Update: Thanks to reader “jvaskov” for finding the full text of the statement.
A group of House Democrats yesterday publicly repudiated the Pope?s recent suggestion that politicians who support abortion rights should be excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.
Eighteen House Democrats, led by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), are responding to Pope Benedict XVI?s statement that indicated he would support Mexican bishops if they were to excommunicate Mexican legislators who voted last month to legalize abortion in Mexico City.
?We are concerned with the Pope?s recent statement warning Catholic elected officials that they risk excommunication and would not receive communion for their pro-choice views,? the lawmakers said in a statement issued yesterday. ?Advancing respect for life and for the dignity of every human being is, as our church has taught us, our own life?s mission.?
?I?ve always thought also that those bishops and archbishops who for decades hid pederasts and are now being protected by the Vatican should be indicted,? said Catholic Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who spoke to reporters last week.
The House Democrats? letter mirrors a ?statement of principles? that 55 Democrats, encompassing a broad ideological swath of the caucus, signed last year [and which I blogged about here.]. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who is Catholic, signed the letter, as did anti-abortion rights Reps. Bart Stupak (Mich.) and Jim Langevin (R.I.).
First, before Rosa DeLauro and her seventeen compadres got too worked up, they might have listened to the subsequent clarifications that came from the Vatican. Now they just look foolish and uninformed for protesting something that they aren’t (currently) actually being threatened with. It does raise an interesting point, however. Perhaps they thought that Pope Benedict withdrew from his comments about excommunication because of pressure, and were hoping to further pressure Pope Benedict from his comments regarding denying oneself the Eucharist (though, in fact, as I understand it, he is on solid ground with the later but shakier ground on the former. You’re invited to read a far more informed analysis of that situation here).
Second, their absurd statement about the fact that “Advancing respect for life and for the dignity of every human being” is “as our church has taught us, our own life?s mission” completely begs the question about their pro-abortion stance, and really, throws it in the recipient’s face.
Third, how exactly would excommunication “offend the very nature of the American experiment”? I presume they are talking about separation of church and state. Well, if one’s religion is a personal issue (as they continually argue), then how can a censure (or less than that – an admission of unworthiness to receive the Eucharist) in that personal arena have effects on the person’s public and political persona? Sorry – you can’t have it both ways. Either your religion and personal opinions matter or they don’t.
At any rate, I’m so tired of this kind of defiance (really, this gunning for a fight) from these flagrantly pro-abortion Democrats. And seriously, with this kind of manifest, public opposition to the Church’s teachings and authority to guard the Sacraments as well as apply medicinal penalties, how can any of the politicians who signed this document be given the Eucharist?!
(If anyone finds the full document please give me a head’s-up. thank you.)
Update: Day Two links…
- CWNews: House Democrats rap Pope’s stand against pro-abortion pols
- CNA: Giuliani says he will not challenge Pope on abortion-Communion
- LifeSiteNews: Pro-Abortion Members of Congress Blast Pope Benedict on Excommunication
And from the other side…
- Daily Women’s Health Policy: House Democrats Respond to Pope’s Comments About Politicians Who Support Abortion Rights
- Los Angeles Times ed: Vatican putting a spin on the Pope
- Relgion News Service: Catholic Dems protest Pope’s abortion comments
And actually, Maggie Gallagher had some good words to give:
The truth is these amateur Washington theologians have it exactly backward. Separation of church and state does not mean elected officials get to tell religious leaders to whom they must give religious sacraments, on pain of public excommunication from “the American experiment.”
You want to know what “separation of church and state” means on this issue? Consult a Mormon venture capitalist. At the first GOP debate earlier this month, Chris Matthews asked former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney what he says to Roman Catholic bishops who withhold communion from Catholic politicians, and whether they are “interfering with public life?”
Romney shot back: “I don’t say anything to Roman Catholic bishops. They can do whatever the heck they want. Roman Catholic bishops are in a private institution, a religion … I can’t imagine a government telling a church who can have communion in their church. We have separation of church and state, and it’s served us well.”
Amen to that.