder just how much a baby in the womb weighs. They must be made of extremely light material because it seems almost anything can outweigh it. Concern for and helping the poor tips the scale. Careers tips the scale. Inconvience tips the scale. Controling your body or life tips the scale. Polical consideration tip the scale. Not wanting to appear political tips the scale. Being uncomfortable tips the scale.
Q.: How can you tell when Sen. John F. Kerry has done something right? A.: When he flip-flops and apologizes for having done it in the first place. Thus in today's Boston Globe we learn that Sen. Flip Flop now regrets his 1986 vote to confirm Justice Antonin Scalia, whom Associated Press writer Ron Fournier describes as "one of the high court's most conservative justices"—scarcely a competition at the level of the contest to become the next American Idol or president of the United States, for that matter. which appears to be a dead heat at this early stage of the race. Of course, what the dominant media monopoly really means is that Justice Scalia, like fellow justices William Rehnquist and Clarence Thomas, has voted to overturn the infamous Roe v. Wade abortion edict. Of course, a Supreme Court justice appointed by—pardon the expression—Pres. Kerry would never do that, and yet today's papers parrot such headlines as the following:
(Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise) The devil, of course, particularly with this CINO servant, is in the details. You needn't click on more than one of the above links for they and scores more—that's why it's the dominant media monopoly, after all—are publishing the same AP account, in which we read:
Democrat John F. Kerry said yesterday he's open to nominating antiabortion judges as long as that doesn't lead to the Supreme Court's overturning the landmark 1973 Roe ruling that made abortion legal.
In other words, Judge Pino—as in pro-life in name only—report to traffic court. And this is what the anti-life media would have its duped readers believe is "a moderate note"? Liars covering liars. Stay tuned to Catholic Kerry Watch and reliable news sources like Mallon's Media Watch for the unspun truth!
...Do they have to agree with me on everything? No," Kerry said. Asked if they must agree with his abortion-rights views, he quickly added, "I will not appoint somebody with a 5-4 Court who's about to undo Roe v. Wade. I've said that before."
"But that doesn't mean that if that's not the balance of the court I wouldn't be prepared ultimately to appoint somebody to some court who has a different point of view. I've already voted for people like that. I voted for Judge Scalia."
...Calling himself a strict constructionist, a phrase Bush has used to describe himself, Kerry paraphrased former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart and said: "A good justice is somebody that when you read their decisions you can't tell if they are Republican or Democratic or liberal or conservative, a Christian or a Jew, a Muslim, male or female. You just know you're reading a good judicial opinion."
Mr. Kerry has been pretty good at that himself. You can hear and read his speeches and have no idea by their content that he is a Catholic. Now even with his statement that he would not appoint anyone that could shift the balance on Roe V. Wade the pro-abortion lobby has a fit.
His comments on judicial nominations drew a concerned response from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, with president Gloria Feldt saying, "I'd like to hear him use language that is stronger."
What would that language be. To pledge allegiance to Moloch and to never dare flip-flop on abortion support?
Elizabeth Cavendish, interim president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said, "there's a huge difference between Bush and Kerry on choice and this is not going to undermine the pages-long documentation that Kerry is pro-choice."
Pages long documentation of pro-abortion support and some people get squeamish about denying him Communion.
But there is also the matter of canon 915, which expressly provides: "Those ... who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion." And see again the Vatican's official interpretation of that canon - it refers to objectively grave sin, not (only) to those subjectively guilty of grave sin (i.e., "in mortal sin") because they've not only committed it but also done so with full knowledge and freedom.
However much McCarrick might "disagree" with this canon, it is his duty to the Church and the world to enforce it. This goes double inasmuch as his characterization of "denial of the Eucharist as a public sanction" is somewhat misleading. The point is not merely - or probably even primarily - to realize some sort of retributive justice against those who commit grave sin. The point is also to avoid scandal, scandal that has the effect of further undermining respect for the lives of the unborn.
Furthermore, his concern about "confrontation at the altar rail" is somewhat (I hedge because of ALL's approach - but theirs need not be considered the only possible one) of a "straw-man" argument. As the Vatican interpretation linked above indicates, such "confrontation" need not, indeed should not, be the first step. Yet McCarrick does not even seem willing to take "non-confrontational" first steps. And again, the problems with his argument are doubled when one realizes that the scandal of giving communion to "Catholics" like Kerry (or Schwarzenegger, or ...) might be at least as great as the scandal of a "confrontation" would be.
Giving Communion to these politicians is already a scandal. I doubt if there would be any "confrontation" at the altar rail. These politicians probably would not show up for Communion if they knew they would not be allowed to receive.
Cardinal McCarrick responds -- implicitly -- to ALL's ad campaign in a recent column for the diocese newspaper ("If the world loves you" Catholic Standard May 13, 2004):
There is a saying that has its roots in the 10th chapter of St. John's Gospel. It reminds us that we should not look for the love of the world, but strive only to find God's will and do it with all our hearts. There is a good chance that if we are never criticized by others, we have missed the mark of being faithful to the teachings of the Gospel. If the world loves you, you are probably always saying what the world wants to hear.
