Denying the Eucharist to Torture Supporters

Denying the Eucharist to Torture Supporters August 25, 2008

Recently, I decided to read the essay by Archbishop Burke in which he lays out the case for applying canon 915 to politicians who support abortion. Although I disagree with his conclusion, he certainly makes his case well. But the point of this post is not to argue the “communion wars”. Rather, it is to address a neglected implication of Archbishop Burke’s reasoning, that canon 915 should also be applied to public figures who support torture, rather than simply restricting it to abortion alone. The implication is quite obvious, yet rarely addressed.

Canon 915 states:

“Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.”

Archbishop Burke lays out the case that it should be applied to Catholic politicians who publicly, after admonition, “continue to support legislation favoring procured abortion and other legislation contrary to the natural moral law.” He claims that the “gravity of the sin of procured abortion and of the sins involved in the commission of other intrinsically evil acts” means that politicians who support such activities meet the standard of “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin”. The reason for applying the discipline is to avoid serious scandal and to safeguard the sanctity of the Eucharist. After a detailed canonical history of the matter, he concludes:

 “The discipline applies to any public conduct which is gravely sinful, that is, which violates the law of God in a serious manner. Certainly, the public support of policies and laws which, in the teaching of the Magisterium, are in grave violation of the natural moral law falls under this discipline.”

As I said, the point of this post to not to challenge Archbishop Burke’s conclusion. Rather, it is to tease out the full implications of his conclusion. On these grounds, it seems patently obvious that politicians who support torture obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin, and ought to be denied Holy Communion. After all, as noted by the US bishops in the context of the US political scene, torture is one of the intrinsically evil acts that can never be supported or condoned in the current political environment (the others are abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, destructive research on human embryos, genocide, racism, and the targeting of non-combatants in acts of terror or war). A public figure who supports torture then, by the logic of Archbishop Burke, should be refused Holy Communion.

I also think that the focus on politicians is too narrow, as in our day, “public” has broader connotations. There are many important public figures with no elected position whose voice is still important. I’m thinking of media personalities, pundits, commentators, journalists, people like that. When they speak or write something in defense of an intrinsically evil act, something that violates the natural moral law, then the very same conclusion arises, for “manifest public support” is grounds for applying the discipline. To take the torture example, that would include not only politicians who have supported and voted for Bush’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” but prominent Catholics like the National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez who publicly defend these acts, including waterboarding.

Let me end on a note of irony: the newly-formed, but predictable Catholics Against Joe Biden blog spends a lot of time discussing the worthiness of Senator Biden to receive Communion, while simultaneously giving a big shout-out to none other than Kathryn Jean Lopez. Funny they miss that.

"FYI, for CLN's purposes, 800 words was more of a guideline in response to your ..."

The Bible and the Death Penalty–Some ..."
"Thanks for the feedback. Yes, 800 words can give a summary of an argument, but ..."

The Bible and the Death Penalty–Some ..."
"It's beginning to look as though this discussion isn't going to go any further here. ..."

The Bible and the Death Penalty–Some ..."
""Because we do not call for the death penalty for sins, but only for crimes ..."

The Bible and the Death Penalty–Some ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Catholic
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • radicalcatholicmom

    Very disappointing. Very very typical.

  • “On these grounds, it seems patently obvious that politicians who support torture obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin, and ought to be denied Holy Communion”

    This sounds right. The intention is to prevent them from committing further sin against themselves, and to protect the public from scandal. The disputation comes when defining what torture is – it’s not as easy as defining what abortion is, as you would have it.

    But it sounds like K-Lo is wrong on waterboarding, and someone should write to her about this. But just because she’s wrong about this doesn’t mean she’s wrong about everything else. Hypocrisy is not saying one thing and doing another; hypocrisy is not believing in what you say.

  • jh

    I am not a huge fan of Lopez and needless to say I have been going after her all this week. But it is also important not to put her in a box.

    It should be noted that she came to Kmiec defense when a priest denied him communion and she is on the record as that being wrong.

  • LCB

    I agree 100%. I don’t suspect you’ll find much opposition to that from those that feel pro-abort politicians should be denied Communion.

    Torture supporters should be denied Communion. I feel the Catechism could be clearer on the matter of torture (E.V. is very clear on torture, IIRC).

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    “The gravity of the sin of procured abortion and of the sins involved in the commission of other intrinsically-evil acts seemed to place the Catholic politicians among those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin, about whom can. 915 treats

    Are not unjust wars intrinsically evil? Should not politicians who wage and/or obstiatantely support unjust wars be denied communion too?

  • If you only construe thanking Kathryn Jean Lopez for linking to us as a “shout-out” and full endorsement of everything she has said in whatever context, MM.

    You might as well accuse Archbishop Chaput for giving her a “shout out” by consenting to an interview with her.

  • Policraticus

    “Catholics Against Joe Biden” is a disappointing reminder that Catholic moral teaching is still thought of categorically by the masses rather than contextually like the saints.

  • Magdalena

    Good point. Torture supports should be held to the same standard as abortion supporters (Obama, Kerry etc). But it’s definitely not the role for laymen to be speculating on who should get the Eucharist and who shouldn’t. Besides Archbishop Burke and a few others, the so-called “Communion Wars” are a mostly lay-run adventure and that suggests that something is wrong.

