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June 23, 2006

Comments

Mary Russell

Isn't it funny that the word "install" is used to describe the induction of a new bishop? It sound like they're installing a refrigerator.

Andrew S.

I have a feeling that this is just going to be a guy who's going to keep the status quo. Which basically sucks.

padrechillin

As a priest from Western PA with many young priest friends in the diocese of Pittsburgh, I can tell all you people who have such high hopes for Bp. W in D.C.- mark my words you are going to be sadly disappointed- he is all orthodox talk and little or no action. In fact he lets the dissenters do their thing as long as they don't make a public specticle of themselves- don't expect any action on the pro-abortion Catholic politican front. There was a representative in Pittsburgh who had a 100% pro-abortion rating from NARAL and Bp W did nothing to correct him. He needs a lot of prayers as conversion is possible by a miracle of grace.

barry

Scoring political points with the Eucharist may work when you are in Omaha or Scranton or Birmingham, but is quite another thing when you are in Washington, D.C., where politics is our company business. Failing to appreciate how seriously politics and process and political discourse is taken in Washington D.C. would be a mistake for Weurl. I'd argue he'd get flak from all sides except the most strident activists if he started Communion theatrics in this town.

He's lose all credibility and would become voiceless if he took such a step.

Tim Ferguson

Communion theatrics? Like refusing the Eucharist to those who actively work against the teachings of the Church in order to respect the dignity of the Sacrament and effect some change in the hearts of those who dissent? That's theatrics? Funny, I thought that was pastoral concern.

I guess us rubes out here in the hills better leave the finer points of political discourse to you edumucated folks in D.C. Which is fine, actually, I'd rather spend my time ekeing out my salvation in fear and trembling than worrying whether Ted Kennedy invites me to his next cocktail party.

DJP

Did you read where Kerry said, "The Archbishop (Wuerl) is a friend of mine." Well, that says a lot, doesn't it.

Simon

Wuerl has always been a hero of mine since he endured all those viscious attacks from the NY Times and the AmChurch crowd during that ugly Seattle situation in the 1980s.

But what's with the angry comments here about the Archbishop on the very day he's installed? That pro-death politicians continue to receive Holy Communion is scandalous, but there are legitimate differences in the prudential judgment of the bishops as to how to handle it.

If you're going to write off automatically every bishop whose prudential judgment you disagree with, you have a Protestant mentality. And the folks over at ECUSA and the Presbyterian Church USA can tell you where that leads.

Somehow I don't think this kind of critical spirit is from God.

mulopwepaul

"If you're going to write off automatically every bishop whose prudential judgment you disagree with, you have a Protestant mentality."

There's nothing automatic about 30 years of 1 million abortions per year; more of the same means just that.

PVO

Tim Ferguson

Simon,

I don't see anyone "writing off" Archbishop Wuerl, for whom I also have a fond and personal affection. I think criticisms of policy and of prudential judgments are not only not Protestant, they're firmly rooted in our Catholic faith and tradition. No one is arguing for disobedience to the archbishop, they're just hoping for a firmer stance.

It's actually more of a Protestant mentality for one person alone to judge that some spirit - critical or not - is "from God" or not. That's the task of the whole Church to discern, united with Peter and under the apostolic band.

Simon

There's nothing automatic about 30 years of 1 million abortions per year; more of the same means just that.

Good grief, PVO! Do you honestly believe that any possible stance the Catholic bishops might take toward pro-abortion politicians will have ANY impact on the ultimate legality of abortion or the number of abortions performed in this country?!?

anon

Simon beat me to it. Exactly how many abortions will denying communion to John Kerry prevent?

lisa

And I'm sure anon and Simon (who both provide interesting and probably fake email addresses) are both working hard to reduce the number of abortions. Please provide us your bona fides in that regard.

Simon

I don't see anyone "writing off" Archbishop Wuerl, for whom I also have a fond and personal affection. I think criticisms of policy and of prudential judgments are not only not Protestant, they're firmly rooted in our Catholic faith and tradition.

Tim,

Your previous comment suggested you thought Wuerl was worried about whether Ted Kennedy invites him to cocktail parties.

There have been more than a few bishops in this country who have been dominated by human respect with regard to the media and politicians. There have also been more than a few harboring almost pathetically out of date attachments to the Democratic Party.

But it's important for faithful Catholics and pro-life people to acknowledge that, aside from those possible base motives, there are very legitimate prudential considerations that come into play in publicly denying communion to bad politicians. That Wuerl has taken a different position from yours and others' here is not ground for saying his appointment "basically sucks" or that people will be "sadly disappointed." Those were the comments (not yours) that prompted my post.

padrechillin

Anon,
Denying Communion to John Kerry is a spiritually medicinal remedy to bring to his mind and other pro-abort "Catholic" politicans that their souls are in danger because of their public stance in favor of abortion. It has to do with them being objectively in mortal sin and for them to receive Holy Communion is a sacrilege. Whether babies are saved from abortion because of that stance- only God knows. But it has to be better than the current policy of "let's not judge their conscience", no one is judging their conscience it is simply an issue of by their fruits you will know them and until John Kerry and other politicans publically repent of their stance on abortion which is a grave issue, they should be denied Holy Coummunion. I don't think Bp W will have the fortitude to do so on any level- I hope I am wrong.

Simon

lisa, As it happens, I have served on the board of a prolife pregnancy aid center, participated in about 20 Marches for Life plus various life chains, written letters to congressmen, etc. The pro-life issue is, in fact, what first prompted me to deepen my Catholic faith.

But perhaps I am not laboring as hard in the vineyard as Thou, nor clearly am I as holy as Thou. Therefore, whatever pronouncements you demand the bishops make on prudential questions, I must defer to.

Do that capture your logic?