In light of that simple but very profound truth, I hope you were not upset at the criticism of your archbishop in an advertisement that has appeared in some places lately. I appreciate the zeal of those folks who are critical, but I do not agree with them, and during my recent Ad Limina visit to Rome, it was clear that so many of the highest authorities in the Church are in agreement with my position. . . .
I'd be curious which of the "highest authorities" he is referring to at the Vatican?
The disagreement that I have with the folks who are annoyed at me is that I disagree that in this instance we should use denial of the Eucharist as a public sanction. As a priest and bishop, I do not favor a confrontation at the altar rail with the Sacred Body of the Lord Jesus in my hand. There are apparently those who would welcome such a conflict, for good reasons, I am sure, or for political ones, but I would not. . . .
He does adopt something of a stance on the issue, which is to say reiterating the Catholic teaching on the Eucharist and placing the burden of responsibility on the individual Catholic to "informing his consciences" and determine whether he is worthy of reception:
I am asking the Catholic Standard to reprint the statement about the worthy reception of the Eucharist which appears in the missalettes and which was authorized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Basically, it places on the individual Catholic the need to make a judgment as to whether he or she can properly come to receive Communion. One must not be conscious of any serious sin that has not been absolved in the sacrament of Penance. One must be striving to live as a good Catholic, keeping the commandments of God and of the Church, especially those two great commandments to love God and neighbor. This would exclude from Communion anyone who would hate his neighbor or harm his neighbor, in particular when that neighbor is a little unborn baby in its mother's womb. This doctrine by which the Church places a particular personal responsibility concerning the decision to approach the altar on each individual, protects the holiness of the Eucharist and challenges its children to holiness as well. It places the decision to approach the altar on the informed conscience of the individual Catholic - informed by the truth of our teachings - and, therefore, each one of us must not presume to approach Holy Communion if we are not, in our informed conscience, already with the Lord and in communion with the teachings of His Church.
This is what the Church teaches and, as your bishop and your servant and your friend, this is what I teach, too. Thinking of you, as I come back home to Washington, I pray that each one of us will never approach this most holy sacrament of the Eucharist without the necessary disposition to receive its awesome grace.
Relatively strong words coming from McCarrick -- but I have the distinct feeling that it's not the response Judy Brown and American Life League were hoping to provoke by their ad campaign.
And here is the question that's been asked countless times already: what do you do when a pro-abortion Catholic politician reads a warning such as McCarrick penned, shrugs, and continues to recieve communion while actively promoting and campaigning for abortion, in open defiance of the Church? Catholic politicians who, by this time and after all that has been written, are fully aware that they are acting contrary to the explicit teachings of their Church?
What is the next step?
Further reaction and discussion around St. Blog's Parish
Christopher posts below on what Cardinal Mahony said about denying Communion to politicians and Dr. Peters' response to it.
I don't find the Cardinals arguments to be convincing. Especially the statement that the only way to reduce and eventually eliminate abortion is to convince people that it is wrong. I agree that the Church should loudly proclaim the Gospel of Life and to educate people as to the truth of its message. This should be where the majority of the emphasis is applied. Where I disagree with his argument is that it is the only method that can be used. Often times in Catholic circles we discuss the idea of both/and where it is not always one idea against another. There is no reason why both education and discipline can not be used to advance the culture of life. It is not a question of which is more productive, together they augment each other. A loving parent both educates and disciplines. Not all will respond to the Church even when it does correctly articulate its views. I do not think that it is reasonable to believe that politicians who support abortion and homosexuality do not know what the Church teaches. That only if they were educated more that they would then change their minds. Original sin has thrown a monkey wrench into this concept. Some will obstinately refuse to follow the Church no matter the effectiveness of its cathechesis. We need to prevent both scandal and sacrilege
I find the following to be a misrepresentation of what the church says.
"The church has always been quite cautious about denying anyone the sacraments of the church," he said. "And, in fact, with respect to the Eucharist, it really is not possible for a priest or bishop to deny someone Communion unless that person is known to have been a public sinner, in the sense of having been interdicted or excommunicated or formally sanctioned in some way.
"The presumption is that if someone presents himself for Communion, that they are doing so with the belief that they are in a state of grace and receiving in good faith the Eucharist,"
According to this declaration by the the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts in June 2000:
The discernment of cases in which the faithful who find themselves in the described condition are to be excluded from Eucharistic Communion is the responsibility of the Priest who is responsible for the community. They are to give precise instructions to the deacon or to any extraordinary minister regarding the mode of acting in concrete situations.
4. Bearing in mind the nature of the above-cited norm (cfr. n. 1), no ecclesiastical authority may dispense the minister of Holy Communion from this obligation in any case, nor may he emanate directives that contradict it.
I don't see why the Vatican would release this document if it was not possible for a priest or Bishop to deny someone Communion unless they were formally excommunicated.
