I read with interest the letter from 60 “Catholic” representatives hoping to find some sign of repentance and understanding of the true meaning of the Eucharist and what is required to properly receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Instead, all I found was arrogance and a blatant denial of any need to follow the teaching of the Gospels or the Church to which they claim to belong. What came to mind immediately were the words of Jesus when speaking to the Pharisees, “’For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.’ Some of the Pharisees near him heard this, and they said to him, ‘are we also blind?’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no guilt, but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.” (Jn 9:40-41). Another statement of Jesus comes to mind, “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 7:21) This document further neglects the words of St. Paul who admonished us to partake of the Eucharist in a worthy manner so as not to profane the body and blood of the Lord. (1 Cor 11:27)
These representatives are quick to quote some of the words of Pope Francis which they think they supports their claim but neglect those of Canon Law, the catechism and Catholic Social Doctrine which should guide them in their actions. For example, “John Paul II, continuing the constant teaching of the Church, has reiterated many times that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them.” Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Doctrinal Note on the Participation of Catholics in Political Life, 4
They claim they “are committed to making real the basic principles that are at the heart of Catholic social teaching” yet their actions speak louder than words. The claim to protect the least among us is a statement of judgment against themselves when not one of them could vote (or even abstain) to protect the lives of children who survived an abortion. Carrying a rosary in one’s pocket or flashing one for the TV cameras does nothing to make up for the guilt of killing millions of babies, interfering with parental rights, or denying the Word of God concerning the basis of marriage and the family.
They tout support for increased access to education but vote against providing for school choice while proposing Marxist policies such as Critical Race Theory (which is racist in and of itself) and denying the rights of parents with regard to what their children are taught or to which they are exposed. Marxism (communism/socialism) has been soundly denounced by all the popes from Pope Leo XIII through Pope Benedict XVI and is codified in Catholic Social Doctrine. Yet some of them even call themselves “Democratic Socialists.” Pope Pius XI described communism as “intrinsically perverse.” He goes on to say, “But what if Socialism has really been so tempered and modified as to the class struggle and private ownership that there is in it no longer anything to be censured on these points? Has it thereby renounced its contradictory nature to the Christian religion? … We make this pronouncement: Whether considered as a doctrine, or an historical fact, or a movement, Socialism, if it remains truly Socialism, even after it has yielded to truth and justice on the points which we have mentioned, cannot be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church because its concept of society itself is utterly foreign to Christian truth.” (Quadragesimo Anno) (emphasis added) And later in the same document, “Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.” This declaration was reaffirmed by Pope St. John XXIII.
The “Statement” makes the claim of supporting the Constitution of the United States, including religious freedom. Yet, these legislators are intent on imposing doctrines on Catholics (and others) that are diametrically opposed to their faith, such as the persecution of The Little Sisters of the Poor through the Affordable Care Act. Removing support for the policies that opposed using taxpayer money to support abortion or proposing a law which itself states that religious objections do not apply are not supporting those whose religious beliefs differ from those in Congress.
And yet, these legislators persist in their denial of Catholic truths. This letter is not merely the petulant response of a chastised child, it is Gnosticism rearing its ugly head while claiming to be Catholic and daring someone to do something about it (consider the outburst of Congressman Lieu, daring a bishop to refuse him communion). This dichotomy between word and action cries out for rebuke and correction without which there can be no conversion. And failure to do so is to condone heresy. As stated in the Vatican II document, Gaudium et Spes, “When God is forgotten, however, the creature itself grows unintelligible.”
“Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith.” (Catechism 2089, Canon Law 751) And so, their actions, which they try to excuse in this document, actually defines them as heretics. Heretics are supposed to be denied the Eucharist! (Canon law 915) While this document claims to support recognizing the dignity of all humans, it still supports these legislators’ continued advocacy for abortion rights, in total violation and denial of Catholic teaching and the guidelines Catholic social doctrine spells out for those in public service: “it must be noted also that a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.” And “This is the case with laws concerning abortion and euthanasia … Such laws must defend the basic right to life from conception to natural death.” (CDF, Doctrinal Note on The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, 4)
But abortion is not the only issue of Gospel teaching that makes the need for rebuke imperative. Take for example their support of gay marriage, obviously ignoring the words of St. Paul noting that neither idolaters, nor the immoral nor homosexuals will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6:9) The lack of clear guidance from Church leaders has led to confusion in the pews. I know of one man who votes regularly for pro-abortion candidates but assuages his guilt by participating in 40 Days for Life or supporting the local food bank. A quick review of letters to the editor in diocesan newspapers makes clear the lack of understanding on the part of the laity of Catholic social teaching and the misunderstanding resulting from the lack of firm action by our bishops. C.S. Lewis alluded to this when he said, “When we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the outside world.” (Mere Christianity) We see Catholics leaving the Church in numbers – polls tell us that for every new Catholic somewhere between 5 and 8 leave the Church. So, condoning this heresy has a negative impact on existing Catholics as well.
