Did you see this Cardinal Arinze story? No?

kerry_communion-thumb.jpgLet’s set the wayback machine to last summer, when one of the hottest stories linked to politics and religion was the state of Sen. John Kerry’s soul or, at the very least, his ability to receive Holy Communion in mainstream Roman Catholic parishes.

It was a pretty important story at the time. There were people — like me — who did not think it violated the separation of church and state for Catholic bishops to claim that they were the highest doctrinal authorities at their own altars. There were others who seemed to think that Kerry had a constitutional right to be blessed by his own church.

What really fascinated me was not what this clash revealed about Kerry or his faith. That’s between him, his confessor and God. I was just as interested, if not more so, in what the whole controversy said about current American Catholic teachings on the Eucharist and, in particular, its connection to repentance and confession.

Thus, I have been watching for updates ever since — not updates about Kerry, but updates on the larger Communion issue.

More than a week ago (tip of the hat, of course, to the omnipresent Amy Welborn), I read an important story at a conservative news site. I thought it was important because (a) it addressed both the political and doctrinal angles of the Communion story and (b) the central player was Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, a key Vatican official whose profile just keeps rising. Here is the key quote, responding to a Communion-controversy question from Raymond Arroyo of EWTN:

Cardinal Arinze responded, “The answer is clear. If a person says I am in favour of killing unborn babies, whether they be four thousand or five thousand, I have been in favour of killing them. I will be in favour of killing them tomorrow and next week and next year. So, unborn babies, too bad for you. I am in favour that you should be killed, then the person turn around and say I want to receive Holy Communion. Do you need any Cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?

The cardinal also clearly stated his opposition to serving Communion to gay-rights activists who were openly protesting against their church’s teachings on sexual ethics. This is another hot news topic, because of the Rainbow Sash movement. Once again, Arinze was blunt:

. . . “No, no. You see, let’s get it clear. These rainbow sash people, are they really saying we are homosexuals, we intend to remain so and we want to receive Holy Communion. The question arises; take the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It says it is not condemning a person for having homosexual tendency. We don’t condemn anybody for that. But a person stands condemned for acting on it. . . .

“The Catholic Church has never accepted homosexuality as normal. You read the Scripture. It’s very clear. What exactly are we examining? Are we going to change Divine Law, how God made us?”

It goes without saying that one does not have to agree with the Nigerian Cardinal in order to see that his statements represent a high-level Vatican clarification on two hot news topics.

Nevertheless, I held off blogging about this story because I wanted to see how the MSM covered it. As a rule, GetReligion doesn’t pay much attention to religious websites, even the best of them. We are trying to study how major media cover religion news.

So why mention this now? Because I am still waiting for a wave, or even a large ripple, of coverage.

I guess these two stories have burned out. No, that can’t be it. What have I missed?

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • http://turtleislander.blogspot.com/ Locutus Est

    This story couldn’t go anywhere because Arinze has complicated people’s papal succession dreams. Arinze is rarely seen as a human being; he’s only the black papal candidate. Many non-Catholics, fascinated by papal succession, are not interested in church affairs, but in the intrigue of a black pope.

    Now Arinze has gone and spoiled the party by taking a conservative stance, and those same writers don’t like him anymore. So he’s no longer a good story.