We bishops have to be very careful," he said. "We cannot be giving the impression that we are telling people to vote for this candidate or that candidate. That has never been our role, and if we give the impression that that is what we are doing, then we have failed our people."
So if your a Catholic politician you get a free pass since we don't want to tell people how to vote. Maybe we should remove some of the disturbing lines in the Bible like "Thou shall not kill" should be removed since it might form someone's conscience and they might vote that way. They should not be giving the impression that they our telling people how to vote the impression should be that they are upholding the faith and calling people to repentance. Besides Catholics hardly vote as a block anyway. How many Catholic pro-abortion Kerry supporters will change their vote if Mr. Kerry is denied Communion?
Cardinal Mahoney made a number of interesting comments on the topic of giving communion to pro-abortion Catholics politicians. According to Tidings Online:
In Rome, Cardinal Mahony told CNS: "I'm slightly mystified why this is all coming up now. We've had pro-choice Catholic politicians going to Communion since Roe vs. Wade," the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.
"The church has always been quite cautious about denying anyone the sacraments of the church," he said. "And, in fact, with respect to the Eucharist, it really is not possible for a priest or bishop to deny someone Communion unless that person is known to have been a public sinner, in the sense of having been interdicted or excommunicated or formally sanctioned in some way.
"The presumption is that if someone presents himself for Communion, that they are doing so with the belief that they are in a state of grace and receiving in good faith the Eucharist," he said.
"That is the decision the communicant makes, not the person giving Communion," Cardinal Mahony said.
The Cardinal's position appears to be that education is a more efficient and productive strategy than sanctions:
The cardinal said the only way to reduce and eventually eliminate abortion is to convince people that it is wrong.
"What the church has been doing has had great success," he said, citing a recent poll of young women showing that support for the most liberal access to legalized abortion "has dropped from 64 percent to 55 percent."
"The politicians themselves are not going in for abortions; it's women themselves, so that's the group we need to influence," he said.
I'll agree with Mahoney that education should be emphasized -- from every pulpit, in every parish, our bishops and priests should be proclaiming the Church's teaching. Denying communion to obstinate sinners, however, is another matter. Canon law professor Dr. Peters has posted an analysis of the Cardinal's comments to his blog, pointing out statements by the Cardinal that are either incomplete or altogether erroneous. Dr. Peters concludes:
Let's be clear about what Abp. Burke and others are doing: Their stance against pro-abortion Catholic politicians receiving the Eucharist is completely justified. In brief, their decisions are 1) made in the realm of sacramental discipline, not penal law; 2) meant to prevent serious scandal to the faithful, curb sacrilegious reception of Communion, and impress upon certain persons the gravity of their deeds; 3) binding on all ministers of the Eucharist in their jurisdictions; 4) illustrative for others who, someday, as will we all, have to account to Jesus for what they did with His Precious Body and Blood. I need hardly add that all that is necessary to secure one's readmission to the Eucharist would be confession and firm purpose of amendment.
I agree with His Eminence that we have had pro-abortion Catholic politicians receiving the Eucharist since 1973. What’s changed is that we now have bishops who are saying enough is enough.
There must be no confusion in these matters. Any Catholic politicians who advocate for abortion, for illicit stem cell research or for any form of euthanasia ipso facto place themselves outside full communion with the Church and so jeopardize their salvation. Any Catholics who vote for candidates who stand for abortion, illicit stem cell research or euthanasia suffer the same fateful consequences. It is for this reason that these Catholics, whether candidates for office or those who would vote for them, may not receive Holy Communion until they have recanted their positions and been reconciled with God and the Church in the Sacrament of Penance. (Bishop Michael Sheridan, Pastoral Letter On the Duties of Catholic Politicans and Voters, (PDF document), May 1, 2004, Diocese of Colorado Springs)
In his pastoral letter, Bishop Sheridan correctly applies this same conclusion to those advocating same-sex "marriage":
As in the matter of abortion, any Catholic politician who would promote so-called "same-sex marriage" and any Catholic who would vote for that political candidate place themselves outside the full communion of the Church and may not receive Holy Communion until they have recanted their positions and been
reconciled by the Sacrament of Penance.
