The Catholic Church in America is making a huge, huge mistake, once again. Salon is carrying a story on how one Colorado bishop issued a warning to voters. What was his warning? That if you vote for someone who supports stem cell research, euthanasia, gay marriage, or abortion rights, you are not in a state of grace and you ought to refrain from taking Communion.
What about supporting a war profiteer? Or someone who orchestrates the wanton destruction of a country? An administration that lies through its teeth for the very grounds of beginning a destructive war? An administration that shirks both responsibility and promises regarding the rebuilding of Afghanistan? An administration that cares so little for human rights that hearing of tortures of Arabs, they don’t even bother to look at the pictures till the day before they must face the music—months after it’s first been reported? And who shut down “non-necessary” internet connections for soldiers to prevent similar leakage? (Hiding the sins, rather than repenting or enable a safeguard—the danger of later photos being leaked, and bringing punishment to later torturers? Using the word “evil” fast and loose with purely political/economic goals in mind? This is alright?Voting for those sorts of policies and people is okay with Jesus?
Thinking about Jesus might be illustrative at this point. He never lived in a democracy, but had he done so, I am quite certain he would never go about telling people whose votes he disagreed with that they were not in a state of grace. After all… according to the Church, nobody’s free from sin and nobody has the right to go about telling others they’re sinners, because we all are. I doubt he would have supported any organization that tried to tell people what they ought to do. After all, he was often enough clashing with the priests and Pharisees, now wasn’t he?
I am quite certain that those who attempt to use whatever little political power they have over a small proportion of voters, to maintain whatever political state they prefer, are least of all in a state of grace. They and the Church they serve ought to remember the admonition that C.S. Lewis makes several times in his writings, which is that just because a man is going to Church, doesn’t mean he is free from the danger of sin. His sudden new conviction of his own goodness and salvation is enough of a danger, and he risks slipping into sinful life again.
Similarly, the Church’s claim to itself that it is the representative of God and Christ on Earth should not be taken to mean that the Church actually is these things. If nothing else, it places a great danger within the Church, for after all the Church is one body made of many people. That is to say, the Church is not an organization, not a political group nor merely a band of clerics who pledge fealty to Rome. The Church is all its faithful, and if they en masse disagree with the Pope, in good conscience, then it’s entirely possible that the Pope and the Church are gone wrong, and that the Catholic Church is not what it claims to be. Certainly, trying to play puppeteer in the American elections is starting to raise doubts in my mind.
Thank goodness not all clerics agree with these tactics:
“It is up to the communicant to decide whether they are in a state of grace and worthy to receive the Eucharist,” Mahony said. “I’m puzzled by people rattling sanctions at the moment. That has not been our tradition over the years.”
That guys the editor of a Jesuit journal. I always liked the Jesuits more than the other sorts of priests. Hmmm.