I've been trying to avoid the US election coverage as much as possible. I know the outcome will affect us here in Oz. But really its just all too depressing, and as I don't get a vote, there doesn't seem much point getting too excited.
But it is pretty hard to go past the fuss over pro-abortion 'Catholics' over the last week or so, and it has some obvious implications for us too (particularly with the Victorian Abortion Law proposals about to be voted on).
The Democrats: Pelosi, Biden and the bishops
It did seem to me that the Democrats had shot themselves in the foot choosing Obama - while he was certainly gaining momentum, wasn't much evidence that there was anything behind the rhetoric.
Now his cause has surely been shot to pieces by his selection of a Catholic pro-abortion running mate, a tactic that might have helped him - if the issue hadn't been helpfully poisoned by some outrageous claims by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Well, perhaps it won't play out that way, but it certainly can't be helping!
Pelosi was asked:
“...if [Obama] were to come to you and say ‘help me out here, Madam Speaker, when does life begin,’ what would you tell him? "
“I would say that as an ardent practicing Catholic this is an issue that I have studied for a long time, and what I know is over the centuries the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition. And St. Augustine said three months. We don’t know. The point is it that it shouldn’t have an impact on a woman’s right to chose.”
What is interesting is that for once, quite a number of bishops have come out strongly condemning her comments. Now some of these, like Archbishop Chaput, have been pretty consistent on this kind of issues. But others haven't been as strong. And its the strength of the language in their various statements that really takes the issue up a level. Take for example this latest statement, by Cardinal Egan of New York, reported in The Creative Minority Report:
"Like many other citizens of this nation, I was shocked to learn that the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America would make the kind of statements that were made to Mr. Tom Brokaw of NBC-TV on Sunday, August 24, 2008. What the Speaker had to say about theologians and their positions regarding abortion was not only misinformed; it was also, and especially, utterly incredible in this day and age.
We are blessed in the 21st century with crystal-clear photographs and action films of the living realities within their pregnant mothers. No one with the slightest measure of integrity or honor could fail to know what these marvelous beings manifestly, clearly, and obviously are, as they smile and wave into the world outside the womb.
In simplest terms, they are human beings with an inalienable right to live, a right that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is bound to defend at all costs for the most basic of ethical reasons. They are not parts of their mothers, and what they are depends not at all upon the opinions of theologians of any faith. Anyone who dares to defend that they may be legitimately killed because another human being “chooses” to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name."
You can read other excellent statements, and details of the whole saga, on the same subject over at Fr Z.
Interestingly, the outbreak of episcopal spine seems to have been stimulated by Archbishop Burke, newly appointed head of the Apostolic Signatura, who commented last week that politicians who publicly defend abortion should not receive Communion, and that ministers of Communion should be responsibly charitable in denying it to them if they ask for it, “until they have reformed their lives.”
Catholic News Agency reported that in an interview with the magazine Radici Christiane, Archbishop Burke pointed out that there is often a lack of reverence at Mass when receiving Communion. “Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ unworthily is a sacrilege,” he warned. “If it is done deliberately in mortal sin it is a sacrilege.”
"To illustrate his point, he referred to “public officials who, with knowledge and consent, uphold actions that are against the Divine and Eternal moral law." He then gave the example of politicians who "support abortion, which entails the taking of innocent and defenseless human lives. A person who commits sin in this way should be publicly admonished in such a way as to not receive Communion until he or she has reformed his life,” the archbishop said.
“If a person who has been admonished persists in public mortal sin and attempts to receive Communion, the minister of the Eucharist has the obligation to deny it to him. Why? Above all, for the salvation of that person, preventing him from committing a sacrilege,” he added. ..."
He also made some comments pertinent to the political reaction to Cardinal Pell's efforts in this area:
"Archbishop Burke also noted that when a bishop or a Church leader prevents an abortion supporter from receiving Communion, “it is not with the intention of interfering in public life but rather with the concern of the spiritual state of the politician or public official who, if Catholic, should follow the divine law in the public sphere as well.”
“Therefore, it is simply ridiculous and wrong to try to silence a pastor, accusing him of interfering in politics so that he cannot do good to the soul of a member of his flock,” he stated.
It is “simply wrong” to think that the faith must be reduced to the private sphere and eliminated from public life, Archbishop Burke said, encouraging Catholics “to bear witness to our faith not only in private in our homes but also in our public lives with others in order to bear strong witness to Christ.”
The important context for all this is that back only a few months ago when the Pope visited the US, Pelosi and a number of other prominent Catholic dissenters publicly received communion at papal masses. And afterwards more than a few bishops came out with 'not my problem' statements, or at best rather belately and under pressure condemned their actions in a rather wishy washy way.
The times they are a changing....so long live our Pope!