Simon

Denying Communion to John Kerry is a spiritually medicinal remedy to bring to his mind and other pro-abort "Catholic" politicans that their souls are in danger because of their public stance in favor of abortion. It has to do with them being objectively in mortal sin and for them to receive Holy Communion is a sacrilege.

Exactly right, and that is a strong argument in favor of denying communion to Kerry, Kennedy, et al.

But it was mulowepaul who asserted that failure to deny communion to these bums would mean more abortions. Anon (and I) simply pointed out that such a claim is absurd.

Boko Fittleworth

Huzzah for padrechillin!

Also, Ann Rogers wrote of the symbolic highlight but was a bit ambiguous. Which was the highlight? Wuerl being led to his new seat by his predecessor, McCarrick fading into the background, or the whole thing? I vote for McCarrick fading into the background.

Also, Lisa, I don't work very hard to prevent abortions. (I am unappealing enough to the women I meet that a perceived need of an abortion nevers comes about. I suppose that's my widow's mite to the movement.) But I have been blessed to know a lot of people who work very hard to prevent abortions. (I went to some good Catholic schools and spent some time volunteering with some good Catholic orders.) As far as I can tell, the footsoldiers in the pro-life movement-the people who pray the rosary outside abortion mills weekly and who volunteer in crisis pregnancy centers-are unanimously in favor of the refusal of Holy Communion to notorious pro-abort politicians. I know many bishops disagree and there may be some lay bureaucrats who also disagree, but the heroic pro-lifers I know (and, I've been blessed to know a lot, including some of the famous ones) are all on the same side here. And it ain't McCarrick's and it ain't Wuerl's.

Barry, I have no doubt Wuerl will soon discover, if he doesn't already know, that politics is more important than religion to many in DC. The question is, which is more important for Wuerl?

Tim Ferguson

Simon,

In my initial post, I did not imply (certainly did not intend to imply) that Bishop Wuerl was concerned about getting an invite to Ted Kennedy's parties - it was more addressed to barry, and his concern that if the Church took a public stand...errr engaged in "Communion theatrics"...it would become "voiceless." That line of argumentation has been used to justify inaction on the part of the Church for centuries. Prudence is one thing, blatant disregard for the consistent teachings of the Church is another.

Barry

The moment you deny Kerry (or Kennedy or Pelosi) the Eucharist, you immediately silence the voice of Catholics on a wide-range of issues, where it is Kerry, Kennedy and Pelosi supporting the pro-Catholic position. Where's Santorum on torture, where's Hyde on immigration, where's a whole host of Republicans on poverty and taxes and health care?

If Weurl wants a voice, playing theatrics with the Eucharist is not the way to do it. There are many ways that the Archbshop of Washington can influence values and moral issues, but none of that will happen with this kind of theatrics in an attempt to appease a tiny segment of pro-life activists.

paul zummo

Barry brings up the red herring arguments over other side issues to blur the fact that Kerry, Kennedy, and other members of the party of death are not living up to clear Catholic teaching, and no one is saying a damned thing to stop them. The idea that these politicians are somehow more authentically Catholic on issues like immigration, welfare, etc. is debateable, and moreover laughable.

No, better to suck up to the Washington culture than a do thing to educate the faithful, particularly those members of the flock that all have a hand in the murder of over one million unborn children every year. No, you just can't rock the cradle.

It's that attitude, and the utter disdain for those in "flyover country" that makes me want to get out of this soulless town as soon as humanly possible. I'll gladly become neighbors with those "country bumpkins." At least they stand for something.

Marie

There is no "pro-Catholic" position on immigration, poverty, taxes and health care. Faithful Catholics can and do disagree on how to apply Catholic teachings to such public policy matters.
There is, however, a "pro-Catholic" position on abortion, and Kennedy, Kerry, and Pelosi are not supporting it.

JP

"Simon beat me to it. Exactly how many abortions will denying communion to John Kerry prevent?"

As others have posted, the denying of communion to unrepentant public sinners is an act of mercy. The person already has commited Grave Sin. Why compound it with the Sin of Sacreliege? A priest or bishop would be terribly remiss if he allowed this. He must do everything possible in correcting sinners, and leading them back to Christ.

Personally, I don't like to make negative public comments on priests or bishops. It is a bad habit to get into. Yes, a Bishop in DC has to excercise a certain amount of politcal restraint; however, he will ultimatly be judged by God on how well he led us sinners to Christ. The late Cdl O'Conner was a great role model in this regard. NYC is every bit as cosmopolitan if not more. Yet, O'Conner wasn't one to sugar coat the faith, or back down when he beleived the Church was under assault. What was written about him in the Times didn't prevent him from preaching the Gospel.

We should pray for Bishop Wuerl.

Celine

Marie:

Nonsense. There is virtully as much prudential wiggle-room on abortion as there is on health care, taxes, immigration or poverty. Of course, no Catholic may procure an abortion or argue that it is moral to do so, but just what is the "Pro-Catholic" POLITICAL position on abortion that a political candidate must adopt? That there must be a constitutional amendment recognizing the personhood of human beings from the time of single-cell fertilization? Or only that the State has to throw someone in jail who procures an abortion? Or just those who performs an abortion (unless it is the person who procures abortion)? How long does the person have to go to jail to make the politician eligible for communion? One day? The rest of his life? What about the death penalty? On the other hand, what about a $5.00 fine? And about exceptions? Rape? Incest? Life of the mother? Or does Catholic teaching allow for NO exception that he can support. I think that conservatives who refuse to vote for programs to assist women to carry their children to term should be denied communion. Why not? Why are only politicians who want to put people involved in abortion in JAIL eligible for communion? What kind of stupid hypocrisy is that? And doesn't that mean just as many Republicans should be denied communion as Democrats because they put their silly ideas on economics and taxes ahead of the abortion issue?

