Friday, April 30, 2004

PRO-ABORTION CATHOLICS AND COMMUNION (Part II)

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Today I came across a very interesting article by Philip Lawler at OpinionJournal.com (emphases mine):
Forty years after John F. Kennedy became the first Catholic elected to the White House, another Democratic senator from Massachusetts finds himself caught up in a controversy over his Catholic faith. But there is a revealing difference between the cases. In 1960, the first JFK sought to neutralize the effects of anti-Catholic prejudice. This year, John F. Kerry seems intent upon exploiting anti-Catholic sentiment to his own political advantage.

Despite repeated admonitions from American bishops (first private, then public), Mr. Kerry insists that he will continue to receive communion when he attends Mass. Thus he puts himself in direct conflict with the Catholic hierarchy, which teaches that the senator's outspoken support for legal abortion renders him unfit to receive the Eucharist. Mr. Kerry may gain a few votes by casting himself as a man of conscience, at odds with bishops whose bungling of a sex-abuse scandal has made them unpopular. But a dispassionate observer--even one who rejects Catholic teachings--should recognize Mr. Kerry's posture for what it is: an assault on the faith he claims to revere.
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The Catholic Church has always taught that abortion is a grave matter, punishable by excommunication. Last year, in an instruction on the duties of Catholic political leaders, the Vatican drew the logical inference, saying that Catholic politicians are morally obligated to oppose legal abortion.
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In Boston, Mr. Kerry's own spiritual leader, Archbishop Sean O'Malley, has said that the senator--and others who reject church teachings on the dignity of life--should not receive the Eucharist. But he also made it clear that dissident Catholics should not be turned away if they present themselves for communion, as the defiant senator continues to do.
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That attitude seems to perplex Vatican officials. At a news conference last week, Cardinal Francis Arinze, the Vatican's top official for liturgical affairs, was pressed by an American reporter for his opinion on the matter. Without mentioning names, Cardinal Arinze set a clear general rule about Catholics who are not in good standing: "If they should not receive, it should not be given."
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Mr. Kerry and his supporters would be sure to portray any disciplinary action as an effort to influence the November election. For this reason most bishops, no doubt, would prefer not to address the issue in a campaign year. But the real question is whether a public figure should enjoy all the benefits, spiritual and material, of a faith that he has betrayed.
Lawler is spot-on. Kerry and Pelosi are of course free to adopt whatever stance they like, but then the Catholic Church is likewise entitled to such freedom, including witholding Communion from nominal Catholics who reject the teachings and authority of the Catholic Church.