Cardinal McCarrick has released a recent letter from Cardinal Ratzinger in which Ratzinger backs the bishops' official June 18th statement entitled "Catholics in Political Life" (Catholic News Service, July 12, 2004). In that statement the bishops gave cover to those bishops who have decided to deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians. The statement also called for denial of honors and speaking platforms for such politicians at Catholic institutions and warned of the evil of supporting abortion legislation. Those are the facts. What follows is this writer's opinion, as previously stated on this website.
In my view, it was the submission of Cardinal Ratzinger's memorandum discussing the theological issues involved in this matter that made it impossible for the bishops to issue an official statement discouraging the denial of Communion to pro-abortion politicians as desired by Cardinal McCarrick. The absurdly weak position advocated by the task force headed by McCarrick never made it into the official position paper issued by the bishops. In my view, the weak position never made it because it contradicted the theological principles presented by Ratzinger to the bishops for use in their deliberations.
In the end, one big thing has happened: the right of a few courageous bishops to defend the Eucharist has been officially affirmed. As one liberal ruefully put it, these bishops have "cover" to continue to deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians. That is a big thing because the McCarrick task force was intent on attempting to get an official statement discouraging such courageous action.
In addition, Ratzinger's summary of the theological principles involved in this issue make it crystal clear that the actions of the courageous bishops are the theological gold standard. Theology dictates that the best practice is to deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians. Application is a matter of prudence. Unfortunately, it is my view and that of many others that for many prudence has become an excuse for cowardice or, even worse, indifference. In any event, a few courageous bishops have had a disproportionate and highly positive impact by following the best theological practice--and that is a welcome change for the better. The work of the courageous few among the bishops plus the recently filed heresy action against Kerry by a lay canon lawyer show that the Holy Spirit is still dispensing the gift of courage among American Catholics. So be it.
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.