Tuesday, January 20, 2009

You Can't be Catholic and Pro-Choice, Mr. Vice President

On this inauguration day, it's easy to forget about the gaffe that keeps on giving--or, in other words, that Joe Biden is now America's Catholic Pro-Abortion Vice President.


Although trendy Northeastern Catholics are used to applauding Biden's occasional acts of (objective) sacrilege (hat tip: Curt Jester), this sort of thing doesn't play so well in Peoria (or Denver, or...well, anywhere where bishops have spines). Now that Biden is the Vice President of the United States of America, it's going to be rather important for the United States Bishops to decide once and for all if politicians who promote, vote for, support, and otherwise encourage abortion ought to be held accountable under Canon 915's discipline or not. As Archbishop Burke wrote in the document linked to above, this is not at all about imposting a canonical penalty:

During the election campaign of 2004 in the United States of America, some Bishops found themselves under question by other Bishops regarding the application of can. 915 of the Code of Canon Law in the case of Catholic politicians who publicly, after admonition, continue to support legislation favoring procured abortion and other legislation contrary to the natural moral law, for example, legislation permitting the cloning of human life for the purpose of harvesting stem cells by the destruction of the artificially-generated human embryo, and legislation redefining marriage to include a relationship between persons of the same sex. The gravity of the sin of procured abortion and of the sins involved in the commission of other intrinsically-evil acts seemed to place the Catholic politicians among those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin, about whom can. 915 treats.

The discussion among the Bishops uncovered a fair amount of serious confusion regarding the discipline of can. 915. First of all, the denial of Holy Communion was repeatedly characterized as the imposition of a canonical penalty, when, in reality, it plainly articulates the responsibility of the minister of Holy Communion, ordinary or extraordinary, to deny Holy Communion to those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin [1]. The denial of Holy Communion can be the effect of the imposition or declaration of the canonical penalties of Excommunication and Interdict (cf. cann. 1331 §1, 2ยบ; and 1332), but there are other cases in which Holy Communion must be denied, apart from any imposition or declaration of a canonical penalty, in order to respect the holiness of the Sacrament, to safeguard the salvation of the soul of the party presenting himself to receive Holy Communion, and to avoid scandal.

Joe Biden supports both abortion and embryonic stem cell research--while claiming that he accepts the Church's view that life begins at conception! This is a truly monstrous view to hold, to believe that the embryo is indeed a human life, but to vote in favor of killing him or her through abortion or through ESCR. If there was ever a case for a quasi-public admonishment followed by informing the new Vice President that he must not present himself for Holy Communion, this is it--the only excuse possible for Biden is that he really doesn't understand the moral implications of saying, in effect, "Yes, I agree with the Church that life begins at conception, but I think people should be able to kill those human beings anyway."

Of course, in effect, every single person who calls himself or herself a "pro-choice Catholic" is saying the exact same monstrously evil thing. It is not possible to be both Catholic and "pro-choice;" a Catholic believes that human life begins at conception, while a "pro-choice" person believes that those human lives are valueless and that it should be legal to kill those unborn people.

Unfortunately, the Catholic Church in America has failed to make this clear. Few priests give homilies about the terrible evil that abortion is, or remind their flocks that any participation in abortion at all is a sin of utmost gravity that puts the soul of the participant at risk of eternal hellfire; and while some courageous bishops have taken strong stances against abortion, and been visible in their leadership, others have wrapped the abortion issue up in the so-called "seamless garment" philosophy and have thereby created the impression that opposition to abortion is the moral equivalent of opposing poverty, the death penalty, or supporting immigration--and that there's plenty of room for nuance, for those who'd rather vote for Democrats and don't really mind funding abortions.

This deplorable situation, this weakness of catechesis and failure to emphasize one of the greatest moral evils a civilization has ever embraced, has been brewing for a long time. And sadly, some in the Church in America helped to create this reality.

