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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

open book: Delicacy
Amy Welborn does her usual insightful job discussing the issue of whether Catholic pro-abortion politicians should be denied Holy Communion. I've argued in the past that they should. For example, Senator Biden has been staunchly pro-abortion pretty much his entire career. Persuasion and cajoling haven't worked; he knows the Church's teaching on abortion and the sacredness of the Blessed Sacrament; it's time for tougher measures.

I don't think I made this clear in the past, but I also don't necessarily think that this should be a hard and fast rule, denying all pro-abortion Catholic politicans access to Holy Communion. The goal is to save the souls of the legislators and the lives of the unborn. Some Catholic politicans may be more open to persuasion whereas confrontation might drive them away. (Biden's had 30 years of persuasion; in his case, it's time to take a stand for the unborn and Christ's Body and blood.) In this case, the Bishop of his diocese should approach him and remind him of his Catholic duty. This is a judgment call the Bishop has to make on a case by case basis.

So, for that reason, I tend to think the decision by the Bishops not to create a national policy is a good one: it would have tied the hands of bishops one way or the other which wouldn't have been good either way. I do think Welborn is correct when she writes:
What I do wish, vainly, is that the US bishops could at least come out with a statement in which the problem was honestly acknowledged, all Catholics were urged to be catechized on the meaning of Eucharist and their relationship to it (an effort which is forthcoming, I understand), and in which bishops were encouraged to vigorously and courageously fulfill their duties as pastors and teachers, defending life and serving the most vulnerable.
She's also correct in her analysis of this issue from the politicians' point of view:
We are talking about politicians who a)determine their stance according to what will curry them party favor (and this is not just a Democratic issue. In certain elements of the GOP - in the Northeast, particularly, pro-life Republicans are almost as rare as pro-life Dems) and votes.

b) are shamelessly, forthrightly and vigorously promoting, not some middle way but full-blown, radical abortion rights, who curry the support of NARAL and such, who speak at abortion rights events and fundraisers. People like Nancy Pelosi, who have voting records consistent with abortion rights groups 100% of the time. People like Pataki, Schwarzenegger and Giuliani.

Here's the issue. Most of the prominent Catholic politicians of both parties - in this country are supporters of abortion rights. Unashamed, unconflicted supporters of abortion rights, whose votes and support are crucial in maintaining protected legal abortion in this country.

An honest approach to the issue would acknoweldge this. In regret, dismay and even shame.

Nothing meaningful can happen until that simple, astonishing fact is confronted honestly.
One final note: At this writing, I have not read any of the comments to Welborn's post. I fully expect that I will strongly disagree with some of them.

I too am in favor of the Church forbidding Catholic politicians from receiving Communion. I hope when the processional begins, Biden, Pataki, and all the rest will be clearly seen standing tall and alone in the pews, praying for the Church. Or if they prefer, they should simply leave the Church.

Yes, I hope this ban occurs as soon as possible. But I don't think it will have the results you wish for. Because it will force a purge of Catholics from political life - who will be replaced by other pro-choice politicians who are not Catholic. It will force reform in the Church and re-examination of doctrine, and will be the beginning of the end of the corruption the Church has helped bring to American politics in recent decades.

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