The document is worth reading in its entirety. Bishop Sheridan also makes clear that he is in solidarity with and supporting his brother bishops who have dared to clearly state Catholic teaching on these issues. After you read the letter in its entirety, then consider what I will now say about the NY Times coverage of the same letter. The theme of the NY Times headline, "Bishop Would Deny Rite for Defiant Catholic Voters," and story is that Sheridan is now daring to advocate denying the Eucharist to any Catholic voter who votes for a pro-abortion politician. Of course, this sensationalistic approach is intended to panic the average Catholic parishioner who fears that now he or she will be denied the Eucharist just as some pro-abortion celebrities have been. Well, if a Catholic voter is a well-known activist for abortion or gay marriage who obstinately and knowingly persists in pushing these anti-Catholic positions then he or she can and should under canon law be denied the Eucharist. But it is obvious that no anonymous, average Catholic voter by definition fits into the category of a public activist. This pastoral letter is telling average, anonymous Catholic voters that if they have freely and knowingly voted for pro-abortion politicians and/or politicians supporting gay "marriage," fully aware, as is likely, that these positions are gravely immoral under Catholic moral teaching, they need to go to confession prior to receiving the Eucharist. But obviously no one will be able to deny the Eucharist to such an average voter for the simple practical reason that his acts are not known to the public. Even the NY Times article makes note of that, even while distorting the wording of the bishop's pastoral letter. In my view, the NY Times is distorting the message of the pastoral letter—which at no point addresses the issue of denying anyone the Eucharist—in order to paint Sheridan as an extremist inquisitor who will now harass every Catholic communicant, however humble and anonymous. In my opinion, this distortion is part of the liberal strategy to save Kerry and other pro-abortion celebrities by linking their fate to that of noncelebrity, average Catholics. The NY Times is so alarmed and aghast that some Catholic bishops are showing chutzpah that it misrepresents Sheridan's written statement and thereby creates confusion among average Catholics. But the same liberal media won't be alarmed about someone like Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles who is indirectly quoted in the same story as asserting that Kerry is "welcome" to receive the Eucharist in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Mahoney's compromise of Catholic teaching is to be expected by anyone familiar with his liberal reputation. It is no surprise. I would not even be surprised to see Mahoney leading the invocation for Kerry at the Democratic convention in Boston. Kerry recently met privately with Mahoney on May 5th. It would not be out of the ordinary for Kerry to have already issued the invitation for Mahoney to appear at the Democratic convention. As I recall, Mahoney has done that before. But what is a newsworthy surprise is that an increasing number of Mahoney's brother bishops are showing that they are cut from a different cloth. Update: If you would like to thank Bishop Sheridan of Colorado Springs for his strong apostolic witness, you can e-mail the Diocese of Colorado Springs at firstname.lastname@example.org. The media will try to paint these stalwart bishops as extremists or kooks. We know better, and should encourage bishops who stand up to the errors of the secular culture.
Akin can't comment on Kerry in particular because his organization is a nonprofit. But he says church law clearly states that someone who is "obstinately persevering in manifestly grave sin" shouldn't receive communion.
"Advocating a horrendous evil like baby killing is a grave sin. If it's publicly known, that's manifest, and if you do it regularly, that's persevering," Akin said. "And if you do it after you've been warned, that's obstinately. So it would seem that a Catholic politician who's been spoken to about the matter ... is therefore not to be admitted to Holy Communion," Akin said.
Mr. Akin on his blog points out that he was quoting the Code of Canon Law. He also points out that there were several errors in the article that got printed.
The secular media is trying to cover this story because of the amount of attention it has gotten this political season. Unfortunately they are unfamiliar with both what Catholics believe about Communion and why in some cases people should be denied Communion. There has been a hodge-podge of coverage with a lot of misinformation mixed in. Yet it is a positive sign that it is getting covered at all.
Since the story of Monsignor Edward Kavanagh denying then Gov. Gray Davis annual trip to the orphanage because of his unapologetic pro-abortion stance to Bishop Robert Carlson leaked letter to Tom Daschle saying that Catholics have a "duty to be morally coherent." The story escalated when Bishop Raymond Burke wrote that politicians who support abortion or euthanasia are to be refused Holy Communion. With the prominence of a self-identifying Catholic John Kerry in the presidential race this has prompted other Bishops to respond to this scandal.
How this story is affecting people in the pews we don't know. But hopefully people will be reminded that Communion is not just some symbolic act. That when we receive and say amen that we are truly saying amen to all that the Church definitively teaches. That we all examine our consciences to see if we are truly following Christs' Church and whether we are in fact in communion with its teachings. That as St. Paul says that we are discerning the Body and Blood of our Lord when we receive the Eucharist.
As posted by my fellow pundit Barbara Kralis on the pages of Fidelis...
