Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Catholic Scholars Defend the Eucharist


Don't play politics with Communion
By David O'Brien and Lisa Sowle Cahill
June 9, 2008

What do a former legal counsel for Ronald Reagan and a Democratic governor have in common? As you might expect, it's not the same politics. Douglas W. Kmiec, an esteemed constitutional law professor at Pepperdine University, is a pro-life Republican. Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is a moderate known for consensus-building. But these prominent Catholics are both the most recent targets of clergy who use Communion as a political weapon and effectively blacklist respected Catholic leaders. It's time for Catholics and all Americans to speak out against this spiritual McCarthyism.

When Mr. Kmiec endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president, conservative Catholic blogs buzzed with outrage. How could a conservative known for his public opposition to abortion rights support a pro-choice liberal? In a recent Catholic Online column, Mr. Kmiec describes how he was declared "self-ex-communicated" by many fellow Catholics. He writes that at a recent Mass, an angry college chaplain denounced his "Obama heresy" from the pulpit and denied him Communion.

In Kansas City, Kan., Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann has ordered Ms. Sebelius, also an Obama supporter, not to receive Communion after she vetoed abortion legislation riddled with constitutional red flags. The bill in question made it easier for prosecutors to search private medical records, allowed family members to seek court orders to stop abortions and failed to include exceptions to save the life of the mother. Along with many public officials, Ms. Sebelius recognizes the profound moral gravity of abortion. She has supported prudent public policies that have reduced abortions in Kansas by investing in adoption services, prenatal health care and social safety nets for families. But in his diocesan newspaper, the archbishop blasted the governor over her "spiritually lethal" message and her obligation to recognize the "legitimate authority within the Church."

The archbishop has a right and indeed an obligation to speak out against abortion. But he is on dangerous ground telling a democratically elected official - accountable to federal laws and a diverse citizenry - how to govern when it comes to the particulars of specific legislation. The proper application of moral principles in a pluralistic society rarely allows for absolutes.

Using a holy sacrament to punish Catholics has troubling political implications during an election year. St. Louis Archbishop Raymond L. Burke warned Sen. John Kerry - a Catholic whose record reflects his faith's commitment to economic justice, universal health care and concern for the poor - not to receive Communion during the 2004 presidential race because of his support for abortion rights. In a New York Times interview just a month before the election, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver gave signals that Catholics who voted for a pro-choice candidate were cooperating in evil. Mr. Kerry narrowly lost the Catholic vote to President Bush.

Catholics make up a quarter of the American electorate and are swing voters in key battleground states that will play a decisive role in electing our next president. It's essential that these voters recognize Catholicism defies easy partisan labels and is not a single-issue faith.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops warns in an election-year guide that particular issues must not be misused as a way of ignoring "other serious threats to human life and dignity." These threats identified by the bishops include racism, the death penalty, war, torture, lack of health care and an unjust immigration policy. These broad Catholic values challenge Democrats and Republicans alike to put the common good before narrow partisan agendas.

If we remain silent when respected Catholic leaders are publicly attacked and denied Communion, the proper role of faith in our public square is grossly distorted. This election year, let's have a better debate about faith and political responsibility that reclaims the vital role religion has often played in renewing our most cherished democratic values.

David O'Brien, the Loyola professor of Catholic studies at the College of the Holy Cross, has written books about the history of American Catholicism. Lisa Sowle Cahill is a professor of theology at Boston College and a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America.


Milehimama said...

Spiritual McCarthyism? Are you kidding me???

The bishops have a DUTY to see that sacrilege and scandal does not occur. Receiving communion while publicly opposing Church teachings is both.

Allowing abortion "for the life of the mother" is still murdering an innocent person. It is still a sin. No matter how much one loves the poor or works for economic equality, if you support killing babies, it is a sin.

The Most Holy Eucharist is not a spiritual weapon, but a precious gift that must be protected.

sean said...

The priest who refused communion to Professor Kmiec is too much of a coward to come forward publicly. Kmiec is too much of a class act to name him.

Rustler45 said...

Playing politics with Communion?

RUSTLER'S REPLY: That's merely a lame, whiney excuse for dissent from moral laws that have been infallibly defined by Church teaching.

"But these prominent Catholics are both the most recent targets of clergy...."

RUSTLER'S REPLY: Give me a break! "Prominent Catholics?" Prominent for what? Their flaunting of morality? They are public sinners and any priest who recognizes them coming to communion and gives them communion commits serious sin himself. Do you people not understand moral theology?

