The history of Catholic immigrants to the United States and their descendants is exemplary of the American dream, and intertwined with the Democratic party. I myself am a typical example of this Catholic Democratic legacy. My grandparents were immigrants, arriving here dirt-poor from Sicily. My father grew up in his father’s trade and was a commercial fisherman; my maternal grandfather was a cement mason. They were classic working-class people. Both of my parents were registered Democrats — New Deal Democrats — their whole lives. What the Democratic party, with its vital support for labor unions, brought to our country at the time helped my family survive and thrive, and made possible even greater opportunities for my siblings, my cousins, and myself.
It was a bit disconcerting, then, when on June 18, sixty Democratic members of Congress, all Catholics, issued a significant “Statement of Principles” in response to a decision by U.S. Catholic bishops to develop a teaching document on the nature of the Eucharist and its proper reception. In their statement, the members of Congress argue that “the Sacrament of Holy Communion is central to the life of practicing Catholics, and the weaponization of the Eucharist to Democratic lawmakers for their support of a woman’s safe and legal access to abortion is contradictory.” They go on to “solemnly urge” the bishops “to not move forward and deny [lawmakers] this most holy of all sacraments” over one issue.
The statement raises many troubling questions. While I speak only for myself in this column, the public nature of the statement invites a public response and provides an excellent opportunity for candid dialogue. In that spirit, allow me to begin the dialogue with comments on some specific passages from the statement.
As Catholic Democrats in Congress, we are proud to be part of the living Catholic tradition–a tradition that unfailingly promotes the common good, expresses a consistent moral framework for life, and highlights the need to provide a collective safety net to those individuals in society who are the most vulnerable.
A “consistent moral framework for life” would logically seem to exclude laws that enable the killing of the most vulnerable and innocent in society: the unborn. Surely the members of Congress know, as committed Catholics, that the early Church described abortion as a form of homicide, and that the Christian community condemned abortion as early as the first century in the Didache. Nor can we ignore the pain caused to many women, and others in their networks of relationships, by the emotional scars of abortion.
. . . we work every day to advance respect for life and the dignity of every human being.
Except, that is, those human beings who are still in the womb, or even partially born.
We are committed to making real the basic principles that are at the heart of Catholic social teaching: helping the poor, disadvantaged, and the oppressed, protecting the least among us and ensuring that all Americans of every faith are given meaningful opportunities to share in the blessings of this great country.
One of the “basic principles” of Catholic belief is rather blunt and simple: Don’t intentionally kill, or collude in enabling others to kill, innocent human life. Catholic principles build systematically on one another. The protection of innocent, defenseless life is first and foundational.
The above comes from a June 23 article in First Things which lists and answers 15 items in the Democrats’ statement.
Archbishop Cordileone! Yes!
A congresswoman recently told a congressman to stop “mansplaining.”
This is the level of maturity we have in Congress.
The word “mansplaining” is sexist, derogatory, belittling. It is identity abuse.
It is a way to demean someone into shutting up.
If the reverse happened, all the congresswoman would wear the same color (now there’s an effective action) to protest.
Hooray for Archbishop Cordileone. But where will it lead? And how many bishops will have the courage to take the needed next step of publicly declaring specific officials unfit for Communion and prohibiting ministers of Communion from giving the Eucharist to them?
The news is reporting that the USCCB is backing off on the document that was to be addressed to Catholic politicians who are not anti-abortion. Reportedly, the document will be addressed to all Catholics now.
I think that’s a good move. It will help deflect accusations that the USCCB is being political and also serve as catechesis for all Catholics.
How is a good move Steve? It just confirms that they are cowards sorry to say. Similar to the Apostles who ran away when the going got tough. All talk and no action is destroying this Church. Can you imagine someone spouting racism and white supremacy. Do you think they would deny him/her Holy Communion? And let’s not forget what happened to the former governor of NY who was denied the Eucharist because of his funding of abortion. He eventually repented and it probably saved his soul. Sorry we disagree on this one Steve.
Thank you for the comment. It might be that we’re just mis-communicating or maybe I’m misunderstanding the change. Hopefully my new comments provide clarity.
1) If the document is written for all Catholics, it will still apply to all Catholic politicians. This would not be “all talk and no action.” Why do you think it would be?
2). Catechesis regarding deadly sin and reception of the Eucharist is in a real shambles. A general document might help bridge the education gap.