In times of great crisis there are two types of men: those who are overwhelmed by the crisis and those who rise up to resist the trend of events and so change the course of history.1
A Catholic bishop's ministry is a crucial part of God's saving work in human history. The bishop must be forthright in proclaiming and defending the unchanging truths of the Church, "in and out of season," at a time marked by "both a widespread relativism and a tendency toward facile pragmatism."2 When a bishop permits another to persist in his manifest, obstinate sin against the Eucharistic Sacrament of Christ, is not the bishop cooperating in the scandal as well?3 The munus episcopale or office of the faithful bishop has a most crucial obligation in guarding the truth that has been entrusted to them by the Holy Spirit to bring all souls to God, no matter at what cost, even if it means the persecution and death of the Bishop.4 The Ecclesia docens (teaching Church) must not fail in this most fundamental obligation to save the souls of the Ecclesia discens (learning Church). "Full adherence to the Catholic faith does not diminish, but actually exalts human freedom."5 The first and essential step in returning a manifest sinner to the healing love of God is for the bishop to teach the sinner that he is causing grave scandal, even if this means challenging socially acceptable opinions and prevailing political popularities. Remember the sorrowful indignation in Jesus' harshest words showing the seriousness of the sin of scandal (which is defined as something said, done or omitted which leads another person to commit sin):
It would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for temptations to sin. (Mt.18: 6-7)
What terrible things come upon the world through the sins of scandal? But the gravity of scandal increased if a bishop causes it.6 So serious is the moral obligation to avoid scandal that we are admonished not only not to do wrong but also not to appear to do wrong. When a person acts, he or she must always consider the appearance of the act to be done.7 The church's apostolicity is clear regarding the bishop's indisputable pastoral obligation for the care of souls, particularly weak souls, and most notably in protecting sacrilege of the Eucharist:
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...for any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.8
The Council of Trent, teaches upon Paul's words:
No one who has a mortal sin on his conscience shall dare to receive the Holy Eucharist before making a sacramental confession. This holy Council declares that this custom is to be kept forever.9
The Church has always believed and taught that the Eucharist is really, truly, substantially the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. This explains why everyone who partakes of the Eucharist must be free from mortal sin. Despite these clear teachings of the Catholic Church, many U.S. bishops give license and assent to manifest, obstinate, persistent sinners, especially pro-abortion politicians, who give scandal by unlawful reception of the Eucharist. In fact, Canon Law n. 915 places the burden of the scandal of sacrilegious reception on the minister, or "ne admittantur," who unlawfully administer the sacrament, and who, in some canonists' opinions, could be punished according to canon 1389 § 2. It is false and illusory for a bishop to promote other human rights as being equal to the most basic of all human rights - the right to life.10 It is a grave error to preach against the first laws of nature that protect and promote human life.11 Those who manifestly reject the Church's teachings and admonitions regarding the sanctity of life of the unborn cause the greatest scandal of our era. There is no greater evil than abortion. Unless each diocesan bishop bears public witness to Church Law and promulgates "canonical notification," as Archbishop Raymond Burke and Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz have done, several serious consequences will continue to happen. Each bishop's complacency in the Eucharistic scandal:
Affirms, even encourages, manifest sinners in their scandalous actions.
Contributes confusion, malaise, and embarrassment for Catholics everywhere. World media are reporting, with amusement, each Bishop's reaction.
Distorts the Church's catholicity to potential converts from other denominations who may subsequently question the authority of the Pope and his teaching Magisterium.
Discourages young men in their own dioceses from answering the call of God to the ordained priesthood. Who wants to serve under such confusion and blatant Episcopal disregard for Church law?
Causes great rifts and divisions within dioceses, parishes and families. The faithful Catholics who remain loyal to the magisterial teachings regarding this scandal are persecuted as Papists, "judgmental," and "unenlightened" by the scandalmongers.
Does the U.S. hierarchy need a filibustering Bishop's Task Force on the Doctrinal Note on the Participation of Catholics in Political Life to decide how to admonish the manifest, obstinate, persistent sinners and stop the scandal? Bishops Burke and Bruskewitz didn't need one. Were they wrong? No, Bishops Burke and Bruskewitz acted in faithful adherence to already clearly defined laws, specifically canon 915, that require all bishops to "govern" and "correct" to protect the Eucharist from sacrilege and the lay faithful from scandal. Ergo, why is the scandal permitted?
I am deeply dismayed to see that one commentator has compared Ms. Welborn's criticism of American Life League to the apostle Judas, and assumes that the reason we have objected to the campaign is because we believe bishops ought not to be criticized, period. In response, I would like to clarify that the issue is not whether McCarrick should be criticised, but how -- I daresay most if not all of us participating in this discussion are in agreement that McCarrick's tepid response to Senator Kerry merits criticism. (In my own defense, please see earlier posts to this blog).
At the same time, as another commentator reminded us, our bishops are successors to the apostles, and while we have the right to criticize their actions under the present circumstances, basic respect for their office should influence how we go about doing so.
Had American Life League chose to express their concerns about McCarrick in a different (and, in my opinion, more civil) fashion -- for example, by way of a petition to the Cardinal which urged him to take a stronger stand, I would have enthusiastically joined them.
I also suspect that a petition containing the signatures of thousands of concerned Catholics might have made a greater impression on the Cardinal than opening up the morning paper to read a full-page advertisement by Judy Brown branding him a coward, and condescendingly lecturing him that "you can't be Catholic and pro-abortion" (as if the Cardinal didn't have a clue where the Church stands on the matter).
But again: that is my opinion, and to those who maintain that ALL had the correct strategy, I trust that we can respectfully disagree.
In any case, time will tell if ALL's ad campaign bears any fruit, and what kind of impression it will have both on McCarrick and the general public. Who knows? -- So many other bishops have risen to the challenge (Bishops Sheridan, Wenski, Aquila, Myers, et al.) in recent days that their displays of courage could inspire Cardinal McCarrick to meet our expectations.
Thanks to my co-editors and commentators for a stimulating discussion!
