Cardinal Ratzinger Orders Kerry Communion Ban

Phil Brennan,
Wednesday, July 7, 2004

In a private memorandum, top Vatican prelate Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger told American bishops that Communion must be denied to Catholic politicians who support legal abortion.

While never mentioning Sen. John Kerry by name, the memo implicitly aims at the pro-choice Catholic Massachusetts senator and presidential candidate.

Ratzinger’s ban is broad and includes all other pro-abortion Catholic politicians who are defying the church’s ban on abortion.

According the Culture of Life Foundation, which obtained a copy of the confidential document, the Cardinal began by stressing the serious nature of receiving Communion and the need for each person to make “a conscious decision” regarding their worthiness based on “the Church’s objective criteria.”

But the Cardinal adds that it is not only the responsibility of the pro-abortion politicians such as Kerry to make a judgment about their worthiness to receive Communion.

It is also up to those distributing Communion to deny the sacrament to those in conflict with the Church’s prohibition of abortion and the duty of office holders to oppose the procedure.

“Apart from an individual’s judgment about his worthiness to present himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone, such as in cases of a declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin.”

If a politician such as Kerry “still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it, ” Cardinal Ratzinger wrote.

He added that such as denial does not mean that the minister of Communion is judging the politician’s soul but is a reflection that he is in a state of obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin.

“Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.”

The document also address the issues of the death penalty and war, contrasting these issues and with abortion.

“Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia … There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia,” Ratzinger wrote.

The memo was one of the subjects of an interim report by a task force of seven bishops established to address the Communion question.

The topic was also addressed by the American Bishops during their mid-June meeting in Dallas.

At that meeting the Bishops approved a document titled “Catholics in Political Life” which while it had harsh words for pro-abortion leaders, did not make specific recommendations on whether or not they should be denied Communion instead leaving the decision to individual Bishops.

Implicit in what the the Cardinal was saying, however, is that the bishops are required to state unambiguously that pro-abortion politicians must be denied Holy Communion, thus removing the decision from the bishops’ discretion.


48 thoughts on “Cardinal Ratzinger Orders Kerry Communion Ban”

  1. As this Christian Science Monitor article makes clear, John Kerry’s views on abortion (it should be safe legal and rare) more closely matches the views of most Americans. I don’t agree with all of this article since I believe that Roe vs. Wade rests on false assumptions, and does need to be reconsidered. But the fact is most Americans prefer Kerry’s more moderate approach
    Making Abortion Rare

    In the 30 years since the Supreme Court legalized abortion, one aspect of the debate has hardly changed: the large swath of Americans who hold a middle position between the polarizing prochoice and prolife positions.

    According to Gallup, which has polled on abortion since 1975, a majority of Americans consistently falls in the middle category of supporting legal abortion with certain restrictions (as opposed to believing abortion should be legal under any circumstances or illegal in all circumstances).

    Yet for three decades, the attention has been on the extremes. Their voices and actions have unnecessarily taken a matter of individual conscience and made it a matter of party and activist politics. Some activists falsely equate prochoice with feminism. Others – a few, radicalized prolife advocates – have murdered doctors who perform abortions and bombed clinics.

    The polarization could intensify as the prochoice side sounds the alarm that now, unlike at its 25th anniversary in 1998, the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade faces a real danger of being overturned. With Republican control of Congress and the White House, and with Supreme Court vacancies on the horizon, the political fire wall protecting legalized abortion has been knocked down, they argue.

    In addition, the prolife side, having successfully pushed restrictions such as waiting periods in dozens of states, is gearing up in Washington. It plans to push at least four anti-abortion bills through Congress.

    Where the majority stands
    A refreshing and needed change would be to shift the abortion focus to where most Americans stand – not wanting to overturn Roe v. Wade, yet troubled by the high number of abortions. Fundamentally, a woman, not the government, should make her own reproductive choices.

    It’s encouraging that the abortion rate has been steadily dropping. It peaked, according to the Guttmacher Institute, in 1981, at 29.3 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. In 2000, the rate was 21.3 abortions per 1,000 women in that age bracket.

    Although that’s the lowest rate since 1974, it’s still 1.31 million abortions out of a population of some 280 million, and one of the highest abortion rates in the industrialized West.

    The cause of the drop, apparently, lies in more use of contraception and new kinds of birth control, and greater abstinence. But these and other reasons also are hotly debated, and a greater effort must be made to pin down the causes behind this positive trend, and support what works.

    At the same time, Americans should be wary of potential changes in federal law that come in the guise of moderation yet would work against Roe v. Wade.

    For instance, the proposed Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which the prolife camp is pushing in Congress, would make it an additional offense to kill or injure a fetus during a federal crime.

    While the Supreme Court did rule that states may restrict or ban abortions when a fetus could be viable outside the womb (considered to be 22 to 26 weeks), it shied away from establishing a fetus as a person. Instead, the court’s Roe v. Wade ruling was based on a constitutionally implied right to privacy, which left the agonizing choice of abortion up to the woman.

    Roe’s competition
    Precedent has been building in establishing “rights” for the unborn, with 26 states passing similar laws to the proposed Unborn Victims of Violence Act, and the White House, by executive order, making the unborn eligible for health insurance. While this trend does not undermine Roe v. Wade directly, it builds competing law that, in the end, could cause the Supreme Court to weigh protecting a woman’s right against new laws establishing legal protections for the unborn.

    What contributes to the intensity of debate in this country is that abortion law has essentially been set by the court. In Europe, it has been set legislatively and presumably reflects the will of the people. The prolife camp recognizes this and is trying to change a constitutional ruling through state legislatures and Congress.

    Most Americans do not want to return to illegal, back-street abortion, but they also would like abortions to become rare. This is the time to redouble efforts to reduce unwanted pregnancies so that fewer women have to confront such a choice.

  2. A couple of clarifications. Kerry’s rhetoric does not match his voting record. The author ought to have argued from the record, not campaign statements. Kerry is an unflinching apologist for abortion, hence Ratzinger’s rebuke.

    Second, the article is an opinion piece masquerading as news. The author offers only meager data, and then only to imply that the author pro-life. Reading how the author frames the debate however, it’s clear the author is anything but pro-life.

    If the piece has any value at all is in the unstated but evident worry that the walls around abortion on demand are crumbling.

  3. I agree that Kerry needs to back up his rhetoric (to make abortion rare) with some actual proposals or else he is fair game for criticism on the abortion issue. Kerry’s defense of Roe v. Wade makes me uncomfortable because the entire decision rests on the dubious proposition that the beginning of life cannot be determined.