Get the point? There is practically no bright-line political distinction between these categories. In reality, there are only prudential judgments everywhere you look beyond the bare acceptance of moral principle.

padrechillin

Marie,
You hit the nail on the head. Abortion, same sex-marriage and embryo research have been defined by the Magisterium as absolute evils of which there is only one Catholic position: to oppose them. On questions of immigration, poverty, taxes and even the death penalty there is room to take different prudential opinions- there are not defined absolute positions of the Church. Barry do a little reading of the Catechism and Papal encyclicals to see what the Church actually teaches.

Barry

Did O'Connor ever deny the Eucharist to politicians?

padrechillin

Celine,
After that nonsensical rant, you need to do a little reading too.

Barry

I suggest you do a little reading to, padre, and even spend some time talking to your priest about theatricizing the Holy Eucharist for political gain.

padrechillin

Barry,
It has nothing to do with "theatricizing the Eucharist for politcal gain" It's not about poliitics at all, it's about public officials like Kerry, Kennedy, Biden, etc. who are endangering their souls and objectively descrating the Eucharist publically by receiving Holy Communion because their public positions are such a grave scandal to the faithful and go against what we stand for as Catholics on grave issues like abortion, same sex marriage, and embroyo research; and the bishops like Weurl and McCarrick continue to let them do so. Are they shepherds or are they sheep that is the question? And if you can't see that, well I think your Democratic party loyalties have taken precedence over your Catholic Faith in all honesty.

kcpriest

Amen Marie!

Lets not play dumb as if Kerry and Kennedy and Pelosi and such as these allow their policy-making to be influenced by their Catholic faith. They are cafeteria Catholics who can stand up and wear their Catholicism on their sleeve on some issues (which happen to co-incide with their position on the political left) when the USCCB forays into specifics on issues, the solution to which ARE debateable. This makes them look like "good Catholics" and it allows those bishops who don't want to take them (Kerry, Kennedy, Pelose, et.al.) to task on a non-negotiable (such as the sanctity of human life).

As far as the WaPo article, goes, I found the following quote particularly revealing (at least about the media culture in general):

"Wuerl avoided controversial topics, emphasizing that a bishop's job is to teach, to 'feed the sheep.'"

If done well, and, necessarily in opposition to a culture which runs contrary to our Catholic Faith, teh bishop's charge to teach WILL be very controversial.

This is where the MSM doesn't "get it" they did the same thing with Pope Benedict's proto-encyclical: "Oh, God is love, isn't that wonderful?" NO, it is as controversial as its most explicity revelation - on Calvary!

RP Burke

Oops, Marie, you stepped into a hole.

You appear not to realize that there are actually disagreements among Catholics on the tactics to be used to support the "pro-Catholic" position on abortion. Judicial or legislative? Moral suasion or authoritarian acts toward elected officials who disagree? These are prudential judgments, the very kind of judgment that pro-Republican Catholics deny exist on the topic of abortion but grasp to justify their favored party's views on, for example, the death penalty.

Let's take a look at one of the great victories of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, the Voting Rights Act. It was shoved down the throat of segregationists, and their political heirs -- white Southern Republicans -- even today are trying their best to prevent the law's renewal. See today's Washington Post for details, at:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/22/AR2006062201466.html

What is different on abortion is that it was the courts, and not the Congress, that shoved it down the throats of Americans who disagreed and continue to disagree 32 years later. The new tactic of abortion-rights supporters is to describe their fight as a civil rights battle.

M.Z. Forrest

There is no "pro-Catholic" position on immigration, poverty, taxes and health care.

Could have fooled me! All those bishops and priests acting must not have been acting in their capacity as bishops and priests when they marched in solidarity with the immigration protestors even though they seemed to be quite clear on the matter. I could have sworn Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger were stating a position when they stated the conditions for just war in Iraq hadn't been meant. There are Catholic positions on almost every issue. But 'conservative' Catholics - or more properly Catholic conservatives - could care less about the teachings of the positions unless they happen to agree on one. That is the case with abortion.

Barry

Party loyalties aren't supposed to matter, padre, if you are a good Catholic. I notice you haven't mentioned a single Republican in your zest to politicize the Eucharist. THIS is why it's about poltics, my friend, and why it would be such a disaster in Washington, D.C.

Should Weurl deny the Eucharist to Dick Cheney because Cheney supports gay marriage? And what counts as supporting? If you are opposed to abortion but support it for the life of the woman, do you get the blood but not the body during the Eucharist? How about if you are opposed to abortion, but you are elected by a consitituency to be their representative in Congress and the voters in your district strongly support abortion rights?

JP

Barry,

When Tom Ridge (R-PA) was a House Member back in the early 80s, he was a avowed backer of abortion on demand. However, he campagined as loyal, devout Catholic Politican.Bishop O'Conner not only threatened communion denial, but also forbade him from using any Catholic facilities to stump from.

During the mid 80s, both Maria Cuomo and Geraline Ferraro had to back off thier abortion on demand rhetoric or face excommunication.

In all three cases, as far as I know the Cdl never told them how to vote on abortion related bills. However, all three of these politcians gave vocal support to Planned Parenthood (speaking at rallies, conventions etc...). This is what got them into trouble. Cdl O'Conner was torn a new one in the national press. But he never backed down.

Also, I wouldn't like many people did, label the Cdl a right wing radical. He supported the cause of Dorthy Day, and gave quite a bit of support to AIDS groups, Unions, etc... Politics aside, Cdl O'Conner always preached the Gospel, and was concerned about the spirtual well being of his diocese.

Barry

Again, did he deny Cuomo or Ferraro the Eucharist?