Saturday, May 15, 2004
Senator Kerry to venture into Archbishop Chaput's Home Turf
The religion news blog 'Get Religion" has a good roundup of news on the Kerry Communion scandal, noting that Kerry plans to venture into the homestate of Archbishop Chaput and Bishop Sheridan, who have been making headlines at Episcopal Spine Alert with their bold defense of the faith:
Kerry is planning a fundraising event in posh Aspen, followed by several events in Denver.
This is especially interesting since this visit falls during a June 14-19 U.S. Catholic Bishops gathering at the Inverness Hotel in suburban Denver. As veteran Rocky Mountain News religion reporter Jean Torkelson noted, this quiet meeting "may be the most misnamed 'spiritual retreat' in history."
This mile-high prayer meeting will be hosted by Archbisop Charles Chaput of Denver, with, it would be assumed, the symbolic help of Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan. Please note that neither of these men has been silent on the issue of abortion and other Catholic moral teachings during this election year.
Although the USCCB has put together a task force led by Washington, D.C., Cardinal Theodore McCarrick to examine the issue of pro-abortion Catholic politicians (which conveniently, and perhaps cowardly, chose to postpone presentation of its results until after the election), the Rocky Mountain News is reporting that, as host of the gathering, Archbishop Sheridan may force a more prompt consideration of the issue:
As host, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput will invite the bishops to discuss what to do about giving communion to Catholic politicians - many now on the campaign trail - who disregard the church's teaching against abortion.
"It seems like an opportune time (to discuss). It's been on people's minds," said Chaput's communication director, Sergio Gutierrez.
The Washington Times has more coverage from the on-going unravelling of the "traditional" consensus of meekness among Catholic bishops about pro-abortion politicians. Sometimes, it is exhilirating to undo the "traditional." In its coverage, the conservative Washington Times correctly follows the significant change in course from the past resulting from more Catholic bishops being more outspoken against pro-abortion political celebrities. For the liberal spin, you can read this article from the National Catholic Reporter in which the reporter has obviously gone out of his way to interview two known "liberal" or "moderate" clerics in order to get on the record opinions in favor of coddling pro-abortion politicians. In this case, the liberal reporter searched out well-known liberal Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles and "moderate" Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati. (Of course, in liberal spin, moderates are "reasonable" and "open-minded" as opposed to "rigid" and "close-minded" conservatives.)
Yet, even the liberal spin can't cover up the liberal alarm over some Catholic bishops taking their charge to defend the truth seriously. Mahoney expresses alarm in the article:
"I am puzzled by people rattling sanctions at the moment. That has not been our tradition over the years," he said.
It looks like Cardinal Mahoney is a bit taken aback by a new generation of bishops who are bucking the spineless consensus.
In addition, the National Catholic Reporter (also known, for very good reasons, on these pages as the National Catholic Distorter) thinks the matter so alarming that is posts a hyperventilating editorial excoriating bishops who have rebelled against the past paralysis on this issue. The editorial argues that the faulty logic of the outspoken bishops was exposed when pro-life leader Senator Santorum recently endorsed pro-abortion Senator Specter in Pennsylvania. The editorial argues that, under the logic of bishops taking action against pro-abortion policians, Santorum should be denied communion. Let me say from the outset that I would support any bishop who would deny Santorum communion for his support of Specter. But the editorial's argument falls apart once you think clearly about it. Santorum is a strong pro-life leader who wants to keep Senate control in the hands of the only pro-life national party, the Republican Party. Unfortunately, Santorum made the judgment that goal meant supporting Arlen Specter. I, for one, think that judgment was mistaken. But it was a tactical judgment meant to advance the current strategic advantage the pro-life movement now holds in the Senate with Republican control--an important strategic advantage that the editorial writer is surely aware of but fails to mention. The bottom-line is that Santorum made a tactical decision to preserve a strategic pro-life advantage. That much is clear even if you think, as I do, that Santorum's tactical decision was mistaken.
That tactical scenario is very different from the pro-abortion politician who is acting solely to protect Roe v. Wade's regime of abortion on demand. If a bishop thinks that Santorum should be denied communion because of the tactical Specter endorsement, that is fine with me, although the fact is that any pro-life person can only dream that a Kerry, a Kennedy, a Clinton, or any other national Democrat for that matter would ever come close to matching the strong pro-life leadership demonstrated in the past by Senator Santorum.
More interestingly, the editorial ends with a plaintive plea:
"The circular-firing-squad mentality infecting too many conservative Catholics and a number of bishops should stop now. Before it is too late."
Before it is too late for what? The editorial does not say. Maybe, the editorial writer is worried that his liberal Catholic subscriber base will begin to actually leave the Catholic Church. In my opinion, that outcome should be welcomed because it is merely a recognition of the truth that they have long since fallen out of full communion with the Catholic Church by pursuing religion as something we make up. Better the honest truth than a lifetime of self-deception and denial.