    The CSM article does make two valuable observations (1) that abortion rates are delining and we should try and understand the trends that are driving them lower. If we can understand those trends then we can further encourage them and push abortion rates lower. (2) We need to seek practical approaches for reducing the number and rate of abortion that are less polarizing and confrontational.

  4. The article quoted is very clearly on the side of pro-abortion advocates. This is indicated by its consistent description of the pro-life movement as “pushing legislation through Congress” (as if pro-abortion advocates have never pushed anything through our government), as “unneccesarily making an issue of personal choice an issue of activism and politics” (as if pro-abortion advocates have refrained–ha!–from politicizing the issue), and similar rhetoric. It dissembles by saying “encouraging” things like “the abortion rate has dropped” and “there are still too many abortions” while not budging from the idea that abortion is a reasonable practice which those bad pro-lifers with their oppressive ways are trying to curtail.

    Nowhere in the article is mentioned the legitimacy of the moral argument against abortion. Rather, the author trots out the tired old idea that the question of whether to kill an unborn human being is a question of subjective personal choice. This flies in the face of the universal and ancient human understanding that abortion destroys an innocent human life.

    I see this article as part of a disturbing (because more subtle) trend in the pro-abortion movement to adopt a quieter tone which portrays itself as rational (and the pro-life movement as confrontational and therefore irrational) and thereby to lull people into accepting the pro-abortion message hidden in the background. This is my personal observation, not something I can back up with statistics. My suspicion was originally aroused by a large banner which appeared a month ago on the front of the Planned Parenthood clinic down the street from where I live. The sign reads: “Practice Respect and Tolerance.” This seems to me to be a diversionary tactic. It cloaks a message of death in a tone of civility. It sanitizes the idea that a woman can protect her lifestyle at all costs, including that of her baby’s life. But the pro-abortion message is a lie, and its claim that the issue is one of “personal choice” rather than one of moral principle is misleading. Pro-life advocates are confrontational because such lies must be confronted with the truth. Planned Parenthood’s banner, were it to be completely honest, should read: “Practice Respect, Tolerance, and Infanticide.”

  5. I agree with Bill that the pro-choice movement has consciously avoided dealing with the moral issues connected with abortion. My wife had a sonogram only 12 weeks into pregnancy and it was a very powerful experience for both of us. At only 12 weeks my daughter had arms, legs and a face. Her limbs were moving and she appeared to be responding to stimuli. We both remarked that her development was far more advanced than we expected.

    Roe v. Wade attempted to balance two competing interests; the woman’s right to control her own body and the state’s interest in protecting maternal and neonatal life. But I think Justice Blackmun put a heavy thumb on the scales when he declared that we can’t know when life begins, so therefore during the first trimester of pregnancy the fetus doesn’t possess the qualities of life to activate the state’s interest in protecting it.

    The Pro-Life movement doesn’t acknowlege that human behavior is complex, and to truly correct a problem we have to address the underlying causes and not just the symptoms. It doesn’t subvert our respect for human life to devote attention to understanding why unintended pregnancies occur and exploring differnt methods for reducing them.

    This week the United Nations announced that there were 5 million new cases of AIDs in the world and that many Asian countries in particular risk a devastating epidemic unless they take steps to steps to change their citizens sexual behavior. Similarly we should stop treating abortion a political football, and instead address the problem of irresponsible sexual behavior and unintented pregnancies as a public health issue.

  6. Dean, I like your perspective on this one, with a few reservations. For one thing, I don’t believe that the pro-life movement is ignorant either of the complexity of human behavior or of the need to prevent abortion further upstream, so to speak. What, after all, is abstinence education about? But you are entirely correct in pointing out that the underlying causes of abortion must be addressed for the problem to dissolve. Changing the sexual behavior of citizens is essential; however, I’m not convinced that dealing with the problem solely as a matter of public health is sufficient. It remains essentially a moral problem with ramifications for public health. Any other thoughts on the public health angle from anyone? Dean? Michael? Fr. Hans?

  7. Dean,
    Not surpassingly you have used the good news of Ratzinger’s action to propagandize for your collectivist economics. I find this statement particularly offensive:

    “The Pro-Life movement doesn’t acknowledge that human behavior is complex, and to truly correct a problem we have to address the underlying causes and not just the symptoms. It doesn’t subvert our respect for human life to devote attention to understanding why unintended pregnancies occur and exploring different methods for reducing them.”

    As a member of the “Pro-Life movement”, that is the Orthodox Church, I can say unequivocally that you are wrong. The Church and other parts of society that recognize the evil of abortion are not, repeat, not simple minded about “human behavior”. On the contrary, it is the Hegelian/Marxist/liberal politics that you expouse that is manifestly simple minded about human nature. Before proposing yet another “solution” from the pro-choice philosophy, perhaps you will take the time to actually study the history of your philosophy. I have a straightforward question for you Dean: Should legalized abortion, from conception on, be legal in any form in these United States?

  8. Roe v. Wade was not an attempt to “balance two competing interests; the woman’s right to control her own body and the state’s interest in protecting maternal and neonatal life.” These two concepts appear nowhere in the ruling. In fact, the ruling held just the opposite: the state has no interest in protecting unborn life.

    It accomplished this with two previously unknown legal constructs: the right to privacy and viability. The right to privacy asserts that the decision to abort is entirely a private affair (the state has no interest in regulating abortion) left to the discretion of the mother. Viability asserts that an unborn child has no right to life — no legal standing as a human being thus not afforded the protection of the law — unless it is able to live unaided outside the womb. (We saw this at an earlier time in history: the Dredd Scott ruling held that the Black man (former slave) had no legal standing either.)

    The problem with the first assertion is that the right to privacy does not exist as a constitutional precept, a point the justices acknowledged when they defended the construct as existing in the “shadows and penumbras” of the Constitution.

    The concept of viability is even more specious. No organism is viable outside of their natural environment. The womb is the natural environment of the unborn child and to require the child to live outside the womb unaided is like asking the astronaut to walk in space without a suit, or the diver to live under water without air. Even pro-choice jurists admit that viability is a seriously flawed concept.

    Second, as Justice O’Conner noted in a later ruling, the line of viability is fluid. As technology improves, the earlier a child can live outside of the womb. The justices ignorantly assumed that viability was a point fixed in time. It isn’t.

    Further, your assertion that pro-lifers don’t understand the complexities of human behavior is paternalistic, even arrogant. The facts are that the help given to pregnant women comes from the pro-life side, not the pro-choicers. Check your yellow pages.

