DATE: 4/06/2004 08:11:00 AM
Kerry's Catholicism - Andrew Sullivan is accusing Kathryn Jean Lopez and her fellow "theocrats" of wanting to excommunicate John Kerry from the Catholic church. First of all, Sullivan's blog is quickly degenerating from 'must-read' to 'if I have the time.' Lately, he's substituted his normally sane and insightful commentary with name-calling and the hyping of every negative story about Bush he can find on the web. I know these complaints about Sullivan's site have been a staple of this site for a couple of weeks now, but it's truly rooted in my extreme disappointment with his blog lately. Over the past few months (since the president announced his support for the FMA) Sullivan has gotten more and more negative in tone. Not just about Bush, but about the world in general. It's become a downer to read.
Now, onto the subject at hand. Sullivan and others are angry that a bishop in the Catholic church recently asked parish priests to stop serving communion to politicians who hold positions contrary to Catholic doctrine. Why are they angry? Are they suggesting that the state should come in and force the Catholic church to make receipt of a divine sacrament mandatory?
I do not know the state of John Kerry's heart, or the honesty of his faith. That's something between only he and God know. What I do know, though, is that Kerry has advocated public policy that is in direct conflict with Christian doctrine, the most serious being his support of abortion. Catholics believe that to have or participate in an abortion is a mortal sin, requiring penance. Because Kerry's unfailing support for abortion has doubtless made it possible for many women to have abortions or participate in the procedure, many Catholic leaders believe he has broken faith with Catholic doctrine. The Catholic church requires that those who receive communion be in a state of grace. Kerry's unapologetic support for abortion puts him out of this state, as he has shown no penance for supporting a mortal sin. Therefore, the leadership has concluded, he is unfit to enter a state where he can receive communion in good faith.
The Catholic church should be commended for its strong stance on this issue. It reminds believers that communion is more than just a ritual - it's not something to be taken lightly. The church is under no obligation to serve communion to those whom it believes do not take their faith seriously enough to follow its commandments to protect the innocent. The anger of Sullivan and others is misplaced. And yes, if Kerry were a Republican I would believe the same thing. This isn't about mere partisanship - there's much more than politics at stake here.