But the promised "Absurd Quote of the Week" goes to Cardinal McCarrick of Washington, D.C., as recorded in the Washington Times, defending his discomfort with refusing communion to anyone: "[A]s a priest and bishop, I do not favor a confrontation at the altar rail with the sacred body of the Lord Jesus in my hand."
Cardinal, what altar rail? The altar rails of the vast majority of our churches have been ignominiously torn out of church after church. And, what confrontation? Any political celebrity to be denied the Eucharist by the cardinal will have been duly informed, in accordance with canon law, well before he or she shows up at the communion line. All the ministering priest has to do is to kindly give a blessing and move on. I assure the cardinal that none of the political celebrities will try to forcibly take the Eucharist from him--that would not look good, even in the secular press. And if the political celebrity wants to exchange words, so be it. Is that too much for a priest of the crucified Christ to risk? Is that too much to risk to protect the Body of Christ from sacrilege? The cardinal is straining at a gnat, and swallowing a camel. And so to him belongs the absurd quote of the week.
I welcome the thoughts of my co-editors on this issue.
One of our fellow contributing editors, Jeff Miller, has already availed himself of this offer in the comment boxes following the report, and I would be remiss in my duties to my colleagues and to you, dear reader, were I to fail to respond to Christopher's generous invitation. But first, a brief introductory note. Because I try—though often fail—to reserve my public criticism to those who act in ways inimical to life, such as Senator Kerry, or indifferent to its defense, such as Cardinal McCarrick, I choose not to critique, save by inference, criticisms made by others here or elsewhere, not even by those who, emulating the Culture of Death, seek to anathematize defenders of an uncompromising defender of life as folks on the fringe. To which charge, I plead guilty. In a society steeped in innocent blood that cries out to God for judgment, count me (and mine) among the fringe. Rather, I shall briefly state my views of the problem we face and the response it demands.
The problem should be clear to all who respect life and our Holy Catholic Faith, which safeguards it—body and soul. If you still cannot recognize it, just read a random selection of the nearly 100 reports that can be found on this blog, which merely scratch the surface.
The greatest scandal is not that CINO politicians, like Judas before them, have sold Christ out for the electoral equivalent of 30 pieces of silver, but that so many heirs of the Apostles, like Pontius Pilate, are washing their hands of the blood of the innocent lest Caesar be discomforted.
As for the response, in particular, the American Life League's recent ad campaign, as Flannery O'Connor once observed, when the world is deaf, you have no choice but to shout. Indeed, if uncompromising defenders of life are folks on the fringe, if defenders of the Faith of Our Fathers are a remnant, let us then shout all the louder, and may our cries, please God, join those of countless victims whose silent screams call out to You for justice for, in this lost world, we have no other hope.
As reported on Catholic Kerry Watch and elsewhere, three of New Jersey's five Catholic bishops have spoken out in defense of the integrity of the faith in the face of challenges by CINO politicians: Archbishop John Meyers, Newark, A Time for Honesty:
Catholics who publicly dissent from the Church's teaching on the right to life of all unborn children should recognize that they have freely chosen by their own actions to separate themselves from what the Church believes and teaches. They have also separated themselves in a significant way from the Catholic community.
The Church cannot force such people to change their position; but she can and does ask them honestly to admit in the public forum that they are not in full union with the Church.
One who practices such dissent, even in the mistaken belief that it is permissible, may remain a Catholic in some sense, but has abandoned the full Catholic faith. For such a person to express "communion" with Christ and His Church by the reception of the Sacrament of the Eucharist is objectively dishonest.
Bishop Joseph Galante, a prominent figure in the U.S. Catholic 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 cited the fact of McGreevey's irregular marriage and anti-Catholic positions on life issues. As David O'Reilly reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
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."
Now it is the bishop of Trenton, NJ, John Smith, who is causing consternation among local CINO pols. A few nights ago at Roman Hall in Trenton, NJ, plates of pasta were passed among Catholic judges, lawyers, and politicians at a social featuring Bishop Smith. As Joseph Dee reports in the Trenton Times:
The dinner was not unlike other St. Thomas More Society functions, except that it was the first one since the bishop labeled Democratic Gov. James E. McGreevey "not a devout Catholic" for his support of abortion.
Those words, spoken by Smith during a recent Mass in Red Bank, have thundered through Mercer County, where a large number of elected officials are Catholic. Some of them are now wondering where they stand with the leader of the Diocese of Trenton, which, with 760,000 Catholics is the 20th largest in the country.
Now we have heard—or rather not heard— from a fourth New Jersey prelate, Bishop Paul Bootkoski, Metuchen, [pictured above] as reported by Bob Cullinane in the Home News Tribune:
In the Diocese of Metuchen, which represents 560,000 Roman Catholics in Hunterdon, Middlesex, Somerset and Warren counties, Bishop Paul Bootkoski said he is waiting for guidelines to be developed by the U.S. Conference of Bishops. A task force led by Washington, D.C., Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is expected to issue a final report after the November general elections. McCarrick was the first bishop of Central New Jersey's Diocese of Metuchen when it was formed in 1981.