JP

Barry,
I think VP Cheney is a Methodist.

But if he was a Catholic, it would be at the discretion of the Bishop. I beleive any priest can withhold Holy Communion to anyone they know to be in Grave Sin. Whether upholding beliefs that are contrary to Church Teachings constitutes Grave Sin is up to the Confessor. If the VP actively campaigned and voted for a law that is contrary to Church teaching, then that's another story. The Bishop would be within his rights to correct this.

Abortion is considered intrinsictly evil - that is it can never under any circumstances be advocated. Participating in this evil in any way shape or form, is as far as I know a Grave Sin. Participating includes giving financial support, as well as rendering verbal, legal and moral support.

JP

Again, did he deny Cuomo or Ferraro the Eucharist?

He didn't have to. They both backed down, at least for awhile. Gov Cuomo later gave his famous address at Notre Dame (which went against Church Teacning), but I don't know if he ever attended Mass again in NYC.

Barry

Ferraro and Cuomo stayed firmly pro-Choice their whole lives. While they may have nuanced their position, they held the same position that Kerry, Kennedy and Pelosi have.

Tony A

Celine,

Truly excellent post.

Tony A

Can we all just forget about Kerry and Kennedy for 5 minutes, and talk about the installation of our new archbishop? I was there yesterday, and thought the whole thing was amazing. The procession took well over 20 minutes ot enter the santuary. Wuerl certainly has a penchant for long homilies, but is is very eloquent. I found it very moving to watch McCarrick process in as the archbishop, and recess alongside his fellow cardinals, minus crosier and miter. Plus I got to talk briefly to the wonderful Fr. Benedict Groeschel afterwards, which was awesome-- I felt like a teenage girl at a rock concert!

elmo

I thought that whether to receive communion or not is left up to the communicant and his conscience. A priest is (typically) not a reader of souls and cannot determine in the split second before the communicant receives whether he or she is in communion with the Church and thus able to receive the host. Even in the case where a politician has 100% supported abortion rights, a priest can't know at that moment that the politician had not repented and confessed. (That's assuming the priest even knows who that communicant is) Even if the following day the politician goes out and votes for a bill written by NARAL, at that moment where he or she says "Amen", the priest should assume that he or she is in communion. The responsibility lies with the communicant: This is what I was taught in CCD.

SteveG

For all the critics of Bshop Wuerl, I suggest you read his address to the Loebig society from the 2004 election cycle if you actually have any interest in understanding his stance instead of just hurling trash at him.

Faith, Personal Conviction and Political Life

It's an incredibly balanced and intelligent stance. His main point is that he doesn't beleive that the U.S. Church has done an adaquete job in instructing politicians on how they are suppossed to integrate the pro-life church teaching into their role as elected officials.

He doesn't exclude the possibility of denying communion altogether, but indicates that as a bishop, his job is to remember that there is an individual soul at stake, and that he has a responsibility to first attempt to instruct the individual, and work with them to amend their behavior and come into line with the church before he just publicly humiliates them or excommunicates them (which is what denial of communion would be, right?). He is a bishop in the very best sense. A shepard and teacher of his flock....even those who aren't 'there' yet.

And lest someone say that all sounds fine and dandy, but where is the action on this. He has actully done this with some of the politicians in Pittsburgh. One such politician recounted to a close friend of mine an incident where Bishop W. after a public appearance sat the fellow done and 'catechized' him for over an hour on the issue of abortion. But since that wasn't as public as refusing him communion before talking with him, I suppose it's not nearly as newsworthy.

Simon

This is a really discouraging thread, not just because of the preemptive criticism of Archbishop Wuerl, but also because it's like listening to a debate between John Brown's fanatics and supporters of slavery.

Contra Celine, Barry, et al., abortion is NOT just another issue, to be weighed equally against whatever the bishops conference says about health care policy or immigration. This is an integral part of the Christian Faith that goes back to the time of the Apostles themselves (see, e.g., the Didache). To put it quite bluntly and honestly, someone who believes there should be a legal right to murder a baby in its mother's womb is not, in any meaningful sense, a Christian.

Of course, as with any issue, a Catholic politician has to use his or her prudential judgment responsibly on abortion -- do you push for a particular bill now or wait till later when there may be more votes? Do you support a ban on partial birth abortion or do you regard that as compromising the effort to protect all life? Do you support the Human Life Amendment in the 1980s, or the less effective but more passable Hatch Amendment? Do you support the South Dakota law, or do you think that law gives the Supreme Court an opportunity to strengthen Roe?

But Kerry, Kennedy, Pelosi, Schwarzenegger, Giuliani, Cuomo, Leahy, et al. are not grappling with any of those legitimate prudential questions. Every one of them is publicly committed to making sure it will always be legally possible (and easy) for innocent children to be murdered in their mothers' wombs. When such people, if unrepentent, approach the altar to receive Holy Communion, they eat and drink their own condemnation.

THAT brings us to the question on which the bishops must exercise their prudential judgment. It seems that on this thread, one's pro life bona fides are in question unless one insists on a public declaration by the bishop that particular politicians may not come forward to receive. But alternative approaches, such as private admonition and declaring that no one who supports abortion may receive without identifying particular individuals and assuming the good conscience of anyone who comes to Communion, are also legitimate, and no less pro life.

I happen to think such alternative approaches would keep the focus better on the corrupt pro-"choice" politicians, rather than turning them into sympathetic victims. But it is a PRUDENTIAL question -- and one for the bishops, not us.

Ave Maria!

The fact that Kerry and Kennedy were there applauding gave a HUGE message and here is that message: this one is also in our pocket!!!

