This column is about pro-abortion Catholics - and isn't that just the crème de la crème of the oxymoron world? Yes, there's one pro-abortion Catholic who's getting a lot of attention, and yes, he's running for president. I'll get to him in a minute. But he's not alone. And he himself is not the problem, merely a sign of a much deeper illness.
So what is the big deal about pro-abortion political figures receiving Communion in the Catholic Church? It's a "big deal" because of what Holy Communion is to the Catholic Church. And that's why I led off with St. Paul, who knew a few things about how Christ wanted us mortals to practice our faith. The consecrated bread and wine does not "symbolize" Christ. It is Christ.
Okay, I can almost see the eyes rolling on that one: "There you Catholics go again." And, if we are to believe the polls, a lot of Catholic eyes are rolling in unison with their non-Catholic brethren. But I'm not making any of this up. Holy Communion is Jesus Christ. It's all in the Bible, which all good Christians freely acknowledge is the Word of God.
"But I have to suspend all logic to think that a pressed wafer of wheat and a cup of fermented grape juice is in fact Jesus Christ." Yup. You sure do. It's called "faith." And either you've got it, or you don't. And if you don't, please refer back to the quote from St. Paul at the top of the page.
It is especially puzzling that those who take the Bible as literal fact cannot accept the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Other things in the Bible also require a full-tilt suspension of logic, yet "Bible believing" Christians accept them without flinching.
God created the whole universe in seven days? Of course. It's in the Bible.
Jericho's walls couldn't stand up to a hot tune on the trumpet? Ditto. God said so.
Methuselah lived to the extremely ripe old age of 969? No doubt. It's in there.
Yet we are told that when Christ said, "This is My body," He was just being poetic. Never mind that the quote shows up in the gospels and in Paul's letters. Nope. That Jesus always spoke in riddles, didn't He? And this was just the pinnacle of His storytelling acumen.
Oh yeah? Don't think so.
Check out the "bread of life" discourse in Chapter 6 of John's gospel. Jesus goes on at length about the need to eat His body and drink His blood. People turned away from Him because it seemed so … odd. But the disciples knew it was the real deal, and they stayed.
Okay. So much for the detour into basic theology. Today, far too many Catholics seem to have lost touch with that basic teaching. And the lost sheep include far too many Catholics in public office who think they can vote pro-abortion during the week and sashay shamelessly up to the altar on Sunday.
Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts is the current poster boy of this pro-abortion Catholic flock. One week, he rolls into Mass - 10 minutes late - with a noisy entourage, then makes a quick trip to the altar for Holy Communion, then bounces out to hit the ski slopes. The next week, he's photographed receiving communion at a non-Catholic church. That's also a no-no. But Sen. Kerry is not alone.
Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois is getting a fair amount of attention in his home state. Catholics in Springfield picketed his church there. So he sought out a friendlier church in Chicago (read: one where the tenets of the faith are subject to negotiation) where his die-hard pro-abortion stance seems irrelevant. A new group is now organizing to picket that church. Maybe he's not getting the truth inside the building, but he's sure going to get an earful on the way in and out.
Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas vetoed a bill that would have imposed minimal health and medical standards on abortion clinics in her state. She is Catholic, and pro-abortion. The legislature is again contemplating a bill that would enact such requirements. The governor is promising a repeat veto performance if the representatives of the people of Kansas dare approve what is considered a pro-life measure.
Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan is also a pro-abortion Catholic who has made questionable use of the veto pen. A local group has a web site that follows the ongoing inconsistencies that unavoidably dog someone who proclaims both the Catholic faith and the so-called right to choose abortion. Granholm's case is particularly troublesome, since she has served as a Eucharistic minister. That's right. This woman, who is pro-abortion, has stood before her fellow parishioners, presented the Holy Eucharist to them and announced, "The Body of Christ."
Hello? Does she really believe it? Does Durban? Sebelius? Kerry? Does every Catholic priest and bishop really believe it? Aha! That's the real question. In the pro-life movement, it is often said, "If you really believe abortion is murder, then act like it." A similar sentiment should be expressed to Catholic priests and bishops who are lukewarm about defending the Church's teaching about Holy Communion: "If you really believe the Holy Eucharist is the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, then act like it!"
We are told, for instance, that Archbishop Sean O'Malley of Boston has said pro-abortion Catholics should not receive Communion. Yet Sen. Kerry a, pro-abortion Catholic continues to do so. Granted, Archbishop O'Malley is still the new guy in town, but with high-profile pro-abortion Catholics such as John Kerry and Ted Kennedy in his flock, he surely knows that their behavior merits his extremely vigilant scrutiny.
We are told that Cardinal Francis George of Chicago has met privately with Dick Durbin, hopefully for some remedial catechism instruction on the Church's teachings on the sanctity of human life. That's well and good, but how long will it take before something is said publicly to this man, and the countless others, who very publicly promote legal abortion and very publicly receive Holy Communion?
That priests and bishops are within bounds in withholding Communion from such persons is beyond question. It's in the rules: Canon Law, in this case. Canon 915 says those "who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to communion." Abortion, the Church says, is gravely evil, adding that "formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense."
Pro-abortion Catholic politicians are fond of saying they "personally oppose" abortion, but are unwilling to stand in the way of others who seek them. Is that formal cooperation? Well, voting to expend tax dollars on abortion and abortion-related matters certainly seems to qualify.
Abortion is, after all, a matter of life and death. Yet the Gallup organization tells us it "consistently ranks among the least important issues to the electorate in choosing a president." Americans have become indifferent. American Catholics, too, have become indifferent. Is it because too many priests and bishops, through their silence, have allowed this indifference to fester?
"I am the bread of life," said Christ. The apostles knew it was the real deal, and they stayed. Do the apostles' modern day successors share that conviction? Or have they, as did many of Jesus' fair-weather followers, simply drifted away?
It's certainly a question to ponder at this time of year, when Christians commemorate the Lord's Passion and Resurrection.