"It's time for Catholics and all Americans to speak out against this spiritual McCarthyism."

RUSTLER'S REPLY: There we go, "McCarthyism." Don't you just love it when somebody uses that word? Hey, morons McCarthy has been found innocent of all wrong doing. Don't you read anything except the politically correct propaganda?

RUSTLER'S REPLY: Find me one documented case of where McCathy wrongly accused someone. YOU CAN'T DO IT!!!

"How could a conservative known for his public opposition to abortion rights support a pro-choice liberal?"

RUSTLER'S REPLY: He's not conservative. I have already explained that. He's a liberal.

"Along with many public officials, Ms. Sebelius recognizes the profound moral gravity of abortion."

RUSTLER'S REPLY: No she doesn't and neither do the others. You can be sure she disagrees with the Church's position on birth control as do all the pro-Obama "Catholics."

"But he is on dangerous ground telling a democratically elected official - accountable to federal laws and a diverse citizenry - how to govern when it comes to the particulars of specific legislation."

RUSTLER'S REPLY: Oh really??? Dangerous how? Elected officials art not accountable to federal laws or diverse citizens. They are accountable to GOD first and the Constitution second. Don't any of you have a clue as to law either?

"The proper application of moral principles in a pluralistic society rarely allows for absolutes."

RUSTLER'S REPLY: And that's the problem. As Catholics we are to stand fast against such ideas, laws, opinions, etc., etc., that violate the absolute laws of God.

These two authors are expressing what is called the Heresy of Americanism. Ya'll are communists anyway so what do you care?

Rustler45 said...

BTW "Catholic Scholars Defend the Eucharist"

RUSTLER'S REPLY: They are NOT defending the Eucharist. They are defending sacrilege against the Eucharist. So that makes their title an outright lie.

Rustler45 said...

Milehimama said... "Allowing abortion "for the life of the mother" is still murdering an innocent person. It is still a sin."

You are exactly right on. Besides, modern medicine has created the situation since years ago that has eliminated the problem of "life of the mother." It is a non-existent excuse for rationalizing pro-choice/abortion legislation.

There is no such thing as pro-choice. The laws permitting abortion have become for many many women the freedom for their parents, boy friends, or spouses to force them into killing the innocent child in their womb.

Never will you hear a "pro-choice" person be concerned about that aspect nor any of the other aspects that are harmful to women who have abortions, chosen or not.

Teufelhunde said...

The priest doesn't "punish" the sinner by withholding communion. He merely follows the proscription against a person's receiving communion when in a state of sin. Your suggestion is irresponsible. You have lost any credibility you ever had.

Teufelhunde said...

Oh, she appreciates the "moral gravity" of abortion? What does that mean? That's a cop out; why doesn't she just say the obvious: abortion is wrong and she knows it.

Milehimama said...

A better title?

Catholic Scholars Deny Church Teaching on Eucharist and Sacrilege.

Or perhaps,

Catholic Scholars Act Like Toddlers, Throw Fit When Mother Church Sets Limits For The Good of Their Soul.

The Lone Ranger said...

Yeah Sean he's a class act alright. Low class dissident.

The Lone Ranger said...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Abp. Chaput on Catholics for Obama

Archbishop Chaput writes about 'Roman Catholics for Obama'. He admits to having worked for the Carter campaign. From First Things

Carter had one serious strike against him. The U.S. Supreme Court had legalized abortion on demand in its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, and Carter the candidate waffled about restricting it. At the time, I knew Carter was wrong in his views about Roe and soft toward permissive abortion. But even as a priest, I justified working for him because he wasn’t aggressively “pro-choice.” True, he held a bad position on a vital issue, but I believed he was right on so many more of the “Catholic” issues than his opponent seemed to be. The moral calculus looked easy. I thought we could remedy the abortion problem after Carter was safely returned to office.

In the years after the Carter loss, I began to notice that very few of the people, including Catholics, who claimed to be “personally opposed” to abortion really did anything about it. Nor did they intend to. For most, their personal opposition was little more than pious hand-wringing and a convenient excuse—exactly as it is today. In fact, I can’t name any pro-choice Catholic politician who has been active, in a sustained public way, in trying to discourage abortion and to protect unborn human life—not one. Some talk about it, and some may mean well, but there’s very little action. In the United States in 2008, abortion is an acceptable form of homicide. And it will remain that way until Catholics force their political parties and elected officials to act differently.

