Chicago Cardinal’s Remarks on Communion For Pro-Abort Politicians Disappoint Pro-Life Catholics

Chicago Cardinal’s Remarks on Communion For Pro-Abort Politicians Disappoint Pro-Life Catholics

Speaking at a crowded pro-life conference sponsored by the Archdiocese, Cardinal George said on the issue of pro-abortion politicians receiving Communion, “Maybe you should talk to Pope Benedict XVI, who gives communion to the pro-choice Prime Minister of Italy. You have to look at a lot of things. It’s not all that simple.”

The diocesan newspaper, Catholic New World, quotes the Cardinal saying, “You may win your battle but you’ll lose the war when it appears to be just another sectarian movement that punishes anyone who doesn’t agree with them.”

Cardinal George also criticized advocates for life when they “berate” politicians for claiming to uphold social justice while supporting abortion. On this issue, he said, they are “saying this is conservative and this is liberal, and never the twain shall meet. Well, that may be where we are now, but that’s not where we should be.”

I’ve loosened up a bit on the issue of pro-abortion Catholic politicians receiving the Eucharist.. I still think they should be actively barred from it, but I am much less rigid about it than I used to be. Pope Bendict’s recent document SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS did mention certain non-negotiable values: “respect for human life, its defence from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one’s children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms.” (#83) The concept of “eucharistic consistency” demands that Catholic politicans keep in line with Church teaching on these issues if they receive the Eucharist. As the document says “Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce and support laws inspired by values grounded in human nature.”

But the question remains, if pro-abortion Catholic politicnas should not present themselves to receive Communion, why should it be given to them if we do? As Paul writes “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. ” (1 Corinthians 11:27) We tell people to cease all sorts of actions that are harmful to their souls, and try to prevent them from doing so. Why do we draw the line here and allow them to damage themselves in such a manner? Plus, I’ve seen Cardinal Arize say many times, “If it should not be received, it should not be given.”

I can understand allowing some pro-abortion politicians to receive for pastoral reasons. Rather than cutting them off immediately, which risks cutting them off completely from the Church, this can be a way to being them back to the fold. But at a certain point, don’t we have to take a new approach when this one isn’t producing results? Joe Biden has been in the Senate since before Roe v. Wade was issued and, if anything, is becoming more ardently pro-abortion. Bishop Saltarelli asked pro-abortion politicians to refrain from receiving Communion in 2004, but Biden continues to receive. (I was behind him in line two Sundays ago.) At what point does this become defiance of the Bishop’s requests?

The fact that Cardinal George comes down on the side of not barring pro-abortion Catholic politicians gives me pause to believe that it’s not the correct policy. As he pointed out, it does run the risk of creating an “us vs. them” situation in the Church and making pro-lifers seem intolerant. At the same time, though, it’s not excommunication. They would stil be entitled to attend Mass and Catholic functions and could being reception of Communion again by changing their voting patterns and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so it’s not a difficult chore we ask of them.

I’m still on the side of barring them from Communion after a period of engagement has been attempted, but a certain point a line has to be drawn. It will be hard to restore a culture of life to America while we fail to make a clear demarcation that abortion is wrong. If we try to achieve a hazy middle ground, too many people will not recognize the seriousness of their actions and continue in their error.

Gay Baptist Fetuses

That got your attention, didn’t it?

Father Jim Tucker has a post with that title up on his blog today. In it he links to a few other article on the topic of possible genetic roots of homosexuality.

First, let’s discusses Harold Meyerson’s Washington Post Editorial “God and His Gays.” As you might expect from a Post editorial, he doesn’t get it. Myerson writes:

But once you recognize homosexuality as a genetic reality, it does create a theological dilemma for the Mohlers among us, for it means that God is making people who, in the midst of what may otherwise be morally exemplary lives, have a special and inherent predisposition to sin. Mohler’s response is that since Adam’s fall, sin is the condition of all humankind. That sidesteps, however, the conundrum that a gay person may follow the same God-given instincts as a straight person — let’s assume fidelity and the desire for church sanctification in both cases — and end up damned while the straight person ends up saved. Indeed, it means that a gay person’s duty is to suppress his God-given instincts while a straight person’s duty is to fulfill his.