  • Personally, though I’m only one of the contributors at CAJB, I think it would be a very good thing if bishops of politicians and noted journalists who explicitly encourage torture spoke to such people pastorally, made it clear to them that their views are in contradiction to Catholic teaching, and if necessarily disciplined them.

    Our bishops are our shepherds, and I certainly would like to see them take a more active role in providing the flock with direction.

    The thing you always seem to miss in regards to this topic, MM, is that the purpose of such measures is to make the Church’s teaching clear to people and help bring them back into the fold. Not to score partisan points. (That some people may intend the latter rather than the former is very regrettable, but is I’m sure not the intention of thoughtful bishops like Chaput and Burke.)

    After all, if you look at it through Catholic rather than partisan lenses for a moment, would it not be a good thing if Senator Biden listened to the Church on the issue of abortion and changed his views?

  • Morning’s Minion

    Christopher, if somebody like Frances Kissling made a positive reference to Vox Nova, I can assure you that I would not be thanking her for it.

  • Mark the Date, Folks: I Agree With Morning’s Minion

    As for those criticizing the Catholics Against Joe Biden effort, I don’t recall similar consternation over the Catholics Against Rudy effort. And I assure you that if McCain is stupid enough to pick a “pro-choice” Catholic like Tom Ridge, I will be at the forefront of a Catholics Against Ridge effort.

    Please note that I stated today that I would NOT have been a part of any Catholics Against Tim Kaine blog. I think Sen. Obama passed up on a HUGE opportunity by not taking Gov. Kaine as his running mate.

    Please be gentle with me … it’s been a while since I tested the waters here at Vox Nova.

    😉

    Peace to you all!

  • jonathanjones02

    I’m curious how Biden went from wanting to extend legal protections to the unborn (there are strongly worded constituent letters from the early 80s floating around to that effect) to being a reliable vote against legal protections.

    I would have a large measure of respect for standing steadfast in such a position within the Democratic Party, but it’s easy to fall into cynicism when it doesn’t happen (this one of the reasons why I liked John Breaux when we were in LA),

  • MM says:

    Christopher, if somebody like Frances Kissling made a positive reference to Vox Nova, I can assure you that I would not be thanking her for it.

    I’m not so sure about that. I recall your post about seeking a truce on the abortion issue. You were linked to by the pro-abortion Jill the Feministe blog and thanked her her kind comments.

    Morning’s Minion says:
    October 15th, 2007 at 3:43 pm – Edit

    Thanks, Jill, for your kind response. The more I think about it, the more I feel there is scope for common ground…

  • MM,

    If Katheryn Lopez was the Francis Kissling of Catholic torture supporters — I’d agree with you.

    As it is, from what I’ve read of her (among NRO writers, I don’t think her stuff is very good, so I seldom read her) Lopez does not think that waterboarding can be correctly classified as torture. I think she’s probably wrong on that, and my overall impression is that she’s not as educated in her faith as she could be.

    However, in what I’ve read she does generally strike me as listening to the Church’s voice — which is more than one can say for a Kissling, Biden or Pelosi. I most certainly think that a priest or bishop who has her respect should take the discuss the issue with her.

    And one hopes that you do too… Or were you just trying to make a political point?

    Poli,

    Perhaps your comment was too concisely erudite for me to follow: If one thinks contextually like the saints, is one unable to oppose Biden’s position on abortion? Or unable to oppose him as a vice presidential candidate because of that position?

  • Morning’s Minion

    Rick: this Jill person is a pro-abortion feminist, not somebody who claims to be Catholic while endorsing positions that no Catholic can endorse. I think we should (and indeed have a duty to) reach out to those who disagree with us. But that is not what the anti-Bidenistas were doing: they were thanking a person who defends one intrinsically evil act for linking approvingly to a site dedicated to opposing a person on the grounds that he defends another intrinsically evil act.

  • S.B.

    If Lopez made it her sole mission in life to run a group called “Catholics for Torture,” then she’d be equivalent to Kissling.

  • Morning’s Minion

    Darwin– however she wants to define torture to assuage her conscience is her own problem, but objectively speaking, it is torture (I am sure you are aware that pro-abortionists jump through similar hoops to argue that they are not defending the taking of innocent human life). She is publicly defending something that is intrinsically evil, while claiming to be a faifthful and orthodox Catholic, and that is a cause for scandal.

    As for the idea that she listens to the Church’s voice, please! Let’s just start with her position on war, especially that appalling misadventure in Iraq…

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    I think someone should start a Catholics Against Catholics Who are Against Catholics blog.

  • What’s stopping you, Mark? Other than the fact that you’ve shown yourself to be “against” plenty of Catholics with whom you disagree?

  • MM, I’m pleased to see agree that it is worse for a Catholic to endorse an intrinsically evil act. Does this mean you will be rescinding your support for the pro-abortion UCC candidate now that he has a pro-abortion Catholic running mate? That ticket did just go from bad to worse, did it not?

  • Morning’s Minion

    Rick, you don’t get it. It’s not about holding Catholics to a higher standard (which these guys do– I don’t see them putting up any “Catholics Against McCain” website). It’s about making an argument that public figures should be denied communion for supporting intrinsically evil act A (which in itself goes against the overwhelming majority of bishops), while at the same time thanking somebody who supports intrinsically evil act B for endoring the site. Get it yet?