Basically, this letter is one of equivocation and obfuscation – an attempt to try to show consideration for Christ’s teachings without actually following them. Their closing statement, “we have a claim on the Church’s bearing as it does on ours,” seems to imply that they think of the Church as something they have a say in rather than that it is the Church of Jesus Christ. It was the Democrat party that took God out of their platform. It was the Democrat party that stated that religions would have to modify their positions. And it is the Democrat party whose policies fly in the face of natural and God’s laws.
Life is at the core of humanity – without the right to life all other concerns are meaningless. Jesus came so that we might “have life and have it abundantly.” (Jn 10:10) Jesus warned us about people like the signatories of this document, “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.” (Mt 7:15-16) And what fruits have they borne for us? Racial divisiveness! Economic disparity (during most democrat administrations the gap between rich and poor has widened)! Loss of freedoms (look at how they attack freedom of religion and freedom of speech)! Politics of envy (in opposition to the 9th and 10th commandments against covetousness)! The murder of millions of unborn babies! Is this how we want to characterize our nation and how it is “guided” by faith? Biological men competing against women and using women’s showers and bathrooms (and exposing themselves to children in the process)? “And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? … nevertheless, when the son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:7-8)
This statement cries out for a rebuke. As St. Augustine says, “Therefore Rebuke is to Be Used. Let no one therefore say that a man must not be rebuked when he deviates from the right way, but that his return and perseverance must only be asked for from the Lord for him.” Rather than “deny the evolution” of these individuals, it could foster their return to fold. This is a teaching situation and one that calls for the conversion of these heretics. The fact that only now, after decades of equivocation by our Church leaders and nearly 50 years since Vatican II, this is finally getting some serious attention shows the truth of the words of St. Pope Paul VI (said 40 years ago), “From some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the Temple of God.”
Unfortunately, I see no sense of contrition on the part of these politicians for their egregious support of these intrinsic evils. It is evident to me that these politicians wish to remake the Church and its teachings to suit them, to make the Church reflect their attitudes. “Christianity is not ‘our’ work; it is a Revelation; it is a message that has been consigned to us, and we have no right to reconstruct as we like or choose.” ((then) Cardinal Ratzinger, The Ratzinger Report, 1985) Their idea of the “common good” is obviously at odds with that of the Church.
So where do we go from here. It is incumbent on the bishops, not only here but around the world, to deal objectively with these issues. Either the Catholic Church is the Church of Christ and speaks the truth or it is just another group of people claiming to have insight into God but actually subject to the whims of the mob. The Church has to reaffirm the social doctrine as has been confirmed since the days of the early Church fathers. It needs to bring those who are violating these long-established guidelines back into communion with the Magisterium. It should provide some actions for those people to show their commitment to the Church and its teaching. In the case of politicians, they could start by abstaining from for or by voting against policies and laws which promote abortion and euthanasia. Before being admitted to communion, they must repent of their heresy and do so publicly. This is not new for the Church for such public figures. A review of Church history shows that heretics were not permitted to receive communion. As for public repentance, late in the 4th century, St. Ambrose made the Roman emperor to publicly repent outside the church for several months before readmitting him to the sacraments. Refusing communion for public figures who act in such an atrocious manner is not new in Catholic history, it is just that our bishops today have not had the courage to accomplish it as witnessed by the 25% who objected even to the development of a teaching document on the Eucharist.
The Letter of Jude summed up a description of these representatives nicely, “These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.” (Jude :16) Pope Francis (et al) has pointed out that we all have a mission, clergy and laity alike. As such, “…the church exists for nothing else but to draw man into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy missions, sermons, even the Bible itself are simply a waste of time.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)Unless the bishops act, it appears that it will be up to the laity, as indicated by Bishop Sheen, who will have to lead the Church out of this morass. “Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, and the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops, and your religious act like religious.”