Excommunication

"I agree with the Church in principle, but …"

Last week I posted a reaction to House Speaker Pelosi’s interview in Newsweek (cross-posted to First Things‘ “First Thoughts”). Perusing the comments, I discovered that the author of No Hidden Magenta — a blog with the daunting task of “bridging the gap between ‘Red and Blue State’ groupthink” — has responded with fury and dismay:

At least one reason why neither the Pope nor the Archbishop have denied Pelosi Holy Communion–despite having ample opportunity to do so–is because prudential judgments about how best to reflect a moral principle in public policy involved technical considerations of practical reason that do not go to the heart of what it means to be a Roman Catholic; in other words, they are not about the central value at stake. If Speaker Pelosi believes that abortion is a positive good that should be promoted by the state (rather than as a privacy right for all women) that is one thing (and her recent actions with regard to Stupak suggest that she doesn’t think this), but there are any number of good reasons for supporting less-than-perfect public policy as she claims to be doing in trying to reduce the number of abortions while not supporting an abortion ban. …

Now, we can and should have debate about this question–and I think Pelosi is profoundly mistaken in her position on public policy–but let’s be clear: both the Pope and her Archbishop do not think such a position puts her status as a Roman Catholic or as a communicant in jeopardy. And those who think it does would do well to follow their example in distinguishing between ‘moral principle’ and ‘public policy.’

I’m relieved that the author believes Pelosi is “profoundly mistaken” in her position on public policy. I’m less convinced, however, that “the Pope and her Archbishop do not think such a position puts her status as a Roman Catholic or as a communicant in jeopardy”, and the author’s explanation for why they allegedly do not think so.

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Abortion, Capital Punishment and War, One of these things is not like the other

Ed Stoddard of Reuters’ religion blog Faithworld carries a roundup of the skirmish between Congressman Patrick Kennedy, the son of the late Senator Edward Kennedy, has claimed that Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin.

In conclusion, Stoddard asks:

This leads to a question about the consistency of views in the U.S. Catholic Church leadership. The Church opposes abortion and therefore liberal politicians who support abortion rights risk being refused communion. The Church supports a healthcare overhaul that would make the system more equitable. So does a conservative Catholic politician who opposes this reform risk being denied communion for ignoring the Catholic social teaching that justifies it?

How about support for capital punishment, which the Vatican says is unjustified in almost all possible cases, or for war? In the build-up to the Iraq war, Pope John Paul was so opposed to the plan that he sent a personal envoy to Washington to argue against it. Did bishops threaten any measures against Catholic politicians who energetically supported that war despite Vatican opposition?

The author’s questions reveal an elementary ignorance concerning the moral issues in question and their relationship to varying levels of Church teaching. While I am disappointed by his answer (Faithworld is generally one of the better and more educational “religion blogs” in the secular media), it is understandable — as even many Catholics find themselves confused on this matter. Continue reading

Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-6-2009

Salvete AC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1. Unlike many bishops in America, Coadjutor Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of  the Archdiocese of Cincinnati prayed the Rosary with other protesters outside an abortion mill on Wednesday, March 4.  Archbishop Schnurr will replace Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk upon his retirement.  Among the protesters came this comment referring to Archbishop Schnurr’s presence:

“It’s tremendous,” Ferraro said of Schnurr’s presence. “He’s the head of the flock. It certainly affirms (the church leadership’s) commitment.”

For the link click on Archbishop Schnurr’s name above or here.

Updated: Archbishop Pilarczk actively leads Rosary prayer vigils in front of abortion mills as well!

2. Doctors who performed and directly assisted in the abortion of twins to a nine year old rape/incest victim have been declared excommunicated by Archbishop Jose Sobrinho of the Archdiocese of Olinda e Recife in Brazil.  The nine year old girl was not excommunicated for many reasons, most likely due to her age.  Where are these bishops in America?  Probably hiding behind the USCCB Faithful Citizenship document thus failing to lead their flocks.

Dr. Ed Peters volunteered his sentiments on this case, “as for the perpetrator of the rape, there isn’t a mine shaft deep enough on this earth for him.”

For the link click on excommunicated above or here.

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