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Monday, May 17, 2004

There is a Plan B, right?

Apparently not.

Smiles, everyone--smiles! Welcome to Fantasy Island!

More inspiring leadership from my neck of the woods--next door in the Diocese of Lansing, to be precise.

The Diocese of Lansing won't withhold Communion from Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, Bishop Carl Mengeling said last week.

Instead, the diocese will leave the decision on receiving the Eucharist to individual Catholics.


You mean the same folks who, on average, can name maybe two sacraments (that is, those who survive the first cut and don't associate "sacrament" with "igneous" and "metamorphic")?

Er, permit me to play Sancho Panza/Jeeves/Tattoo for a moment: um, for a plan of action, this seems a little--well--incomplete, boss. The game plan looks like this from here:

Phase One: Collect underpants.
Phase Three: Profit.


Vatican Cardinal Frances Arinze, a Nigerian who heads the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said recently that priests must deny Communion to politicians who favor abortion rights.

The remark could apply to presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry and Gov. Jennifer Granholm, both Roman Catholics who support abortion-rights laws.


"Could"?

"The National Weather Service has issued an Understatement Warning for Ingham County until approximately 5:00pm. As of 11:51 am, spotters reported an understatement the size of a guided missile cruiser hovering over the center of Lansing..."


However, the Vatican said U.S. bishops have discretion in deciding who should receive Communion. But Arinze's comments could put more pressure on them to sanction Catholic politicians whose positions are against church policy, experts say.

Absolutely correct--but it doesn't permit endless dithering and sending it back for committee review.

Mengeling said individual Catholics are obligated to determine if they are fit for Communion, not priests, bishops or cardinals.

"All Catholics, that includes myself, must examine themselves extremely carefully before they approach the Eucharist," Mengeling said. "Our Catholics are adults. We can't treat them like children."


Speaking of which.

Where to begin? OK, so you don't want that biblical spiritual father role--fine. Would hate to make the know-it-all teenagers feel infantilized, I suppose. Let's try the equally-biblical physician analogy instead. After all, people still like doctors--they write all those nice prescriptions.

Here goes: If my doctor sees me about to knock back, via bong, a gallon of wood-grain alcohol, I don't want him to gently suggest that I might want to consider obtaining and reading the material safety data sheet for the fluid at issue at some point in the future.

I want him to charge across the room to knock it out of my idiot hands.

And another thing--what's the point of examining yourself if the head of the diocese isn't willing to suggest any circumstances under which you should refuse to take communion?

Nice contribution to the catechetical black hole, that.


For almost two years, members of the Catholic anti-abortion group Church & Truth Project, based in Ply-mouth, have been protesting in front of St. John's Student Parish in East Lansing and St. Mary Cathedral downtown, demanding that priests not give Communion to Granholm.

Monica Migliorino Miller, director of the Church & Truth Project, said that although the group respects Mengeling, his stance on the issue is wrong.

"The bishops have a responsibility to teach the truth and protect the sacraments," Migliorino Miller said. "To be a bishop means you have to have some courage in this day and age."


Nice try, guys. Prepare to enjoy the cool, refreshing waters of the North Atlantic in springtime--even though the crew sees your flares and has told the Captain, The Californian is staying put.

Mengeling said denying Communion to Granholm and other politicians who support abortion rights would force the church to judge every Catholic, a task he said is up to God.

"We assume that (people) are in good standing with the law in terms of their own conscience," Mengeling said. "The Lord knows that. I don't."


Let's be direct here: while containing an obvious truth, this is deeply stupid.

Assuming the bishop hasn't been somehow misquoted, it doesn't get any worse than this. You can't judge hearts, true--but you can judge actions. Here, the action--full throated support for unrestricted abortion rights--is being ignored.

Permit me to demonstrate the evil of the Bishop's banality via examples of substitution:

1. Mengeling said denying Communion to Granholm and other politicians who support slavery would force the church to judge every Catholic, a task he said is up to God.

"We assume that (people) are in good standing with the law in terms of their own conscience," Mengeling said. "The Lord knows that. I don't."