3) Democrats and the media seem to gain traction by claiming that the bishops are being political. They’ll still make the accusation, but it won’t stick nearly as well.
I’m still not getting your point. It’s still all talk and no action. Do you really think Biden or Pelosi will be denied Holy Communion because of a new document? Frankly, I don’t care what the Democrats and the fake media accuse the Bishops of. Why do they care? If they uphold the teachings of the Church they shouldn’t. And Pelosi and Biden and the other pro-aborts are mocking them daring them to deny a pro-abortion candidate Communion. When are they going to act instead of issuing new documents. All talk and no action. It’s like raising children, you can talk all day long but if there is no action to follow up it’s in one ear and out the other.
Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?
No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us
From the USCCB webpage Q&A
Maybe you’re misunderstanding what the USCCB can do. To my knowledge, the Bishop’s Conference isn’t able to force a bishop to do much of anything. The Conference is a coordinating body: not an executive one.
In this regard, they can issue a statement about protocols; however, they can’t force a bishop to deny communion to someone in his diocese. In other words, if Cupich and Wilton wish to be wolves, the USCCB can’t stop them.
It’s still all talk and no action whether the USCCB can’t force (would they force them to withhold the Eucharist from an outspoken racist?) the Bishops or not. Imagine if an outspoken KKK person went to a Bishop to receive you better believe there would be an outcry and not one of the Bishops would give them Communion.
It was always supposed to be addressed to all Catholics. It is about the Eucharist.
Every Catholic at some time or other gives up something they want (at least momentarily) in order to conform to Christ. I understand that these Democrats want to be in a position of power, but they should not be members of the Democrat party with its sinful agenda. I know it seems that God is asking a lot but He gives more than He takes.
None of those who signed this should go to Communion. If you are not in communion with the Church, you should not present yourself for Communion.
The bishop found it disconcerting on June 18th when 60 catholic democrat congressmen issued a pro abortion statement? Where has he been, not just for the last few years, but for the last few decades? These same catholic democrats have been voting pro-abortion the whole time they are in congress. Did the bishop read the democrat platform for 2020? Abortion, anytime, anyplace, for any reason, paid for by the government.
It is hard to tell from the article whether the bishop is still a registered member of the party of death. I would hope not.
Great point, Crusader.
“It was a bit disconcerting”? A bit? disconcerting?
Good grief. With a name like Cordileone to boot, you’d think he’d roar like a lion.
Exactly, the time for talking is over. Action is what’s needed. I’m sick of hearing about this paper or that paper from some Bishop or Cardinal. Words mean nothing and the way Biden and the pro-aborts responded to this just confirms that they are mocking them and daring them to act.
Juan and Crusader,
I would cut the Archbishop some slack. He’s leading his diocese and the Church in America – very rare for a bishop. Also, do you see any other bishop in front of him?
Steve: “Juan and Crusader, I would cut the Archbishop some slack.”
And to think that what you’ve read is only the CCD-edited version of my comment!
Seriously, though, I would just stress that the bottom line as regards our bishops is whether they’re being effective, not comparatively better, and one need look no further than the never-ending scandal of Nancy Pelosi to see that Abp. Cordileone is not effectively leading, which naturally merits criticism. That is not harsh. Effective leadership demands action. Words are cheap.
I appreciate your comments even if I don’t fully agree with them. There’s a political component to everything that bishops do now-a-days. This requires a judgment call. In my view, Nancy will continue to be Nancy even if she were to have a vision of the Risen Christ.
I, for one, have acutely seen the coming of the persecution of the Church since the election of Obama in 2008. In response, I’ve been praying [and now fasting] on a regular basis for the Church. The reason is that her members are fat and weak and need to get stronger to survive the coming persecution. It’s occurring slowly, but her members are getting stronger.
But just as we have deadwood laity, we also have deadwood bishops. We also have wolf bishops who seek to devour the flock.
Archbishop Cordileone has been slowly getting his sea legs just like the rest of us who are getting stronger. He will be better in the future and so will we. He also needs our encouragement just as we need his. This is the point that I wish to make.
Give Archbishop Cordileone the tremendous credit he is due.
My immigrant family members all were “New Deal” FDR Democrats, too! But in those days, everyone respected the Catholic Church — whether you were Catholic or not. Catholics who decided they didn’t agree with Catholic teachings, simply left the Church. No one had the audacity– and bad manners– to ever dream of confronting the Catholic Church, and telling her what to do.
