Sunday, August 30, 2009

At what point would a pro abortion stance automatically excommunicate us?

This is something which ranckles me a little bit. You see, the LC-MS and the RCC, as well as the EOC have strong positions against abortion--it is simply a sin, though I think the EOC and LC-MS will permit an abortion in the case of the mother's life being at risk--I am not sure abou tthe RCC.

Now, I am not aware of any prominent LC-MS politicians which hold to a pro abortion point of view, though if they exist the same critique would apply to them. And if there are some, I would hope they are not as radical as Nancy Pelosi, Rudolph Giuliani and the recently deceased Edward Kennedy. For that reason I will concentrate on those three prominent RC politicians.

Each one is committed to a "pro choice" view, which is defined as intrinsically evil by the RCC. (And I am not really picking on the RCC here, it is just that I am more familiar with their "pro choice" public figures). I am not sure about Giuliani, but both Pelosi and Kennedy are and were in favor of public funding of abortion, which means I have to pay for acts which I believe are intrinsically evil. So, given that, how does Nancy Pelosi get a papal audience, receive communion and otherwise get to go around and parade her RCism in public and yet maintain a firm commitment to an intrinsically evil act? Edward Kennedy did more or less the same, and received a full RC burial, and was for all appearances a member of the RCC in good standing. Giuliani was, to my knowledge, specifically instructed not to receive communion by the cardinal. But if that is not true, the same critique applies to him.

So, what gives? how can one publicly maintain support for an intrinsically evil act and remain in communion with the Church? I always though public, flagrant sin was a cause for excommunication. Perhaps I am missing something.

7 comments:

Steve said...

Some churches just no longer have any guts when it comes to discipline.

Edward Reiss said...

I am curios if there are any LC-MS pols who are "pro choice". The RCC prelates do seem to give some leeway to powerful people, and I hope the same is not true for us.

Chris Jones said...

I think we have to make the elementary distinction between the sin of abortion and the sin of false teaching. Certainly if any of these RC politicians were to perform or procure an abortion in a specific instance, he or she would be guilty of the sin of abortion and would be liable to excommunication for that sin.

As it is, they are guilty not of the sin of abortion but of the sin of false teaching; that is, they publicly hold and advocate for a position contrary to the public confession of the Church. As a practical matter that isn't going to be an "excommunicable" offense for any Church body. If a Church starts enforcing strict doctrinal standards on its laity, it's quickly going to be short of members. (I for one would no longer be welcome as a member of an LCMS congregation.)

It would be different for clergy, whose job it is to teach the faith as the authorized agents of the Church. (See the case of Fr Roy Bourgeois, the RC priest who has been excommunicated for publicly advocating for the ordination of women.)

Edward Reiss said...

Chris,

You bring up some valid points. How much "heresy hunting" is too much?

I wonder though, if there is a difference between merely having an opinion on something which is contrary to church teaching, and occasionally stating it publicly, and advocating for and using one's power to bring about something, in this as abortion, which is diametrically opposed to the publicly stated moral teachings of the church to which one belongs.

Working within the church framework is different, too, BTW.

For instance, suppose I, as Lutheran, advocate that sola fide is a heresy and use what ever power I have to spread this. Let us further suppose my bishop (in my case, my pastor) states this is wrong and that I am promulgating false doctrine. At some point, it is quite obvious that I don't care for church teaching or discipline and by advocating something contrary to church teaching I have basically excommunicated myself. In this case, the pubic excommunication merely ratifies what I, by my statements, have already shown.

Now, you do have a point, that we cannot simply go around looking for heresy and heterodoxy; I am sure we will find aplenty no matter where we worship. But abortion is different from e.g. a theological opinion not readily accessible to a layman. It advocate something which the LC-MS, the RCC and the EOC all agree is evil. A mortal sin if you will. Murder. Surely there is a place for the church to publicly proclaim what the advocates of abortion also proclaim in public: not only will we not protect the unborn, but we will work toward making it easier to kill the unborn. At the same time we want to receive Jesus' precious body and blood and say to all the world we are Lutheran/RC/EO in good standing. In other words, I think it is an issue of public sin.

Regarding the fact that they are not guilty of abortion. Technically, you are correct. But it is also technically correct that Charles Manson didn't actually kill anybody. Our law recognizes guilt in the case of Charles Mason, or that if I am the get away driver on a bank robbery gone awry because a teller was killed, I am guilty of murder too. (If I am convicted, of course). Wouldn't the same apply to those who advocate for abortion?

christl242 said...

So, what gives? how can one publicly maintain support for an intrinsically evil act and remain in communion with the Church? I always though public, flagrant sin was a cause for excommunication. Perhaps I am missing something.

Yes, it is hard to believe that the same church that once laid an interdict on rulers and lands now hasn't got the nerve to take on modern politicians. The RCC used to be very concerned with public scandal.

Actually, this shows just how divided the RC in the U.S. is. Compare the positions of the "conservative" Fabian Bruskewitz with that of Roger Mahony in Los Angeles.

One of many reasons I left the RCC after ten years to come back to the LCMS. The church of Vatican II is a foreign entity to what went before.

Most Catholics live their lives at the parish level, giving lip service to the Vatican. But the pope is very far away.

Christine

Edward Reiss said...

Christine,

"Yes, it is hard to believe that the same church that once laid an interdict on rulers and lands now hasn't got the nerve to take on modern politicians. The RCC used to be very concerned with public scandal."

I agree. But to be fair there are some RC priests and prelates who want to do something.

I am also still looking for an LC-MS politician who is "pro choice", are there any?

christl242 said...

I agree. But to be fair there are some RC priests and prelates who want to do something.

Yes, there are some. On the other hand, we see what happened to Monsignor Joseph Martino, the Bishop of Scranton, Pennsylvania, a staunch prolifer who did not hesitate to call Catholic politicans on the carpet. He held the post since 2003 and now has been removed -- well, technically he "resigned" but at the age of 63 that's very unusual.

As to if there are any LCMS prochoice politicians I haven't a clue. I haven't been back in the LCMS long enough.

Christine

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