2. Mengeling said denying Communion to Granholm and other politicians who support segregation would force the church to judge every Catholic, a task he said is up to God.

"We assume that (people) are in good standing with the law in terms of their own conscience," Mengeling said. "The Lord knows that. I don't."


3. Mengeling said denying Communion to Granholm and other politicians who support the right of husbands to physically chastise their wives would force the church to judge every Catholic, a task he said is up to God.

"We assume that (people) are in good standing with the law in terms of their own conscience," Mengeling said. "The Lord knows that. I don't."


4. Mengeling said denying Communion to Granholm and other politicians who support abolition of bestiality laws would force the church to judge every Catholic, a task he said is up to God.

"We assume that (people) are in good standing with the law in terms of their own conscience," Mengeling said. "The Lord knows that. I don't."


Is the point clear yet?

While I'm at it, I have a proposal for secular Poperyphobes: if the bishops go silent on abortion, you agree to shut up about the alleged silence of Pius XII.

Deal?

Think about it.


Liz Boyd, Granholm's spokeswoman, said the governor, who regularly attends St. John's, has taken an oath to uphold the laws of the state and that she represents all citizens - not just Catholics.

Since the majority of people opposed to abortion in this country are not Catholic, this is relevant how?

"Gov. Granholm is a person of faith, and her faith is very important to her,"

From 10am to 11am on Sundays and for a similar length of time on one of the fast-dwindling number of non-transferred HDOs.

Boyd said. "Should the church decide to impose spiritual penalties for political votes of which they disapprove, it may be difficult for any Catholic to serve in public office."

Thought Experiment Number Three:

Let's use the example of an organization that these pols would generally respect.
Say, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, f/k/a Handgun Control, Inc. Let us also assume that you are a long-standing, dues-paying member of the Center and its predecessor organizations. Let us further stipulate that you become a very visible figure in the Center--a public face of the organization. You decide, out of deference to those who own firearms ("all the people!"), that, while you are opposed to Saturday Night Specials, "assault weapons" and the carrying of concealed weapons, you do not believe that any of the above should be outlawed.

How long do you think it it would take for the folks at the Brady Center would toss you out on your ample tuchus?

Let me put it this way--the pizza would arrive after you and your personal effects hit the curb.

Would the Brady Center be wrong to boot you out?


Mengeling is one of few bishops who has spoken publicly about the issue since Arinze made his comments.

Oh, and what a contribution it was, too.

Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis and Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Neb., said they would not give Communion to Kerry because of his views, which support abortion rights.

"Support"? The Understatement Warning has been extended until 9:00 pm.

Lord have mercy--if the senator were any more enthusiastic, he'd be making goo-goo eyes at Joe Tiller.


To determine what steps to take against Catholic politicians who back positions that don't agree with church doctrine, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops appointed a seven-member committee last year.

Expect the recommendation to refer the matter to an even larger committee in 2007. Unless, of course, that happens to be an election year or a year preceding one.

"You've got different opinions," said Father Thomas Reese, editor in chief of America, The National Catholic Weekly Magazine.

"Some bishops are saying this is not a good political strategy. In fact, it could backfire. For one, it would turn abortion into a Catholic issue when it's a human issue."


Not bad for a guy who edits America.

And who is responsible for trying to turn it into a Catholic issue?

Why, just the bishops of course....


Rep. Julie Dennis, D-Muskegon, said Catholic politicians represent citizens from diverse religious beliefs and backgrounds and they are being unfairly targeted.

"I will not legislate Catholic doctrine because the Vatican thinks I ought to," said Dennis, a Catholic who also supports abortion rights.

"I think it's really unfortunate they are using folks to do this kind of activity."


Thank God for term limits. Again, dimwit, it's not "Catholic doctrine"--there are atheists opposed to abortion, you ninny. No one's "using" you, Ms. Dennis.

They are simply asking you to consider the...incongruity...of professing to be Catholic but supporting the dispatch of human life in the womb for any reason.

That shouldn't be so hard to understand. But thanks to the obfuscation of Bishop Mengeling, it won't be any easier.

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