    Consider partial birth abortion. Why is it that pro-choice leaders don’t object to this barbarism? We don’t even euthanize stray dogs with such brutality. (BTW, are you aware that when neo-natal surgery is done, the surgeons anesthesize the unborn child? Why do you suppose they do this?) People who defend such cruelty are hard pressed to help a pregnant mother keep a child to term. That kind of charity requires the implicit admission that the child she carries has value — something pro-choicers cannot admit without creating cracks in their ideological foundation.

    The assumptions you hold about abortion are drawn from pro-choice polemics and not the facts. You need to study up more. Start by reading Roe v. Wade:

  9. The right to privacy inherent in the Bill of Rights was described in great length by Justice Douglas in GRISWOLD v. CONNECTICUT, 381 U.S. 479 (1965), which concerned a law banning the sale of contraceptives.

    Justice Douglas wrote:

    “The foregoing cases suggest that specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance. See Poe v. Ullman, 367 U.S. 497, 516 -522 (dissenting opinion). Various guarantees create zones of privacy. The right of association contained in the penumbra of the First Amendment is one, as we have seen. The Third Amendment in its prohibition against the quartering of soldiers “in any house” in time of peace without the consent of the owner is another facet of that privacy. The Fourth Amendment explicitly affirms the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” The Fifth Amendment in its Self-Incrimination Clause enables the citizen to create a zone of privacy which government may not force him to surrender to his detriment. The Ninth Amendment provides: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

    The Fourth and Fifth Amendments were described in Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, 630 , as protection against all governmental invasions “of the sanctity of a man’s home and the privacies of life.” * We recently referred [381 U.S. 479, 485] in Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 656 , to the Fourth Amendment as creating a “right to privacy, no less important than any other right carefully and particularly reserved to the people.” See Beaney, The Constitutional Right to Privacy, 1962 Sup. Ct. Rev. 212; Griswold, The Right to be Let Alone, 55 Nw. U. L. Rev. 216 (1960).

    We have had many controversies over these penumbral rights of “privacy and repose.” See, e. g., Breard v. Alexandria, 341 U.S. 622, 626 , 644; Public Utilities Comm’n v. Pollak, 343 U.S. 451 ; Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167 ; Lanza v. New York, 370 U.S. 139 ; Frank v. Maryland, 359 U.S. 360 ; Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 541 . These cases bear witness that the right of privacy which presses for recognition here is a legitimate one.”

    As these words make clear the constitution is not a Napoleanic code or compendium of very specific, narrowly defined little rules. The constitution is a dynamic and living document offering broad guidelines meant to be adaptable to new and changing situations the framers could not foresee exactly, but wanted to prepare the nation for nonetheless.

  10. You say, “Roe v. Wade was not ‘an attempt to balance two competing interests; the woman’s right to control her own body and the state’s interest in protecting maternal and neonatal life.’ These two concepts appear nowhere in the ruling. In fact, the ruling held just the opposite: the state has no interest in protecting unborn life.”

    In fact Blackmun’s opinion stated: “State criminal abortion laws, like those involved here, that except from criminality only a life-saving procedure on the mother’s behalf without regard to the stage of her pregnancy and other interests involved violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman’s qualified right to terminate her pregnancy. Though the State cannot override that right, it has legitimate interests in protecting both the pregnant woman’s health and the potentiality of human life, each of which interests grows and reaches a “compelling” point at various stages of the woman’s approach to term.”

    I’m not defending Blackmun. I think the state’s interest in protecting the pregnant woman’s health and neonatal life is “compelling” and in the first trimester, not later, as Blackmun opined. But he is in fact weighing the state interest against the woman’s right to privacy as I said, and he does acknowlege that there is a state interest in protecting unborn life, only much later in pregnancy.

  11. The Constitution clearly states that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. In order for abortion on demand to be legal, the unborn child has to be, legally, a non-person. Roe vs. Wade declared children in the womb as non-persons. Abortionists have routinely and openly declared that they agree that the life in the womb is not, in fact, life. It is the grossest exercise in rationalization to believe that the abortionist movement is based upon anything but selfishness and greed. The only “choice” they support is the choice to murder. Somewhere in the archives of this web site is a short piece by a man who declares himself and atheist who is against abortion, not for spiritual or religious reasons, but because the foundation of abortion is the same foundation used for slavery and genocide.

    Abortion is central to the moral disintegration of our culture because, it, more clearly than any other issue, shows the nilism of those who wish to reduce man to an hedonistic animal, allowed to give free reign to any and all impulses. For God’s sake, even most animals, fallen because of our disobedience, have more morality in their society than that.

    I fear for you soul Dean and the soul of your priest if he is allowing you to approach the cup. Cardinal Ratzinger is protecting both the Church and Senator Kerry from severe spiritual harm.

    And, please, put away the old canard that the Constitution is a living, dynamic document. What, shall we fall down and worship the idol? The Constitution is a statement of principals describing how we should be govern and be governed, not a social manifesto. Dean you cry out so woefully for the “poor” and the Biblical requirement that government be just. What justice do unborn children have. If a government refuses or is unable to protect the most vulnerable and the most innocent, it has forfeited its right to govern. Since the Democrat Party’s social agenda is strongly tied to defending the killing of innocent children, it has forfeited its right to govern. It’s abrogation of the simplest statements in the Constitution, twisting them inside out to allow selfish, greedy people to cruelly dismember unborn children and tear apart the souls of the often desperate mothers who come to them is beyond criminal, it is insane.

    Christ said, “I am the life of the world.” Dean do not forget the Paschal Hymn, Christ is Risen from the Dead, trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life. Of course, if we have enough abortions, the problem of the poor may go away as we will have “reduced the surplus population.”

    There is absolutely no Biblical, Patristic, Traditional, moral, ethical or legal justification for abortion.

  12. It’s an empty rationalization Dean. There was no barrier to abortion after the first trimester. In fact, Roe v. Wade allowed abortion up to the day of delivery from the day it was decided. Once the decision to abort became private (once it was decided that the state has no compelling interest in protecting unborn life), abortion was allowed through the ninth month of pregnancy under the rubric that it was necessary for the health of the mother. Abortion on demand became the law of the land.

    If you read the decision you will see that Justice Blackmun’s points are never substantiated, only asserted. Polemics overuled reason, and the only reasons offered — privacy and viability — are so shoddy that they hold up to no legal or medical scrutiny. Blackmun failed here. There is plenty written about the intellectual bankrupcty of the decision elsewhere if anyone cares to look.

    Pro-abortionists grabbed onto Blackmun’s reasoning, just as you do here, as a means to soften the revolutionary impact of the decision (all state laws were swept aside overnight). For years people not attuned to the actual workings of the abortion industry believed no abortions were allowed after the first trimester. At the time of the decision, even abortion activists (NARAL mostly)* were astonished they were granted a victory of such sweeping scope.

