Archbishop Joseph Naumann has done the right thing. According to a story at he has instructed Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas to stop presenting herself for Communion, because she has scandalized the faithful in her support of abortion. She is, it seems, latae sententiae excommunicate. This is good news for the real Catholics out there, who have been wondering when somebody in a position of authority was going to stand up for those of us who are powerless to prevent our secular leaders from making a mockery of our religious beliefs. It's bad enough when the pagans do it, but when people who claim to be Catholics do it as a matter of "principle", evidently regarding positive legal principles as higher than moral and religious ones, then things have really gotten out of hand.

There are some who hold the (mistaken) view that religious scruples should play no part in the formation of public policy. As laughably naive (not to mention banal) as this view is, there is nevertheless a solution for those who hold it. They may take a lesson from their buddies who put bumper stickers on their cars that read "Against abortion? Don't have one!" and adopt the position of "Don't think religious views have any place in politics? Then get out of politics!" Sebelius's duty is quite clear. If she seriously believes that she has no right to defend the human lives she claims to govern, then she should either stop receiving Communion, or resign her position as governor of Kansas. I predict she will do neither, thus forcing Archbishop Naumann to take further pastoral action on her behalf.

Those of us who have been waiting for this day, however, have some small cause for celebration.


cnb said…
Mark said…
The bishops seem to be getting a little more courageous on this matter (finally! - as you put it). This presidential election season could get real interesting if a Catholic running mate is selected. Giuliani has already been called out. Other bishops may feel pressure to do the same. Although, clearly, many won't.

It's a step in a good direction anyway. I'll take it.
Burton said…
Catholics have the freedom to express the truth as they see it, but preaching the truth is not the same as coercing the truth.

Is it prudent for Catholic leaders and teachers to choose one issue above all others and approve without discrimination any person or law that labels itself pro and condemn any person or law that can be labeled anti?

Why not just simplify things and say, "Democrats are bad and Republicans are good? Catholics may not in good conscience vote for a Democrat or hold office as a Democrat!"

This seems to be far from the way Benedict XVI would teach and act. Benedict presents the Truth in a way that reveals its beauty and proportion and, as a good shepherd, he invites us to follow.

Personally I am against abortion because it is killing. I am also against killing in war and in capital punishment. Catholic teaching is very clear about these issues but it is not coercive.

If American Catholics really followed Catholic teaching they would have stood with the Pope and the U.S. Bishops rather than following President Bush into an unjust war.
Scott Carson said…

I'm not at all clear what you're thinking of when you write about coercion. As far as I can see, there isn't any coercion involved in this issue. On the one hand, those who support abortion excommunicate themselves (that is, roughly speaking, what latae sententiae excommunication means), nobody else is doing it to them, and so it is out of place to speak of coercion when it comes to denying Holy Communion to such people.

If, on the other hand, you are talking about coercion in some other sense, I have no idea at all what you could mean. Do you mean that it's coercive to want to outlaw abortion? But you yourself write

Personally I am against abortion because it is killing

If you really believe that it is killing, why on earth would you oppose coercing people to refrain from doing it? Do you think that there should be no laws against, say, murder, or pedophilia, or rape? Why should we coerce people to refrain from doing these things, and not coerce them to refrain from killing children in the womb?

If you think that abortion is different in kind from things like murder, pedophilia, and rape, then you do not really oppose it "because it is killing", you oppose it for some other, unspecified reason.

Further, if you think that abortion is in the same category as killing in times of war or capital punishment, then you are seriously out of touch not only with reality but with Catholic moral teaching. The Church does not say that killing a defenseless child in the womb is on the same moral level as killing enemy combatants in defense of the common good, and the Church does not agree that there is any moral equivalence between killing an innocent child in the womb and executing a criminal guilty of a capital offense.

The Church has never taught that capital punishment is per se wrong; what the Catechism, Pope John Paul II, and now Benedict XVI have all taught, is that there are prudential reasons for not taking recourse to capital punishment in this day and age. But to say that is decidedly not to say that having recourse to such punishments is per se wrong; but abortion is always per se wrong, and it always has been so regarded by the Church.

There is nothing wrong with members of the Church working to prevent acts of violence that they know to be per se wrong. If you think otherwise, then you are going to have a hard time justifying things like, say, protesting discrimination against blacks, women, gays, or whatever, because all you are doing when you protest such things is trying to express your view that the opposing view to your own ought to be denied a place in civil society, and you are willing to coerce such things (by force of law) if necessary.

Furthermore, it is entirely accidental that it is the Democrats who have made abortion a part of their platform and the Republicans who have made the pro-life position a part of theirs. Obviously, nobody is "coercing" them to take the positions that they do, presumably they take the positions they do because they happen to believe in them; hence, there is nothing coercive in simply saying that they are in the wrong, and then working for something else.

But of course a Catholic may vote for a Democrat, as long as that Democrat is not in favor of abortion, or racism, or genocide, or any of the other things that Catholics find morally objectionable. It's just ridiculous demagoguery to suggest otherwise.

And then, suddenly, you're talking about the Iraq war, as though it has anything at all to do with abortion or the subject of denying Communion to those who flagrantly defy Church teachings. One can oppose the war in Iraq and remain faithful to the teachings of the Church, just as one can support the war in Iraq and remain faithful to the Church. There is no doctrinal issue at stake there, only prudential reasoning, about which the Church is not infallible. But in the case of abortion, the Church is infallible, and the faithful are not in a position to take whatever position they happen to think is OK when it comes to such teachings.

So I'm afraid that I just don't see what you're getting at when you talk about coercion here.

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