A long time ago, nearly every Catholic was well-educated in their Faith, and knew the Catechism well, by the time they finished Catholic grade school. They knew more than many clerics with advanced degrees do, today– (sorry!) including many in today’s College of Cardinals, and even the Pope.
A long time ago, even scoundrels and criminals knew right from wrong– and would readily call their evil deeds “sins.” Many good people today, do not know right from wrong, and are quick to lie about grave sins, saying that they are not “sins” at all– stating that it is “judgmental” to truthfully call a sin a sin.
Before Vatican II, we never had the problem of a great, big Cardinal– like “Cdl. Cupich”– being “too scared” to deny the Eucharist to sinful, heretical “Catholic” politicians! And saying, like a frightened child– that he “doesn’t want to weaponize the Eucharist.” Before Vatican II, not everyone went to Communion at every Mass, anyway. You had to not only be a good practicing Catholic– you really had to decide if you were well-prepared for reception of Holy Communion. (It was mainly for the priest.) You assisted at Mass, prayerfully, regardless. There was tremendous respect for the Holy Eucharist. I am so sorry for the unthinkably horrible position of a dedicated cleric, like Abp. Cordileone– in today’s Church. I don’t think the Vatican and USCCB want to resolve this dilemma.
I too read the letter, and it’s interesting to surmise how many Catholics who, for whatever reason, may not be “worthy” of receiving Communion. Some are using birth control, some are engaged in crime, or other situations that if printed out for the priest’s or bishop’s review would result in denial of the host. Politicians, by and large, are not representative of just the Catholics in their districts – they represent all of the citizens therein, Catholic and non-Catholic. A politician can be PERSONALLY against abortion, or corporal punishment or any other number of sins the Church denounces, yet as an elected representative, they must be attune to their entire ‘s spectrum. It would be sad indeed if all “good” Catholics who wanted to step up to represent their districts decided against giving of themselves for their citizens because in order to get elected, they would need to find that middle road that would get them elected among Catholics and the non-Catholics. So given that scenario, Catholic values and desires are then not heard within the forums where they might be needed or will make a difference. Imagine if the Church condemns these sixty politicians, and those men and women sadly then decide to leave the Church. The Catholic Church has gained a reputation of being rather exclusive, a bit pious in its relations with others – only the “worthy” need stay and partake of the sacraments. So many have deemed themselves as knowing more than the average priest, or even his Holiness the Pope. One hears adamantly pro-life Catholics declare “If you don’t like it, LEAVE the Church” – how un-Christ like, and rather like those how watched Christ break bread with others who were deemed unclean and unworthy (ex: Zaccheus) ! Some have even suggested that those who are not like them should not only leave the Church, but to leave the nation altogether. How self-righteous, and Old Testament! I’m sorry that in a multi-divergent nation one cannot hope that literally everyone be saved by joining the Church and absolutely adhering to its tenets. It might be nice, but humans do not congregate that way. That does not mean to forgo standards, but always to remember that love is Christ, and Christ is the center, not Catholics. Last point to Anonymous: you seem to believe that all Democrats are something short of Satanic, evil, disgusting, and every one of them deserves death and Hell’s fire. Are you stating that all Republicans, especially Catholic ones, are totally conjoined to the idea of being anti-abortion, or anti- this or that? You’re assuming facts not in evidence, my friend, and as such, portray a life filled with judgment and hate that betray a sad soul who loves to talk about being a “true” Catholic, but denounces it with every tome of exclusion you write.
Michael Joseph Dremel, you have stated previously that you are not Catholic. And this website printed your way-too-long submission, against Catholic teachings. Isn’t this supposed to be a Catholic website? Shouldn’t this website support Archbishop Cordioeone?
Democrats support death of the unborn, the infirm, of normal sexuality and most of the family.
Michael Joseph Dremel, your contention that politicians need to represent the people in their district no matter the morality of the issue would indeed mean that Catholics could not serve in the legislature.
Politicians have freedom to vote the way they think is best. They are not slaves to their constituents. Their constituents voted for them and while it is appropriate for them to learn the desires and needs of their constituents, they should not violate their religion or conscience on a vote.
Where does anyone get the idea that morality and decency are somehow “incompatible” with political leadership? All Americans should lead good lives, with good moral consciencea. Politicians are given big responsibilities of leadership. Those who are irresponsible, corrupt, and immoral, should be made to resign from their jobs– and prosecuted and sent to prison.