It seems incongruous to me that on the Feast of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More that this installation of yet another 'politically correct' bishop took place. Certainly he showed immediately that he was not of the same cloth as St. John Fisher who was the only bishop at the time to NOT tow the party line of the dissenting king. The others all caved in and went with the flow of things. Only one of that whole crop of bishops is a saint, and a martyr to boot and that is St. John Fisher who alone had the guts to be a true shepherd and uphold the Truth.

To speak of 'theatrics of Communion' is silly.
One is in union with the Church or not. Those 'catholic' politicians have essentially excommunicated themselves but no bleeding hearts are seeing to their eternal souls which is what true love requires. "Go and sin no more", said Our Lord but our shepherds seem to say to go ahead and keep it up and we can talk about it if you like or if you have time.

Business as usual in the DC area, sorry to say.

elmo

"Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I shall be healed."

Seems like some folks on this thread who want to decide whom may receive the Eucharist might want to ponder these words. Maybe they will find that they themselves are not in communion with the Church and go to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.

anonymous seminarian

Celine and Tony A,

Evangelium Vitae states:

"To claim the right to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others. This is the death of true freedom: "Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin" (Jn 8:34).

Regarding the legality of abortion, there is absolutely no "wiggle room". We must work against all such laws. Support for such laws, or even toleration of them, is the beginning of, according to the above mentioned document, the dissolution of the State itself. Can such be said for tax reform and health care? While such matters are important, they don't have the level of gravity associated with that most fundamental of all right: the right to life. I don't think so.

Barry

Nothing like meta-blogging

http://religiousleftonline.typepad.com/religious_left_online/2006/06/politicizing_th.html

Barry

Oops

http://religiousleftonline.typepad.com/religious_left_online/2006/06/politicizing_th.html

Jon

Simon:

Kerry and Kennedy know very well that abortion is murder. It is not teaching they lack, it is conscience. If I am not mistaken, each of these men at one time was pro-life, when it was politically adventageous or personally palatable.

The argument that Kerry or Kennedy will use their votes so as to spite the Catholic Church on abortion if they are denied the Eucharist is just bogus.

It has been suggested many times to punish the doctor who commits abortion not the victim-mother. Would the Church punish any priest who gave these men communion?

You be the judge.

CV

Thank you, SteveG. Very well said.

Those who think Bishop Wuerl is all orthodox talk and no action (padrechillin) should read the "Faith, Personal Conviction and Political Life" link mentioned in above post.

Clear, consistent and persuasive teaching, ideally in the context of a personal relationship, is what is going to win the hearts and minds of dissenting Catholic politicians. As is the case with most personal conversion experiences.

All of the armchair analysts here who are already criticizing Wuerl should really walk a mile in his miter before they throw stones.

Tom

It seems incongruous to me that on the Feast of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More that this installation of yet another 'politically correct' bishop took place.

Yes, and who's responsible for that?

Business as usual in the DC area, sorry to say.

Is there a list somewhere of the politicians now alive, anywhere in the world, who have been refused Communion during Mass?

Simon

Simon:

Kerry and Kennedy know very well that abortion is murder. It is not teaching they lack, it is conscience.

Jon, I think you mis-read my post, because my point was precisely that these pro-death politicians need to be admonished on the way they have either disregarded or deformed their consciences. For the record, I want to disassociate myself from the views of those who seem to be looking for an excuse to support pro-abortion politicians or who argue that concern over one politician's support for legal abortion may be outweighed by objections to another's immigration or health care policies.

Catholics in public life who advocate legal abortion are promoting an immense evil and committing grave scandal. Ipso facto, they should never receive Holy Communion and should be admonished for their behavior.

There is still, however, a PRUDENTIAL judgment to be made by the BISHOP(S) as to how best to deal with such politicians (publicly or privately, through general statements of principle or by targeting specific individuals, etc.). My beef is that a large number of the commentators here seem to think that anything other than public action against specific politicians means we have a bad or weak bishop. That is utter nonsense. Such people are turning a particular pastoral approach into an article of faith.

Marie

"I think that conservatives who refuse to vote for programs to assist women to carry their children to term should be denied communion. Why not?"

Because not every such program is worth supporting, that's why. There are many ways to help women struggling with crisis pregnancies, and Catholic politicians are free to exercise their prudential judgment in determining which programs to support.
A Catholic politician who proclaims "I support a woman's right to 'choose'" cannot possibly claim to be following Church teachings. Period.

Marie

"Oops, Marie, you stepped into a hole.

You appear not to realize that there are actually disagreements among Catholics on the tactics to be used to support the "pro-Catholic" position on abortion."

However, making the statement "I support a woman's right to 'choose'" and accepting contributions from NARAL and NOW that are intended to help safeguard "choice" are not among the tactics used by faithful Catholics.

padrechillin

CV,
You make my point. Bp W always talks the orthodox card but behind the scenes its a whole different reality. You can go with what he has said in his statement "Faith, Personal Conviction and Political life"; I will go on personal experience of 5 or 6 orthodox priest friends of mine in the diocese of Pittsburgh who know Bp W from the inside. I think that is more valid- any body can talk the talk but how you live out your teaching is the true criteria; and the fact is Bp W did not pastorally correct any notoriously dissenting Catholic politicans, or priests for that matter in the diocese of Pittsburgh. He is a prelate of the status quo par excellence. Cd. Mckarrick must be proud- he is a spitting image of himself. I guess for whatever reason in Pope Benedict's prudential judgment the Church in D.C. is not ready for a direct confrontation with the apostate Catholic politicans. Maybe in due time. St. John Fisher pray for us.

Marie

"Could have fooled me! All those bishops and priests acting must not have been acting in their capacity as bishops and priests when they marched in solidarity with the immigration protestors even though they seemed to be quite clear on the matter. I could have sworn Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger were stating a position when they stated the conditions for just war in Iraq hadn't been meant. There are Catholic positions on almost every issue."

