No communion for Obama supporters

This really annoys me

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his
parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if
they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect
supports abortion, and supporting him “constitutes material cooperation
with intrinsic evil.”

This priest has quite a way with words, too:

“Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life
alternative exits constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil,
and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full
communion of Christ's Church and under the judgment of divine law.
Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and
unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest
they eat and drink their own condemnation.
”  (emphasis mine).

I fully understand and sympathize with the Catholic Church's position on abortion.  What I hate is when Catholic leaders (e.g., my bishop here in Raleigh), put abortion so far above all other issues.  I fully believe that a fetus is a human life,  and surely the Catholic church has a legitimate interest and a political role to play in advocating to protect that life.  But I think the position of this priest and much Catholic leadership places the interests of these unborn humans above the millions of Americans already living post-birth lives.  One of the reasons I am proud to be a Catholic is the tremendous commitment to social justice of the Catholic Church.  Things like just wage, concern for the poor, environmental stewardship, etc., materially and profoundly affect the lives of millions of already living people.  Heck, most of the principles of Catholic Social Teaching (abortion aside, obviously) could hardly be distinguished from the Democratic party platform.  I just do not buy the logic of putting aside all these other principles which just as clearly affect human lives in favor of a single principle.  (And not even a whole principle at that– capital punishment does not exactly support “the life and dignity of the human person”).  Not to mention the fact that the policies of the Democratic party are probably much more likely to ameliorate the social circumstances most likely to lead to abortions. 

All that aside, I think this article is also an interesting reflection on the fact that the media just loves communion denial stories.  Back in 2004, we had the “wafer watch” with John Kerry.  There are thousands of priests across America.  The pronouncements of a single priest, speaking without authority from his Bishop, simply to not amount to news.  When this priest's Bishop makes this argument, okay, it is real news.  Until then, the AP should save stories like this for the Greenville News

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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