The problem is moral relativity. There was a time when a divorced person would have a hard time getting elected. There was a time when politicians caught in adultery resigned in disgrace.
There was a time when admitting to drug use would disqualify a candidate in the public’s eye.
Americans do not hold their leaders to exacting standards anymore.
Michael– Our first responsibility is always to Almighty God, in life– whether you go to church or not, you must live a good life, and have a good moral conscience, before God. No one can tell a church what to do, with pretenses of false “authority,” and no one has any man-made, so-called “rights and privileges” to do as they please, in a church– and “tell God what to do.”
This seems to be an issue of identity. Identity issues are huge these days. Nobody ever questioned the Catholic identity of Catholic public figures who cheated on their wives. Your identity as a Catholic was solidified by weekly attendance at Mass. If you did not attend Mass, you were considered a fallen away Catholic or more currently, a lapsed Catholic. Prior to that you probably were considered a former Catholic. Or a lazy one.
It might have been in the late 90s that people started to write articles or books on Catholic identity and the standards seem to tighten. I believe this was after some of the laity became frustrated that they obeyed the Church and others didn’t. There were more “get together” type of ministries like RENEW and Scripture studies and, in attending these, you would discover that many of your fellow Catholics didn’t care what the Church taught. They made up their own minds. Perhaps you had the same situation in your family. There were also some Catholic authors or professors that were being outspoken against things like birth control and even, abortion. Also, Scripture interpretations.
The use of birth control may have been the wedge issue that caused the beginning of Catholics deciding they could make up their own minds on moral issues.
I remember being shocked when I first heard a Catholic say that, like Archbishop Cordileone’s family, they considered being Democrat a part of Catholic identity. My parents hated the Democrats although my grandparents hated the Republicans (because they blamed them for the income tax.) My parents hated the Democrats because they thought their policies were bad for the country.
I knew a Catholic who said she should vote for the Democrats because their families income was from government work and they did better when there were Democrats in office. She refused to vote for them because of their stand on abortion.
Catholics are not the only ones who believe in and promote Pro-Life. Many Protestants, especially evangelicals, are very active in Pro-Life work– especially Franklin Graham’s organization, the Southern Baptists, and many others!
And operation resuce
Texas Right to Life is a powerful secular Pro-Life organization. Today, nearly two dozen Texas cities have declared themselves “sanctuary cities for the unborn.” There are also many pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in Texas, run by religious and secular groups. All over America, there are a great many powerful religious and secular Pro-Life organizations. And they all have been supporting Ab Cordileone and the Catholic USCCB. Some have publicly attacked the 60 “bad Catholic” politicians, and have tried to explain the important and significant Catholic beliefs on the Eucharist, and why “bad Catholic” politicians should obey their Church on these important teachings, as well as on Pro-Life teachings. Very impressive.
I just read that on June 21st, the Pope sent Fr. James Martin, S.J., a personal letter, in Spanish, to thank him for some pictures he had sent the Pope. Pope Francis also told him to “keep up the good work” ( in Spanish). This was posted on Twitter, with an unofficial English translation. Anybody know anything about this? It is so upsetting, that Pope Francis is always encouraging the liberal, “LGBT”-promoter, Fr. James Martin, S.J., in his work. Now, why can’t the Pope help our Abp. Cordileone, with the situation of the “bad Catholics” and the Eucharist– and Canon 915?
I saw, on Fr. Martin’s “tweet,” that Fr. Martin had sent the Pope pictures of his nephew’s Confirmation Mass. The nephew chose “Francis” as his Confirmation Saint, and wore socks with the Pope’s picture on them. Also, Fr. Martin has been very active with Sr. Jeannie Grammick’s heretical LGBT “New Ways Ministry.”
Gary Wills, the noted Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian who has written over 50 books about the Catholic Church, wrote an opinion piece for the NYT last week – The Bishops Are Wrong About Biden — and Abortion. You won’t agree with it, but you should read it because it is always good to know what the other sided is thinking and teaching. It is an important piece. The numbers are discouraging for those who hold to the teachings of the Catholic Church. People don’t go to church anymore. People don’t believe in God anymore. A large swarth of Catholics believes abortion is a choice, and that it is ok, not a sin. Wills’ opinion piece will be used to support the notion that abortion isn’t an issue. Remember to keep your friends closer and the enemy closer.
America magazine has a story saying Biden’s parish in DC says it will not deny Communion to anyone.