A Sacrament Abused
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat May 03, 2008 at 08:21:00 PM EST
The Catholic Right, Part Fifty-six
On Tuesday I read the news that Cardinal Edward Egan (Archdiocese of New York) criticized former Mayor Rudy Giuliani for taking Communion during a Mass attended by Pope Benedict XVI.  This comes as no surprise, as the archbishop was repeating an  an increasingly common Catholic Right refrain - that those who support a woman's right to choose should be denied Communion.
For Roman Catholics, Holy Communion is the height of the Mass. It is when the bread and wine, consecrated in the Eucharist, become the body and blood of Christ. This holiest of sacraments further serves as a reminder of the Passover Seder that became the Last Supper.

But this most sacred of Catholic rites is increasingly being used by the Catholic Right as a political tool against dissent on issues such as stem cell research and abortion.  This profane practice is no longer limited to scientists and politicians but now extended to college basketball coaches.  

The Catholic Right perpetrators of this modern day Inquisition are becoming increasingly familiar as well: "The Bully in St. Louie," Archbishop Raymond Burke -- infamous for his one-man war against embryonic stem cell research; Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput --  whose diocesan publications give a platform for orthodox hardliner George Weigel; and of course, neocon icon, Rev John Richard Neuhaus, who, the Vatican view not withstanding, openly supported invading Iraq in 2003.

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of American Catholics disagree with these strong-arm tactics. Once again, the hierarchy in resorting to anti-democratic means enables apostasy instead the desired effect of unity.

As I noted in Part Forty-nine of this series:

From virtually the very moment in the late 1960s when abortion restrictions were rolled back (and especially after the US Supreme Court's 1973 ruling for Roe v. Wade) more neo-orthodox Vatican figures made abortion -- and to a lesser extent homosexuality and stem cell research litmus test issues. These increasingly became the trip wires for censure and excommunication. In contrast, destruction of the economic safety net for the poor as well supporting unilateral wars in defiance of papal disapproval elicits hardly a word of rebuke.

The more reactionary members of the Catholic hierarchy constantly read too much into any issue that clashes with their cloistered philosophies. Matters of sexuality are readily conflated with "nihilism" and "moral relativism." They fail to grasp that using the fruits of science and the institutions of the state to spread happiness to all is not intrinsically futile, self-defeating, and likely to end in terror and tyranny, as they often imply and sometimes claim outright. Indeed, unquestioning loyalty to archaic orthodoxies and to their enforcers is much more likely to bring about such ends.

But in returning to Cardinal Egan's criticism of former Mayor Giuliani -- if he wants to be truly consistent about being "pro-life," let His Eminence start denying Communion to one of his own priests, Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, who helped take this nation into a war in Iraq in 2003. Four thousand plus American soldiers and a hundred thousand Iraqi civilians later he has much more to answer for than any elected official who believes abortion is a question of individual conscience; that and the law of the land no matter what we as individuals may believe about when life begins.

The Catholic Right: A Series, by Frank L. Cocozzelli :

Part One  Part Two  Part Three  Part Four  Part Five  Part Six   Intermezzo   Part Eight   Part Nine  Part Ten   Part Eleven   Part Twelve   Part Thirteen   Part Fourteen   Second Intermezzo   Part Sixteen   Part Seventeen   Part Eighteen   Part Eighteen   Part Nineteen   Part Twenty   Part Twenty-one   Part Twenty-two   Part Twenty-three   Part Twenty-four   Part Twenty-five   Part Twenty-six   Part Twenty-seven   Part Twenty-eight   Part Twenty-nine   Part Thirty   Part Thirty-one   Part Thirty-two   Part Thirty-three   Part Thirty-four   Part Thirty-five   Part Thirty-six   Part Thirty-seven   Part Thirty-eight   Part Thirty-nine   Part Forty   Part Forty-one   Part Forty-two   Part Forty-three   Part Forty-four   Part Forty-five   Part Forty-six   Part Forty-seven   Part Forty-eight   Part Forty-nine   Part Fifty   Part Fifty-one   Part Fifty-two   Part Fifty-three   Part Fifty-four   Part Fifty-five

Right before I posted this, I read Fred's post on the anti-abortion group in Minnesota that, in bullying fashion, silenced a speech against torture. As a Catholic, I find such behavior disgraceful. More importantly, it is counterproductive to the goal of bringing about a world that abides by the Golden Rule.

It is sad that certain bishops and cardinals cannot see the forest for the trees.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sat May 03, 2008 at 08:23:14 PM EST

And I repeat my comments on Fred's posting-the bishops are living in glass houses, and are hardly in a position to cast stones at lay Catholics in an effort to keep the proles in line. That may suit some people just fine, but as one letter writer noted, even Jesus ate with Judas at the Last Supper.

by khughes1963 on Sat May 03, 2008 at 09:01:31 PM EST

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