  • “‘Catholics Against Joe Biden’ is a disappointing reminder that Catholic moral teaching is still thought of categorically by the masses rather than contextually like the saints.”

    I don’t recall anyone here objecting to my Catholics Against Rudy effort. There was an initial objection due a failure on my part to initially list torture as one of Rudy’s many failings, which I had intended to address and was quickly added; but I don’t recall there being any statements by VN’s contributors along the lines noted above. Perhaps I am mistaken on this point.

  • however she wants to define torture to assuage her conscience is her own problem, but objectively speaking, it is torture

    Though I’m prepared to agree with you, the fact remains that the Church has a teaching on torture, not a position on waterboarding. That Lopez incorrectly places waterboarding outside the set of acts which constitute torture is incorrect, but it’s not necessarily wrong in the same way that classifying it as torture and then saying it was good anyway would be wrong.

    (I am sure you are aware that pro-abortionists jump through similar hoops to argue that they are not defending the taking of innocent human life).

    Though interestingly, this is not what Biden does. He states that abortion is the taking of innocent human life, and then argues it should be legal anyway. Myself, I’m against this. You?

    She is publicly defending something that is intrinsically evil, while claiming to be a faifthful and orthodox Catholic, and that is a cause for scandal.

    Which is why she should be corrected.

    Did you forget about the part about how denying communion is the final step after someone has refused correction?

    As for the idea that she listens to the Church’s voice, please! Let’s just start with her position on war, especially that appalling misadventure in Iraq…

    My impression of what I’ve read of hers is that she makes a good faith effort to accept all of those teachings which she has had presented to her as authoritative. I could be wrong, but that’s my impression from the times I’ve seen Ramesh (who is a much more knowledgeable Catholic) correct her on points of doctrine.

    And you know very well the reasons why there is room for difference over the justice of the Iraq War in a sense in which there is not over abortion and other moral/doctrinal issues.

  • MM-

    Last time I checked, McCain wasn’t Catholic. You’ll also note that I have not created a Catholics Against Obama website. I am not necessarily opposed to such a website, but my primary concern is with Catholic politicians, be they Republican or dem, who claim to be Catholic yet willfully disregard the Church’s fundamental, non-negotiable teaching on abortion, etc.

  • Personally, though I’m only one of the contributors at CAJB, I think it would be a very good thing if bishops of politicians and noted journalists who explicitly encourage torture spoke to such people pastorally, made it clear to them that their views are in contradiction to Catholic teaching, and if necessarily disciplined them

    I concur with Darwin.

  • And I concur with both Darwin and Christopher on that point as well.

  • …who explicitly encourage torture…

    What about those who implicitly approve of torture? Most don’t “explicitly encourage” torture — though some do. Most say that torture can be used as a last resort so to speak, in certain circumstances.

  • jh

    Freddie I thionk the importance of the Catholics Against Biden site was on full display with Pelosi’s Meet the Press fiasco yesterday.

    That is what we can come to expect more of a future and why having a Catholic of ether party in the White House or Executive branch that is pro choice will be a disaster

  • jh

    Johnathon

    I so agree with you on John Breaux!! One of the last He knew that any chance of being on any potoential ticket was gone because of his pro-life stance. SOmething I am sure was tough to stomach for some time.

  • What does it matter if someone is Catholic or not? It doesn’t need to be! If the idea is to do a critical examination of someone else through Catholic principals to show where they fall in relation to them, it would be a good thing. But to focus only on Catholics does make it appear that someone is engaged in a political battle through use of the Church, not in thinking with the Church. This is why one notes how a politician’s ordinary is often ridiculed or judged as deficient if they don’t follow a particular blogger’s line of reasoning (a judgment which includes many factors the blogger does not possess). It’s another breach of etiquette, with laity (strangely enough, often former Protestants) acting like they are the authority instead of willing to let authorities speak.

  • Oh, and for the record, if McCain chooses Ridge, you can bet I’ll be heading up an effort against him as well.

  • I was wondering how long it would be before someone would play the “converts still acting like protestants” card.

  • I would also add it would be better not to do it as a personal attack, which is what “Catholics Against X” sounds like. For we must remember, in the ultimate sense, we should be for everyone, following Jesus who died for us all.

  • Freddie I thionk the importance of the Catholics Against Biden site was on full display with Pelosi’s Meet the Press fiasco yesterday.

    As Amy Welborn noted, a “teaching moment” if there ever was one for the Catholic bishops.

  • Well, when converts act like a mini-magisterium of their own, rejecting the authority of bishops, and refusing to let the bishops do their own job, but trying to do it for the bishop, there is indeed something very Protestant going on. Indeed, when only a select few bishops voices are being heard, and anyone else is ignored — or ridiculed, and the voices are only being selectively heard, it reminds me of a Protestant with a Bible, selecting only a few verses from within to interpret the whole of the Bible. It’s not holistic; it’s indeed, at best, taking a particular truth at the expense of the whole. It’s not hard to see the Protestant cultural framework still infecting the mind of such people.

  • Christopher

    Why not let the Bishops do their teaching moment, instead of trying to do it for them?