    *NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) just changed its name to “Pro-Choice America”; another indication that the moral repugnance of abortion is spreading throughout the land.

    You are in the difficult postion of having to justify abortion in the first three months of pregnancy, while denying it in the last six months (I am assuming you are against partial birth abortions). Let me give you a heads up: it can’t be done. Either abortion is the deliberate killing of a human being or it is not. There is no magical line along the continuum of life where the unborn child is a mere blob of tissue one moment, and a human being the next. The hard cases such as rape or incest are statiscally insignificant, which means that 99.9% of first trimester abortions function as post-conception birth control.

  13. Can anyone explain why, if the Church teaches that every fertilized human ovum contains a human soul and that baptism is needed to free a soul from original sin to enter heaven that it in fact does not baptize miscarried infants in all cases (or any case)?
    This seems slightly inconsistent.

    To Michael: I’m not sure why you fear for Dean’s soul simply because of his beliefs (not actions). He has not performed, paid for or undergone an abortion and his words seems to indicate that it would be an act he would personally avoid. I personally believe most abortions should be illegal (I didn’t always think so). However, to suggest that to think otherwise is somehow is an act of complicity in murder is stretching it, I think, when you consider that those who so think often would use means (outside legislation) to prevent this act from occurring.

  14. James,

    Baptism is not performed to free a soul from original sin. That’s the old Roman Catholic formation based on an Augustinian anthropology which was never a part of eastern theology, and has fallen in increasing disuse in the west as well.

    Baptism is an entry into the death of Christ and a raising into the likeness of His resurrection (Romans 6). Orthodoxy does not teach that children not baptized are shut out from heaven.

  15. Like everyone else who posted I agree that Roe v. Wade must eventually be overturned because its central argument is untenable. The linchpin supporting which the entire opinion is the assertion that in the first trimester the fetus does not posess the status of a legally protected “person”. I see this assetion as increasingly indefensible. (1) The public is supporting new laws treating the fetus as a person regardless of getstational age in cases of violent crime. (2) Medical advances are leading to viability and survival of increasingly premature newborns. (3)Does the underdevelopment of the fetus during the first trimester make it a non-person, or is this stage of underdeveopment a human quality that all humans share and experience? Clearly its the later.

    Sooner or later another case is going to make it out of the lower and appelate courts and the Supremes will have to revist Roe v. Wade.

    The real question I think is how society should proceed once states regain the authority to regulate and restrict abortions. First are there any situations where we consider abortion justifiable, such as rape, incest or life of the mother? Secondly do we just ban abortion all at once, or do we introduce a series of measures aimed at steadily reducing it?

    Experience has shown that laws banning an activity may prove somewhat ineffective in curbing that activity if there are countervailing societal trends operating to encourage it. The passage of Prohibition was a statement reflecting moral outrage over drunkedness and disapation, but it was not effective in changing the underlying desire of people to drink.

    Winning battles is not enough, you have to win hearts and minds. We have to change the underlying behavior that results in abortion. Therefore I believe you have to start with a more comprehensive and incremental approach. This would involve campaign of public education aimed at changing sexual behavior, together with the gradual introduction of financial disincentives, especially for elective, non-medically necesary procedures, and tax credits and subsidies designed to encourage adoption.

  16. So far the left in this country and around the world has refused to allow effective education campaigns to change, limit, or otherwise modify anyone’s sexual behavior–even among young people. In fact, it is getting worse as sexual behavior of any sordid type is now considered a federally protected “right” by many (such as the ACLU).

    Thus we are right back to the fundamental question: the cultural foundation of who and what a person is. All of the debates: Abortion, homosexuality, marriage, family, etc. hinge on whether one accepts the Judeo/Christian idea of personhood or whether one views man as only an animal constitutionally unable to control his appetites.

    Poverty can be addressed by encouraging stong families, working to improve education (removing all of the political blather that passes for thought in so many courses), keep kids in school till the graduate (no social promotions), sexual abstinance until married, stay off drugs/alcohol. Drug/alcohol use, unwed mothers, high school drop outs, and people without intact families account for the vast majority of the poverty stricken in the United States.

    Many of the social programs enacted in the last forty years and the increasing trend of liberal use of education for social engineering and political indroctrination have had a greater negative effect on poverty than any tax cuts for the rich. Who ever the rich are.

  17. Abortion, the tough cases:

    1. Rape: Can we morally force a woman who has been raped and become pregnant to carry her child to term. I say yes, fully supported in terms of cost, etc with immediate adoption upon birth.

    2. Incest: same basic question, same answer

    Reason: it is not the child’s fault that its father is a depraved, violent person.

    The only possible exception would be if the direct physical life of the mother were in question.

  18. Dean,

    You are right on most points in your recent post. You will find that many of the proposals are already in the works. Now, if we could just get your liberal friends to stop opposing these initiatives…

  19. Dean, States have already gained the ability to restrict abortions, at least some late term abortions, with the passage and signing into law the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act (signed, btw, by Pres. Bush whom you dislike and yet vetoed, twice, by Pres. Clinton whom you defend). Your Leftist fellowtravelers did what they always do; they immediately ran to the court to have the law overturned. Quite simply, people whom, I believe, you would consider your political allies want there to absolutely no restriction on when a mother can murder her own child.

    Oh, I’m sorry, allow me to more nuanced and “less polarizing and confrontational”: They want no restrictions on a mothers desire to “end her pregnancy.”

  20. Just to add a human face to the debate. In the 1970’s I had a girl friend who was an absolutely wonderful person, because of my relationship with her, my heart was opened to received the love of Jesus Christ in a way I had not experienced before. We went our separate ways. She became pregnant with a new boy friend and decided to have an abortion. I didn’t know about this until about fifteen years later when we met up again. She was still a wonderful person, but her life had been made a wreck. She had gone through 3 marriages and still suffered great anguish over her decision to abort her child. She had found no peace. Shortly after that she got married again and I have not heard from her since. I can only pray that she was able to find peace and live in unity and harmony with her new husband.

    Oh, by the way, the child was born alive in spite of the abortion attempts (yes attempts), and yet my friend was still in torment because of her decision to murder. Her experience is not unusual.

    God help us all if we are not adamant in our stand against this horrible crime. God help us if we parse words and create euphemisms to rationalize and allow the horror. As I write this I still am in sorrow for the pain my friend endured and I cry out to God to have mercy and heal her, her and all those millions who made the same decision or who may make the same decision.

