By Judie Brown
A recent Associated Press report tells the reader that "the nation's Roman Catholic bishops vowed Tuesday to forcefully confront the Obama administration over its support for abortion rights, saying the church [sic] and religious freedom could be under attack in the new presidential administration."
While I'm not at all sure that the "Church and religious freedom" will be under attack, we all know that innocent babies will be, and that should be the primary concern for our nation's Catholic prelates.
The same news report quotes courageous Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, Pennsylvania, as saying of Vice President-elect Joseph Biden (a Scranton native now living in Delaware), "I cannot have a vice president-elect coming to Scranton to say he's learned his values there when those values are utterly against the teachings of the Catholic Church."
But lo and behold, the new bishop of the Wilmington, Delaware diocese, W. Francis Malooly, takes quite the opposite approach. He has no problem calling out Biden on his support for abortion, but will not deny him the body and blood of Christ! He reportedly said,
Sen. Joe Biden presents a seriously erroneous picture of Catholic teaching on abortion. He said, "I know that my church [sic] has wrestled with this for 2,000 years," and claimed repeatedly that the Church has a nuanced view of the subject that leaves a great deal of room for uncertainty and debate. This is simply incorrect. The teaching of the Church is clear and not open to debate. Abortion is a grave sin because it is the wrongful taking of an innocent human life.
Yet two weeks later, this same bishop "said that he will not ask the vice president-elect to refrain from receiving Holy Communion. Bishop Malooly . . . said, 'I won't politicize the Eucharist' and added, 'I don't want to alienate people. I want to change their hearts and minds.'"
While we are told that "the Obama-Biden press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment," I am wondering why they would comment. After all, during the same USCCB meeting, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, "who has said repeatedly that Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic Democrat who supports abortion rights, should stop taking Holy Communion until she changes her stance," told the media, "They [pro-abortion Catholics] cannot call themselves Catholic when they violate such a core belief as the dignity of the unborn."
But if that's true, then why doesn't Archbishop Naumann make it clear to the pro-abortion Catholic governor of Kansas that he has instructed his priests to deny her the body and blood of Christ in Holy Communion until she publicly repents of her support for murdering preborn babies? What a lesson in the absolute truth of Church teaching that would be, not only for Sebelius, but for the Catholics in his archdiocese. Such an action would very likely help confused sheep in his flock to reconsider the reality of Who is present in the sacrament and why a public figure who supports abortion simply cannot receive Him. I would venture to suggest that such a lesson would protect many souls from scandal and might, if God wills it, bring Sebelius to a fuller knowledge of the truth and the teachings of her claimed Catholic faith.
But no, it is the rare bishop who will take that step in public. Some say it is because they do not want to politicize the sacrament, but who is it that is really politicizing the sacrament? Is it not the Catholic politicians who support aborting preborn babies? And is it not a bishop's job to protect Christ from sacrilege, which means denying such arrogant Catholics the body and blood of Christ? How is defending Christ a politicization of the sacrament?
Or is that entire line of thinking simply an excuse for not confronting the evil forces that support aborting babies? To my mind, that is precisely what such arguments represent, and I'm convinced that's why Catholics in huge numbers don't pay attention to the words of bishops who won't follow through on the action required by Church law, specifically Canon 915.
Just the other day a friend e-mailed me this comment, in response to a recent news report: "[The] House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, was very disappointed with California for denying same sex marriage privilege. Am I wrong or is Nancy Pelosi a Catholic who receives communion in her parish?"
Again, we have a "Catholic" in public life whose support for practices the Catholic Church defines as gravely sinful has provoked disapproving words from various bishops. However, there's no consensus among the bishops that she should and will be denied the body and blood of Christ, until she repents of her public support for same-sex marriage and abortion.
This is another example of the apparent unwillingness of the USCCB, as a whole, to agree that it will act to make it clear that there is such a thing as an intrinsically evil act, there is a Church law designed to protect Christ from sacrilege, and there is a price that should be paid by public figures who, for whatever reason, defy Christ and His Church while claiming to be Catholic.
Until the bishops agree to do this one, simple thing as a unified body, I doubt that the Obama-Biden press office will reply. After all, calling out someone on his draconian support for aborting living, human beings is one thing, but actually doing something about it is quite another.
Words spoken in a vacuum tend to remain there and eventually evaporate. At least 54 percent of American Catholics of voting age are not listening. Then again, what would they be listening to – other than words without substantive actions to back them up?
In my opinion, setting aside concerns over the Obama-Biden White House, the best thing the bishops could do is insist on having this message preached from every Catholic pulpit in America: Abortion is an act of murder, an egregious sin. And if not confessed with a sincere heart, it's an action that guarantees a one-way ticket to a very warm place on the other side of death.
Judie Brown is president of American Life League and a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.