There are a few issues with this excerpt. One, just because a person has a longing or instinct to do something, doesn’t make it acceptable for that person to do so. For example, I have a longing to stuff myself full of pizza everyday, but I don’t because it’s harmful to me and wrong. I have an instinct to hit managers over the head who think they know everything and refuse to listen to me when I am more knowledgeable on a subject than they are, but I don’t because it would be wrong. But God made me gluttonous and impatient, so wouldn’t be right for me to a violent pizza-holic? Of course not.

Second, and this may be a Catholic difference, but it’s not necessarily a straight person’s “duty” to procreate. After all, God may have other plans for them. Perhaps the person in question is called to the priesthood or come other celibate, consecrated life. Perhaps they’re single and therefore shouldn’t have kids right now. Meyerson, like so many in our society, confuses sexual orientation with a person’s destiny and therefore believes it has to be acted on.

Third, it turns out that genetics, while playing a role in which sex a person is attracted to, is not the sole determining factor. Francis S. Collins, Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, has stated that “Homosexuality Is Not Hardwired.” He argues: “[T]he likelihood that the identical twin of a homosexual male will also be gay is about 20% (compared with 2-4 percent of males in the general population), indicating that sexual orientation is genetically influenced but not hardwired by DNA, and that whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations.” There is a genetic factor, but it is not only non-conclusive, it’s apparently a small factor.

Meyerson closes with this paragraph:

After all, there are few American believers who don’t profess at least some faith as well in the verities of proven science and the rightness of our national credo’s commitment to human equality. By effectively insisting that God is a spiteful homo-hater, his followers saddle him with ancient phobias and condemn him to the backwaters of American moral life.

Who, other than morons who protest at funerals, believes God hates homosexuals? Don’t Christians teach that God is Love? Don’t we teach that God loves all of us, no matter what he does? Meyerson is attributing a biased, straw man view to Christians, virtually all of whom reject such a view of God. But it makes things easier for him to feel superior about himself, so he apparently feels free to do so.

The article that Meyerson is apparently responding to can found on Albert Mohler’s blog. (I’d never heard of Albert Mohler before this, but he’s apparently president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary-the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention, so he’s a Baptist bigwig. Maybe Jeff’s heard of him. Anyhoo, Dr. Mohler discusses the findings that there may be a genetic source of homosexuality and ponders what the Christian response to it should be. He outlines ten points that he argues Christians should abide by (his writings in italics, mine responses are not):

1. There is, as of now, no incontrovertible or widely accepted proof that any biological basis for sexual orientation exists.

As I quoted above, there does seem to be a basis for same-sex attraction in a person’s genetic makeup, so I’ll have to dissent from this one.

2. Nevertheless, the direction of the research points in this direction. Research into the sexual orientation of sheep and other animals, as well as human studies, points to some level of biological causation for sexual orientation in at least some individuals.

Yep.

3. Given the consequences of the Fall and the effects of human sin, we should not be surprised that such a causation or link is found. After all, the human genetic structure, along with every other aspect of creation, shows the pernicious effects of the Fall and of God’s judgment.

Exactly. Whatever caused The Fall and our inclination towards sin, it’s not unreasonable that it could be written into our genetic structure as is our tendency to overeat, which is of course gluttony.

4. The biblical condemnation of all homosexual behaviors would not be compromised or mitigated in the least by such a discovery. The discovery of a biological factor would not change the Bible’s moral verdict on homosexual behavior.

Correct. Just because something is genetic, doesn’t make it right as with gluttony.

5. The discovery of a biological basis for homosexuality would be of great pastoral significance, allowing for a greater understanding of why certain persons struggle with these particular sexual temptations.

Yes, knowing the root cause of a sin is of great aid in overcoming it. It’s why in Catholic confession and examination of conscience, we’re not expected just to identify our sins, but figure out why we do them.

6. The biblical basis for establishing the dignity of all persons — the fact that all humans are made in God’s image — reminds us that this means all persons, including those who may be marked by a predisposition toward homosexuality. For the sake of clarity, we must insist at all times that all persons — whether identified as heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian, transsexual, transgendered, bisexual, or whatever — are equally made in the image of God.

Yep.

7. Thus, we will gladly contend for the right to life of all persons, born and unborn, whatever their sexual orientation. We must fight against the idea of aborting fetuses or human embryos identified as homosexual in orientation.