  • Given that the Bible (the part that Christians stole from the Jews and their own ‘New Testament’) is a selective patchwork itself, you can’t really blame Protestants. Not that Catholics don’t do it, too – one need only think of the sad fate of the siblings of Jesus, who had to vanish for the sake of the perpetual virginity claim. There’s hardly anything more incongruent than the bible, which is no surprise given how many people (frequently not the ones claimed to be the authors) and factions worked at it.

    One advantage of Protestant groups is that they lack a central authority, so they aren’t as prone to play the games online Catholics play, which is quite reminiscent of poker, actually.

  • S.B.

    It’s only up to the bishops to argue against a Catholic politician’s position on abortion or other issues?

    OK. If you really believe that, why haven’t you accused MM of acting like a “Protestant” whenever he says (as he does on numerous occasions) that various politicians (or even Supreme Court Justices) are acting inconsistently with Catholic teaching as to 1) torture, 2) Iraq, 3) health care, 4) tax policy, 5) Supreme Court rulings that somehow involve the death penalty or corporations or the Geneva Convention, etc.? Why don’t you accuse him of “refusing to let the bishops do their own job”?

  • S.B.

    Number 5, to be parallel, should say, “5) the death penalty or corporations or the Geneva Convention (i.e., MM complains about Supreme Court rulings on these issues).”

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    Jay Andeson,

    Temperamentally and professionally, I stay out of large scale enterprises of that sort.

    But thank you for your encouragement anyway, as I surmise (from perusing your personal blog, but I could be wrong)that you have given such to others too, but in a more positive and wholehearted manner.

    BTW, my personal opinion is that Bishop Wuerl has been an excellent model in the specific matter of politicians and communion reception

  • There is a difference between

    1) Pointing out the problem of a particular candidate in relation to Catholic teaching
    2) Trying to make a judgment on that particular candidate in relation to their worthiness of communion; the second requires many facts which are not going to be apparent.

    It’s very much in line with the Protestant view of heresy: someone has a wrong view, they are a heretic. Catholic view of heresy is more complex; even if you can show someone wrong on a dogmatic point, that is only a step in the way of determing someone is actually a heretic. The same goes with the reception of communion. One can point out the canons, one can point out the Catholic teaching; but, it is only one with authority who can ultimately decide how they apply in a specific case.

  • Policraticus

    I don’t recall similar consternation over the Catholics Against Rudy effort.

    I don’t recall anyone here objecting to my Catholics Against Rudy effort.

    While there may not have been “consternation,” there was most certainly concern, which many of us mentioned in the thread to my post on “Catholics Against Rudy.” This second manifestation of “Catholics Against _________” is disappointing, not least because it fails to understand a whole range of moral issues that any trip through the annals of Catholic morality could remedy. The ignorance of differences between moral judgment and moral action, between act-type and act-token, between categorical and contextual ethics, between ethics and politics, and between formal and material cooperation. This, of course, leaves out the selectivity that these sites display when it comes to condemning intrinsic evils. “Pro-life” is taken in the Evangleical sense, not the Catholic sense (which is not surprising given that so many of these initiatives are not done by theologians or ethicists, but by converts who specialize in neither field). “Right to life,” promoting so potently by Archbishop Chaput is contorted into this Evangelical sense, yet is passed on as “orthodox” Catholicism. As you mention on “Catholics in the Public Square,” “Catholics Against Biden” is a teaching opportunity for those who use faith inaccurately to attenuate real political issues.

  • Morning’s Minion

    I think it’s highly presumptuous (to say the least) for a nobody like Amy Welborn to start lecturing the bishops on what is and is not a teaching moment. I see yet again the influence of the Protestantized culture.

  • Poli,

    While I understand you are trying to be holistic and precise when you say things like this,

    “The ignorance of differences between moral judgment and moral action, between act-type and act-token, between categorical and contextual ethics, between ethics and politics, and between formal and material cooperation.”

    I have to gently suggest that politics and Catholic morality are not just for scholars or people who were taught big words. But these fancy terms do help to confuse people and help to hide your un-argued assertions. For: It is not at all clear how these sites are not pro-life “In the Catholic sense”, unless you define pro-life so as to exclude people who favor in general a limited government. it is not at all clear how these people are “attenuating real political issues”. Quite to the contrary, it seems these people are people who want to deal with real, concrete political issues, not just the fanciful constructs of their intellect.

  • Morning’s Minion

    Feddie: would you really start a website against Tom Ridge? This I really don’t understand, as (his views notwithstanding) I fail to see how selecting Ridge would detract in any way from the pro-life policies that you clearly expect to see under John McCain.

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    Certain cyber-Catholics, I conjecture, live in a tightly enclosed, little world of mirrors to such an extent that they start to believe that what they see there is the Church; and that the predominance of their presence therein is somehow a measure of a stature and power they (don’t) have elsewhere.

  • jh

    Henry

    I think that was the point of Amy Wellborns post was To urge them to teach. I might be one of these converts from a protestant culture but I think the sheep going oto he Sheperd and asking them to speak out and teach is ok Catholic thing.

    I am glad to see that Chaput just did that as to Pelosi unfortunate remarks this morning.