Why do I mention this now? Earlier this spring, a group called “Roman Catholics for Obama ’08” quoted my own published words in the following way:

So can a Catholic in good conscience vote for a pro-choice candidate? The answer is: I can’t, and I won’t. But I do know some serious Catholics— people whom I admire—who may. I think their reasoning is mistaken, but at least they sincerely struggle with the abortion issue, and it causes them real pain. And most important: They don’t keep quiet about it; they don’t give up; they keep lobbying their party and their representatives to change their pro-abortion views and protect the unborn. Catholics can vote for pro-choice candidates if they vote for them despite—not because of—their pro-choice views.

What’s interesting about this quotation—which is accurate but incomplete—is the wording that was left out. The very next sentences in the article of mine they selected, which Roman Catholics for Obama neglected to quote, run as follows:

But [Catholics who support pro-choice candidates] also need a compelling proportionate reason to justify it. What is a “proportionate” reason when it comes to the abortion issue? It’s the kind of reason we will be able to explain, with a clean heart, to the victims of abortion when we meet them face to face in the next life—which we most certainly will. If we’re confident that these victims will accept our motives as something more than an alibi, then we can proceed.

On their website, Roman Catholics for Obama stress that:

After faithful thought and prayer, we have arrived at the conclusion that Senator Obama is the candidate whose views are most compatible with the Catholic outlook, and we will vote for him because of that—and because of his other outstanding qualities—despite our disagreements with him in specific areas.

I’m familiar with this reasoning. It sounds a lot like me thirty years ago. And thirty years later, we still have about a million abortions a year. Maybe Roman Catholics for Obama will do a better job at influencing their candidate. It could happen. And I sincerely hope it does, since Planned Parenthood of the Chicago area, as recently as February 2008, noted that Senator Barack Obama “has a 100 percent pro-choice voting record both in the U.S. Senate and the Illinois Senate.”

Changing the views of “pro-choice” candidates takes a lot more than verbal gymnastics, good alibis, and pious talk about “personal opposition” to killing unborn children. I’m sure Roman Catholics for Obama know that, and I wish them good luck. They’ll need it.

Katherine said...

So can a Catholic in good conscience vote for a pro-choice candidate? The answer is: I can’t, and I won’t. But I do know some serious Catholics— people whom I admire—who may.

I thank the Archbishop for his thoughtful reflection. It is a vast improvement over some of the drivel and insults that is offered as discussion within the community of faith.

The Archbishop follows his judgment and discernment as he well should. He acknowledges that their are some serious and admirable Catholics who come to a different conclusion.

He defines the differences he has with others as differences based not on articles of faith, but on reasoning. Lastly, he affirms that the conclusion we reach, while it has moral implications, it is not one he suggests anyone in this world has the right to judge, not prelate, priest or some guy living in Spokane. That judgment, says the Archbishop, is for the next world.

The Archbishop is an honorable man.

Jenny said...

Katherine --

I have been reading on this issue, along with prayer and study. Your comments are quite helfpul. I want to learn more about both candidates but I think that serious Catholic can be found on both sides is an important point.

Rustler45 said...

"The Archbishop is an honorable man."

But you're not an honorable woman. You took that quote entirely out of context and twisted it for your own purposes.

Liberal tactics again?

You are proving to be Obama's worst enemy.

Marie-Elsie said...

I often wonder if communion was withheld from the priests that harmed children by sexually molesting them.

As long as we are withholding communion why not apply it universally regardless of the person's point of view. You support abortion, you get excommunicated. You molest children, thus making irreparable damage to their heart and souls, you get excommunicated. You cheat on your spouse, you get excommunicated. You support a candidate who wants to send thousands of people to an unjust war to get killed, you get excommunicated. I could go on all night.

Milehimama said...

Marie-Elise, I think one of the criteria is unrepentant and obstinate public sin.

You don't get excommunicated for sinning, but if all other methods of bringing a lost sheep back into the fold have failed, sometimes "tough love" is required to make the errant see the serious consequences of the action. Withholding communion is a public stand against a public sin.

Marie-Elsie said...


In my opinion some people repent spontaneously;however the majority of people repent only after they have been caught or are about to be caught.

Milehimama said...

Everybody gets "caught". God is all-knowing.

