[Click HERE for the full podcast website.]
Month: May 2022
Church Teaching About Abortion
[Click HERE for the full podcast website.]
In this section of his letter, Pope John Paul II identifies what abortion is, what we learn about it from the Bible, and what the Church has taught about it through the centuries, and teaches about it now.
More Evangelium Vitae + More on Speaker Pelosi’s Holy Communions
Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco wrote to his priests last week, to let them know that he was prohibiting Nancy Pelosi from receiving Holy Communion. The archbishop insisted that his priests comply. He noted that any priest who “administers a sacrament to those who are prohibited from receiving it” will be punished with a suspension.
Apparently, an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion in Washington, D.C. did not get the memo. Pelosi received Holy Communion on Sunday.
In his letter to the priests of his archdiocese, Cordileone claims that he has not imposed a penalty on Speaker Pelosi. Rather, he has merely “declared a fact.”
That Pelosi “is obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin.”
According to the Code of Canon Law, canon # 915, if you obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, you “are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” Just like people who have been formally excommunicated.
Cordileone wrote, in his Notification to Speaker Pelosi, that “a Catholic legislator who supports procured abortion, after knowing the teaching of the Church, commits manifestly grave sin.” The archbishop apparently has concluded that it is a fact beyond dispute that Pelosi falls into this category.
Doesn’t Pelosi have the right to dispute this? Doesn’t everyone deserve due process of law?
On what basis has Cordileone determined that it is his prerogative to declare this fact, without a properly legal procedure? The Code of Canon Law does not itself indicate anywhere that a diocesan bishop has this particular prerogative.
To the contrary, Canon 915, which considers withholding Commuion from people, refers first to the excommunicated and the interdicted–who only become such after a proper legal process. Then the canon refers to “others” who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin. This last category, it would seem, would fall to all ministers of Holy Communion to identify, not just diocesan bishops.
Any minister of Communion might have to withhold the sacrament from someone in a given instance, because it would scandalize everyone present if the person received. But this would not represent a “diocesan policy” announced on the website and through media interviews (as Cordileone has done). Rather, such circumstances would obtain only in a particular parish or chapel, and only the people there would know the facts.
I imagine that, if she had a forum in which to defend herself before Archbishop Cordileone, Speaker Pelosi would make a distinction between support for procured abortion and support for the legality of procured abortion.
Abortion–at least in the early stages of pregnancy–remains legal in the US. As of now, there’s nothing any legislator can really do about that. The final Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs case might change the state of affairs. But even if the states become free to outlaw abortion, it remains a political impossibility, in the short run, that California would do so.
So what exactly is Speaker Pelosi supposed to do or say to resolve the situation that Archbishop Cordileone has created with his public Notifcation? If the archbishop had followed due process, then perhaps that means of satisfaction might have been clarified into something that Speaker Pelosi could actually do.
If Cordileone really cared primarily about saving Pelosi’s soul, as he says he does, then wouldn’t he have issued his Notification only after following a genuine legal process, with the right to self-defense afforded to the accused? And wouldn’t he issue his Notification in conjuction with the Archbishop of Washington, where Pelosi also attends Mass regularly?
Now, as I mentioned last time, I think Mrs. Pelosi should indeed fear the divine Judge. He will conduct a thoroughly fair inquiry. He wil present her with all the evidence that His all-knowing Mind perceives. That’s more than enough to terrify me, and I never voted in favor of using taxpayer money to pay abortionists.
But I, too, have had my practice of the Catholic faith thoroughly messed-up by the arbitrary decrees of a self-righteous autocrat who did not follow due process of law. So I relate to that part.
None of us mortals has the right to appoint ourselves prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner–all at the same time. Not even the almighty bishops.
The irony is: Archbishop Cordileone appears to be pursuing a public agenda here, with Nancy Pelosi as a kind of prop. The agenda in this case is, in fact, so good, so urgent–the Gospel of Life is so compelling and beautiful, all by itself–that it hardly needs an partisan political hack like Nancy Pelosi for a prop.
The Gospel of Life, Chap. 2, Pt. 3
Tackles the question of why abortion and euthanasia are not mentioned in the Bible. Also, the relationship of Thou Shalt Not Kill to the other commandments, and to the New Law.
[Click HERE for full podcast website.]
The Gospel of Life, Chapter 2, Part 2
Couple More Podcast Episodes + The Big “Pro-Life” News
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The big Catholic and pro-life news is:
The Speaker of the House’s Archbishop has notified her that she may not receive Holy Communion in San Francisco. That is, until she 1. publicly repudiates her political position on abortion and 2. goes to Confession.