    Catholics sometimes need to remind their Bishops that stuff is talked over the Water Cooler like we saw yesterday and over family dinners. There is nothign wrong with Catholics urging their Bishops to speak the truth

  • There is more going on than just asking bishops, “What do you think? Let us know.”

  • Henry,

    I guess we get to note this down for the records as well, because I agree with you that while it’s very much the place of lay Catholics to explain (in detail if need be) why a particular politician’s views are unacceptable from a Catholic point of view — the question of how that politician’s reception of the Eucharist should be handled is a matter for that politician’s pastor and bishop. Speaking for myself, should you choose to read CAJB you will find all of my posts to focus entirely on the former, not the later.

    (Though when it comes to discussion how a politician is not comporting himself in a Catholic manner, I think it’s worthwhile pointing out when, as in this case, his ordinary has said that Catholics in his position should choose not to present themselves to received until they are able to accept the Church’s teachings.)

    Poli,

    If you find some good instances of “The ignorance of differences between moral judgment and moral action, between act-type and act-token, between categorical and contextual ethics, between ethics and politics, and between formal and material cooperation.” I strongly encourage you to comment or post on them.

    Otherwise: What Zach said.

    MM,

    I think it’s highly presumptuous (to say the least) for a nobody like Amy Welborn to start lecturing the bishops on what is and is not a teaching moment. I see yet again the influence of the Protestantized culture.

    Lecturing the bishops? Goodness… I read it this morning and thought she had a good point. When a major public figure tells a reporter on national television that Catholic theologians have no idea when human life begins, it would indeed be a good time for a bishop to get up and say, “Not so.”

    But then, I’m just a nobody like DarwinCatholic lecturing a nobody like Mornings Minion… Did this hesitance to speak as a nobody prevent you from suggesting a while back that Burke had been “kicked upstairs” in order to avoid the “embarassment” of his speaking against pro-choice Catholic politicians? Was that a big “presumptuous”?

  • “Feddie: would you really start a website against Tom Ridge?”

    Yes. Selecting a proabortion Catholic for vice president sends the wrong message to Republicans and Catholics alike.

  • Morning’s Minion

    Darwin: I am most certainly a nobody and even though I have strong views on things (and often make them known!) I think we all sould try to avoid hectoring bishops about how they use their teaching office. Reasonable, don’t you think?

  • Morning’s Minion –

    You regularly, at ths site and your own, pass judgment on others, including priests and bishops. As well as other Catholics. It is your MO – to judge the “catholicism” of others.

    And you do so anonymously.

    Have some courage and start posting under a real name, tell us who you are, what you do, and so on.

    Until then, I urge readers not to take his bait. He urgest a prophetic voice but considering he is too fearful to post honestly, it is a laughable situation.

    Catholics Against Biden, note, is run by three people who have given their full names, given professional background, and so on. They are out in the open. Most of the posters here at Vox Nova post anonymously and spend their time passing judgment on others from that very safe place.

    Simply from that perspective, I don’t think Vox Nova deserves a place on anyone’s blogrolls or blog readers.

  • Morning’s Minion

    The anonymity is a condition of my employment. Trust me, I would love to use my real name.

  • Steve

    So I take it, you don’t read the Book of Hebrews since it was an anonymous author? And you would criticize saints and Doctors of the Church for taking Pseudo-Dionysius seriously, because the author used a false name? And you ignore his [Dionysius’s] writings, right?

  • For what it is worth, I don’t fault MM in the least bit for blogging anonymously.

  • S.B.

    There is a difference between

    1) Pointing out the problem of a particular candidate in relation to Catholic teaching
    2) Trying to make a judgment on that particular candidate in relation to their worthiness of communion; the second requires many facts which are not going to be apparent.

    But again, why don’t you make the same “Protestant” accusation against MM? After all, his only point in writing this post was to argue that “it seems patently obvious that politicians who support torture obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin, and ought to be denied Holy Communion.” By your logic, we mere mortals shouldn’t express an opinion about that question; it should be left entirely up to a given politician’s local bishop.

  • S.B.

    The context of MM’s argument should provide such answers. He is not telling bishops what to do.

  • Why not let the Bishops do their teaching moment, instead of trying to do it for them?

    I would think that when Biden can say he’ll “take it on faith” that human life begins at conception, and yet persist in advocating Roe v. Wade, or when Nancy Pelosi can go on record and say what she did yesterday on Meet The Press, IMHO it speaks to a deficiency in the Bishops to teach them correctly.

    It’s not as if “pro-choice” Democrats suddenly embarked on an advocacy of Roe v. Wade overnight — they’ve publicly embraced their position for decades. I think Amy’s post spoke for a number of Catholics who are simply fed up and want their bishops to teach, explicitly and firmly.

    [Henry:] There is a difference between
    1) Pointing out the problem of a particular candidate in relation to Catholic teaching
    2) Trying to make a judgment on that particular candidate in relation to their worthiness of communion; the second requires many facts which are not going to be apparent.

    So Edward Peters noted as well, and I agree:

    In regard to the Catholic Joseph Biden’s eligibility to receive holy Communion, then, the right questions will seek to answer whether certain of his public actions (chiefly legislative actions and public advocacy efforts) constitute obstinate perseverance in manifest grave sin. Answering those questions well will require (1) accurate assemblage of the facts (an area for which expert lay Catholic observers of American politics should be consulted), and (2) accurate inquiry into the requirements of Church law and moral teaching (an area for which bishops are chiefly responsible).

