View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Bishops drop ball on abortion

The US Bishops as a national body have ended their debate over whether to deny pro-abortion Catholic politicians Communion, leaving it up to local bishops to decide.

I was initially split over this decision.

I am strongly pro-life, and I think anyone who supports abortion is complicit in homicide, and, for those who are Catholic, are, under certain circumstances, automatically excommunicated.

(How’s that for strong!)

Yet I also understand why the bishops as a national body want to leave it up to the local bishops to decide how to proceed. The local bishops presumably know their people better.

On the other hand, think of what a powerful message it would send to Catholics and Catholic politicians: If you choose to go against a clear teaching of the Church, you are not in full communion with the Church.

And cutting them off from Communion and participation in Mass does eliminate one way they might acquire the grace to change their hearts, minds, and positions.

I went back and forth, until I read some of Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s remarks.

"My concern is the fear that the intense polarization and bitter battles of partisan politics may be seeping into the broader ecclesial life of our Catholic people and maybe even of our Conference."

Wait a minute. Where is his concern about giving an ambiguous message concerning a serious sin? Where is his concern about permitting someone to promote or endorse killing innocent beings, then run around proclaiming he or she is a Catholic in good standing?

"Our concern is not politics, nor just particular policies, but their faith and even their salvation. These dialogues are not about winning votes, but saving souls."

By allowing them to continue to think they are not sinning by supporting abortion?

McCarrick said the church needs "more, not fewer Catholics in political life."

Are we willing to water down something just to keep the numbers up? Wouldn’t we be better with fewer, but more faithful Catholics?

If I were a bishop, here’s what I’d say immediately.

“Abortion is a serious sin. In this diocese, anyone who publicly supports, promotes, or votes for abortion is hereby put on notice that they should not receive Communion until they cease their pro-abortion actions and public contradiction of Church teachings.

If they persist in receiving, rather than cause disruption during the Mass, I would ask the local pastor to take the person aside privately, and ask them to either repent, or to tell them to stop receiving Communion.

If they still persist, then I request that their names be submitted to my office, and I will contact them and ask them to repent or to stop receiving Communion.

If they continue to receive even after that and have not repented, then I would order their names to be published in the diocesan newspaper and parish bulletins so that other Catholics in the diocese will know that these politicians are violating Church teachings, are choosing to receive Communion while they are not `in good standing’ in the eyes of the Church, and, by their disobedience and support for a serious sin, are endangering their immortal souls.”

That’s probably why I’m not a bishop!

2 Comments:

Anonymous Pat Goltz said...

The Bible tells us that we are to examine ourselves before receiving Communion so that we won't eat or drink unworthily. What does this mean? In essence, it means that if we have not repented of our sins and asked for forgiveness, we aren't worthy. Repentance also means turning from sin. If a person takes communion without repentance, he is eating and drinking damnation to himself. If we give him communion, we are condemning him to be damned. Thus, it is right and proper to deny an abortion advocate communion, and to call him to repentance. If he is automatically excommunicated by his abortion advocacy, then this means that he may not receive communion. This is what excommunication is: a person may not receive communion. So I would say something much stronger to the person who persists in taking communion. I would tell him that he is in sin, and that if he does not refrain from taking communion, I will have him publicly excommunicated.

7:48 AM  
Blogger Laura H. said...

"..know their people better."

I haven't the time to read all of this now (perhaps right before bed?) but that comment rubbed me the wrong way. I don't care who they are. If they are supporting the destruction of life in the womb they should not be receiving Christ in the Eucharist!

11:29 PM  

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