Two questions about this. 1. Is Archbishop Cordileone credibly pro-life? 2. Will this do any good?
Survivors of clerical sexual abuse do not think Archbishop Cordileone is genuinely pro-life.
The Archdiocese of San Francisco has never publichsed a list of credibly accused clergy. Cordileone admitted that the Archdiocese has paid more than $87 million in secret settlements. Only a small fraction of the sex-abuse cases in the archdiocese have been dealt with.
Last May, the Survivors’ Network published a statement. Here are some passages:
The Dallas Charter promised openness and transparency. We are concerned that abusers remain in ministry in San Francisco.
We would like to see Archbishop Cordileone publish a list of abusers in his Archdiocese, including their histories, their pictures, and what the Archdiocese knew about them, when it knew about them, and what it did in response.
These lists alert the public to hidden predators and start survivors on the road to healing by letting them know that they are not the only one. This simple step, completely with the Archbishop’s control, may well save lives.
There are hundreds of priests associated with the Archdiocese of San Francisco who have destroyed the lives of innoncents and their families. It is beyond ironic and hypocritical of Archbishop Cordileone to assume any moral authority, as long as this clear and present danger remains.
In our eyes, Archbishop Cordileone has no moral standing, as long as he continues to endanger young lives. We know that not all these boys and girls will survive the attacks. Death may not necessarily be immediate, but it is one of the clear consequences of placing the reputation of the Church, and money, over the safety of children.
Archbishop Cordileone gave an interview yesterday and lamented that “he had to” exclude Pelosi from Holy Communion.
As he outlined in a letter to the priests of San Francisco, the Archbishop sought to meet personally with Speaker Pelosi, after she had spoken publicly last fall in favor of a federal law declaring a constitutional right to abortion. But Pelosi’s office responded that she didn’t have time to speak with him.
Cordileone does not have an answer to the question, Why now? What has really changed over the course of the past decade, during which he has been Pelosi’s Archbishop, and her position about legal abortion has not significantly changed?
Last year the Archbishop wrote a pastoral letter to his people about co-operating in abortion and receiving Holy Communion. It seems clear now that he did so in order to lay the groundwork, so to speak, for his Notification to Pelosi.
The pastoral letter outlines the reality of abortion and explains the difference between formal and material co-operation in evil. What the letter does not do is: Engage the political realities of the issue, in California, and in the U.S. as a whole.
There is no “right” to abortion. To the contrary, the law should prohibit the killing of innocent human beings. Nearly fifty years ago, however, the Supreme Court of our land found otherwise.
Now, apparently, that situation will change. (That is, if the leaked Alito opinion truly represents the finding of the Court on the matter.) The individual states will then make laws about abortion, like they did before Roe v. Wade.
Will all states prohibit abortion? No. Will abortions occur in states that do prohibit it? Yes, because of the availability of abortion pills and the work of underground abortionists, who have already mobilized. Will the state of California prohibit abortion? Certainly not.
One of the basic rules of democratic politics is: You win by convincing people. You might find yourself able to force people to conform to your ideas for some period of time. But then you will likely lose your power to force anyone to do anything, and you won’t get your way anymore.
It seems to me that being pro-life means, fundamentally, finding a way to convince people not to have abortions. Using force against women is exactly what we are against.
Cordileone’s Notification does not seem genuinely lawful to me. If it were, Speaker Pelosi would have a clear path to a resolution of the crisis.
The Archbishop does not lay out clearly what Pelosi is supposed to say, what precise position she is supposed to repudiate, in order to satisfy his demands. Instead, Cordileone has created a situation that looks like a father trying to discipline a teenage daughter. “You know what you’ve done wrong. So go to your room until you’re ready to apologize.”
Pelosi could reasonably ask, “What exactly do you want me to say, Your Excellency?” He would likely reply, “Just say anything that harmonizes with the teaching of the Church about abortion.” She would reply, “I think I have already done that. What exactly do you want me to say? What exact political position do you want me to take?”
And he would not have an answer. Because the business is complicated. Complicated as H. E. double hockey sticks. Democratic politics is an ugly mess.
Archbishop Cordileone says that abortion is a clear case of good and evil. Indeed, it is. Aborting a child is never the right thing to do. Seems like our job as pro-lifers is to convince people of that.