I thnk you mean, they repent because they are exposed/embarrassed in front of other people.

Which is exactly the point of withholding Communion from people who are publicly out of communion with the Church.

Anonymous said...

Obama's Abortion Bombshell: Unrestricted Abortion Over Wishes of Individual States a Priority for Presidency

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 10, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Barack Obama, the presumptive pro-abortion nominee of the Democratic Party, has plans to reward the allies that helped him topple Hillary Clinton from her throne by making total unrestricted abortion in the United States his number one priority as president.

In light of Obama's recently achieved status as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Focus on the Family's CitizenLink has decided to remind its supporters that almost one year has passed since Obama made his vows to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund that abortion would be the first priority of his administration.

"The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act," Obama said in his July speech to abortion advocates worried about the increase of pro-life legislation at the state level.

The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) is legislation Obama has co-sponsored along with 18 other senators that would annihilate every single state law limiting or regulating abortion, including the federal ban on partial birth abortion.

The 2007 version of FOCA proposed: "It is the policy of the United States that every woman has the fundamental right to choose to bear a child, to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability, or to terminate a pregnancy after fetal viability when necessary to protect the life or health of the woman."

Obama made his remarks in a question-and-answer session after delivering a speech crystallizing for abortion advocates his deep-seated abortion philosophy and his belief that federal legislation will break pro-life resistance and end the national debate on abortion. (see transcript: http://lauraetch.googlepages.com/barackobamabeforeplannedparenthoodaction)

"I am absolutely convinced that culture wars are so nineties; their days are growing dark, it is time to turn the page," Obama said in July. "We want a new day here in America. We're tired about arguing about the same ole' stuff. And I am convinced we can win that argument."

Besides making abortion on demand a "fundamental right" throughout the United States, FOCA would effectively nullify informed consent laws, waiting periods, health safety regulations for abortion clinics, etc.

Furthermore, medical professionals and institutions that refused abortions also would lose legal protections. FOCA would expose individuals, organizations, and governments - including federal, state, and local government agencies - to costly civil actions for purported violations of the act.

"Thirty-five years after Roe, abortion supporters, like Senator Obama, are dismayed that abortion remains a divisive issue and that their radical agenda has not been submissively accepted by the American public," states Denise M. Burke, vice president of Americans United for Life.

"Rather than confronting legitimate issues concerning the availability and safety of abortion, they choose to blatantly ignore the concerns and interests of everyday Americans, as well as the growing evidence that abortion hurts women."

Hillary Clinton, once the longtime Democratic front-runner and anticipated abortion president, conceded defeat last Saturday to Obama, who captured the nomination from her after a long and bitter campaign.

Obama has won the crucial endorsement of abortion activist Frances Kissling, who broke from the ranks of other radical feminist leaders earlier this year to endorse Obama, saying Obama, not Clinton, would better use the bully pulpit of the presidency to accomplish their aims and end the culture wars over abortion.



Rustler45 said...

MILEHIMAMA SAID: ...one of the criteria is unrepentant and obstinate public sin.


MILEHIMAMA SAID: You don't get excommunicated for sinning,

RUSTLER REPLIES: Not officially, but you if you are in mortal sin you are actually excommunicated as in you are forbidden the sacraments until you go to confession.

Automatic excommunication is a term for such things as abortion that require you to confess to the bishop.

Priests who molest boys are certainly forbidden to receive. A lot more than mere excommunication is appropriate.

Rustler45 said...

"McCarthy has been found innocent of all wrong doing."

Don't any of you understand that you are defiling his good name? It makes no difference if he is dead. It is still wrong (i.e., a sin). All his accusations of communinsts have proven to be true. ALL of them. Alger Hiss for example refused to admit to being a traitorous communist. Guess what? We now know that he was and McCarthy was right.

And you get upset if I call you ignorant?

bob said...

So can a Catholic in good conscience vote for a pro-choice candidate? The answer is: I can’t, and I won’t. But I do know some serious Catholics— people whom I admire—who may.

Archbishop Chaput is Kaput. He is a lib like you Katie. No serious Catholic can vote for Obama. If the Archbishop admires Obama voters, he should not go to communion.

Rustler45 said...

Bob, I hate to mention this, but I don't think you read the whole article. Abp. Chaput is pointing out the dishonesty of Catholics for Obama and of those who are "personally opposed."

Unlike our adversaries, I think you can take it as a joke on you.