WASHINGTON, May 20, 2004 ( – The fight over the reception of communion for pro-abortion Catholic politicians is continuing with 48 Catholic Congressmen sending an open letter “warning” bishops to back away from their stand and claiming that their defense of Catholic doctrine will damage the Church’s position. The letter warns the US bishops that their decision to consider barring pro-abortion politicians from communion could re-ignite anti-Catholic sentiment in the US.

“For many years Catholics were denied public office by voters who feared that they would take direction from the Pope,” the Congressmen wrote. ” . . . While that type of paranoid anti-Catholicism seems to be a thing of the past, attempts by Church leaders today to influence votes by the threat of withholding a sacrament will revive latent anti-Catholic prejudice, which so many of us have worked so hard to overcome.”  Remarkably, the letter was addressed directly to Theodore Cardinal McCarrick who has recently angered pro-life activists by refusing to refuse communion to pro-abortion politicians. McCarrick is the head of a task force that is considering the bishops’ response to Catholic politicians who support abortion ‘rights.’ The Cardinal’s office had no comment but the response has been strong from at least one source. A large number of Catholic political and social analysts self-publish their conclusions on a series of interconnected weblogs.  Mark Shea’s spot, “Catholic and Enjoying It”, one of the more traveled websites in cyberspace, responded with typical wit, comparing the Congressmen’s letter to the thinly veiled threats of mafia extortionists. Shea pointed out that the Congressmen, all Democrats, can’t have it both ways, “Is abortion a religious issue that shouldn’t be dragged into politics or is it a political issue that religious figures have no right to speak about?” Many of Shea’s commentators pointed out the hypocrisy of objecting to episcopal involvement in abortion politics. Said one, “None of these folk likely lost any sleep over segregationist politicians being excommunicated by their bishops in the 1960’s. They just don’t see abortion as a non-negotiable moral issue. But most likely have no objection to church sanctions per se – just over the issue in question.”

At the Catholic World News blog, “Diogenes” poured scorn on the Congressmen’s decision to attack McCarrick. He writes, “writing to McCarrick to be openhanded with communion is like pleading with Barbara Streisand not to succumb to the blandishments of the Christian Right. Clearly the manifesto serves no purpose in convincing the already convinced, but it has great ‘leakability’ in the Washington area…”“Catholic and Enjoying It” Mark Shea’s witty and often devastating critique of political shenanigans:  Diogenes’ commentary at Catholic World   For a full list of Congressional letter-signers see Fr. Brice Sibley’s ‘blog,


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