Monday, November 23, 2009

Communion Witheld From Patrick Kennedy

It’s come out this weekend that Patrick Kennedy’s bishop has asked him to stop taking communion because his public stances on moral issues contradict those of the Catholic Church.

I wonder how consistently these teachings are applied though. For example, the church teaches that all life is intrinsically sacred. Presumably, that also includes convicted murderers on death row. But has the church ever cut off communion to a politician who supports capital punishment? I haven’t found an example, although maybe some of you regular readers have some.

More to the point, I wonder if the church is making it impossible for Catholics to be Democrats and run for high office. In order to be nominated for President, or attain a party leadership post, being pro-choice is practically a requirement. But the church teaches that abortion violates its teachings about the sanctity of human life. So Catholic Democrats are between a rock and a hard place.

For the church, this wouldn’t necessarily be advantageous. It seems like the church would prefer to have Catholics influencing dialogue in both parties, and not just one. Kicking out Catholic Democrats who must be pro-choice because of political realities probably does deter some Catholics from running for office as Democrats. But that is one less Catholic to shape policy in the party.

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