Another Post on Banning Torture Supporters from Communion

Another Post on Banning Torture Supporters from Communion February 11, 2010

It has been clear for some time now that EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo supports torture. Let me rephrase – he supports torture when conducted by the US and when dressed up in Orwellian euphemisms. There was the infamous exchange with Fr. Sirico a while back, when Arroyo and Sirico made jokes about waterboarding, and defended torture if conducted by a competent authority and in case of a “ticking bomb scenario”. Recently, Arroyo invited Marc Thiessen – one of the most public and notorious torture-supporters in the United States – onto his show, not to berate him for supporting an intrinsically evil act, but to actively support his stance (See Kyle’s excellent post showing another case of consequentialism on display on EWTN). And Arroyo is not the only problem – one of EWTN’s supposed experts’ forums offered the following advice: “nobody can suggest that torture is intrinsically evil”. Well, that would be nobody except the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, EWTN.

Anyway, I wrote a post a while back arguing that by the logic of Archbishop Burke and his supporters, if somebody should be denied communion for supporting abortion, then a person should certainly be denied communion for supporting torture, something the Church defines as intrinsically evil and lists right after murder, abortion, and genocide as among the most grave sins. Well, in light of the shocking behavior by a supposedly-Catholic news organization, I think it’s time to dust off that post. The arguments are straightforward, and I will quote Burke directly wherever applicable.

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 public figures who support such activities meet the standard of “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin”. 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.”

I think the analogy is clear. Arroyo and Thiessen are both Catholic public figures, and Arroyo in particular is a TV personality on a Catholic TV channel, making the scandal all the more grave. They are clearly “obstinately persevering” in support for an intrinsically evil act. Worse, they actually try to justify it on Catholic grounds. Thiessen has made it his life’s work to claim that some forms of torture are virtuous. Arroyo, again and again, invites defenders of torture onto his show, and instead of confronting them with clear Church teaching, voices his agreement. As Burke says, this is “public conduct” that is gravely sinful. I would go further and argue that it is even more scandalous than support for legalized abortion. Most public supporters of abortion do not go on television extolling the great virtues of abortion for women and society. Their argument is more with how it should be treated under the law. But the Arroyo-Thiessen-Sirico cabal are (i) claiming to the faithful Catholics while (ii) making public pronouncements on the positive value of torture.

When is somebody going to come out and state the obvious? I’m not personally calling for canonical action against Thiessen, Arroyo, and Sirico, but I am calling for consistency. Archbishop Burke, I think we need to hear from you…

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