But now we have someone at the highest level of the executive branch who embodies all this confusion and weak teaching. And every time the Vice President receives Holy Communion at Mass, he will be giving scandal, and creating the impression that the rich and powerful aren't held to the same moral requirements that ordinary Catholics are bound under pain of sin to follow.

It's time for the bishops of America to insist that you can't be Catholic and call yourself "pro-choice," that you can't be Catholic and support abortion, that you can't be Catholic and vote in favor of abortion and ESCR, that you can't be Catholic and embrace the culture of death. Because you can't, to put it bluntly; you can only be a heretic if you hold any of these ideas.

So-called "pro-choice" Catholics do have a choice--they can choose to remain practicing Catholics in good standing with the Church, or they can choose to keep supporting the murder of the innocent. But they can't do both; they're putting their immortal souls in danger every time they approach the altar, covered as they are in the blood of the unborn victims of abortion and ESCR. It is not kindness or charity to fail to remind them of this fact; it is indifference to their eternal fate, an indifference no Catholic ought to have for his fellow men.


Anonymous said...

Like the vice-president, I'm Catholic and I believe in upholding the supreme court ruling that abortion is a personal and private choice. Don't point a finger and judge others--you're not qualified. You may even be bearing false witness.

Believe in Jesus crucified, died, risen, and coming again. Forgiveness is the most important thing.


Red Cardigan said...

Abbie, abortion is murder. No Catholic can licitly support it. Please ask your pastor.

No one has the right to make a "personal and private choice" to kill another human being. Every abortion kills a unique human being with an immortal soul. It is gravely morally evil, and can NEVER be a legitimate "choice" for any person.

I'll pray for you.

Anonymous said...

Red Cardigan,

Your argument is axiomatic. I AM Catholic and I support the RIGHTS OF OTHERS, ergo I disprove your argument. I never said I supported murder. You will find that people can be Catholic and lots of other things too. I am not NOT Catholic just because a fellow Christian says so.

You should use caution in your judgement of others. You may be wrong.

Thanks for the prayers,

Red Cardigan said...

Abbie, Catholics cannot support the RIGHTS OF OTHERS to choose to kill their unborn children. No one has the right to do evil.

Would you have supported the "rights of others" to own slaves, even if you didn't own them yourself and thought the ownership of another human was morally evil? I doubt it--but that's exactly what you are doing with abortion, ignoring the moral evil and supporting the right of others to do this gravely morally evil thing, which is, kill their own children in the womb.

It is not right to support the so-called right of others to abort. No one has this right, any more than slave owners had the moral right to own slaves--even though they had the legal right to do so, and went to war to try to keep their "right to choose" slave ownership.

When I say, "You can't be Catholic and pro-choice," I don't mean that your baptism is invalid, of course. You are Catholic until you die. However, "You can't be Catholic and pro-choice" is shorthand for "One may not remain a practicing Catholic in good standing with the Church while actively supporting and encouraging abortion." If you think I'm wrong about this, like I said before, ask your parish priest.

It's true that people can call themselves "Catholic" while holding on to a lot of heretical notions. That doesn't make the heresy "Catholic," and it may create a situation where the person who refuses to accept Church teaching must stop taking Holy Communion rather than risk eating and drinking his own damnation, as St. Paul frequently warns us.

If someone is "pro-choice" because of muddleheaded thinking, improper religious training, and an unfamiliarity with Church teaching in the area of life issues, that is one thing--but the person who deliberately repudiates Church teaching on abortion and goes on to support and encourage it may very well have put himself/herself outside the Church, and be barred from the Sacraments.

Anonymous said...

Abbie, abortion is a graves sin.

Check the Catechism and you'll see.

If you don't think the Church has always opposed this crime, check this webpage:


mark said...

Abbe you don't understand: You know, you CAN'T judge souls, but you CAN judge actions. Abortion is gravely immoral. It is NOT bearing false witness to point this out.