I’ve been sort of shocked at the reaction of the Democrat Party, a party that is, at best, pagan though usually godless, to the debate within the US Conference Catholic Bishops (USCCB) over a teaching document, not a policy document, on standards for admission to Communion. It is pretty much like this video.
The Democrats fear that the document will, rightfully, be used to point out to the voters in districts represented by “Catholic” Democrats that those Democrats are about as Catholic as your average gerbil and have been trading off a professed Catholic identity for the sake of deceiving voters.
As I noted a couple of days ago, this whole spectacle is unnecessary as Canon Law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church are clear and unambiguous on the subject of abortion (and on support for homosexual “marriage”). To support abortion, particularly by a public official, carries with it the automatic penalty of excommunication. (READ: The US Conference of Catholic Bishops Votes to Draft a Policy That Could Deny Communion to Pro-Abort Politicians Like Joe Biden.) The issue doesn’t need to be debated.
Still, this is an issue of internal Church discipline that is being moved into the public sphere, and as such, I want to take some time to address some of the more profoundly stupid arguments. If you want to find truly stupid people pretending to be smart, you have three instant go-to places on the internet. There is Vox.com which has wondered why no one has ever developed the real estate west of Miami (SPOILER ALERT: the Everglades). There is Slate.com, where you can find faux-legal twaddle by a self-proclaimed martial arts expert who has had seven bones broken while practicing his art. (Full disclosure: I’m a Second Dan in the Korean version of Kendo and have never had a broken bone, so maybe he’s just unlucky.) And then there is The Daily Beast which collects nutbags like Velcro collects lint in a dryer. Case in point: Pedophile Priests Can Take Communion. Why Not Biden? This article is behind their paywall, but someone is ripping off their content, and if you want to read it, here it is.
The main target of this nasty little diatribe…the author claims in his bio that he was considered for a Pulitzer Prize two decades ago, so I suppose we should respect him even though he seems to have hit the Skid Row of journalism…is Kansas City (KS) Archbishop Joseph Naumann who is also chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities. He acquired some notoriety for denying Communion to the notorious pro-abort governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sibelius.
The first objection the author has is in the title.
Among those Naumann did not budge to banish from the communion rail are the many priests who have been found to have been pedophiles. Many of those the Church reluctantly recognized in the Archdiocese of Naumann and elsewhere have been “secularized,” meaning they are no longer priests and cannot say Mass or give Communion.
But they can still take Communion. And Naumann didn’t say anything about it even though he sought to deprive Sebelius and now Biden. How can a pedophile priest who gave Communion at a time when he sexually assaulted children now be allowed to receive it?
There are two issues here. One is a pig -ignorance of the role denial of Communion plays with the Church. The second is a heresy that pig-ignorant people frequently wave about.
Communion is not exclusively for the righteous. Just a few weeks ago, Pope Francis reminded the world that the Eucharist is t”he bread of sinners not a reward of saints.” Communion is denied to blatant and unrepentant sinners because to receive it in a condition of mortal sin, which is the condition of every pro-abort, profanes the Body of Christ and compounds their sin. It is also used as a means of discipline to bring sinners back into the fold. All that is needed to receive Communion is to make a sincere confession with a truly contrite heart, do penance, and vow to sin no more, and you are restored to Communion. I don’t know the circumstances of the particular priests the author of this clownish piece writes about, but whatever they did, deprivation of the Eucharist is not part of their punishment. If the author has some evidence that priests convicted of sexual abuse were admitted to Communion without confessing and repenting, I’d like to see it. But I suspect he doesn’t.
This is where the heresy comes in: “How can a pedophile priest who gave Communion at a time when he sexually assaulted children.” By virtue of his ordination, a priest can celebrate Mass and give Communion, among other things. His personal sins have no reflection upon his priestly faculties. If this were not the case, no one could ever be sure their baptism or marriage or any other Sacrament was valid. The Church condemned this heresy, Donatism, in 409 AD. For good measure, it was condemned again at the Council of Trent (sometime between 1545 and 1563).
