Ruling From the Heart

Last week there was an interesting story at CNS about a statement from Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh regarding the admission to Communion of Catholic politicians who support abortion (or, who take the mindless "I'm personally opposed but..." attitude towards abortion legislation). Yet on today's "front page" of CNS there is a photograph of Pope Benedict XVI, then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, administering Communion to Brother Roger Schutz, the founder of the Taize Community who was murdered. According to CNS, the admission of Brother Roger to Holy Communion was "not foreseen", but took place because he just happened to be seated in a group that was to receive Holy Communion from Cardinal Ratzinger.

Is there a conflict here? Well, it should be noted first of all that, whatever his ecclesial status, Brother Roger was not a big promoter of abortion rights. The fact that there are self-styled "christians" out there who think that abortion should be available to those who wish it is a far greater scandal than the fact that there are Christians out there who are orthodox in most ways but are not card-carrying members of the Roman Catholic Church. These latter folks are simply misguided; the former are a scandal and a disgrace. Brother Roger is on record as saying that the Pope is the Universal Shepherd of the Church, an a belief that appears, sometimes, not to be shared by all who call themselves Roman Catholic. Personally, I would rather stand behind Brother Roger in the Communion line than, say, Richard McBrien, but that's just me.

That is not to say, however, that I think that those who are not in communion with Rome ought to be admitted to Holy Communion. I don't think that they should be. Some remarks are intentionally hyperbolic in order to make a point. The admission of Brother Roger was simply a mistake, and to avoid giving scandal Cardinal Ratzinger administered Communion to him. One hopes that if it had been, say, Osama Bin Laden standing in the line, he would have been turned away. But "catholic" politicians who either do nothing to limit access to abortion or who, like John Kerry, actively work to promote it, ought to be turned away every time, because they are far more like Osama Bin Laden than they are like Brother Roger.

Come now, you must be thinking--that's just ridiculous, or else it is simply too hyperbolic: one ought not to try to make points that way! Surely there is a huge difference between Osama Bin Laden and John Kerry. Well, sure, there is this difference: Osama Bin Laden does what he does because he thinks he's doing the right thing, what is in the best interests of the movement that he supports. John Kerry supports abortion because he thinks he's doing the right thing, what is in the best interest of the movement--hmm...wait a minute....

OK, how about this: Osama Bin Laden is different because he's either stupid or evil. If he really believes that what he's doing is justified, then he's stupid; if he doesn't believe that it's justified but does it simply out of some perverse enjoyment, then he's evil. But John Kerry does not want to kill innocent civilians, he wants to make it easier for other people to kill innocent--oops...wait a minute...OK, he doesn't want innocent babies to be killed, he thinks that letting folks have access to the means to kill innocent babies on a sec....

Well, he's not stupid!

No, I meant to say he's not evil!

No, wait, I meant to say...

Oh, never mind. Let's just not give him Holy Communion until he repents.


Tom P. said…
I couldn't agree with you more. If you aren't going to accept the basic tenets of Catholicism then why even bother showing up for Communion? Unless, of course, you live in a semi-Catholic state and need votes.

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