  21. Interesting discussion on abortion. But most of the arguments against abortion that I’ve seen advanced here depend on 1) the idea that the fetus is a person and 2) “selling” that idea so that it more fully penetrates the thinking of the general public. But some of the most forceful pro-choice arguments I’ve heard both accept the (real or possible) personhood of the fetus. I was wondering how folks here would respond to those arguments.

  22. Jim, having never seen an abortionist argue from the standpoint that the unborn child was a person, I don’t know how I would respond. Every argument I’ve heard or seen in print for the abortionist position goes to great length to declare the child a non-person. Case in point is the current governor of Kansas who (and I paraphrase) said that she believed that government had to protect people, its just that that protection did not extend to a “fetus”. In addition, abortionists I heard and read, always use the word fetus to describe the unborn child.

    I am at a loss to imagine any argument that posits that the unborn child is a person and then advocates killing them.

    Peter Singer at Princeton is in the forefront of extending the non-person status to any child the parents decide they don’t want in the first two years of life.

  23. Ok, the two arguments with which I’m familiar are from the philosopher Ruth Marcus (if memory of college ethics class from 25 years ago is still accurate).

    First argument – You wake up one morning and find yourself in a hospital bed. There is a man, whom you recognize as a world-famous humanitarian and concert violinist, in the bed next to yours. Various tubes run from your body to his. A nurse enters the room and you inquire as to what is going on. She explains that the concert violinist is suffering from liver failure. He is on a treatment program that will eventually cure the disease. But until he is cured, he needs the use of your liver for nine months. You were selected because of your compatible blood type and antibodies. Of course, since the violinist is very sick and unconscious, he knew nothing about this.

    You, of course, complain about this. You say that you had no choice in the matter, and that it is unfair to expect you to endure this, even if it saves another person’s life. The nurse sympathizes with you, but points out that since you are now in fact hooked up to this other person, to unhook you would be equivalent to murder. So she is very sorry, but unfortunately you will have to remain hooked up to this man for the full nine months.

    Now I think what most ethicists would say is that while it would be very nice of you to agree to remain looked up to the violinist in order to save his life, you certainly would be under no *obligation* to do so.

    So what you have here is an example in which an innocent person — unquestionably a person, in fact, a distinguished person — depends on having the use of your body for his continued existence. Even so, most people would agree that you are under no obligation whatsoever to provide the use of your body for that purpose, though it would be very nice if you did so.

    Without explanation on my part you can see how this example could extend to women pregnant through rape.

    Let me end here. If there’s interest, I’ll throw out the second example I mentioned.

  24. By the way, concerning the original article, on the Catholic Church banning pro-choice politicians from communion, I think that could really backfire on them. For many years one of the arguments against electing Catholics to high office was that their ultimate allegiance would be to the Pope, not to the citizens who elected them. Seems to me this latest move by the Church makes that argument plausible to the extent that a politician aspires to be a good Catholic. This is because we don’t know where this would end. Today it is abortion. Tomorrow the death penalty? Would we see a Catholic president threated with banning from communion for engaging in a war with which Church hierarchy disagreed? Or for failing to support legislation that the Church hierarchy supported?

    This recent decision by the church is really contrary to the original spirit of American democracy, and could cause a backlash against religion, especially were people to feel that their elected officials were ultimately under the authority of the Pope, Pat Robertson, or whoever.

    “This blessed country of free inquiry and belief has surrendered its creed and conscience to neither kings nor priests.” — Thomas Jefferson

  25. When morality is ripped from the public square, where will it end?

    No one thought a few decades ago that we would be crushing the skulls of unborn children half-way down the birth canal, or piercing their skulls and extracting their brains. Do we want the cold utilitarianism of Peter Singer to prevail? If so, it’s a morality shorn of all warmth and light and promises even worse cruelty than PBA’s. The moral darkness of the culture of death advocates will create a barbaric culture.

    The Catholic Bishops, have the duty and responsibility to correct their own. Kerry, if he does not agree, is always free to leave the Catholic Church. That is the true spirt of American democracy, not the demand that Christians and Jews conform to the moral vision of the secularist.

  26. It seems to me that the issue here is the role of the church in society, or the relationship of the church to society. If the politician is to be denied communion for advocating a social or moral position with which the church hierarchy disagrees, what then of the voter? Will the church threaten sanctions against those who vote in ways in which the church disapproves?

    What happens if the issue is not abortion, but something that strikes closer to the root of democracy? What if the Church decreed that any speech contrary to Church teaching should be outlawed, and then required all politicians to support that position? Would that be appropriate? In other words, are there any reasonable limits on what the Church could require of politicians, or is it simply “my way or the highway?”

    And I have to disagree with your assertion that the Church not acting as doctrinal enforcer over politicians somehow constitutes a removal of morality from the public square. The politician and the voters always come to the public square with their own moral sensibilities, shaped perhaps to a large extent by the Church. In that sense the church has tremendous moral influence, even without acting as “enforcer.”

  27. Jim, I do not find your anaolgy particularly relevant for rape. The musician has no relation to the person supporting his life. Nor as an adult does he have quite the same call upon the absolute protection of society as does a totally helpless baby.

    A child has a fundamental right to live. A mother has a profound moral and legal responsibility to do all she can to nurture and protect the child’s life. The child should not be denied that right and the mother should not abrogate her responsibility even under our Constitution without due process of law. Due process means a full ajudication of the entire circumstances with all parties involved, father, mother, and child represented. Based on such an understanding your anaolgy fails entirely.

    In any case, abortions due to rape and incest are quite rare and are not really indicative of the larger moral issue. They are a subset and cannot be dealt with properly in isolation. The principals by which a society deals with the overall issue will provide a solid foundation for dealing with the subset.

    In my view, we should follow the teaching of St. Paul, who frequently declared a spiritual principal as absolute from which there should be no variance, then turned around and said, but, if you are unable to submit to God that completely, go boldly before the throne of grace in repentance and you will be forgiven.

    The principal should be-no abortions, they are murder. However, given the fallen state in which we live, there may be rare (quite rare) instances in which an abortion would be allowed. However, as indicated above, each of the instances would have to be ajudicated.

  28. Jim, your comments regarding Church discipline of public figures lacks a proper perspective.

    The Church has the authority and responsibility to instruct, encourage and discipline its members. Denying communion is not a punishment, it is an act of spiritual mercy. As St. Paul says, “if you eat and drink of His Body and His Blood unworthily, you eat and drink damnation to yourself.” To allow someone to persist in an act that will lead to damnation, is unthinkable for the Church.