There are Catholic priests and bishops who THINK that there are "Catholic" position on these issues, but they are sadly mistaken.

Ann

Perhaps the detractors of Archbishop Wuerl should take their complaints to the man who named him to his position in DC? It's not like Wuerl chose to go there himself, or forced himself upon DC...

I'd prefer we all simply pray that the Holy Spirit guide Archbishop Wuerl in his new assignment. That seems like a better use of time and energy than tearing him down right after he's been installed.

padrechillin

Barry,
If you can name any Republicans who claim to be Catholic and who support intinsic evils like abortion, same sex marriage or civil unions, and embryo research- they should be denied Holy Communion too like Democrats Kerry, Kennedy, Biden, Leahy, etc. As I said before, I don't care about the party, what I am concerned about is the scandal these individuals cause to all the faithful, and how they possibly desecrate our Lord in Holy Communion by receiving Him in the objective state of mortal sin. They can receive Communion like anyone else if they PUBLICALLY repent of their PUBLIC support of the above mentioned evils- the worst of which is abortion. This a no brainer to biships who have fortitude like Burke (St. Louis), Chapu(Denver),Olmstead (Phoenix), and Aquila of Fargo N.D. I hope Weurl is able to do the same with heroic courage. We need to pray that he be open to that grace of Office. The "dialog" has been going on since 1973 and how many of these pro-abort politicans have changed their erronous views- zippo in my recollection. Name one that has. By their fruits you will know them- bishops and politicans.

CV

padrechillin,

I'm not going to argue with your individual perceptions, obviously you're entitled to your point of view. I also live in Pittsburgh and my pastor is very orthodox and has a high opinion of Bishop Wuerl.

You say how you live out your teaching is the true criteria. I agree. Did you read SteveG's description of a particular occasion in which:

"...one such politician recounted to a close friend of mine an incident where Bishop W. after a public appearance sat the fellow done and 'catechized' him for over an hour on the issue of abortion. But since that wasn't as public as refusing him communion before talking with him, I suppose it's not nearly as newsworthy...."

If this is Wuerl's approach, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, I'm all for it. As I said before, the ONLY thing that's going to have an impact on the hearts and minds of dissenting politicians is clear teaching and a personal challenge to commitment.

By the way, as a priest, are you aware whether or not each and every single person who presents themselves for Communion is "worthy" to do so?

I too hope that St. John Fisher will pray for us. We surely need it.


Tony A

Anonymous seminarian,

The Commonweal blog has just posted Mark Sargent's excelleny essay entitled "The Importance and Coherence of a Prolife Progressivism" in which he shows that there are many prudential judgements pertaining to abortion and likewise many aspects of other aspects of Catholic teaching that reflects the principle of life and not just prudential judgment.

The main point of principle is that abortion is always evil, and can never ever be seen as good. Look again at the passage from EV you quoted: "To claim the right to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others." This is refering to those who claim abortion is a "right" i.e. something good. It can never be such! And such a "right" should not be enshrined in law. But beyond this, you get into prudential judgement. If you could make all abortion illegal tomorrow, who would you punish? The woman? The provider? The complicit father? And what punishment would you recommend? First degree murder? Can you name a single instance when abortion was equated with murder? (I think there was one small exception in a law trying to reign in bad priests in Rome during the worst of the 16th century, priests who were obtaining abortions for their mistresses, but I may be wrong about this).

padrechillin

CV,
You make some good points. I hope it is true what your friend says about Bp W confronting a politican privately. The problem with that in the end is if it doesn't bear fruit, then what? It doesn't seem like he is willing to take the final step of denying Communion because the pro-abort politican has shown himself or herself to be an obstinate sinner. As a priest, I have to give people coming to Holy Communion the benefit of the doubt unless I know for sure and it is publically known that so and so is in an objective grave state of sin, and then I would be obliged in conscience as a guardian of the Sacramental life of the Church, in charity to deny such a person Holy Communion. I would have warned such a person privately before taking such a step. Fortunately I have not had to do that yet in my pastoral practice, but if John Kerry or another notoriously un-Catholic politican presented himself for Communion in my Church I would, unless I saw that he publically repented of His obstinate views on grave intrinsic evils like abortion, same sex marriage, etc. that goes against our Faith. Bp. W. on the other hand, according to the priest in Pittsburgh at St. Scholastica's, Fr. Duch, whom Kerry went to Communion to in the fall of 04, said it was o.k. for John Kerry to receive Holy Communion in your diocese of Pittsburgh in 2004. How do you make sense of that?

CV

padre,

I can only assume that the priest who gave Kerry Communion at St. Scholastica in 2004 struggles with this same dilemma every Sunday, since any reasonable person can conclude that there are a heck of a lot of American Catholics standing in line for Communion who shouldn't be presenting themselves at all (based on what many believe and how they vote on many critical life issues).

Ten years ago I would have described myself as an unrepentant cafeteria Catholic. It has taken me that at least that long, with the help of extraordinary teachers like my own pastor, Bishop Wuerl, lay and clergy in Opus Dei, etc. to fight the cultural tide and come to a better understanding about what the Church teaches and why, and more importantly what my own responsibilities are in terms of the universal call to holiness. Since conversion is a lifelong process, I'm sure I have a long way to go.

I'm not sure that refusing me Communion ten years ago would have been at all productive, frankly. (Obviously I wasn't a high profile dissenter like a presidential candidate, but the same principle applies, in my view).

Bishop Wuerl may have planted a seed in that long private conversation with the politician. Someone else may have watered it. No it didn't bear fruit immediately, as you say, but it may eventually.

We're all works in progress, padre.

JP

Tony A.