Definitely, killing someone in the womb just because of their sexuality is no different than killing someone outside the womb just because of their sexuality. They’re both murder.

8. If a biological basis is found, and if a prenatal test is then developed, and if a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to heterosexual is ever developed, we would support its use as we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation and the inevitable effects of sin.

I have to disagree here. Genetic therapy is a little too close to playing God for my tastes. I don’t know that we should “drug” people to remove same-sex attractions.

9. We must stop confusing the issues of moral responsibility and moral choice. We are all responsible for our sexual orientation, but that does not mean that we freely and consciously choose that orientation. We sin against homosexuals by insisting that sexual temptation and attraction are predominately chosen. We do not always (or even generally) choose our temptations. Nevertheless, we are absolutely responsible for what we do with sinful temptations, whatever our so-called sexual orientation.

Yes, we don’t condemn people for have same-sex attractions, but we do expect them not to act on them. We judge actions, not people.

10. Christians must be very careful not to claim that science can never prove a biological basis for sexual orientation. We can and must insist that no scientific finding can change the basic sinfulness of all homosexual behavior. The general trend of the research points to at least some biological factors behind sexual attraction, gender identity, and sexual orientation. This does not alter God’s moral verdict on homosexual sin (or heterosexual sin, for that matter), but it does hold some promise that a deeper knowledge of homosexuality and its cause will allow for more effective ministries to those who struggle with this particular pattern of temptation. If such knowledge should ever be discovered, we should embrace it and use it for the greater good of humanity and for the greater glory of God.

Exactly.

So what’s this all mean?

Ultimately, I don’t care whether same-sex attraction is genetic or environmental or handed down through pixie dust. If an action is immoral, we should avoid doing, not make excuses for why it’s okay for us to do so. To the extent that I care if same-sex attraction is genetic, it’s so we can understand better how to help people overcome this attraction and direct their energies towards more spiritually helpful actions. It’s like with alcoholics: if there were a genetic link to alcoholism, we wouldn’t say “Well, it’s in your genes, have a beer!” We’d help them overcome it and figure out how to deal with this harmful long they’ll always have to deal with. So it is with same-sex attractions: we need to help people learn to resist those sinful temptations, not indulge in them.

NOTE: I prefer to refer to “persons with same-sex attractions” rather than “homosexuals” because the latter term ultimately defines the person by one of their characteristics rather than a unique individual, ultimately defining them only by their sexuality which is demeaning and denies them their true dignity as a whole human person.

Quote-a-palooza

“There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily.” —George Washington

“A Parliament is nothing less than a big meeting of more or less idle people.” —Walter Bagehot

“All our talents increase in the using, and every faculty, both good and bad, strengthens by exercise.” —Anne Bronte

“We love justice greatly, and just men but little.” —Joseph Roux

“The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.” —C.S. Lewis

“Of course, the president has every right to fire any political appointee in his administration for any reason, political or otherwise. In hindsight, it would have been far better if the administration had just said so from the beginning instead of wrongly implying that the [eight U.S.] attorneys were fired for cause.” —Bruce Bartlett

“[The Founders] made the Second Amendment second only to the First, which protects the freedoms of speech, press, assembly and worship. They did that because individual dignity and self-respect, which are essential to self-government, are related to a readiness for self-defense—the public’s involvement in public safety.” —George Will

“Remember the Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Gore global-warming pitch at the Academy Awards? Before they spoke, the screen at the back of the stage flashed not-so-subliminal messages about how to save the planet. My personal favorite was ‘Ride mass transit.’ This to a conclave of Hollywood plutocrats who have not seen the inside of a subway since the moon landing and for whom mass transit means a stretch limo seating no fewer than 10.” —Charles Krauthammer

“Fox’s biggest critics don’t appreciate why Fox News exists in the first place… Air America, has been a giant failure, and maybe that explains part of the left’s mounting frustration with Fox. It just seems so unfair that viewers like Fox but don’t really want to watch Al Franken whine about Dick Cheney all day.” —Jonah Goldberg

“The California legislature announced that they have moved their state’s presidential primary from June to February. When asked why, a California lawmaker said, ‘Because it’s really fun to hear Governor Schwarzenegger try to say ‘February’.” —Conan O’Brien

