As previously reported on Catholic Kerry Watch, the bishop of Camden, NJ, Joseph Galante, a prominent figure in the U.S. Bishops' Conference, has gone on record promising to deny Holy Communion to New Jersey's pro-abortion Governor James McGreevey. 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.
One cafeteria Catholic with reason for concern is Mercer County Freeholder Elizabeth Muoio. A parishioner of St. James Church in Pennington, Muio supports abortion, stem-cell research, and same-sex "marriage." "I guess the bishop wouldn't consider me devout," she candidly admits.
"I'd be curious to know what the Church's definition of 'devout' is," Muoio said in a telephone interview. "I think it's more than following the black-and-white dictates of the Church. It's having faith in your heart. And how you treat your fellow man and how you choose to apply Jesus' teachings in your daily life."
Apparently, Muio's "fellow-men" exclude the more than 4,000 American babies butchered each day through surgical abortions alone. Not surprisingly, Muio's complaint was echoed by the "seamless garment" set, who "wondered why a politician's stance on abortion draws a public rebuke when views or votes on the death penalty, social justice, or the United States' pre-emptive war on Iraq do not." And, yes, Virginia, Muio opposes capital punishment for those guilty of capital offenses, including heinous murders—and not just abortions—while sanctioning it for unborn. She's not the only one, of course.
Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Princeton Borough, wondered about the lack of religious outrage over the Iraq war. "They're killing people over there," he said. Gusciora is on the same page as the Church when it comes to the death penalty, but he favors a woman's right to choose an abortion and supports stem cell research and civil gay marriage.
And here's a third, Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes.
As someone brought up in the Catholic faith, I am proud of the way it has shaped me and fostered my bedrock of independent thought. It is that kind of interconnectivity between faith, personal beliefs, and responsibility to a civil society that allows me to maintain views supportive of the right to choose, civil union, stem cell research and against the death penalty without impinging on my fundamental religious beliefs.
Hughes also supports the "civil union" or "marriage" of homosexuals. Raymond Scroth, a professor of humanities at St. Peter's College in Jersey City, said directives from a bishop "just doesn't cut it these days." Like pro-abort CINOs, Muio,Gusciora, and Hughes, Scroth also questioned Bishop Smith's "focus on abortion," declaring:
You've got to make an across-the-board case on the value of life. That includes the death penalty, pre-emptive war, and all those children in Fallujah who are getting their arms and legs blown off when we bomb them.
Of course, one mustn't get the impression that Scroth is criticizing the bishop, he wants you to know.
Whatever I say, I don't intend to criticize Bishop John Smith. I like him. In one sense, that is the bishop's job, to teach. The question is, to what degree should they single out an individual politician, lest it seem to be a targeted attack? So often when this does happen, abortion seems to be the only issue church leaders tend to address. It makes them look like Republicans.
No doubt, that's why Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ, who opposes abortion, is so delighted.
I'm glad they're speaking out. The more assertive the better. There was a sense among a lot of politicians that there were no consequences.
According to Dee, Bishop Smith didn't have time to respond to questions about whether he plans to instruct his priests to deny Communion to Gov. McGreevey and other pro-abortion CINO politicians. But let's keep asking!
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.