A reader sent me a link to a Maggie Gallagher article.
…This week, for example, according to news accounts, 18 Catholic House Democrats, including Reps. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), Patrick J. Kennedy (R.I.) and Carolyn McCarthy (N.Y.) publicly rebuked Pope Benedict XVI for reaffirming during a recent Mexico City trip that legislators who vote to permit the killing of the unborn have excommunicated themselves and may be refused communion during Mass.
…Back in D.C., the gang of 18 went apoplectic. Catholic popes, bishops or clergy who withhold communion to politicians, they said, are engaging in essentially un-American activities: "Religious sanction in the political arena directly conflicts with our fundamental beliefs about the role of democratic representatives in a pluralistic America — it clashes with freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution. Such notions offend the very nature of the American experiment and do a great disservice to the centuries of good work the church has done."
Par for the course for Catholic Democrats in the House. First reacting to initial news reports that had been somewhat clarified latter is the typical level of fact checking you would expect. But there statement is silly on so many levels it is hard to know where to dig in.
One question I have is that in Canon law there is no dispute that those who procure and abortion or are formally involved in carrying it out do incur an automatic excommunication. Have you ever heard a Catholic Democrat complain about this? But if the same Canon is said to apply to them then there indignation explodes. This bit of all-about-me-ism is not exactly surprising in a politician though.
Often we will also get an appeal to conscience, but somehow if a bishop or someone else acts on their conscience and conflicts with theirs then that is somehow wrong. It is also funny to invoke a pluralistic society and then to condemn someone’s comments. Pluralism is much narrower than I supposed. Plus wouldn’t these religious freedoms they mention also apply to religious leaders themselves. Again their conception is distinctly one sided. Their wall of separation between church and state seems to be permeable on their side but inviolable on the other.
This is of course what Mark Shea calls Catholic tribalism in that many like these politicians seem to like to belong to the Catholic Church, but deeply disagree with what she teaches. Tribalism is the most charitable way to explain this. They would belong to no organizations or clubs that lobbied against what they vote for, but somehow they don’t think membership in the Church is not hypocritical or problematic and then they get all huffy when a bishop or the Pope speak out about this schism between her teaching and their actions.
Nobody would see a problem with members of the ACLU getting the can because they joined the KKK, but if the Church speaks out about an even worse crime such as the murder of innocents that is beyond the pale. Any organization where its members are doing something contrary to its mission has duty to speak out, unless it is the Catholic Church I guess.
These Culture of Death politicians do not automatically receiving the ecclesiastical penalty of excommunication, but they also are not in communion with the Church and should admit it by not receiving Communion. If their conscience is so at odds with the Church exactly why do they want to belong to it? Politicians have often revoked their membership with some such organization or club for much lighter disputes, yet continuing membership in the Catholic Church does not invoke the same reaction. Though in tribal Catholicism it of course follows that what they believe the Church to be in the first place is greatly flawed. Bad ecclesiology necessarily follows. Then again though if the Church is just a human institution then it is just on par with other organizations and clubs that they would not be involved in. So this is just a intellectual case of having it both way; the Church is more than just a human institution, but that fact doesn’t matter when it comes to vote. I am not in favor of them leaving the Church, but that they learn what she is in the first place.
Update: One commenter makes a good point:
What is really funny, these Democrats are complaining that the ROMAN Pontiff addressing BRAZILIANS about MEXICAN POLITICIANS is un-American and not Constitutional…