Jay Leno: President Bush is back from his tour of Latin America. He said it really opened his eyes. He said, “It’s amazing. We thought we had a lot of illegal aliens here. They’re all over the place down there!” … According to a recent poll, anti-American sentiment is running high in Mexico. Half of Mexico’s population say they have a negative view of the United States and the other half are already here. … It’s chilly here [in L.A.]. But it’s terrible weather back East. Another massive snowstorm has hit the Northeast. Or, as environmentalists call it, a “temporary global warming hiatus.” … Al-Qa’ida’s number three man, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, has confessed to being the mastermind behind September 11, and said he planned 29 other attacks, including to kill Bill Clinton. To which Hillary Clinton said, “You too?” … In a speech in Iowa, Barack Obama described John Edwards as cute and good looking. How does this make Hillary feel?

Pornography’s Death Grip: Interview With Bishop Robert Finn

Pornography’s Death Grip: Interview With Bishop Robert Finn

Q: What makes this issue so pressing? And why now?

Bishop Finn: The issue of respect for human dignity, or the loss of it, is quite pressing. It prompted Pope John Paul II to launch his theology of the body catecheses. This is the primary value I would hope to foster, and about which we need to find ways to teach. Perhaps at the root of the decline in our own time is the separation of sexuality and love promoted by the widespread use of contraception. I would suggest that this was probably the evil “portal,” a major cultural step onto the slippery slope.

Pornography is a most pernicious symptom of this decline in the awareness of human dignity. Because of its ready availability, it has become so widespread — touching young people barely beyond the age of reason — that it is pandemic. Because of its addictive nature, I doubt that we as a global society have the will or the means to significantly inhibit the presence or availability of pornography. Yet, we should not give up on this effort to limit pornography. We have to persevere in this. As the Church, what we can and must do is try to recapture hearts, and fortify souls by deep conversion, the growth of the interior life, and the practice of the virtues.

I would add that the decline in respect for human dignity also manifests itself in abortion and embryonic stem cell research. Pornography reduces human persons to mere objects for our pleasure and enjoyment, while abortion and ESCR reduce them to or things to be destroyed for our convenience.

The Bishop continues:

Our culture dismisses or ignores responsibility for sexual sins and many other sins. The Popes of the last several generations have lamented the loss of the sense of sin. I believe there is still great shame in many people when they have used pornography. Children seem not to want their parents to know what they are doing when they view pornography: In a way this is good.

Some will joke about this, belittling it as “Catholic guilt.” It is rather the vestige of good conscience. We have to strengthen and affirm this. Just as important, we have to positively build the virtues of purity, chastity, modesty and temperance. We have to try to move hearts to see what is beautiful in our sexuality and human personhood. If we do this, we will be inclined to use more energy to protect it.

Parents have to try to grow holy children. They have to seek to be holy families. They must limit TV, computer, and video and spend more time together with their children, and they have to explain to their children why this is important. Parents have to eliminate obstacles to their own purity and sexual responsibility from their lives — that is, no contraception — dress modestly, pray together as a family, and interact as loving couples in a way that models chaste love and deep commitment. Creating this home environment is the best way to help children.

Parents have to teach their children about the positive meaning and power of pure and chaste friendships. They must, as much as possible, oversee all the educational components of their children’s education. We can’t take for granted that a Catholic school will necessarily have all the best pieces in place. In our Catholic schools, we depend on parents to make our schools accountable and to help us find and implement improvements.

Use of devotional images can help to supplant degrading images. Mental prayer can strengthen us against the pitfalls of idle curiosity.

Bishop Finn at one point says “Our culture dismisses or ignores responsibility for sexual sins and many other sins.” I’m not sure I agree with that. It seems to me that, far from dismissing responsibility for sexual sins, our culture celebrates it. Think of the reaction to Bill Clinton’s treatment of Monica Lewinsky. Many people reacted with anything from “It’s no big deal” to “I would be happy to give him a blowjob just to thank him for keeping abortion legal. I think American women should be lining up with their presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs.” In a less hedonistic (and politicized) society, it would have been recognized for what it was: adultery and sexual exploitation of an immature underling. Careers have rightfully been ended for less; instead, we find Clinton being lionized for it.