You make an excellent point concerning purdential judgement; however, few very of those examples apply to today's abortion debate since niether Congress or indivdual states can excerices thier rights to eihter outlaw or regulate it.

One of the corrosive effects of Roe (besides the killing of innocent life) is take such an emotional issue away from the demos, and give it to an elected few- in this case 9 judges. Priests, and bishops could excerices more influence on this issue if there were elected officials who could actually craft laws without looking over thier shoulder.

Personally, I think there are plenty of politicians on both sides who wish to keep abortion in the realm of the courts. It takes the political heat off thier hides. At the end of the day, they can go back to thier districts and say, " I tried, I really tried. But you know the how the courts are. It is now out of my hands."

If 50 states had to craft 50 abortion laws, the Bishops would be very busy indeed. .

meg

You all are being sneered at at Disputations. From one commentor:

It's depressing that in 60 comments, I could find only one guy (Simon from cooltoad) that had any level of subtlety in his reasoning. There's a reason that the Pro-life movement has been unsuccessful for the last 30+ years; if charitable reasoning breaks down even among Catholics who share an opinion on the morality of abortion, how can we expect our conversations with people who disagree with us to bear any fruit. There's also a reason that I rarely delve into Ms. Welborn's comment boxes.

anonymous seminarian

Tony A,

I was simply stating that one cannot even tolerate laws protecting a right to choose under the mantle of prudentail judgement. That is completely clear from the statement above. We as Catholics should all hope for and work toward such laws being wiped off the books as soon as possible. You are right that when that happens, there will need to be decisions made about how to legislate punitive laws vis a vis those who would commit such a crime. An example of such laws would be those passed recently in Lousianna (which would only take effect if RvrsW is struck down). No problems here. It is true that making abortion illegal isn't going to end our problems with abortion, but it will end the problem of a country that threatens its survival by underminding the most basic human right. There can be no waffling here, we must end legalized abortion as soon as we possibly can.

padrechillin

CV,
Again you make some valid points- we all are works in progress in regard to conversion. However there is a inherent difference between a private citizen, I assume, like yourself struggling to overcome Cateteria Catholicism and a public figure like John Kerry who is not only possibly receiving our Lord sacreligiously but is scandalizing people publically because of his PUBLIC policy positions which he appears obstinate in, as well as 70% of politicans in public office in this country who claim to be "Catholic" and yet are pro-abortion- what a scandal! A public figure has always been held to a higher standard by the Catholic Church because of his or her social impact for good or ill than a private citizen. I think this applies in this case and the bishops like Weurl are dropping the ball by not making that traditional distinction.

mulopwepaul

"You all are being sneered at at Disputations."

This is one issue on which I am proud to lack subtlety; there's nothing subtle about sucking the brains out of a fetus.

If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.

PVO

JohnMcG

mulopwepaul,

Outrage at abortion is suitable. The issue we're discussing is at least two degrees removed from that.

mulopwepaul

Hmm, yes, well of course it's terribly complicated, and 30 years of dialogue has shown so much fruit, so we wouldn't want to change anything now.

Can we please name one Catholic public figure who has repudiated abortion in that time? I can name several who have publicly repudiated the Church's position.

PVO

Tom

Can we please name one Catholic public figure who has repudiated abortion in that time?

Can we please name one Catholic public figure who has been refused Communion at Mass in that time?

A lot of commenters on posts about the Archdiocese of Washington seem to take the position that denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians is mandatory. It doesn't seem to actually be mandated in very many places, though, much less enforced.

The argument then, made in either sadness or anger, is that this is because most bishops lack the fortitude (some telepsychics blame it on lack of faith) to do what is required.

But on what authority is it actually required? Leaked memos, interviews with reporters, the diocesan policies of half a dozen bishops?

Gerald

Well, it seems that people have very firm positions on the morality of abortion and the proper pastoral approaches to take with pro-abort politicians. It seems to me though that this thread has - with a few exceptions - reduced the precious Body and Blood of our Savior to a mere pastoral methodology. Why does no one argue for whether or not the bishops have a moral obligation to prevent an act of desecration against the Blessed Sacrament when they know that it is about to happen? It's all good and well to think about pastoral repercussions, but I quite frankly think it sinful (and scandalous) for a priest or any EME to knowingly adminiter Jesus Christ - body, blood, soul, and divinity - to someone who makes a living making a mockery of the Church He founded. At that moment, pastoral concerns take a backseat to ensuring that no sacrilege is committed against my Lord.

Nate Wildermuth

Being a friend of Catholic Workers, it is somewhat funny to compare their thoughts about Bishop Wuerl to what the Pro-Life elements are saying here. Both are running around pulling out their hair because they think that one bishop's stance on one issue will make or break their world.

Instead of blaming bishops, or our church, or politicians, or our country, or our culture, for the evils we see... why don't we do some soul searching and take that splinter out of our own eye? Then we'll see clearly enough to realize that politicians and laws won't stop evil in our world. Only saints can do that.

Mike Petrik

Simon's 1:19 post is excellent. I suggest many of the folks participating in this conversation could profit by reading it carefully.

Chris Sullivan

To put it quite bluntly and honestly, someone who believes there should be a legal right to murder a baby in its mother's womb is not, in any meaningful sense, a Christian.

This is not correct.

One is a Christian if one has been baptised and believes in the Creed.

One would still be a Christian if one believed tha there ought to be no legal sanctions against abortions.

Although one would be seriously negligent in one's responsbility in social justice to defend the lives of the innocent.

Pope John Paul II personally gave Holy Communion to pro-abort Catholic politicians.

American Catholics would do well to keep firmly in mind that the issue of denying the body and blood of Christ to renegade Catholic politicians is pretty much unique to the United States.

