The Catholic bishops voted to move ahead with a document that could lead to excommunicating pro choice Catholic politicians, including President Biden.
As a matter of principle, I have no objection to withholding communion from pro abortion politicians, assuming that it is done based on incontrovertible evidence that this is in fact where they stand, and that it is prefaced with a long period of private and compassionate discussion and attempts to deal with their viewpoint in better ways.
However, I have disagreed with this particular move since it began for the simple reason that it adds to the peril we are in as a nation. We are only 5 months out from a coup attempt that was authored by a sitting president in an attempt to overturn the election he lost to the man who is now president. This coup, if it had succeeded, would have cost us our democracy. It would have installed our first dictator in the White House.
Things have not really improved since that coup attempt. The lie that Trump didn’t really lose the election is being pushed by right wing media and backed by a large segment of the electorate, including a large segment of right wing Catholics, and, I am beginning to believe, by a large number of our Catholic bishops as well.
What the bishops are doing by advancing this issue now — after Joe Biden has publicly been pro choice for 40 years as a high-profile politician — is to pour fuel on this insurrectionist fire. It feeds the angry, incendiary right wing element in the Church as well.
It is no small thing to attack the president at this time, when our democracy itself is under attack. It is dangerous and could end up feeding the chaos and violence that threatens us.
The bishops saw fit to either outright support or stay silent in the face of the horrible things that the man who tried to overturn our democracy and install himself as dictator did while he was in office. They pretty much deep-sixed the Ten Commandments in order to support him.
I would think that what they did then and what they are doing now made a kind of sense if it was necessary to end legal abortion. But, to be honest, it wasn’t necessary then, and the only way it might be useful now is if they extend it to excommunicating Catholic Supreme Court Justices for decisions in favor of Roe.
However, that would make it obvious that they are actually doing what it looks like they are doing, which is using the Eucharist as a weapon to coerce public officials to make the policy decisions that the bishops want them to make. One danger the bishops are ignoring is that they are in fact validating anti-Catholic rhetoric which has been leveled against Catholic politicians since heck was a pup. It’s as if the bishops have decided at long last to fess up and prove that Jack Chick was right all along; the Church really does control Catholic politicians, and if you vote for a Catholic, he or she won’t represent you, they’ll represent the Church.
The bishops can’t very well claim that they just discovered that Joe Biden is pro choice. He’s been publicly pro choice for 40 years, including 8 years as Vice President of the United States. That takes the possibility that they are doing this out of spiritual concern for Biden’s soul completely off the table.
This is political. It’s obviously political. It’s also politically stupid if what they are trying to accomplish is the overturn of Roe.
I’ve written repeatedly that we have six justices on the Supreme Court who, we were told, are pro life. If they don’t overturn Roe, then we have a much bigger problem than Joe Biden. That problem will be that our entire strategy is bogus and the people we so ardently believe are our allies have sold us out. We will have been had.
If, on the other hand, they do overturn Roe — and I mean really overturn it, not just some half measure — then none of this matters. None of the decisions Biden has made affecting the Mexico policy or any other whatnot about abortion will have any legal force if the Supreme Court overturns Roe in a thorough manner.
However, it is clear to me that no one in the Pro Life movement, including the Catholic bishops, expects that this “pro life” Court we’ve compromised our souls to get is going to overturn Roe. It looks for all the world as if the fix is in to continue as we’ve been doing for the past 60 years. It also looks as if the bishops are well aware of this situation.
Their plan to excommunicate Biden doesn’t look like an attempt to achieve coherence in Catholic teaching to me. It looks like political payback to the right wing Republicans who have been shoveling money and favors at the bishops. Republican state legislators have changed tax law for the bishops, granting them access to state tax monies for their schools and various etceteras, while at the federal level, they’ve given them grants of cash to the tune of billions of dollars. Right wing businesses have come alongside the bishops to finance “ministries” of various sorts.
One thing that I want to make clear is that none of these political favors have anything to do with the bishops’ good works. The people who gave them this money don’t care what the bishops do with it. They weren’t buying the bishops’ good works. They were buying the bishops.
I am sure the bishops know just as I do that if they don’t do as they are told, every single bit of that doh-reh-me can and will be taken away with a snap of the fingers. This is not something I’m guessing about. I have witnessed the way that clergy — including the heads of denominations — kowtow when they are confronted with the raw power of government coupled with right wing threats. They abandon everything they say they believe, including their pro life-ism, and grovel like Mike Pence.
I was always so proud that nobody could bully the Catholic bishops that way. The Catholic bishops could and did take an independent stance before these guys. But I think those days are over. And I think this move to excommunicate Joe Biden, no matter what it does to the country, after 40 years of knowing that he’s pro choice, is political payback for billions of dollars in cash, changes in tax laws, and alliances with right wing business interests that finance the bishops’ pet ministries. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a lot of personal gifts, dinners and back slapping went into it, too.
As I said, I have no objections to withholding communion from pro choice Catholic politicians if it is done properly and for genuine spiritual reasons. But doing this now at this fraught time in our nation’s history, and after 40 years of full knowledge that the man they’re aiming at was pro choice, does not fall within that parameter.
It looks like political payback to the same right wing that is trying to destroy our democracy and turn America into a totalitarian regime run for the benefit of an organized cabal of billionaire dark money lords.