Over at National Schismatic Reporter (aka Fishwrap), the Jesuit Fr. Tom Reese is trying to explain away Pope Francis’s take on denial of Holy Communion to Catholics who are publicly out of step with the Church’s teachings.
Reese’s argument is, I think, that if someone says that Communion should be denied to public pro-abortion Catholics, then that same someone had better be just as concerned about Catholic figures who are not sufficiently promoting “social justice” (and a liberal version at that). Put another way, if someone isn’t pushing “social justice” (the liberal version) just as hard as his abortion concerns, then perhaps that same someone should shut up about denial of Communion to openly pro-abortion Catholic politicians. Be consistent.
We will see a problem with that, below.
If I am right about his argument, then Reese is shooting at prelates such as Cardinal Burke (for example HERE).
What do you think? Here is the substantive part of his Fishwrap offering:
In On Heaven and Earth, the book [Francis] co-authored with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, Cardinal Bergoglio wrote, “One could deny communion to a public sinner who has not repented, but it is very difficult to check such things.” [Reese and other liberal Catholics are in a bind. They like Francis because he is "for the poor" and he is humble (unlike mean old Benedict). But now, alas, they must to deal with Francis supporting denial of Communion (even while admitting that that is not without difficulties). How do liberals diffuse what Francis thinks? They apply misdirection. Read on.]
One should note that he said, “could” not “must.” [Reese is being a little cutesy here.] And as an experienced pastor, he stressed the difficulty of checking whether a person is “a public sinner who has not repented.” Many American bishops, like Cardinals Francis George and Donald Wuerl, have taken similar positions.
At the same time, Bergoglio said it would be wrong for someone to receive Communion who “rather than uniting the people to God, warps the lives of many people.” Such a person “cannot receive communion; it would be a complete contradiction.” [It sounds like Pope Francis and Archbishop Vigneron of Detroit (and the pesky canonist Ed Peters) are all on the same page. HERE and HERE and HERE.]
[Watch...] In the book, the Communion issue came up not in the context of abortion, but of injustice. [Let the misdirection begin!] He referred to those “who have not only killed intellectually or physically, but also have killed indirectly through the poor use of resources by paying unjust wages.” [He did say "but also".] He called them hypocrites because “in public they may form welfare societies, but they do not pay their employees a wage corresponding to their work or they hire them ‘under the table.’ ” [Again, sounds like Vigneron's argument, but Vigneron spoke of Catholics doing something like perjury, because their public act of reception of Communion gives the lie to their public attestation of their Catholic identity.]
So if you are paying your employees off the books with no payroll taxes, Pope Francis would consider you a “pretend” Catholic suffering from spiritual hypocrisy and schizophrenia. He acknowledged that there are many such people “who hide within the Church and do not live according to the justice that God proclaims.” If you are such a person, he would want you to ask yourself whether you are ready for Communion. [I refer you back to Vigneron.]
Archbishop Bergoglio was especially suspicious of “pretend” Catholics who were public figures looking for a photo op at the Communion rail. [VP Biden... Rep. Pelosi...] In such circumstances, “I do not give communion myself; I stay back and I let the ministers give it because I do not want those people to come to me for the photo op.”
Okay, this explains why Pope Francis is not distributing these days. I would like him to take a stronger stand, but… hey.
Let’s now assume that Pope Francis really believes what he wrote about Catholics who violate “social justice”, who do not pay their workers properly or who cheat, etc. It is easy for me to believe that Francis thinks that defrauding a worker of his wages is a sin that “cries to heaven”. That’s what all Catholics should believe.
Do you think that Pope Francis would not have a similarly dim view of Catholics who publicly support abortion but who still go publicly to Communion?
Would Francis not think that politicians who publicly support and promote through legislation the killing of the unborn are hypocrites and schizo when they go forward for Communion (which is a public act)?
If you can point at “pretend” Catholics in one sphere, you point at them in another sphere as well, including the sphere of public support of abortion.
I think Reese is using misdirection by his juxtaposition of abortion with “social justice”.
The problem is that the right to be born is THE social justice issue.
I’ll bet Pope Francis would agree.
That is a problem for Catholics who want to downplay the abortion issue (that is, to maintain it as only a women’s issue or simply to ignore it altogether) for the sake of promoting a (liberal) “social justice” agenda.
That is what many Catholics who support Pres. Obama and Obamacare do, isn’t it?
Remember the arguments offered by Doug Kmiec and the other Catholics for Obama types? They pushed seamless-garment arguments and waved around shiny-distracting phrases like “common ground”. They inevitably strive to deemphasize the right to life as the primordial social justice issue.
Finally, isn’t it true that most of the Catholic politicians who openly support abortion are Democrats?