Thursday, April 29, 2004

PRO-ABORTION CATHOLICS AND COMMUNION

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Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry are both Catholics who are also pro-abortion despite their Church's opposition to abortion. Yet both of them have made headlines in regards to taking Communion. Here's a story on Pelosi:
Top House Dem Says She'll Take Communion

By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., like John Kerry a Catholic who supports abortion rights, said Thursday she will continue to ask for Holy Communion in spite of Vatican opposition to pro-choice Catholics doing so.

"I fully intend to receive Communion, one way or another. That's very important to me," Pelosi told reporters during her weekly press conference.
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The head of a task force of U.S. bishops said Tuesday that Catholic politicians who advocate policies contrary to church teaching on abortion and other issues may risk sanctions that fall short of denial of Communion.
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Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat who was raised in a devout Italian Catholic home, told reporters, "I believe that my position on choice is one that is consistent with my Catholic upbringing, which said that every person has a free will and has the responsibility to live their lives in a way that they would have to account for in the end."
And here's a story on Kerry (requires login):
Kerry Ignores Reproaches of Some Bishops
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE

BOSTON, April 11 — Rejecting the admonitions of several national Roman Catholic leaders, Senator John Kerry received communion at Easter services today at the Paulist Center here, a kind of New Age church that describes itself as "a worship community of Christians in the Roman Catholic tradition" and that attracts people drawn to its dedication to "family religious education and social justice."...
As I understand the Catholic Code of Canon Law (as explained by an online friend, A Random Catholic), Kerry and Pelosi have not only lost access to Communion, but their membership in the Catholic Church is on the line:
--"A person who procures a successful abortion incurs an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication." Canon 1398, 1983 Code of Canon Law

--"Those who are excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion." Canon 915, 1983 Code of Canon Law

--"Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life." Canon 2272, 1983 Code of Canon Law
Abortion is a complex, emotional and divisive issue. I think President Bush had it right when he said "[G]ood people disagree on [abortion], but surely we can agree on ways to value life by promoting adoption and parental notification." Despite my personal abhorrence for elective abortions (that is, those performed for convenience sake, and not for overriding concerns such as the life of the mother and pregnancies from rape or incest), I'm persuaded that there are many folks who do not find abortion morally objectionable - at least not to the degree I do - but who are otherwise decent, reasonable people.

That said, a day may come when society at large will look back on our day and be repulsed by our views on abortion (not unlike the way we now look at previous generations and shake our heads at the prevalence of racism). Time will tell.

Update: I should point out that Mormon politicians (like Mitt Romney, the govenor of Massachusetts) also wrestle with this issue.