    Abortion is an issue that strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian. It is on a different moral level than any of the other situations you mention.

    Senator Kerry has a moral choice to make. If he feels that the teaching of the Church is wrong, he should leave the Church. If he knows that the teaching is correct, he needs to do what he must to conform his life to the teaching. Each of us has the same choice to make. It is the height of arrogance to proclaim a fundamental teaching as incorrect and expect to live in full communion.

    Given the opposition of Senator Kerry and other Democrats to President Bush’s judicial nominees on the sole issue of abortion, he has further placed himself in direct opposition to the freedom of other Catholics to practice their faith as the Church teaches. Such opposition is not only a violation of the communion of the Church, it is clearly un-Constitutional as it establishes a religion test to qualify for public office,i.e., One must not act on one’s faith or one is not qualified.

    Whether you want to face the fact or not, there is a secular pogrom against people of faith in this country. The Democrat party is a direct participant. The issue of abortion is the key to their involvement and one can now add homosexual marriage. Besides being destructive to the moral fabric of our country, it is a direct assualt on religious freedom.

  29. It is tempting to juxtapose the Portland Archiocese bankruptcy with the John Kerry communion story. This financial bankruptcy seems almost a perfect metaphor for the moral bankruptcy of an arrogant ecclesiatical heirarchy who for decades deliberately and systematically covered us the crimes of scores of sexual predators while ignoring the suffering of thier victims. Yet somehow they have the moral capital left to attack the morality of an honorable man like John Kerry who has spent his life serving his country. Well that’s one way to shift attention I guess.

    I understand that up until this closely contested 2004 Presidential election, if a Cattholic priest was thought a member was about to receive communion unworthily, the standard procedure was to schedule a private session with that member to discuss the behavior in question in confidence. Cardinal Ratzinger’s memorandum therefore represents a radical new change in policy, from private counseling to public humiliation.

    The prayer we Orthodox Christians read before Communion says, “Father burn me not before I partake, because You are a fire that consumes the unworthy”. God decides who is fit for the Eucharist, not any man. This does not mean, of course, that just anyone should approach the altar, only that ultimately God decides who is worthy.

    It is one the great attributes of the Orthodox clergy that it devotes so much time and care to instructing the laity that communion is NOT a sacrament to be received lightly. Before communion we are instructed to fast, pray, seek forgiveness and make amends with those we may have wronged. We are instructed that at least once a year we must review our personal behavior and acknowlege and show remorse our sins through the sacrament of Confession.

    I think that if the church has strenuously communicated the need for all of these prepatory steps to its members than it has done its job and the rest is in God’s hands.

  30. The Catholic Church has lost some moral authority, no doubt about it, but that doesn’t negate the point that John Kerry’s support of abortion on demand (including PBA) is squarely against Christian moral teaching. Despite the Catholic sins that leaves them open to the charge of hypocrisy, the Bishops are still right to reprove Kerry for his support of abortion as well as his public misrepresentation of Catholic teaching. (The public misstatements are driving the public reproof, I think. Most likely the private conversations have already taken place.)

    Can the Bishops refuse Kerry communion? Yes. This is entirely within their purview and authority to decide, just as it is with Orthodox bishops and in some cases priests. Whether you agree with their decision is another question altogether.

    Speaking for the Orthodox practice, granting communion is not solely a matter between the individual and God although it certainly starts there and in most cases ends there as well. There are times when it is appropriate for the priest or bishop to restrict communion and they too have the authority to do so.

  31. It is always tempting to ignore correct moral teaching from a flawed source. The real problem with giving into such a temptation is that one ends up ignoring all moral teaching because all sources are flawed.

    Life Fr. Jacobse, I suspect that the private guideance for Senator Kerry has been made, at least I hope so. Probably, if Senator Kerry was not also supporting partial birth abortion, refusing judicial confirmation to fellow Catholics who feel they must act in accord with their faith, and trying to make political capital of his Catholic faith, he would not have been publically rebuked.

  32. Dean, you wrote:

    It is tempting to juxtapose the Portland Archiocese bankruptcy with the John Kerry communion story. This financial bankruptcy seems almost a perfect metaphor for the moral bankruptcy of an arrogant ecclesiatical heirarchy who for decades deliberately and systematically covered us the crimes of scores of sexual predators while ignoring the suffering of thier victims. Yet somehow they have the moral capital left to attack the morality of an honorable man like John Kerry who has spent his life serving his country. Well that’s one way to shift attention I guess.

    You should resist the temptation. The ancient church dealt centuries ago with the Donatist heresy, which, in the context of deciding how to treat church leaders who had allowed church books to be confiscated or burned during persecutions, held that only bishops and priests conscrated by those leaders who were not traditors could perform valid sacraments. Naturally, this led to schism with the catholic church. The heresy was refuted because it appropriated from God Himself the origin of moral legitimacy and conferred it on human beings who, no matter how praiseworthy their conduct, were unavoidably sinful themselves.

    Since the Donatists, then, the Church has always held that Christian truth comes from God himself, and that therefore sacraments and teaching provided through sinners are valid in themselves. The moral authority of the Church is not finite; inasmuch as it comes from God, it cannot be limited by the sinful behavior of church leaders. Christ is risen no matter who says it. The wrongful concealment of SOME abuse cases by SOME of the Catholic hierarchy is not sufficient cause to remove their moral authority in condemning John Kerry for approaching the cup when his actions clearly contradict the church’s teachings.

    You have no leg to stand on, then, from the point of view of the Church’s moral authority. Neither do you logically, either, because saying the Catholic hierarchy has no more moral authority is like the father who tries to rebuke his teenage son, only to be met with the response, “But you did this when you were my age.” The immature response is to abandon the natural authority and responsibility of fatherhood, and say, “Yes I did, and therefore I have no right to rebuke you.” The mature response is to say, “Yes, I did, and I was wrong to do it, and so are you now, and you must change.”

    You advocate conciliation and respect towards the pro-abortion side, but you are intolerant of the pro-life side. You express no forgiveness or patience for those who support the truth even though they themselves are sometimes wrong. This, given your politicizing approach, smacks of hypocrisy.

  33. Bill: I was being mischievious. My own Priest, a stong supporter of President Bush, employed this very same juxtoposition when the US Catholic Bishops criticized President Bush’s plan to launch an unprovoked war of aggression againt Iraq in March 2003. How dare the Bishops criticize the President, he asked from the pulpit, when they should focus on cleaning up their own scandal, instead. I was simplying enjoying the irony that I could employ this same logic to defend John Kerry.

