Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pro "Choice" Pols insist on receiving Communion at papal Mass

It appears that some Pro "choice" pols think they have a right to commune with the pope, and in the process may make the pope's pronouncements to look, well, ineffectual:

"Catholic members of Congress who publicly support the right to abortion will trek to Nationals Park Thursday for a Mass celebrated by a pope who has said such lawmakers should not receive Communion.

Leading these lawmakers, some of whom have repeatedly complained about remarks by Pope Benedict XVI and a few bishops on the subject, will be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the government's highest-ranking Catholic and a supporter of abortion rights. Nowhere in her remarks or her actions this week has she referred to strains with the new pontiff....

... And yes, her spokesman said, she intends to receive Communion from one of the 300 priests and lay ministers who will offer it to the gathered flock of 45,000."

The pope is supposed to be the infallible Vicar of Christ when teaching about faith and morals. RC apologists claim he is a sort firewall for false teaching. If the pope says a politician, or anyone else, should not receive--they should not receive.

If Pelosi does commune in the face of papal pronouncements though, who will listen to a papal pronouncement in the future? It is as if a Lutheran pastor gave a sermon stating the obvious--Mormons cannot receive communion, and then proceeded to commune some Mormon visitors. It completely undermines the authority of the pastor and makes him look like a wind bag. The same thing here. The pope, the guy who is supposed to put a stop to heresy, cannot even stop a legislator from receiving Communion at his own Mass.

And then there is this too:

"If Catholic legislators are scorned and held out for ridicule by Church leaders on the basis of a single issue, the Church will lose strong advocates on a wide range of issues that relate to the core of important Catholic social teaching," they wrote. "Moreover, criticism of us on a matter that is essentially one of personal morality will deter other Catholics from entering politics, and in the long run the Church will suffer."

Notice the implicit threat--let us commune or else there will be consequences! This only increases the problem though, because not only will these pols disregard a clear teaching of the RCC, but they threaten the Church that if it deigns to try and live by its own pronouncements, it had better watch out! In other words, this is even more reason not to commune a flagrant sinner--he insists there will be consequences if his wishes are not fulfilled.

Also, notice the post-modern habit of distilling everything down to "personal morality". I find this appalling. And on another level, what use is papal infallibility, and papal authority, if one can flout the pope on such an important issue and simply do what one pleases? It seems to me Luther was excommunicated and remains so for much, much less. I never thought murder was a private matter, neither does the pope. But apparently, the pope won't act on that conviction.

The principle is rather straight forward; if someone in our congregation is a thief, the pastor would not necessarily excommunicate him. But if he publicly advocates thievery, and persists in his own thievery in public and then demands communion, the pastor would rightly excommunicate him, basically saying "Until you repent, we turn you over to Satan" just a St. Paul did. It is the case, is it not, that flagrant public sin excludes one from the Lord's Table. The critique of the papacy would more or less write itself--the pope said they shouldn't receive because they advocate the murder of the unborn, then he allowed them to at a mass over which he presided. So much for the "fiat currency" of what the pope says--especially these circumstances. In my opinion, this turns the pope's words to mere ink or recycled electrons, because they can obviously be ignored even when he presides over a mass.

What use is this infallibility, again?


johnmcginnis2 said...

Your essay shows a misunderstanding of the Church's teachings. The effect of Nancy Pelosi's action is not a reflection upon the infallibility of the Pope, but a reflection of her blatant disregard of the Holy Eucharist.

Anonymous said...

'Nancy Pelosi is not listening to what is morally right and if she presents herself for Communion it could very well be that she was not recognized by the priest It will be up to her and God - but for me - she if she persists it would be very shameful on her part. May God help her.

Edward Reiss said...

John McGinnis,

Thanks for the comment and welcome!

Granted I may have misunderstood the details of infallibility. However, I don't see the issue with Pelosi as much as with the Majesterium simply abrogating its own claims and pronouncements. I see the issue of infallibility in this way--the pope and the Majesterium have taught that abortion is wrong, intrinsically evil, in fact. That is an in fallible teaching. We also have some people who advocate that this intrinsically evil be permitted, even supported by tax dollars in some circumstances. The pope has said that those who behave in this way should be refused Communion. These same people insist they will do so anyway. So, what good is the pope's infallibility if people who he says should not commune can do so at a mass over which he officiates? In my post, I used the analogy of a fiat currency. The bishops and the parishioners are both ignoring the pope, and he seems not to be doing anything about it.

So, what good is the pope's infallibility except as a theoretical construct if pols can threaten him, and/or ignore him?

Steve Martin said...

Ed Reiss,

I happen to agree with you on this one.

I think the problem is one of PR. In this day and age of mass media and the obvious anti-Catholic bias, the RCC would be made to look really bad.

Is that an excuse for allowing these communions to take place. I say no, but I do understand the pressures from without that are complicating this issue.

It is a shame that church officials give in to the culture on any issue that relates to the churches own performance of it's duties and worship practices within the bounds of legality.

Welcome to the 21st century Church.

Thanks Ed!

- SteveMartin San Clemente, CA

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