NewsWed May 21, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST
Abortion-Politician-Communion Scandal Shows Real Lack of Pastoral Concern - Editorial
By John-Henry Westen
The politics surrounding the matter of reception of Holy Communion by Catholics in public life who support legal abortion has confused the issue in the minds of most Americans. It’s not the politics of the politicians, so much as the perceived politics of the Bishops and the Pope that is the source of the confusion.
The popular perception sees caring liberal bishops welcoming Catholic politicians regardless of their abortion orientation to receive Communion while heartless conservative bishops use confrontation at the altar rail as an opportunity to embarrass and harass political leaders who cross them on their hobbyhorse of opposing a woman’s ‘right to choose’.
Taking a look at the issue through a Canadian lens may help put the matter in better focus. For many years the only Canadian bishop to address the issue was Calgary Bishop Fred Henry in the province of Alberta. The Calgary prelate was the first bishop in recent years to say publicly that Catholic politicians who supported abortion and same-sex marriage would be refused Communion. Bishop Henry is however the farthest thing from a right-wing conservative imaginable. In fact, he is best known as "Red Fred" for his untiring and very vocal support for trade unions.
Another Canadian bishop has recently spoken out on the issue as well - Archbishop Terrence Prendergast - who was recently installed as Archbishop in the Canadian capital city of Ottawa.
I interviewed Archbishop Prendergast on the issue recently and he revealed what seems to be a hidden truth in the abortion and communion debate. He explained that denial of Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians is an act of love for the Catholic politician him or herself - an act meant to call the politician back to the truth. Prendergast said: "The Church’s concern is for anyone who persists in grave sin, hoping that medicinal measures may draw them away from the wrong path to the truth of our faith." He said that "medicinal" remedies such as "denial of communion" are employed to "draw them back to the way of Christ, Our Lord, the Way, the Truth and the Life."
Catholics believe that Holy Communion is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
From the earliest days of the Church, receiving Holy Communion unworthily has been forbidden; forbidden out of concern for those who would make such unworthy communions. St. Paul in the eleventh chapter of First Corinthians wrote: "Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord." (1 Cor. 11:27-29)
From this perspective, Bishops who treat Catholic politicians who support abortion as if they were in full communion with the Church are neglecting their pastoral concern and charity for their wayward spiritual children.
For the Vatican, there is no question about the need to deny Holy Communion to Catholic politicians who vote in favour of abortion. The issue was closed with a letter from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.
The then-Vatican Cardinal intervened into a debate among the US Bishops on the issue in 2004. Simply put, Cardinal Ratzinger said in his letter titled "Worthiness to receive Holy Communion", that a Catholic politician who would vote for "permissive abortion and euthanasia laws" after being duly instructed and warned, "must" be denied Communion. Ratzinger’s letter explained that if such a politician "with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it."
Since then, Pope Benedict XVI has confirmed this position speaking as Pope. Answering a reporter on an in-flight press conference last May, Pope Benedict addressed a question on the Mexican bishops excommunicating politicians who support legalizing abortion. "Yes, this excommunication was not an arbitrary one but is allowed by Canon law which says that the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with receiving communion, which is receiving the body of Christ," said the Pope.
In the comment, the Pope was referring to the Church’s Canon law 915 which states: "Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."
Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis, a pre-eminent Scholar of Canon Law remarked on the need for Bishops to uphold this canon since without doing so they undermine belief in the truth of the evil of abortion. "No matter how often a bishop or priest repeats the teaching of the Church regarding procured abortion, if he stands by and does nothing to discipline a Catholic who publicly supports legislation permitting the gravest of injustices and, at the same time, presents himself to receive Holy Communion, then his teaching rings hollow," he said. "To remain silent is to permit serious confusion regarding a fundamental truth of the moral law."
It is not only the Pope who has been reiterating the truth that Catholic politicians who support abortion ‘must’ be denied Communion. The highest authority on the subject in the Vatican, next to the Pope, is the head (or Prefect) of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments - Nigerian-born Cardinal Francis Arinze.
Already in 2004, Cardinal Arinze said a pro-abortion politician "is not fit" to receive Communion. "If they should not receive, then they should not be given," he added.
Since then, Cardinal Arinze, who is still in his position as Prefect of the Congregation, has been asked about the issue so frequently he has begun to joke about it. The latest such incident was videotaped and is available on Youtube.
The November 2007 video shows Cardinal Arinze eliciting much laughter and applause when he made the analogy, "To the person who says, ‘Personally I’m against abortion, but if people what to do it, I’ll leave them free’, you could say, ‘You are a member of the senate or the congress, personally I’m not in favour of shooting the whole lot of you, but if somebody else wants to shoot all of you in the Senate, or all of you in Congress, it’s just pro-choice for that person, but personally, I’m not in favour.’
"That is what he is saying. He’s saying he’s personally not in favour of killing these millions of children in the womb, but if others want to do it, that’s pro-choice. That’s what he is saying."