    The focus of Catholics Against Biden is is chiefly concerned with making the case: demonstrating whether the public legislative actions and advocacy efforts of Senator Biden fall short of — or in explicit disobedience to — Catholic moral teaching. You’ll note this by the content of our posts which examine Biden’s own words and advocated policies.

    Pope and Archbishop Raymond Burke have made it explicitly clear that — to use then-Ratzinger’s own words, “consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion laws” would surely constitute grounds for disciplinary action and the implementation of Canon 915 as a last resort, following attempts at dialogue. While I think the application of Canon 915 is certainly warranted given Biden’s behavior, the manner and time in which that occurs is not for me to determine.

    As you’ll note, I did caution readers from criticism of Biden’s pastor for engaging in “dialogue” with him and not more direct disciplinary action (given Saltarelli’s own instructions that the decision should be reserved for him and that priests, deacons and extraordinary ministers make judgements of their own accord).

    I likewise devoted a separate post to an interview with Biden’s former bishop in which he went into detail on the measures he was taking with such Catholics in his diocese.

  • Several members of a collective blog known as

    Why not let the Bishops do their teaching moment, instead of trying to do it for them?

    I would think that when Biden can say he’ll “take it on faith” that human life begins at conception, and yet persist in advocating Roe v. Wade, or when Nancy Pelosi can go on record and say what she did yesterday on Meet The Press, IMHO it speaks to a deficiency in the Bishops to teach them correctly.

    It’s not as if “pro-choice” Democrats suddenly embarked on an advocacy of Roe v. Wade overnight — they’ve publicly embraced their position for decades. I think Amy’s post spoke for a number of Catholics who are simply fed up and want their bishops to teach, explicitly and firmly.

    [Henry:] There is a difference between
    1) Pointing out the problem of a particular candidate in relation to Catholic teaching
    2) Trying to make a judgment on that particular candidate in relation to their worthiness of communion; the second requires many facts which are not going to be apparent.

    So Edward Peters noted as well, and I agree:

    In regard to the Catholic Joseph Biden’s eligibility to receive holy Communion, then, the right questions will seek to answer whether certain of his public actions (chiefly legislative actions and public advocacy efforts) constitute obstinate perseverance in manifest grave sin. Answering those questions well will require (1) accurate assemblage of the facts (an area for which expert lay Catholic observers of American politics should be consulted), and (2) accurate inquiry into the requirements of Church law and moral teaching (an area for which bishops are chiefly responsible).

    The focus of Catholics Against Biden is is chiefly concerned with making the case: demonstrating whether the public legislative actions and advocacy efforts of Senator Biden fall short of — or in explicit disobedience to — Catholic moral teaching. You’ll note this by the content of our posts which examine Biden’s own words and advocated policies.

    Pope and Archbishop Raymond Burke have made it explicitly clear that — to use then-Ratzinger’s own words, “consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion laws” would surely constitute grounds for disciplinary action and the implementation of Canon 915 as a last resort, following attempts at dialogue. While I think the application of Canon 915 is certainly warranted given Biden’s behavior, the manner and time in which that occurs is not for me to determine.

    As you might recognize, I did caution readers from criticism of Biden’s pastor for engaging in “dialogue” with him and not more direct disciplinary action (given Saltarelli’s own instructions that the decision should be reserved for him and that priests, deacons and extraordinary ministers make judgements of their own accord.

    I likewise devoted a separate post to an interview with Biden’s former bishop in which he went into detail on the measures he was taking with such Catholics in his diocese.

  • Correction: that should be “given Saltarelli’s own instructions that the decision should be reserved for him and that priests, deacons and extraordinary ministers refrain from making the judgement to withhold communion.

    Breaking news — At least one Bishop has responded to Pelosi:

    In a statement eloquently titled “On the Separation of Sense and State,” the Archbishop of Denver, Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., and his Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley harshly criticized Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, for giving a confusing view of the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion, during a Sunday interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

    “Catholic public leaders inconvenienced by the abortion debate” –says the statement- “tend to take a hard line in talking about the ‘separation of Church and state.’ But their idea of separation often seems to work one way.”

    “In fact, some officials also seem comfortable in the role of theologian. And that warrants some interest, not as a ‘political’ issue, but as a matter of accuracy and justice.”

    Archbishop Chaput’s statement recognizes Pelosi as “a gifted public servant of strong convictions and many professional skills” but adds that “regrettably, knowledge of Catholic history and teaching does not seem to be one of them.”

  • Most of the posters here at Vox Nova post anonymously and spend their time passing judgment on others from that very safe place.

    Looks like about half of the contributors here use their real names, if not more when you exclude those who rarely (if ever) post.

  • Policraticus

    Most of the posters here at Vox Nova post anonymously and spend their time passing judgment on others from that very safe place.

    Whatever may be our perceived need for a “very safe place,” I’ll remind you that passing over our arguments and “judgments” simply because they are issued from our little anonymous enclaves is a logical fallacy: ad hominem circumstantial.

  • T. Shaw

    Go ahead censor me.