As Bishop Finn says in this interview, we need to work to change individual hearts. Pornography is everywhere; it’s sadly a part of our culture. What we need to do is work at the individual level so people will stop partaking of it and stop doing business with those who promote it.

Pornography’s Death Grip: Interview With Bishop Robert Finn

Pornography’s Death Grip: Interview With Bishop Robert Finn

Q: What makes this issue so pressing? And why now?

Bishop Finn: The issue of respect for human dignity, or the loss of it, is quite pressing. It prompted Pope John Paul II to launch his theology of the body catecheses. This is the primary value I would hope to foster, and about which we need to find ways to teach. Perhaps at the root of the decline in our own time is the separation of sexuality and love promoted by the widespread use of contraception. I would suggest that this was probably the evil “portal,” a major cultural step onto the slippery slope.

Pornography is a most pernicious symptom of this decline in the awareness of human dignity. Because of its ready availability, it has become so widespread — touching young people barely beyond the age of reason — that it is pandemic. Because of its addictive nature, I doubt that we as a global society have the will or the means to significantly inhibit the presence or availability of pornography. Yet, we should not give up on this effort to limit pornography. We have to persevere in this. As the Church, what we can and must do is try to recapture hearts, and fortify souls by deep conversion, the growth of the interior life, and the practice of the virtues.

I would add that the decline in respect for human dignity also manifests itself in abortion and embryonic stem cell research. Pornography reduces human persons to mere objects for our pleasure and enjoyment, while abortion and ESCR reduce them to or things to be destroyed for our convenience.

The Bishop continues:

Our culture dismisses or ignores responsibility for sexual sins and many other sins. The Popes of the last several generations have lamented the loss of the sense of sin. I believe there is still great shame in many people when they have used pornography. Children seem not to want their parents to know what they are doing when they view pornography: In a way this is good.

Some will joke about this, belittling it as “Catholic guilt.” It is rather the vestige of good conscience. We have to strengthen and affirm this. Just as important, we have to positively build the virtues of purity, chastity, modesty and temperance. We have to try to move hearts to see what is beautiful in our sexuality and human personhood. If we do this, we will be inclined to use more energy to protect it.

Parents have to try to grow holy children. They have to seek to be holy families. They must limit TV, computer, and video and spend more time together with their children, and they have to explain to their children why this is important. Parents have to eliminate obstacles to their own purity and sexual responsibility from their lives — that is, no contraception — dress modestly, pray together as a family, and interact as loving couples in a way that models chaste love and deep commitment. Creating this home environment is the best way to help children.

Parents have to teach their children about the positive meaning and power of pure and chaste friendships. They must, as much as possible, oversee all the educational components of their children’s education. We can’t take for granted that a Catholic school will necessarily have all the best pieces in place. In our Catholic schools, we depend on parents to make our schools accountable and to help us find and implement improvements.

Use of devotional images can help to supplant degrading images. Mental prayer can strengthen us against the pitfalls of idle curiosity.

Bishop Finn at one point says “Our culture dismisses or ignores responsibility for sexual sins and many other sins.” I’m not sure I agree with that. It seems to me that, far from dismissing responsibility for sexual sins, our culture celebrates it. Think of the reaction to Bill Clinton’s treatment of Monica Lewinsky. Many people reacted with anything from “It’s no big deal” to “I would be happy to give him a blowjob just to thank him for keeping abortion legal. I think American women should be lining up with their presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs.” In a less hedonistic (and politicized) society, it would have been recognized for what it was: adultery and sexual exploitation of an immature underling. Careers have rightfully been ended for less; instead, we find Clinton being lionized for it.

As Bishop Finn says in this interview, we need to work to change individual hearts. Pornography is everywhere; it’s sadly a part of our culture. What we need to do is work at the individual level so people will stop partaking of it and stop doing business with those who promote it.

Quote of the Day

“[T]he opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves, in their, own sphere of action, but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch.”

— Thomas Jefferson (letter to Abigail Adams, 11 September 1804)

Reference: Original Intent, Barton (265-66); original Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies, From the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas

Quote of the Day

“[T]he opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves, in their, own sphere of action, but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch.”

— Thomas Jefferson (letter to Abigail Adams, 11 September 1804)

Reference: Original Intent, Barton (265-66); original Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies, From the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas