Thursday, May 20, 2004

DENYING COMMUNION = STOKING ANTI-CATHOLICISM?

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I've written a bit about how Catholic politicians like John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi risk losing access to Communion because their voting record is at odds with the position of the Roman Catholic Church. This has really given me pause:
48 Catholic congressmen warn bishops on bigotry
By Alan Cooperman, Washington Post | May 20, 2004

WASHINGTON -- Forty-eight Roman Catholic members of Congress have warned in a letter to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., that US bishops will revive anti-Catholic bigotry and severely harm the church if they deny Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

The letter's signers, all Democrats, include at least three House members with strong antiabortion voting records.

"For many years Catholics were denied public office by voters who feared that they would take direction from the pope," they wrote. "While that type of paranoid anti-Catholicism seems to be a thing of the past, attempts by church leaders today to influence votes by the threat of withholding a sacrament will revive latent anti-Catholic prejudice, which so many of us have worked so hard to overcome."
So how should we view this? Is the Catholic Church trying to "influence votes" or simply regulate the behavior of its members? Or is regulation of this sort tantamount to influencing votes?