Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On Refusing Communion to Excommunicated Politicians

http://eyesoffaith.info/files/Biden%27s%20Double%20Cross%20HT.jpgUntil now, I have avoided discussing the current situation with Congressman Patrick Kennedy. This entry really isn't about the Kennedys, Pelosis, Bidens, etc. Clearly, much of the Kennedy clan has made a choice to cast their Catholic faith aside as have many Catholic politicians. As you know, Catholicism is a way of life and not simply something you 'put on' each Sunday. If God were first in the lives of these politicians, it would show in their votes. You cannot be Catholic and 'pro-choice' - we have discussed that here before. If you disagree, God is clearly not first in your life. Period.

Last night I received a 'tweet' on Twitter telling me that Fr. Mitch Pacwa was to be on CNN discussing the most recent Kennedy situation. Sadly, the interview was really a debate between Fr. Pacwa and Fr. Reese from Georgetown which was no more than a few minutes. Fr. Pacwa was clearly frustrated because he was engaging in conversation with a pro-choice priest who has fallen far from his vocation. Having been born in the 'Summer of Love' myself, I was struck by the irony that Fr. Reese is the head of the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown. The name Woodstock sadly illustrates Fr. Reese's views if you harken back to a field in upstate New York in 1969 and the 'if it feels good, do it!' mentality which permeated attendees. Fr. Reese is a pro-Obama, pro-gay, pro-give communion to whomever wishes to receive it kind of priest. Yet another reason to not send your child to Georgetown University. Read what other bloggers have to say about Fr. Reese HERE. His favorite retort to spew when someone says that politicians who vote for pro-choice legislation cannot receive communion is that Pope John Paul II gave communion to some pro-choice politicians (Italian). Read this document, Fr. Reese, a.k.a Fr. Pick-and-Choose-Which-Teachings-You-Will-Follow-and-Which-you-Will-Not. A note to Fr. Reese: you're receiving the Eucharist unworthily yourself and as an ipso facto excommunicated Catholic, you have plenty of company.

Here is the transcript from CNN:

BROWN: So is this the case of religion being use as a political weapon? And joining me to try to talk this through are two Catholic priests, Reverend Mitch Pacwa and Fr. Thomas Reese.

Father Pacwa, our apologies, Father. So let me start with you. Do you agree with Bishop Tobin that it was right, I know, to tell Congressman Kennedy that he shouldn't take communion because he is pro-choice? I guess --


BROWN: Does that apply, though, to everybody? Would you give that same counseling to all of your parishioners or do you think it's different because of who he is?

PACWA: No. It's the kind of advice that I would give to everybody. That somebody who is in favor of abortion or has done abortions, this is a very serious sin. And that the issue is not as was portrayed earlier in your own remarks, that this is religion intruding into politics. It's rather that a political position is trying to intrude into who may receive Holy Communion and that the norms are set by the Catholic church for centuries and that this has been the 2,000-year teaching that abortion is a serious sin, excluding people from communion.

BROWN: All right.

PACWA: So it's simply being applied to this representative.

BROWN: So, where do you draw the line? Or do you draw the line? Should politicians who support the death penalty still take communion?

PACWA: You know, one of the things that has to be paid attention to is that the church is teaching on the death penalty is of a different order than that of abortion. And one of the things that you see in Canon Law is that it's not absolutely prohibited but it's what the church would like us to do so that we can be consistently pro life. But there are situations where the death penalty is allowed in certain, again, certain cases, especially in places where people cannot afford to sustain people in a life imprisonment situation.

BROWN: OK, Father Reese.

PACWA: So that might be another situation.

BROWN: Father Reese, I know you disagree. Let me give him an opportunity to speak.

PACWA: Sure.

BROWN: Father Reese, go ahead.

REV. THOMAS REESE, S.J., AUTHOR, "INSIDE THE VATICAN": Sure. You know, I think the thing that needs to be pointed out is that most of the bishops in the United States simply don't agree. They have only a small percentage of the bishops have gone into this business of denying communion to Catholics, politicians who are pro choice.

In fact, it's a well-known fact that the pope, Pope John Paul II gave communion to pro-choice politicians in Italy. Now, is Father more Catholic than the pope? You know, are these bishops more Catholic than the pope?

You know, so I don't think that we can simply say that this has been a long teaching of the church or this is our tradition of denying communion to people when in fact Pope John Paul II didn't do it.

BROWN: So how do you respond to that, Father Pacwa?

PACWA: I don't know what Pope John Paul knew about those politicians in that circumstance. However, what I do know that during his reign --

BROWN: But what do you need to know? I mean, if they had publicly pro-choice positions --

PACWA: What I need to know is this. What I need to know is this, that during his reign he had legislation that was put out by the office for the defense of the faith, that said politicians who are pro abortion may not receive Holy Communion. That is church policy. And Bishop Tobin was simply making that policy. In terms of what the pope knew about this person coming to communion and so on, I don't know. BROWN: All right. I don't want to get lost -- I kind of want to keep this a little, more big picture if we can.

PACWA: Right.

REESE: This is a situation --

BROWN: But, Father Reese, go ahead.

REESE: This is a case where facts matter. I mean, you know, if the pope is giving communion to pro-choice politicians in Rome, I mean, the pope's not -- you know, John Paul is not a dummy. This was a very smart man who knew the situation and was giving them communion. I think, you know, it's important to make a distinction between people who are pro abortion and people who are pro choice. If someone gets up and says, I think abortion is wonderful and every woman should have one...

BROWN: But no one is pro abortion.

REESE: ... this is very different.

BROWN: I mean, that's --

REESE: Well, exactly. I mean even --you know, within the last couple of months, the editor of "Osservatore Romano", the pope's newspaper, made the statement that he did not think that President Obama was pro abortion. And this upset people in the United States. They wanted him fired. Well, he's still in his job.

BROWN: All right. Gentlemen, this is -- we need a whole lot more time to get into this issue, I know. But I appreciate you both sharing your views with us tonight.

Father Pacwa and Father Reese, thank you so much.

PACWA: You're welcome.


1 Corinthians 11:27-29
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.
A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup.
For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.
The Word of the Lord.

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