Wouldn't we do better to ask what Christ wants of us? Did he or did he not give Holy Communion to Judas after he knew Judas had already decided to betray him ? And did he or did he not give Holy Communion to the other apostles when he knew that one of whom was about to deny him three times and all but one of the others were about to run away and abandon him at calvary ?

Why not follow what Christ did ?

God Bless

c matt

The moment you deny Kerry (or Kennedy or Pelosi) the Eucharist, you immediately silence the voice of Catholics on a wide-range of issues, where it is Kerry, Kennedy and Pelosi supporting the pro-Catholic position. Where's Santorum on torture, where's Hyde on immigration, where's a whole host of Republicans on poverty and taxes and health care?

That might be a concern. But I also find it rather difficult to believe that these politicians would have a different view on those issues anyway. I seriously doubt they hold their views because they are the "Catholic" position, as opposed to holding them for other reasons (or at least as much for other reasons).

c matt

Simon's post at Jun 23, 2006 1:19:09 PM has a lot to commend it. Wuerl is definitely at the hot spot of this controversy, and it is his call, and his skull that may or may not be added to the flooring of certain places. I certainly do not envy his position.

Usquequo, Domine

given all the good arguments above...given all that the "overseers" must consider when looking out upon the landscape of our post-Christian culture...trying to weigh everything---I can not fathom how ANY Bishop could allow a publically manifest grave sinner to receive the Holy Eucharist (specifically one who is a material cooperator in the diabolic endeavour of the destruction of babes in the womb). Would St. Joseph not have feld into Egypt allowing Our Precious Lord to fall at the hands of the murderous Herod? Bps & Priests are custodians of the Lord who humbly entrusts Himself to us under the appearances of bread & wine. How Long, O Lord? How long?

Gerald

Regarding some comments from Chris Sullivan's Jun 25, 4:17:54 PM post:

"Wouldn't we do better to ask what Christ wants of us?"

We can never go wrong here. However, on the issue of abortion, and on the issue of whether or not to present ourselves for communion in a state of mortal sin, the will of God is quite clear.

"Did he or did he not give Holy Communion to Judas after he knew Judas had already decided to betray him?"

Judas' decision to betray is not the same as the betrayal itself. Right up until the very moment he actually committed the act of betrayal, Judas could have changed his mind and walked away repentant, and would have avoided the immense taint on his soul that he incurred by actually committing the act.

"And did he or did he not give Holy Communion to the other apostles when he knew that one of whom was about to deny him three times and all but one of the others were about to run away and abandon him at calvary ?"

There are three requirements for a mortal sin to be such: 1) grave subject matter; 2) knowledge of the grave nature of the act; and 3) deliberate intent to commit the act. To say that Jesus should have denied communion to Peter for a sin Peter neither knew he would nor intended to commit at the time is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of sin.

"Why not follow what Christ did ?"

This is a VERY arbitrary application of the WWJD mindset. There were many things Christ did that we are NOT called to imitate. He allowed himself to be abused and desecrated for our sake. The example we follow in such a case is the willingness to sacrifice ourselves for those we love. We are NOT, however, called to allow others to desecrate Christ. If Christ let Judas receive unworthily, he was allowing a desecration of his person. This is different from a priest - who stands in the place of Christ and bears the authority given to him by Christ, but is nevertheless NOT Christ - allowing a known cause of scandal to desecrate Christ by receiving the precious Body and Blood unworthily. We can never do anything about those who are in mortal sin but whose mortal sin is not known - these are the people to whom Paul refers when he said "For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself." (1 Cor 11:29) - but when a priest allows those who he knows to be a cause of grave public scandal to brazenly present themselves for communion, then the priest himself becomes a cause of public scandal. In that, he is hardly imitating the example of Christ.

Sine nomine

In this long diatribe of comments regarding Abp. Wuerl, I like to interject a small story regarding myself. I am the father of six children and have lived most of my life in the Archdiocese of Washington. In my career as a military officer, I got to meet a lot of interesting people. One conversation with an incoming and intelligent logistics officer still sticks in my mind as the way most of the world thinks about those who attempt to live their life in accord with Christ and His Church. When he inquired about my family, he slyly grinned, pulled me aside and said, "Sir, were all six of the kids with the same woman?" I still laugh about it today.

When faced with a difficult task and an easier one, the world always chooses the later.

Do you really expect Archbishops to be any better?

If you think that the catechesis of lay people is poor, did you ever stop and think that the "discernment and formation" of the clergy may also be equally tainted?

For over five hundred years, the West, and the Church with it, have been on a long glide-path towards atomization and dissipation.

Please pray for the Church and our country.

Ne perdas cum impiis, Deus, animam meam:et cum viris sanguinum vitam meam:
In quorum manibus iniquitates sunt: dextera eorum repleta est muneribus.
Ego autem in innocentia mea ingressus sum: redime me, et miserere mei.

Wake Up To Live

Sine nomine you speak the unfortunate truth. But be assured that there are many young "20 something" Catholics out there like myself who are ready and willing to change all that. We are truly the fruit of JPII and the Virgin Mother's good works in regards to the New Evangelization. We will have large families and we will raise them to understand the gravity of discerning their vocations. In this day and age too many catholics...too many christians have forgotten that marriage itself is a vocation that deserves as much contemplation as any other. Our families will yield good fruit with God's grace, of this I am confident.

In terms of these so called "catholic politicians," I think we all know that they are only Catholic when it benefits them. Not only that but it truly is a shame that we no longer know a Christian politician by their love. It should be that people understand what it means to elect a Catholic...that they will be nabashedly pro-life and family...in fact that should eb why we elect them. Shamefully, it is not so and surely Christ suffered for it.

A true Catholic who accepts a political appointement in this day and age should prepare for martydom.

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