    More seriously though, I agree that the abortion issue creates a conflict between faith and party affiliation for Democratic Christians like myself. I’ve seen more articles recently urging Democrats to speak out more on matters of religion and reach out to people of faith (see

    If they want to do this they can’t continue treating the abortion issue like a “third rail of politics”. In the short term it is going to make people feel uncomfortable but in the long run its something Democrats have to do. The more I’m forced to think about the issue, the more I realize that we have an obligation as Chrsitians to work to sharply reduce the number of abortions.

    Probably a difference between you and I is that while I consider abortion a very important issue, I don’t consider it the only important issue. There are a number of moral issues we have to consider when entering to voting booth, and its wrong to focus on just one. No single party has a monopoly on truth or morality. I’m uncomfortable with some of the positions of John Kerry while I’m sure that there are some policies of President Bush that make Republicans feel uncomfortable as well.

  34. Good heavens, Dean, do you really think that I care only about one issue? You don’t know me personally and you don’t have nearly enough evidence from my posts to come to that conclusion. I fear that you are cramming me into the stereotype of the conservative single-issue voter. Whether or not that is the case, such comments are still unjustified and could be understood as uncivil.

    If you read my last post more carefully, you’ll see that your priest was as off-base in his condemnation of the bishops are you are in yours. In other words, you were both taking a political view, not a principled view based on humility and the implications of the gospel. Perhaps your comments could have been seen as mischievious if you had directed them to your priest, or if you had provided the context for understanding your “mischief” to the other readers here. But as you wrote them in this context, they appear completely serious. Fill in the blanks next time.

    As Christians, we have an obligation to work to eliminate abortion altogether. I tried to follow the link you supplied, but it didn’t work. Do any of these articles you’ve been reading address squarely the need to consider the abortion issue as a moral issue?

  35. I’m a rather late to this series of postings, but I have a couple of thoughts that might be of assistance. First, one doesn’t go to the USCCB to determine whether a particular application of just war theory is correct. The USCCB hardly has the competence necessary to make such a determination. While the bishops might have insight into the standards of just war theory, they have no special expertise in its application to “the facts on the ground” which, as we should all remember, pointed to Saddam having both the potential for WMD and contacts with terrorists. People can differ on the correct conclusions to draw from the evidence, but such a difference of opinion is not a difference of doctrine but of application.

    On the other hand, it is beyond cavil that killing babies is evil. This is not a difference in applying the doctrine that murder is evil. Rather, supporting abortion is proclaiming that the doctrine is false and that murder is good. John Kerry has said that he knows, as all reasonable people should, that human life begins at conception. One can’t know that and also advocate for abortion as a means of “population control”, as he does, without suffering the accusations of being either unbelievably stupid or just plain evil.

    When someone is so at odds with Church teaching that by their actions they proclaim that murder is good, which seems to be true of almost every Catholic democratic politician, refusal of communion seems to be the only reasonable response. What more, exactly, does a Catholic politician or voter need to do before they take themselves out of communion with the Church?

    Lastly, while abortion may not be the only political issue of importance for Christians, I can hardly think of one of more importance (over 40 million “served” in the United States alone!). To claim otherwise would be as if a supporter of the Nazis were to say that while killing Jews might be bad, it wasn’t the only significant issue for him, he was also concerned about government welfare, smoking, or the environment. That hardly seems to be the thinking of a well-formed conscience.

  36. Jim,

    Do you have any examples of those who argue a pro-abortion stance while maintaining the personhood of the fetus? I ask because I would be interested to find such arguments, and I do not believe the hypothetical of Ruth Marcus qualified for the reasons Michael stated and others…

  37. John Kerry’s views on abortion are shared by Rudy Guiliani and Arnold Schwarzengeer, two keynote speakers this September’s Republican convention. Both moderate Republicans are ardently pro-choice in their views.

    So I hope everyone who wants to see Kerry denied communion will express their support for a similar denial of the Eucharist for Guiliani and Schwarzengger by the Roman Catholic church. Or is ther more “relativism” afoot?

  38. Dean,

    Understand that the decision to withhold communion is a pastoral, not political, decision by the Catholic bishops. It should be self-evident that the reproof applies to all Roman Catholic politicians regardless of party.

  39. Yes, I’ll go along with that… but what about you, Dean? Are you going to stay away from the cup until you can honestly testify to your opposition to abortion?

  40. The Community Food Bank I volunteer at has decided to make food donations to a shelter for pregnant women who decide to carry their babies to term and give them up for adoption. Apparently many young single women who become pregnant face scorn and rejection from their families, abandonment or violence from the fathers of their children and difficulty earning an income and living independently. All these factors play a role in encouraging abortion. The pregnant women’s shelter will provide food and shelter while attempting to match the women up with prospective adoptive parents.

    This is an example of a practical method we can employ for reducing abortion rates that doesn’t involve demonizing people or tearing our society in half.

    If we want to reduce abortion rates we should also consider the following initiatves:
    (1) Aggressively educate young people to be more sexually responsible. Abstinence should be the primary course of action we teach, but education about contraception is also important since there is compelling evidence that more widespread use of contraceptives is connected to a 20-year decline in abortion rates.
    (2) Provide federal subsidies and bigger tax credits to encourage adoption. Perhaps part of our adoption support can be a stipend for pregnant mothers who sign an adoption agreement. I find it amazing that every couple I know who wanted to adopt had to go to China with $5000 cash in hand.
    (3)Reduce or eliminate private and public insurance coverage for elective, non-medically necessary abortions.

  41. Dean,

    Absolutely, but understand that you are preaching to choir here. Your error is in your implicit support for the “safe-sex” condom campaign. The emphasis on condom use to prevent pregnancy also contributes to the epidemic of STD’s in the teen population.* The only sex-ed program to show meaningful results in curbing pregnancy is abstinence only (not “abstinence-plus”). Much research has already been done on this.

    *Condoms are powerless to stop skin-borne STD’s such as herpes. See my review: Teen Sex is Killing Our Kids

    As for pregnant women facing the scorn of families and boyfriends, yes, this is a well-known dynamic of a pro-choice culture. See my review: Women are Abortion’s Second Victims. Better yet, read the book.

  42. Dean obfuscates yet again. I will ask again: Dean, do you or do you not call for the criminalization of abortion, starting at conception, with reasonable penalties for the doctors and women who perform/have them?