  • The reason why pretty much every Euro politician who wants gets Communion, incl. from the pope himself, is that there is no battle over abortion. Usually, it’s permitted in the first trimester. Therefore, no one is “consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion laws”. It’s the unique American situation of Roe v. Wade that keeps abortion around as a topic. I’d think that if abortion were a simple law, Republicans would get pretty quiet about abortion, since hardly anyone would want a complete outlawing of abortion. Insofar, Roe v Wade is very convenient.

  • With all due respect, like Darwin, I, too, would like for someone to point out specific instances of where my blogging is guilty of the deficiencies that Policraticus describes.

    If the charge is merely that I have little patience with apologists on the left and on the right who engage in high-falluting, philosophical-sounding justifications for voting for people whose policy preferences are out of step with my values and my conscience, then guilty as charged.

    If, on the other hand, the assertion is that my status as a convert and/or a non-theologian disqualifies me from forming moral judgments as to whether particular candidates fail to measure up, in my own opinion, to some aspect of Catholic teaching, and of formulating arguments in an attempt to persuade others to that view, then I say “Nonsense!”

    I particularly welcome any specific examples of where I have displayed “selectivity” in condemning ANY intrinsic evil. Or where I have taken a “pro-life” stance in anything other than the Catholic sense, much less an “Evangelical sense”. Or have used the Faith “inaccurately to attenuate real political issues”.

    Perhaps I’m missing it because I’m not as well versed in “true” Catholicism as my theologically trained betters. I’m just some regular guy trying to form my conscience to what I believe the Church asks of me, and to live out that Faith in all aspects of my life, including how I vote.

    It is on that basis that I have concluded, at least at this time, that neither of the major-party candidates merits my vote. I will continue to make arguments at my own blog and at the other blogs on which I participate in order to justify my conclusions and to persuade others to my viewpoint.

  • rusty

    Geesh, Gerald, you’ve dove headlong into the buffet, haven’t you?

  • rusty

    You people who are admonishing people for *daring* to urge our Bishops to speak against politicians like Pelosi really should read St. Catherine of Siena’s Letter (74) to Pope Gregory XI. Yeah, she probably had Protestant leanings too.

  • I think there are a few people that you can make the charge that they’re using faith to attentuate political issues or reducing pro-life to the evangelical level; but Jay Anderson is not one of those people. If anything, I think Jay has been one of the few bloggers to not get sucked in this cycle by one candidate or the other.

    I also think that criticizing people for posting anonymously is silly. There are a lot of wise reasons to post under a pseudonym (I kinda wish I had done it myself).

  • Why not let the Bishops do their teaching moment, instead of trying to do it for them?

    From the front page of the USCCB web site right now as I post this (there doesn’t seem to be a permalink, so I’m copying the article into here):

    Bishops respond to House Speaker Pelosi’s misrepresentation of Church teaching against abortion

    WASHINGTON–Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, have issued the following statement:

    In the course of a “Meet the Press” interview on abortion and other public issues on August 24, 2008, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi misrepresented the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church against abortion.

    The Church has always taught that human life deserves respect from its very beginning and that procured abortion is a grave moral evil. In the Middle Ages, uninformed and inadequate theories about embryology led some theologians to speculate that specifically human life capable of receiving an immortal soul may not exist until a few weeks into pregnancy. While in canon law these theories led to a distinction in penalties between very early and later abortions, the Church’s moral teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any stage of development.

    These mistaken biological theories became obsolete over 150 years ago when scientists discovered that a new human individual comes into being from the union of sperm and egg at fertilization. In keeping with this modern understanding, the Church has long taught that from the time of conception (fertilization), each member of the human species must be given the full respect due to a human person, beginning with respect for the fundamental right to life.

    More information on the Church’s teaching on this issue can be found in our brochure “The Catholic Church is a Pro-Life Church”. PDF Text

  • And here is more from Cardinal Rigali, pertaining to this “teaching moment”.

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    Jay Anderson’s ‘advertisement’ of ObamaMessiah.BlogSpot on his blog speaks for itself and volumes.

  • Jay Anderson’s ‘advertisement’ of ObamaMessiah.BlogSpot on his blog speaks for itself and volumes.

    Volumes? All it suggested to me was that he had watched an Obama ad/speech and is not easily duped.

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    Such repulsive smear efforts must ask themselves how they indeed contribute indirectly to stuff like the assassination attempt in Denver that authorities thankfully just broke up last night.

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    For, anyone who denies 1) the deepseated racial tensions, and 2) the fear of the foreign Other, brought to fever-pitch by the Bush admininstration’s fundamentalist war on terror—that such messianic charges play into is either an ignoramus or a self-blinded ideologue.

  • Is the parody of politicians now out of bounds? Someone better memo Leno and Letterman.

  • For, anyone who denies 1) the deepseated racial tensions, and 2) the fear of the foreign Other, brought to fever-pitch by the Bush admininstration’s fundamentalist war on terror—that such messianic charges play into is either an ignoramus or a self-blinded ideologue.

    That’s not true at all. The charge of his messianic tendencies comes from a simple analysis of his rhetoric and the way he allows himself to be portrayed both by his campaign and by his followers. Maybe you disagree with it but there’s absolutely no evidence that it’s racist. Maybe you can argue that the charge that Obama’s inexperienced is partially influenced by race (which would be mostly wrong but at least slightly credible) but you have no case on the charge of his messianic tendencies.

