A Catholic Analysis reader sent me the May 6th New York Times article noting that pro-abortion Governor James McGreevey of New Jersey has decided to bow to reality. He says that he will not receive communion in the dioceses of three New Jersey bishops who have said that he should not seek to receive the Eucharist. The bishops are Archbishop John Myers in Newark, Bishop John Smith in Trenton, and Bishop Joseph Galante in Camden. Three bishops stood up, said the obvious, and the politician bowed to reality. The governor is free to attend Mass, come forward, receive a blessing, and make a spiritual communion. The bishops have done him a great spiritual favor. They have rescued him from compounding his own confusion about abortion with the sin of sacrilege and have clearly shown him the path to full communion with the Catholic Church. I would not be surprised if one day McGreevey thanks these courageous bishops for their clarity. The New York Times article makes much of the fact that pundits believe that this action by the bishops will help the governor politically. The article misses the boat. The bishops' action has nothing to do with the political fortunes of the governor. It has everything to do with the sacramental discipline of a religious community. The political effects are irrelevant. These observers just can't seem to understand that for Catholics protecting the Eucharist is worth all the political setbacks in the world. The pundits can't seem to understand anything beyond the back and forth of political competition. Yet, the governor is still resistant, as seen in his comments complaining that the bishops have violated the separation of church and state. Of course, this complaint is ridiculous. Freedom of religion, enshrined in the Constitution, means that religious communities are free to decide who has access to their rites and rituals. In fact, it is the governor and other pro-abortion politicians who are violating the separation of church and state by pressuring a religious community to change its age-old moral teachings and sacramental discipline to match a secular political agenda that became prominent only in the nineteen seventies. As to other, less courageous Catholic bishops, the lesson is clear. Here, three bishops in a very liberal, pro-abortion state took a firm and clear stand, protected the Eucharist, and protected the integrity of the Church's teaching against abortion, and their world has not collapsed. The consciences of the bishops are clear. No priest in these dioceses will be placed in the position of possibly contributing to the profanation of the Eucharist. It is as it should be. It is good to see bishops in a major state not following the passive approach advocated by Cardinal McCarrick in Washington, D.C. It is obvious that McCarrick's view is his own problem that he will have to sort out on his own and will not inhibit bishops who wish to act like bishops. It may be that we are seeing the beginning of the end of a long, cowardly phase of American Catholicism.
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.