In short, nothing said under the rubric of “what about pedophile priests” even vaguely applies to Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and a few dozen other pro-aborts proclaiming they are Catholic for political advantage while they are, in fact, serving Moloch.
Naturally, wherever anything that pisses the left off arises, somehow President Trump or some member of his administration has to be dragged in as the good ol’ tu quoque. In this case, conservative Catholic and Attorney General Bill Barr is used to take Archbishop Naumann to task. Between July 14, 2020, and January 16, 2021, the federal government executed thirteen inmates. Ten of them while Bill Barr was Attorney General.
“In the past 60 years, before the Trump administration resumed federal executions, there had only been four federal executions,” Naumann and Coakley said in this second written statement. “Since July, there have been five, which is already more federal executions than there have been in any year of the last century. There are two more federal executions scheduled for this week.
They added: “The executions are totally unnecessary and unacceptable, as Popes Saint John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis have all expressed it.
After citing the last three pontiffs, the statement made another plea.
“We say to President Trump and Attorney General Barr: Enough. Stop these executions.
Barr continued to schedule more executions. The bishops released another statement in October.
But Naumann did not even mention the possibility of forbidding Barr to receive communion since the execution followed the execution. The last was four days before President Joe Biden’s inauguration with the clear intention of entering as many as possible.
It went far beyond simply ignoring the bishops’ pleas.
The obvious flaw in this is that Archbishop Naumann was not Barr’s bishop, but he was Sibelius’. Therefore he had no ability to discipline Barr, should discipline even be warranted. But the death penalty is frequently trotted out by dimwitted pro-aborts as though it were actually an argument (how many times have you seen one ask, “why are pro-lifers always in favor of the death penalty?”).
The Church’s teaching on the death penalty is nuanced. The Catechism of Trent promulgated a few years after the closure of the Council of Trent, has this to say:
Execution Of Criminals
Another kind of lawful slaying belongs to the civil authorities, to whom is entrusted power of life and death, by the legal and judicious exercise of which they punish the guilty and protect the innocent. The just use of this power, far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this Commandment which prohibits murder. The end of the Commandment- is the preservation and security of human life. Now the punishments inflicted by the civil authority, which is the legitimate avenger of crime, naturally tend to this end, since they give security to life by repressing outrage and violence. Hence these words of David: In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land, that I might cut off all the workers of iniquity from the city of the Lord.
In the past twenty or so years, the Church has become more adamantly opposed to the death penalty. In 2018, Pope Francis had the Catechism changed to say this:
2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.
Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.
Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”,i and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.
To interpret Church teaching, one must use what is called the “hermeneutic of continuity.” What it means is that by definition, the Church can never err in its teaching and that any new take on the subject must be interpreted in light of what the Church has said on the subject in the past. This is why homosexual behavior is condemned, why homosexual marriage is impossible, and why the door is closed to female ordination. To go down any of those paths would declare 2,000 years of Christian doctrine to have been in error, and if you do that, then everything is up for grabs.
So while the Church’s current teaching on the death penalty is deserving of respect and deference, under no circumstance can signing off on the execution of a criminal who has been legally convicted and had his case reviewed numerous times be compared to supporting abortion. The Church recognizes the death penalty as licit even though it disapproves. It has condemned abortion throughout its history. Barr was serving as Attorney General. He had an obligation to carry out the laws of the nation. If he were a prosecutor or a judge, the facts change slightly, but here all Barr did was “take care that the laws are faithfully executed.”
This silly attempt by The Daily Beast to attack an archbishop over non-issues to defend Joe Biden is sort of demeaning to anyone reading it. The argumentation is childish. It is bereft of facts because the author is either stupid (my hope) or grossly dishonest. His editor is no better. But one is still left with a puzzle. What is it about ensuring that Joe Biden continues to get to play at being Catholic that has so many progressives so exercised? We will explore those possibilities in later posts.