But what Archbishop Cordileone has done only serves to convince people of things that actually are not true. He has reinforced the idea that being pro-life has to do with obedience to celibate men in miters. He has fed the general conception that pro-lifers are Christians trying to force our religion on others who don’t share it.
Archbishop Cordileone did not have to do this. He, like most bishops, lives in a cucoon. He has publicly embarrassed a member of his flock, with no real prospect of any good coming from it, because he says he can no longer tolerate the “scandal” she has caused.
But how can he not see that most of the people of San Francisco will see what he has done as the scandal? Does he not realize that he comes off as an arrogant autocrat who thinks he owns Jesus Christ’s sacraments? And that he looks to most Americans like an amateur meddling in the dirty business of politics?
I’m not saying that Speaker Pelosi will not have a lot to answer for, when she goes to meet The Judge. Her political position on abortion is dishonest in the extreme. I would gladly say that to her face, if I had the chance.
And I would do the best I could to convince her to change her mind. I might ask her to let me read Evangelium Vitae to her. But I hope I would never be fool enough to make her the heroine of a mean-Church, poor-Italian-American-grandma story.
The Gospel of Life, Chapter 1, Part 2
[Click HERE for the podcast website.]
In this section, the Holy Father analyzes the roots of the democratic ideal.
The Gospel of Life, Chapter 1, Part 1
In this part of the letter, the pope interprets the story of Cain and Abel. Then he unfolds his understanding of the “Culture of Death.”
WARNING: JP II presents us with an examination of conscience here which will indict just about everybody. Remember that God is merciful, He forgives the penitent, and He bings good out of evil.
[For the podcast website, click HERE.]
The Gospel of Life, with New Podcast Series
Karol Wojtyla was born 102 years ago today. He grew up to become Pope John Paul II.
On Annunciation Day, 1995, Pope JP II wrote to the world about the right to life. That letter became one of the basic guidling lights of my little life.
We know now–at least we know to some extent–how deeply John Paul betrayed his own message in that letter, when it comes to survivors of sexual abuse by priests and bishops. Pope JP II presided over an enormously anti-life criminal cover-up, probably the worst criminal cover-up the world has ever seen.
In his letter, the pope explored the problem of blinded conscience. But meanwhile his own conscience was utterly blind to the suffering of people like my friends James Grein and Chris O’Leary. By his anti-life negligence, JP II managed to compromise the evangelical mission of the Church for the foreseeable future.
All that said, though, the letter Evangelium Vitae continues to resonate in my mind. If only JP II could have seen the significance of his own words, when it comes to clerical sex-abuse victims. If he had, we would find ourselves now in a completely different place, as a Church.
But that did not happen. What has, in fact, happened, is: the message of Evangelium Vitae has all but vanished from Catholic pastoral communication.
In the US, we find ourselves at the moment for which we pro-lifers have prayed for decades. But instead of mobilizing as a united force to seize the happy and hopeful day of a post-Roe v. Wade world, we seem paralyzed and directionless. Sheep without shepherds.
For the past couple weeks, I have been sweating in the backyard, laying the foundation for a little chapel. I cannot preach or pray in public; I can’t organize any community response to the end of Roe v. Wade. I remain unjustly suspended from ministry, with no end to that suspension in sight.
But one thing I can do is to read JP II’s The Gospel of Life aloud to you. It should occupy about twenty podcasts, each fifteen minutes long.
JP II’s writing can be difficult to understand. I will try to read aloud so as to make his words as intelligible as possible. For me these words still shimmer with the deepest and most-inspiring significance.
Here’s the first episode:
[For the podcast website, click HERE.]
As we will see as we proceed through the encyclical, being a pro-life Catholic means something much deeper than a political tribal loyalty. It is really a spirituality of how we treat other human beings on a day-to-day basis.
NATO and the War in Ukraine
Our Holy Father said recently that “NATO has barked at Russia’s door” and “perhaps facilitated” Russia’s “reacting badly and unleashing the conflict in Ukraine.”
The Wall Street Journal took stern exception to this statement, in a staff editorial. The WSJ editors write:
Since the invasion, Francis has called for an end to the war and criticized the violence, but he hasn’t directly called out Russia for starting the conflict. Now that he finally speaks, he blames NATO for accepting members that want to avoid being invaded by Russia. What a terrible moral signal to send to dictators.
Let’s consider this argument, with the help of a book I just finished, Not One Inch: America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate, by M.E. Sarotte. Continue reading “NATO and the War in Ukraine”