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The Hubris Of Pro-Abort Democrats

July 5, 2021 Frontpage No Comments

By DEACON MIKE MANNO

Our bishops are struggling with a fundamental issue of life in all its forms as they continue to proclaim that life, from conception to natural death, belongs only to God. The struggle for the bishops is how to address those pro-abortion politicians who continue to support, and often act, to expand abortion. While some give the impression that the issue is of little consequence and they wish they didn’t have to deal with it, most are forthright prelates who are trying to balance the moral issues with how the Church interacts with society as a whole.
Many may have legitimate questions about how to deal with the issue without alienating the faithful, especially when so many Catholics already reject certain teachings, such as contraception and same-sex marriage. And now, in a demonstration of hubris I’ve never seen before, a group of 60 pro-abortion Catholic congressmen have thrown down the gauntlet at the feet of the bishops, a challenge that simply makes their decision more problematic.
They recently released a Statement of Principles, saying, “As Catholic Democrats in Congress, we are proud to be part of the living Catholic tradition — a tradition that unfailingly promotes the common good, expresses a consistent moral framework for life, and highlights the need to provide a collective safety net to those individuals in society who are the most vulnerable.” Then they go on to state, “We believe the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties and best serve our constituents. The Sacrament of Holy Communion is central to the life of practicing Catholics, and the weaponizing of the Eucharist to Democratic lawmakers for their support of a woman’s safe and legal access to abortion is contradictory.”
Hmmm? They seem to think that the bishops who want to speak out on the issue have simply found a “new issue” to try and control them. Some even tried to up the stakes, like Cong. Jared Huffman, who is not a Catholic and once told The Washington Post, “I suppose you could say I don’t believe in God.” He tweeted, “If they’re going to politically weaponized religion by ‘rebuking’ Democrats who support women’s reproductive choice then a ‘rebuke’ of their tax-exempt status may be in order.”
Not to be outdone, fellow Californian Ted Lieu also took to twitter. “I’m Catholic and I support: Contraception, a woman’s right to choose, treatments for infertility, the right for people to get a divorce, the right of same-sex marriage. Next time I go to Church, I dare you to deny me Communion.”
What hubris! Just who are these Democrats who believe they can tell the Church what it can and cannot do? Unfortunately my own member of Congress, Cindy Axne, while claiming to be an “active” parishioner at Sacred Heart Parish in West Des Moines, also signed the statement.
And, of course, this comes on the heels of a new CatholicVote poll showing that 83 percent of churchgoing Catholics believe politicians who oppose Catholic teachings “create confusion and disunity.” It also found that 74 percent believe that “Catholic public officials who disagree with their Church on serious or grave matters” should “avoid creating confusion and disunity by not presenting themselves for Communion.”
Perhaps the Democrats are just on another hungry power-grab, but if they feel as they do maybe we ought to find them another religion to practice, since they don’t seem content with ours. This issue should not surprise them, nor is it an attempt to weaponize the Eucharist. That is a bedrock of Church teaching for over 2,000 years and it has been clear from its inception. Consider:
In what might be called a foreshadowing of our Catechism, the first-century Didache affirmed that the act of abortion has always been forbidden and considered a grievous sin against life. So if anyone is confused that this is some new thing with the Church, or is a deliberate rebuke of women’s rights, or even Democrats, let me disabuse you of that idea. This is what the Church has always taught.
The Didache on the subject: “You shall not commit murder . . . you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born” (chapter 2, Grave Sin Forbidden).
From today’s Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person — among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life” (CCC, n. 2270). It also goes on to teach, “Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life” (CCC, n. 2272).
And from the Code of Canon Law: “Those . . . obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion” (canon 915).
Back in 2004 then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, in reply to a query from the American bishops, wrote a memo entitled, “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles.” It came on the heels of Sen. John Kerry’s presidential candidacy; Kerry, a Catholic, was an unrepentant supporter of abortion. Ratzinger wrote:
“Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.
“When ‘these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible,’ and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it.”
Unfortunately, then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was the head of a USCCB taskforce studying the issue to which the memo was addressed, failed to report the contents of the letter correctly to his brother bishops, thus giving the impression that it was okay for these politicians to receive.
So let this disabuse anyone of the notion that this is a made-up or novel doctrine of the Church. It has been taught since the days of the apostles. It is clear, it is authoritative, and it is — if you want to be in full communion with the Church — what you must accept! If anyone cannot accept it, if you accept the killing of the unborn child, Democrat member of Congress or not, you should prayerfully seek counseling with your confessor, but you should not present yourself for Communion.
And let’s understand who is weaponizing what. Is it the Church that is following centuries of definitive and unchanging teaching? Or is it dissenting members who for political reasons are warning that the government might take action against the Church over its enforcement of doctrine?
I’m not a constitutional expert, but this one could be handled by a first-year law student. Makes you wonder what they honestly believe (or understand) about anything.
But that still leaves the question of what the bishops should do to enforce dogma against dissenters. I have my idea about what they should do — it’s time to end the dialogue and reinforce the traditional teachings. How many more babies must die while we talk? But the bishops are the ones who must grapple with the problem and the best we can do right now is to pray they make a wise decision.
If you read the results of the CatholicVote poll, which was of churchgoing Catholics, you’ll quickly realize the faithful are looking to the bishops for honest leadership and instruction that is devoid of political partisanship.
“The overwhelming majority of Mass-attending Catholics want their bishops to lead and speak even on difficult questions and teach the truth of the faith even if it is unpopular,” CatholicVote President Brian Burch told our audience on Faith On Trial.
In other words, just tell us the bottom line and let the political chips fall where they may!
There is one thing the bishops could do which could ameliorate things a bit and demonstrate their commitment to the policies of life. They should schedule an annual nationwide Right to Life Sunday collection (which they do not have now), the funds from which could be used to help educate the rebellious in our midst as well as supporting pro-life ministries.
Let’s answer it in prayer. I think that just might find a welcoming reception up there.
(You can reach Mike at: DeaconMike@q.com and listen to him every Thursday at 10 a.m. on Faith On Trial on IowaCatholicRadio.com.)

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