Arinze said that he is regularly asked if a person who votes for abortion can receive Holy Communion. He replies, "Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that? Get the children for first Communion and say to them, ‘Somebody votes for the killing of unborn babies, and says, I voted for that, I will vote for that every time.’ And these babies are killed not one or two, but in millions, and that person says, ‘I’m a practicing Catholic’, should that person receive Communion next Sunday? The children will answer that at the drop of a hat. You don’t need a cardinal to answer that."
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Pope’s exhortation is a ‘breach’ with Catholic Tradition: leading German philosopher
April 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A prominent Catholic philosopher and close friend of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said Thursday that Pope Francis’s exhortation Amoris Laetitia is a “breach” with Catholic tradition and directly contradicts the teachings of Pope St. John Paul II in his exhortation Familiaris Consortio.
"If the pope is not willing to make a correction, it is up to another pontificate to officially put things back into order."
Professor Robert Spaemann told the Catholic News Agency’s German branch that changing the Church’s sacramental practice would be “a breach with its essential anthropological and theological teaching on human marriage and sexuality.”
“It is clear to every thinking person who knows the texts that are important in this context that [with Amoris Laetitia] there is a breach” with the Church’s Tradition, Spaemann said.
The professor’s remarks were translated by Dr. Maike Hickson in an article at OnePeterFive.
In Familiaris Consortio, Pope St. John Paul II upheld the Church’s longstanding approach to the question of admitting to the Sacraments remarried divorcees, by writing:
…the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.
Footnote 351 of Amoris Laetitia seemingly contradicts the above passage by asserting that in certain cases, integrating back into the Church the divorced and remarried and others in “irregular” situations “can include the help of the sacraments.” The footnote then mentions both Confession and the Eucharist.
Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Maria Santissima in Astana, Kazakhstan criticized Amoris Laetitia for its lack of clarity on the subject. “Analyzing some of the affirmations of AL with an honest understanding, as they are in their own context, one finds that there is a difficulty in interpreting them according to the traditional doctrine of the Church,” wrote Schneider.
Spaemann also condemned the exhortation’s seeming embrace of “situation ethics” as opposed to universal norms and its call to not judge people’s actions that directly contradict the Church’s sexual ethics.
“When it comes to sexual relations which are in objective contradiction to the Christian order of life, I would like to know from the pope after which time period and under which conditions such an objectively sinful behavior becomes a conduct which is pleasing to God,” said Spaemann.
By turning “chaos into principle” with “one stroke of a pen,” Pope Francis is leading the Church “into the direction of schism,” Spaemann said—and he warned that such a schism would not be “at the periphery, but in the middle of the Church.”
Spaemann also warned that Amoris Laetitia may be used to bully faithful priests. He wrote:
Each individual cardinal, as well as each bishop and each priest is now called to preserve in his field of authority the Catholic Sacramental Order and to confess it publicly. If the pope is not willing to make a correction, it is up to another pontificate to officially put things back into order.
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Federally funded community health center may have illegally performed abortions: Report
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A federally qualified health center (FQHC) apparently performed abortions, although nearly all federal funds are forbidden from being used for that purpose, sources tell LifeSiteNews. Now, pro-life congressmen are demanding further investigations into the use of U.S. taxpayer funds to promote abortion-on-demand.
The issue came to light when a federal inspector general's report found that six Americorps volunteers had been acting as "abortion doulas," giving emotional support to women who chose to have abortions.
The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) allowed the volunteers – who received tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars – to support abortions that took place inside a New York abortion facility run by the Institute for Family Health (IFH).
Americorps “volunteers” illegally supporting abortion at taxpayer expense is an ongoing problem. But there's more to the story.
The IFH proudly advertises itself as a federally qualified health center (FQHC). Federal dollars are restricted from underwriting most abortion at FQHCs, in line with the Hyde Amendment. This does not hold true for the Affordable Care Act, conventionally known as ObamaCare.
To ease qualms raised by pro-life Democrat Bart Stupak and others, on March 24, 2010, Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13535. It states that “the Hyde [Amendment] language shall apply to the authorization and appropriations of funds for Community Health Centers...I hereby direct the Secretary of HHS to ensure that program administrators and recipients of federal funds are aware of and comply with the limitations on abortion services imposed on CHCs by existing law.”
Pro-life groups warned at the time that an executive order was insufficient to prevent taxpayer funding of abortion, and the law itself had to be amended – or defeated.
Pro-life experts today say Congress must investigate whether the law is being violated and, if so, if the offense is isolated to IFH.
"For years the Obama administration has claimed that the Affordable Care Act and federally-funded health centers do not subsidize abortion, and the president finally signed additional provisions, passed last year by Congress, to ensure that community health centers do not use federal funds to support abortion,” said Arina Grossu, the director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council. “Now we learn that CNCS is violating the law by helping women obtain abortions.”