And so the silence continues, as the body count mounts.
A popular argument by some clerics who argue that they are not comfortable with denying the Eucharist to pro-abortion political celebrities is that the decision to receive is up to the conscience of the celebrity. In prior posts, I have indicated why this highly subjective view of conscience is contrary to Catholic teaching and even to relevant canon law. But today it is time to consider one of the most effective ways of exposing fallacy: reductio ad absurdum, that is, showing that a point of view is mistaken by showing that it leads to absurd results-- to "a reduction to absurdity."
Let us take a hypothetical bishop who goes to the media and says that he is not comfortable with denying the Eucharist to a pro-abortion celebrity--in reality, some have already actually done this. But now let us go to a local priest who has a correct grasp of Catholic teaching and canon law on this issue and as a result is firmly convinced in his conscience that for him to give the Eucharist to the local pro-abortion governor or legislator or to John Kerry would make him as a priest an accomplice to the profanation of the Eucharist. Our hypothetical priest has an informed and correct conscience. Moreover, he is certainly obligated to protect the Eucharist from profanation. How can our hypothetical bishop expect that priest (or for that matter a lay person who is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion) to act contrary to a well-formed conscience and give the Eucharist to a pro-abortion celebrity?
The hypothetical bishop can forbid the priest from denying the Eucharist, but, in that case, the bishop has contradicted his own public statement that the individual conscience is supreme on this issue. Or the bishop can let each priest make his own decision on giving or denying the Eucharist. That latter option would at least be consistent with the bishop's public statements on the supremacy of individual conscience. Yet, even this latter option is not desirable because it introduces chaos into the sacramental life of the Church within a particular diocese and between different dioceses.
In other words, the best our hypothetical bishop can do is to recognize that both theology and canon law require a consistent policy of refusing the Eucharist to pro-abortion celebrities. The Eucharist is protected, and Catholic sacramental life remains orderly and uniform within and between dioceses.
Some may object that a policy of denying the Eucharist to pro-abortion celebrities would itself be the source of chaos because there would have to be a complex laundry list of political positions that preclude one from receiving the Eucharist. The truth is that there would be no chaos. Any political celebrity openly and obstinately contradicting Catholic teaching on what is grave sin should be told not to approach the Eucharist and should be denied the Eucharist if he or she does approach. We are not talking about the death penalty issue--the Church has no absolute prohibition against the death penalty, contrary to the implications of some who speak publicly. We are not talking about the mechanics of economic policy about which Catholics can and do legitimately differ. We are not talking about the Iraq War because the Church recognizes that Catholics can legitimately differ on the application of just war criteria to a particular situation.
Any laundry list of obstacles to communion would involve grave and intrinsically evil matters about which the Church recognizes no right to diversity of opinion. In addition, the only practical and feasible targets would be celebrities who persist in denying such Church teaching and thus create scandal--not the average anonymous parishioner.
Catholic liberals are continuing to spout what can only be called "whoppers" in the news media that misrepresent Catholic teaching in their eagerness to defend pro-abortion Democrats. As noted before, one common misrepresentation is that the abortion issue and issues such as the death penalty or the Iraq War are on the same plane. The other great misrepresentation is that denying the Eucharist to a political celebrity is equivalent to denying the Eucharist to an anonymous parishioner where scandal is not a factor.
The biggest misrepresentation was recently made by that reliably unreliable source of Catholic teaching, the Rev. Richard McBrien of Notre Dame University, who is quoted as saying that "Abortion is not a dogma." Here is an excerpt from the news article containing the McBrien quote:
"The only way that you can separate yourself from the church is by knowingly and deliberately denying a dogma of faith," said the Rev. Richard P. McBrien, a professor of theology at Notre Dame and a liberal in such matters. "Abortion is not a dogma."
"Communion Becomes a Test of Faith and Politics," by Daniel J. Wakin, N.Y. Times online, May 9, 2004 (free reg'n required).
Well, a "dogma" is a divinely revealed teaching. It may be defined solemnly as was done in the case of the Immaculate Conception or the Assumption of Mary, or it can be defined "in an ordinary way, as with the constant teaching on the malice of taking innocent human life" (John A. Hardon, S.J., Modern Catholic Dictionary s.v. "Dogma"). As Hardon notes, a dogma is a "[d]octrine taught by the Church to be believed by all the faithful as part of divine revelation" (Ibid.). And it is clear that the grave immorality of the direct and voluntary taking of an innocent human life--which includes deliberate or procured abortion--is a divinely revealed teaching:
This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written word of God, is transmitted by the Church's Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.
Consistent with the Pope's declaration, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reaffirmed that the grave immorality of the direct and voluntary taking of innocent human life is a divinely revealed teaching (see Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the 'Professio fidei,' June 29, 1998, section 11 (also refer to section 5), available at EWTN.com.)
So McBrien, not surprisingly, is again wrong. The only remedy for this mess is exposure of these wild misrepresentations and a constant reiteration of the truth. The power of the truth cannot be suppressed by sound bites.
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.