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    If Obama were to have been assasinated, I’d love to hear the converations good Catholic dad Jay would have with his kids, if, whenever they got older, and took social studies classes (presuming they were not home-schooled through their entire secondary educations) they’d come to be curious about just what daddy was joking about /doing with the link to all of the Messiah stuff on his blog, in the political climate he was in.

  • I think torture should be safe, legal and rare.

  • Sherry

    It sure gets tiresome that a few RomanCatholic bishops continue to pander to the public for nothing other than publicity by claiming they will not give communion to this or that politician. As if any of these politicians are likely to set foot in their church in the first place. I find it playing to the public in the worst possible way and totally unbecoming a bishop of the church. But apparently the Vatican continues to pat these guys on the head, so of course the divisiveness continues.

  • Mark,

    If Obama were to have been assasinated, I’d love to hear the converations good Catholic dad Jay would have with his kids, if, whenever they got older, and took social studies classes (presuming they were not home-schooled through their entire secondary educations) they’d come to be curious about just what daddy was joking about /doing with the link to all of the Messiah stuff on his blog, in the political climate he was in.

    First off, as a homeschool graduate, I can assure you that many homeschooled students know far _more_ history than what passes for an education in most US public schools. So I don’t think you need to cast aspersions at Jay’s family (and Catholic homeschoolers in general) on that account.

    Secondly, if you seriously think that something like the Obamessiah blog is the reason why four white supremacists with a truck full of guns and meth headed off to Denver to get arrested for planning to attempt to assassinate Senator Obama, you need to work seriously on your relationship with reality.

    One can have spirited political discourse and criticize the ridiculous cultural iconography used by the Obama campaign — such as the “American Prayer” video that’s just out — without in any way advocating the assassination of someone.

    To suggest that Jay is in some how responsible for or sympathetic to the assassination attempt is beneath contempt.

  • Torture is an evil, true. Abortion, however, is just as evil, if not more so. How any Catholic can support Obama, a man who claims to lament abortion but who supports its continued legalization, and worse, will stop others from doing something about it, is beyond reason. Obama is about as two-faced on this issue as one can get. Voting for him is to vote for continuing the slaughter of innocents. Not Catholic at all.

  • Belle

    I absolutely believe in torture if it applies to anyone who can take a vaccum, to suck out a living baby, inject acis in the womb to kill a baby..to let a bay be born feet first so you can slice the brain stem and suck out the brain of a bay..Yeah sure you don’t believe in torture..You can beleive anything you you want..But why recieve communion looking at the cross.. Every time you do it you mock Christ. That is why you do it..You aren’t moral You can’t pick and chose which of gods commandments to follow..Pick up your cross and follow him or leave the church.. NEVER SAY PRO_CHOICE if you vote for OBAMA he doesn’t give a baby born alive from botched abortion a right to life..PRO-DEATH. I lost my job and am by your standards dirt poor and would never vote for Evil . They are not Catholics they are LIBERALS who continue to inflitrate churches.. Yeah Obama is religous..MUSLIM..

  • Pingback: Deal Hudson and Torture « Vox Nova()

  • Arvid Nybroten

    Thank you! But not only for torture, but also the Iraqi invasion itself violates the just war principles of the Catholic Church and of the other historic Christian churches as well. The justification for this invasion was based on information gained by torture and was proved fraudulent, and please, you Bush supporters, don’t continue to insult the intelligence of the rest of us by denying the obvious fact that this invasion was about gaining control of the Iraqi oil fields. That is the only plausible explanation left. What about the right to life of Iraqi children? Killing someone while your primary intention is to rob them is felon murder. Killing thousands, even millions of people while you are trying to gain control of their oil fields is a war crime and those guilt of it are subject to capital punishment under international law. War crimes are intrinsically evil. And unlike the Bush administration and the State of Israel, the Vatican officially supports the establishment of the War Crimes Tribunal in The Haque.
    One Iraqi veteran told me that he thought he was volunteering to defend our country. No told him until he got to Iraq that they would be ordered to kill children and now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. A Jesuit priest told me that our Iraqi soldiers and veterans are committing suicide at the rate of 120 a week because of PTSS. Our Catholic Right would probably deny them a Catholic funeral and burial in consecrated ground.
    My brother suffers from schiophrenia. Schiophrenia runs in my family. The position of the Republican Party is that people who kill while in a state of mental delusion due top mental illness should be subject to the death penalty. On top of that, they oppose any legislation that would effectively prevent those suffering from such mental illnesses from buying guns. In other words, let the mentally ill kill people and then kill them afterward. So to be told by my parish priest that I am morally bound to vote for such a party is personally very offensive to me. Catholic morality tradition recognizes what psychologists would call a diminished capacity for moral reasoning. So how does the Catholic Right justify its support of the death penality for the mentally ill and the mentally retarded?
    The Catholic Right shows its hypocrisy precisely by making the same type of cafeteria moral choices that they accuse the Catholic Left of making.
    Yes, by any measure of Catholic and human natural light morality they should be denied the Eucharist.
    Why not have Benedict XVI put an interdict on the entire United States of America?