“This blatant violation of federal law by CNCS and AmeriCorps demands that Congress investigate government-funded community health centers,” Grossu said. “It's time for this administration to stop foisting its radical abortion agenda on the American people and using their tax dollars to do so.”
Pro-life advocates have long said that there is no need to fund Planned Parenthood, because federal women's health dollars could be reappropriated to FQHCs, which do not perform abortion.
There are 9,170 federally qualified health centers compared to about 700 Planned Parenthood facilities, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute. FQHCs see 21.1 million patients a year, while Planned Parenthood saw 2.8 million people, the institute reported.
The latest example of federal dollars being channeled to support abortion, the law notwithstanding, has undermined some confidence in the FQHCs.
Rep. Diane Black, a pro-life Republican from Tennessee, said, “NACHC didn’t just break the rules; they broke trust with the American people. My constituents expect that federal funding given to our community health centers will be used to protect and enhance people’s lives, not to be a willing partner in their destruction.”
At least two Congressional leaders – the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the chair of the House Health Subcommittee – have promised they will take action immediately.
“Federal law demands that taxpayer dollars are never to be spent on abortion activities. Not one penny. Period. But a disturbing report from an independent watchdog reveals that was not the case with brazen pursuits by the National Association of Community Health Centers,” said Congressmen Fred Upton and Joseph Pitts of Pennsylvania, both Republicans. “The law was violated and this shameful failure of trust will not be tolerated.”
Abortion lobbyists demand Ted Cruz renounce pro-life leader Troy Newman
WICHITA, Kansas, April 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The nation's largest abortion providers, an abortion lobbying group, and an ultra-liberal political organization are demanding that Senator Ted Cruz cut ties with Operation Rescue President Troy Newman – something that only proves how effective he has been, Newman's organization says.
Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and People for the American Way are asking Cruz to fire Newman as national co-chair of the “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” coalition, claiming that Newman supports violence.
“Troy Newman’s history of violent rhetoric and harassment toward women’s health providers is truly beyond the pale,” the three say in a letter to Sen. Cruz, linking to quotations from his 2000 book, Their Blood Cries Out.
“What Planned Parenthood and their cohorts call 'violent rhetoric' is really a discussion of Old Testament Bible verses taken out of context,” said Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue and co-author of the book Their Blood Cries Out. The work establishes the sinful guilt of abortion before highlighting the mercy available in the New Testament for those who accept Jesus Christ, Sullenger said.
The letter also cites a report from the National Abortion Federation stating that abortionists have experienced an increase in “hate speech and internet harassment” since the release of CMP's undercover videos of Planned Parenthood, “which Newman was a driving force behind.”
“What they call 'harassment' is peaceful activism that is completely protected by the First Amendment,” Sullenger responded.
Newman has consistently denounced criminal action and violence of any kind during his decades in the pro-life movement, Operation Rescue said of the allegations – many of which were circulated to prevent Newman from entering Australia last year.
“Newman’s position on abortion-related violence is clear. He denounces violence against abortion providers as well as the violence perpetrated by the abortion cartel against innocent babies in the womb and their mothers,” Sullenger said.
“Attacking the messenger is the only way they have to try to discredit the hefty volume of evidence against them. This most recent attack is all about manipulating the public’s perception against those who exposed Planned Parenthood in order to deflect attention from their own crimes.”
But the three groups poured vitriolic scorn on Newman. Michael Keegan, president of People for the American Way, called Newman's role “completely unacceptable...No politician should be allowed to pander to violent anti-choice extremists without being called out.”
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said, "Troy Newman is an anti-choice extremist and misogynist ideologue.”
A Planned Parenthood executive said the choice proved Sen. Cruz and his vice presidential choice, Carly Fiorina, are unfit for office.
“It is not surprising to see Ted Cruz embrace this type of violent extremism -- after all this is the same man who has told malicious lies about Planned Parenthood, would criminalize abortion, and tried to shut down the government” to defund Planned Parenthood, said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “This is what the Cruz-Fiorina ticket stands for."
Sullenger dismissed their rhetoric as “a feeble attempt to hurt the presidential candidacy of Sen. Ted Cruz, who they know will seek to enforce the laws against them.”
Cruz has repeatedly stated that, if he is elected president, he will defund Planned Parenthood – before prosecuting them.
Their letter has led to a number of articles in the mainstream media, including Politico, the Huffington Post, and Glamour. The last publication, a feminist magazine aimed at young women, slammed Ted Cruz's choice of Carly Fiorina for vice president, telling its readers to “hold on to your uterus.”
“Not one of these publications bothered to reach out to Newman or Operation Rescue’s staff for their response,” Sullenger said.
This morning and afternoon, both sides of the abortion debate have used the Twitter hashtag #FireTroy to get their message across.
Sen. Cruz has not responded to the call, but the letter implies that purging Newman from the campaign would not satisfy the pro-abortion coalition. “There are a number of coalition members whose records raise serious concerns,” they say.