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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Abortion and Catholic Politicans
Friday, March 17, 6:30-7:30 a.m. - Annual St. Patrick's Day protest of Catholic politicians giving public scandal, particularly Sen. Joseph Biden and Rep. Michael Castle, by attending Mass at St. Pat's and receiving Holy Communion. This is an event for Catholics (or anyone) who want to give public witness to the Church's admonition that "You cannot be Catholic and pro-abortion." We will hold signs with this message as we assemble outside the church at 15th & King Sts. in downtown Wilmington. This is a peaceful, prayerful event.
Now, Bishop Saltarelli called upon Catholic politicans not to receive Communion.
The promotion of abortion by any Catholic is a grave and serious matter. Objectively, according to the constant teaching of the Scriptures and the Church, it would be more spiritually beneficial for such a person to refrain from receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. I ask Catholics in this position to have the integrity to respect the Eucharist, Catholic teaching and the Catholic faithful.
Apparently, Biden and Castle haven't obeyed. Will the bishop take nay action to enforce this decision? (My guess is no: he's close to the mandatory retirement age of 75 and doing so would tie the hands of his successor should he resign on time.) The bishop or his successor will come under a good deal of pressure to do something in 2008 if Biden does campaign for the Presidency, especially if he's a strong candidate. Plus, given the intense pressure on Democratic Presidential candidates to affirm their unlimited and unequivocal support for abortion, Biden will likely be making many statements directly at odds with the Catholic faith. He'd do himself and his Church a lot of good if he stopped receiving Communion now. Of course, he'd the most good for himself if he switched his position to pro-life. It might cost him his chance at the Presidency, and maybe even re-election in Delaware, but it might gain him far more.
"For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul?" - Matthew 16:26, Douay Rheims version
(I'm focusing on Biden because he attends Mass. I'm not aware that Castle does other than apparently St. Patrick's Day.)

Are you trying to be more Catholic than your bishop?

You have mis-read Bishop Saltarelli's statement and omitted crucial portions when quoting. Bishop Saltarelli has every right, if he so wishes, to forbid any pro-choice Catholic politician or voter from receiving communion. But he does not. Instead, he leaves it up to the conscience of the individual to decide:

1. if they are "promoting" abortion.
Bishop Saltarelli chooses his words very carefully here. I don't know anyone who "promotes" abortion. Voting for some pro-choice issues is not the same thing as "promoting" abortion. I don't know any pro-choice person who promotes or celebrates abortion.

2. their own worthiness to receive communion.

Bishop Saltarelli: "I strongly remind all Catholics - both highly visible public officials and the everyday parishioner -- that they must examine their consciences about their worthiness to receive communion..."

Senator Biden's worthiness to receive communion is between him and his conscience and his parish priest, and is not for you to decide. Have you even witnessed Senator Biden receiving or not receiving communion?

Bishop Saltarelli is wise and knows his diocese well, and deliberately stops short of denying communion to pro-choice politicians or voters. You are implying crass political motives to Bishop Saltarelli's statement, whereas I prefer to believe he has been guided by the Holy Spirit to choose the words he did.

It's hard to tell all you "Anonymous"'s apart, so I don't know if you're all the same, but I've really upset you (singular or plural).

Biden stated that one of the reasons he was concerned about the nomination was Alito's views of the constitutionality of abortion. (Source) He voted for allowing abortions on military bases, which would have expanded its reach to new areas. (Source) How is that not promoting abortion? He's saying that it should remain legal and become more available, in opposition to what our bishops are trying to accomplish.

Note that I never said the Bishop should forbid Biden from receiving Communion; I merely asked if he would take more aggressive given that the Senator's apparently doing so, inviolation of the Bishop's stated wishes, in a very public forum. (And don't kid yourself, this statement was a polite way of telling people not to receive. Think of a parent telling their child they can ahve a cookie, if they've really been good tht day. They know the answer, but want the child to realize for themselves. Same sort of situation here; the Bishop most likely knows the conscience of the politician, but wants them to realize on their own. In the same statement, the Bishop also said we would not honor them at Catholic functions; doesn't that also give a hint as to what he wants the answer to be?) In my original posting on this topic (here) I stated that I would have gone further than the bishop, but was open to the fact I might be wrong. I closed that posting with this comment, though: "I think Bishop Saltarelli, and the bishops as a whole, will need to start getting specific or their pronouncements will be taken with the same gravity as their previous pro-life announcements have. In my opinion, it's about time the gloves came off."

It's not like I'm alone this. Cardinal Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments at the Vatican, has said on the issue of pro-abortion politicians and the Eucharist: "If they should not receive, it should not be given." (Source)

Coddling and cajoling polticians hasn't gotten us anywhere in 33 years of legalized abortion on demand. In my opinion, a change of tactics is called for. (And since this is a question of tactics and not dogma, it's a legitimate area of discussion. We have the same goal: protection of innocent human life; we're merely debating as to the best method to achieve it.)

Something to keep in mind: as I pointed out in this posting as well, this is for Senator Biden's own good: receiving the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin is a bad thing for you as it's an additional sin. (1 Corinthians 11:29: "He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself.") Mandating that Senator Biden not receive Eucharist any more would actually be beneficial for him, as it not only would prevent him from further sin but also might provoke the examination of conscience the Bishop is hoping for. We should always be cautious about receiving Christ unworthily. (I try to go to Confession every week myself.)

For the record, I have seen Biden receive Communion, but not since the Bishop issued this statement. I was basing my post on the statement I quoted above. I used Biden and Castle as my examples since they were specificially mentioned, but there are other pro-choice politicians I've seen receive I could just as easily have used.

Also, I am an "Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion" at my parish and were Biden to present himself to me for Communion I would give it to him since the Bishop has said that I should and as he is the shepherd of this diocese, I owe him that obedience. I may have some issues with his decision, but it is his decision to make.

I have to commend Senator Biden for allowing his soul to take the hit so that his supporters do not have to be in a state of unworthiness.

Last I checked, Cawley and his checkbook are still welcome at Catholic functions.

Not to single out MBNA or Cawley - just using them as a handy example of a story repeated all over Delaware.

Yes, I know the Church teaching is focused narrowly on the politicians, and so far hasn't covered voters or contributors. But it seems the Church is reluctant to take off the gloves lest the whole cassock fall away as well.

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