Bishops “warned that such action would portray the bishops as a partisan force during a time of bitter political divisions across the country.” That’s AP’s report on the American Catholic bishops — only a quarter of them — who opposed the creation of a document on the nature of communion, and who can receive it and who shouldn’t.
It’s a predictable line. Some mean it. Others don’t want to restrict communion to their favorite Catholic politicians, no matter how pro-abortion they are. But I get it — the danger of looking partisan is a real consideration. The Church rarely does well when it identifies itself with any political party or cause, no matter how good.
But still, it’s a political consideration. It looks at how the Church in America looks to the non-Catholic world. It has nothing to do with the bishops’ proper sphere, which is faith and morals. It has nothing to do with the issues rightly encapsulated in the phrase “eucharistic coherence.”
The Gaslighting Critics
Here’s the thing about the critics. The projection. The gaslighting. We’re told that we are the ones viewing the Eucharist as a political matter. We’re “weaponizing the Eucharist.” We’re dividing the Church by “imposing our politics.” That’s what the critics say, when really, it’s them. But for their political commitments, this would be a no-brainer. Every single bishop would be on board, if not for their politics.
And anyway, what, at the end of the day, are we really talking about? A vote to draft a document to be approved at a later time (not set) by two-thirds of the bishops that, if passed, will have no teeth. It may well stop short of the firm instruction to deny Communion to pro-choice politicians.
Even if it says that, it will not be binding on the bishops. The head of the bishops’ doctrine committee, which will draft the statement, promises it will offer “guidelines” rather than rules. Wilton Gregory, the most consequential bishop in the matter of President Biden, has already preempted the whole thing by declaring he will continue to give Biden communion no matter what. The Vatican isn’t likely to approve a statement denying Communion to pro-choice politicians.
But that was enough to rouse the usual suspects to action. Sixty Catholic Democratic members of congress immediately issued a Statement of Principles. The first name on the list was Connecticut congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who has steadfastly promoted legal abortion and fought the Church on it.
The signers complained about “the weaponization of the Eucharist to Democratic lawmakers for their support of a woman’s safe and legal access to abortion.” They “acknowledge and accept the tension that comes with being in disagreement with the Church in some areas.”
Notably, they never admit what the one area at issue is. They leave out how thoroughly the Church rejects abortion, appealing to their desire to help women in other ways and their interest in other Catholic teachings they imply are as definite as the ban on abortion, but which the bishops don’t criticize. Of course, they appeal to “conscience.”
What We’re Up Against
This is what we are up against. This is why this document, however flimsy a first step, is necessary. The Catholic Church teaches that procured abortion is always wrong. Not just wrong for Catholics, but “gravely contrary to the moral law.” The popes and bishops and magisterial documents have said this over and over again. Our bishops have said this many times as well. The Church must be clear what the repudiation of this teaching means.
That should be just a first step. The AP’s line about Biden saying “he personally opposes abortion but doesn’t think he should impose that position on Americans who feel otherwise”? Give me a break.
The issue is not just legal abortion, pro or con. That was a debate to be had in the eighties. The issue of the pro-abortion Catholic politician has not stood still since Mario Cuomo gave that infamous speech at Notre Dame in 1984, which made a politician’s support for abortion, “part of respecting and enjoying our unique pluralistic democracy.” Or since John Kerry ran for the White House in 2004 and made support for “the right to choice” a major part of his campaign.
The issue today is the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which prevents the federal government from funding abortions. It’s the Equality Act, which will lead to the declaring the practical expression of Catholic moral teaching illegal. It’s yet another legal assault on the Little Sisters of the Poor, for being unable to fund something they think is wrong. And it’s politicians like Rosa DeLauro thinking they can lecture the American bishops on what is and isn’t permissible in the application of Catholic principles to public life, just as DeLauro had the temerity to do with then-Pope Benedict.
The issue is a widespread rejection of the diversity and freedom the Democrats claim to believe in when it benefits them.
On the Wrong Side
There has been a lot of movement just since that campaign, all of it on the wrong side. While Mario Cuomo at least seemed to struggle with abortion as a politician, his son Andrew supports it with no reservations at all, and wants to suppress opposition. He declares his “Roman Catholic values” irrelevant to the question.
Pro-abortion Catholic politicians have grown only more brazen since 2004. As I say, the problem’s no longer just their support for legal abortion. It’s not just that they want to be left alone by their Church while doing Moloch’s bidding. It’s that they will not leave the Church alone. Our own fellow Catholics now seek to oppress the Church on Moloch’s behalf.
For other explanations of the matter, see Holly Taylor Coolman’ sNot Everyone Should Receive: What the Communion Debate’s Really About and Ken Craycraft’s If the Eucharist isn’t Political, to Hell with It.
Peter Wolfgang is president of Family Institute of Connecticut Action. He lives in Waterbury, Connecticut, with his wife and their seven children. The views expressed here are solely his own. His previous article was EWTN vs ‘Friends’, or, the Holy Spirit Subverts the Culture.
Photo credit: Then-vice president Joe Biden awaiting Pope Francis’s arrival at the White House in September 2015 in Washington, D.C. (Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images).
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