    Also, for someone who claims the Church is “simple minded” about abortion, you do seem a little simple minded about “society” yourself. Society is already “torn in half” as you put it. It is divided between the believers and non-believers, the haves and the have nots, etc. etc. etc. The legalization of the murder of innocent human beings “tore society in half”, and the healing of that particular tear is done by the righteous criminalization of that murder. Also, you seem to believe that the Church, by recognizing this reality, “demonizes people”. The demons are real, and they do things like inflame a womens passions against her unborn child. So yes, people who get/council/perform abortions are under the influence of demons. The Church calls them to repent of this however. Dean, I am beginning to wonder if you really do attend church, or are Orthodox at all. You get so many of the basics of Christian belief exactly backwards. Really, perhaps you should spend less time at the food bank and more time in prayer, really. Your work there is in vain (i.e. it does not help your soul or the persons you are trying to serve) if it is done in the wrong spirit (i.e. not the Spirit, but some vain-glory-little spirit of your own creation).

    In addition, Dean’s endless (and impotent) economic manipulations remind me of St. Theophan (the Recluse) when he talks about “the progressives”:

    “The progressives have in mind all mankind or at least all of it’s people lumped together. The fact is, however, that “mankind”, or “the people” does not exist as a person for whom you could do something right now. It consists of individual persons: By doing something for one person, we are doing it within the general mass of humanity. If each one of us did what was possible to do for whoever was standing right in front of our eyes, instead of goggling at the community of mankind, then all people, in aggregate, would at each moment be doing that which is needed by those in need, and , by satisfying their needs, would establish the welfare of all mankind, which is made up of haves and have-nots, the weak and the strong. But those who keep thoughts of the welfare of all mankind inattentively let slip by that which is in front of their eyes. Because they do not have the opportunity to perform a general work, and let slip by the opportunity to perform a particular work, they accomplish nothing towards the main purpose in life (to walk in His will)…”

  43. Church or State? Which has precedence?

    The tenor of many of the posts here and indeed the topic itself, illustrates the danger of the Church becoming involved in a political debate governed by political ideas. Do we hold fast to the actual teachings of the Church, deriving our comments and witness from revealed truth, or do we interpret the truth through the distorted lens of our political beliefs? We Orthodox are particularly vulnerable to the latter because of our long history of state imposed subservience.

    Our freedom and well being do not derive nor are they guaranteed by government or the state. All government is the expression of the collective will of the governed, even dictatorships. Freedom and liberty come from God. A free people will have a free government. Since most people are profoundly uncomfortable with the radical freedom promised by Our Lord, Jesus Christ, we seek ways to constrain freedom—our own and especially others, through government.

    Is the answer, then, to abolish government, of course not? Since the source of our freedom is knowledge of and communion with Jesus Christ, our freedom is not individual in nature, it is communal and so must have a communal expression. We are bound together in love and grace through the Holy Spirit. We celebrate that united freedom each time we celebrate the Divine Liturgy. The notion of personal liberty existing only within a common union can be seen as a paradox, but it is one of the reasons I so like Andrew Jackson’s famous statement, “Liberty and Union, one and inseparable.” Only sin keeps us from experiencing and living in the shared freedom of love that is the Kingdom of God. Only sin prevents us from acting to the benefit of our fellow creatures, rather than to their detriment and destruction. When we sin, we loose our freedom and place ourselves in bondage. We are free persons only because God gave us His image and He recognizes each one of us. We realize our personhood and therefore our liberty only to the extent that we submit to God’s love and willingly participate in His Will. As Jesus showed us in the Garden and further on the Cross, such a life is not easy.

    If John Kerry, George Bush, Dean Scourtes, I or anyone else turn the interrelationship of God-Church-Communion-freedom-world upside down and inside out to justify specific political policies or specific political parties, each of us is wrong. If Cardinal Ratzinger does not follow the same general pastoral approach to the Republican politicians who support the woman’s right to murder, then he is wrong.

    Those who favor, condone, or allow abortion are secularists regardless of which political party they belong to. Aside from the real danger of overt persecution of Christians by secularists, the biggest danger they pose is their drive to destroy any sort of commonality within our culture. They seem to want to plunge all of us head long into the anarchy of total individuality and pragmatic utilitarianism. Both the left and the right participate in this nilist activity. They seem to want to create a culture in which anything goes EXCEPT an active belief in a moral and spiritual code that has unchanging standards of right and wrong and therefore requires accountability and repentance–a moral and spiritual code that leads to personal freedom because it is based on the unchanging truth of the Divine Person.

    The Roman Church, I believe, still requires that anyone wishing to commune must go to confession first. Some Orthodox jurisdictions also follow a similar practice, others only require it during the Lenten season to participate in the Paschal communion. When one leads a life (in thought, word, or deed) without repentance that is destructive to the communion of the Church, then they should not approach the cup. If they do not voluntarily discipline themselves, the Church needs to forbid them for the good of everyone.

  44. Dean, you avoided my question about refraining from communion until you can call yourself an opponent of abortion–ALL abortio. Will you answer it? If not, why not?

  45. Bill: I’m opposed to Roe v. Wade and support public measures and private interventions that reduce abortion. As a father I am teaching my child to respect and observe the teachings of our church in all matters. As the protective father of a daughter I will be very strongly teaching the need for modesty and abstinence as she grows older.

    The question of whether the church should deny communion on the basis of political views is a legitimate and urgent topic for debate, which is why it is a timely subject be raised on a web site dealing with public morality. There are both strong pros and cons fo denying communion based on abortion views. The topic continues to be deliberated and debated in the Orthodox church, which has to date taken no definitive position.

    Since the Orthodox Church has not formulated or officially declared any new policy regarding the withholding of Communion based on one’s personal and societal views on abortion, I will continue to ahere the policies on communion that the Church has taught Since the time of Saint Paul. Communion should be taken only after fasting, prayer, the seeking of foregiveness and the making of amends with those we may have wronged. The ultimate arbiter of who is worthy for communion rests with God who we understand through our communion prayer, will be “a fire that consumes the unworthy.”

  46. Dean,

    Again, do you support the criminalization of abortion? Being “opposed to Roe v Wade” is obfuscation. Do you support the criminalization of abortion – yes or no?

  47. Not only that, Dean, but you’re falling backwards again. You wrote:

    The question of whether the church should deny communion on the basis of political views is a legitimate and urgent topic for debate, which is why it is a timely subject be raised on a web site dealing with public morality.

    But the Catholic Church is not denying communion on the basis of political views. It is denying it on the basis of MORAL views. The question of supporting abortion is first and foremost a moral one, and only secondarily a political one. We went through all this a few days ago: Pro-abortion Republicans should also be denied communion.

    You have still not answered my question, which is a yes-or-no question. Is abortion wrong? If so, will you refrain from communion until you oppose it absolutely? Why won’t you answer directly? If you do believe abortion is permissable, then be honest and say so!

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