communion rights?
May 20, 2004 2:02 PM   Subscribe

Communion rights? There is a lot of controversy regarding communion these days. Seems like the Church wants to hold it hostage in order to get what they want politically regarding abortion. Kerry is criticized for taking it, NJ Gov. McGreevy can't have it. But what about Pols that support the death penalty, shouldn't they abstain too? When it comes to communion, should anyone be getting in line these days?
posted by lilboo (36 comments total)
i think you meant "NJ Gov. McGreevy can't have it"
posted by bob sarabia at 2:07 PM on May 20, 2004

One of the tenets of Roman Catholicism is that you have to do everything possible to fill up the world with children so that there will one day be 10 billion catholics starving to death in the dark.

It's outdated, it's assinine, but if you don't like it, don't eat their stupid Jesus flesh. Sending a whiny letter to the church makes you seem like a bigger wussy than the guy in the dress handing out the crackers. The Concerned Democrats would make a much stronger point if they told the Vatican "Fuck you! I'm joining the Episcopal Church so I can both vote sensibly and enjoy the occasional holy Sunday brunch."
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:16 PM on May 20, 2004

Likewise anyone who doesn't oppose birth control and condemn divorce. I'm all for bishops showing moral clarity, and stuff, but this really does seem rather more of the political maneuver than the moral crusade.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 2:18 PM on May 20, 2004

No communion, but they'll still accept financial donations from your sinning asses.
posted by stifford at 2:23 PM on May 20, 2004

There does appear to be a certain lack of consistency with the political Catholic clergy. Perhaps they should also demand that Catholic politicians who are for the death penalty abstain, as well as those who are for the war in Iraq.

Then again with those conditions there would scarce be a politician which could accept communion at all.
posted by clevershark at 2:24 PM on May 20, 2004

Are you, by any chance, seeking consistency from this church?

It's an organisation that believes a wafer is turned into the flesh of a man who allegedly lived c. 2,000 years ago, when a certain category of male says a few words first. Ditto the wine/blood transformation.

They think that sound can, in these circumstances, alter the established laws of physics.

Why are you looking for consistency?

A more important question is "why does one of the candidates for your presidency believe this magic?"
posted by dash_slot- at 2:28 PM on May 20, 2004

No one tells me whether or not I can eat my undead savior.
posted by interrobang at 2:31 PM on May 20, 2004

There's something I don't understand here - at my father's Catholic funeral a few years ago, the priest made a friendly point of inviting any Protestant attendees to have communion with those in the church.

But if you're a Catholic politician and voted pro-choice, you can't??????

I have the feeling that this is just an attempt to create controversy and isn't really going to be followed through on.
posted by pyramid termite at 2:31 PM on May 20, 2004

Yet another reason to ensure a secular government.
posted by FormlessOne at 2:32 PM on May 20, 2004

It just seems that this is (yet another) major inconsistency in the Catholic churches' PR. Just why are the death penalty advocates getting a free ride on this?

(& sorry about the link problem, I am the queen of the typo.)
posted by lilboo at 2:41 PM on May 20, 2004

This has nothing to do with the topic but when my sister-in-law commited suicide, one of her memorial services was held at a very fundamental Catholic church, where my dad was a Deacon. I've never seen two more uncomfortable looking priests in all my life.

Okay, please resume bashing a church for an issue of small importance just 'cause it gets your rocks off. Disregard, please, that this entire post and thread bears more resemblance to the National Enquirer than anything bitched about over on Metatalk. But the insults are actually funny, seriously. Please, carry on.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:44 PM on May 20, 2004

Metafilter: No one tells me whether or not I can eat my undead savior.

It's become an issue, and it makes me think the Bishops are being played for fools by the Repubs. Until they come down on Tom Ridge, George Pataki, and Giuliani, and all the Repub. Catholics the same way they're coming after Kerry, it's a crock. Do priests actually ask all their parishioners each week whether they are pro-choice or not? i think not.

Signorile had a good column on this too--the selective morality of it all.
posted by amberglow at 2:51 PM on May 20, 2004

Wait, the Death Penalty is now "an issue of small importance" ?!?
posted by lilboo at 2:52 PM on May 20, 2004

Only Democrats should be denied communion. Not pro-choice Republiucans like Guilliani or Schwarzenegger.

God Hates Democrats!
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 2:56 PM on May 20, 2004

Anyone who calls themselves "pro-life" and supports the death penalty is seriously deluded, Catholic or not. Likewise, condemning someone for their support of the former and ignoring those who support the latter.

Catholicism used to be about forgiveness of sins, hence Confession, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside in favor of selective condemnation. Calvinistic in a way, isn't it?
posted by tommasz at 3:05 PM on May 20, 2004

Hmmm. I think the big issue is being overlooked. Remember separation of church and state? Remember little Ralphie Reed [sp]? Remember what happened when lil' Ralphie sent out 60,000+ letters advising his religious following how to vote? That's right. The feds informed him of a rather large tax bill he all of a sudden owed. Gulp.

Now try thinking in terms of just how big the Catholic church's tax exemption is. Methinks 'twould be an awesome step toward balancing the US budget. The damage is done so revoking the tax exemption is justified. Don't forget that the Catholic church is the second biggest land owner in this country.

They done stepped in it big this time. It will take the feds a minute or two to see it but then the fun will start. Big bucks roolz again.
posted by tonebarge at 3:07 PM on May 20, 2004

lilboo, come on. You know as well as I do that this has nothing to do with the Death penalty, and everything to do with the silly machinations of one sect of one religion. Overstating its importance actually lends credence to an argument that should have precisely NONE.

The Catholic church does not, and cannot, control public policy in the US. It says so, right in the Constitution. If you make it a bigger issue than it is, by equating their bluster with real decisions of policy, than you're buying into their game, and treating the mythology as something that we must take a firm stand against. NO. Like any troll, ignore it and it will go away.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:09 PM on May 20, 2004

Personally, I say let the catholic church do as it pleases within its own limits. If they want to deny communion, good for them. It's not my problem, and it's not America's problem.
posted by angry modem at 3:15 PM on May 20, 2004

This has been rehashed on a thread or two which I'm too lazy to look up and link, but this can't be said often enough: the Church's position on abortion is in no way, shape or form comparable to its positions on the death penalty or the Iraq.

The Church's opposition to abortion is absolute and obligatory -- elective abortion is prohibited without qualification, as a matter of canon law.

By contrast, the Church's view on the death penalty is a matter of recent and nuanced teaching; teaching from which a Catholic may permissably dissent, and a teaching which, it should be noted, does not categorically bar the administration of the death penalty.

The Church's view on transitory political questions such as the Iraq war are even of an even lesser degree of importance. The Pope and certain Bishops' teachings there are simply their interpretations -- emphatically expressed, it's true -- of the Just War Doctrine. By its terms, the JWD is something left to politicians to apply for themselves, in light of their own consciences and taking such advice as they see fit.

The bishops are fully within their rights to deny communion to politicans who support abortion, while not denying communion to supporters of the death penalty or abortion. I certainly do find it troubling that pro-choice Republicans appear not to have been targeted by this, and hope that bishops either correct this oversight or cease the denial-of-communion campaign altogether.
posted by MattD at 3:17 PM on May 20, 2004

tommasz, a typo?

Catholicism used to be about forgiveness controlling the population by gaining knowledge of individual's secrets and by inducing guilt and fear of damnation, hence Confession.

I don't think you can have it both ways though, the catholic church is always being criticised because of the huge amount of mass murderers and psychotics it didn't bother to condemn through the last 2000 years and now it goes and does a little bit of condemning and everyone's up in arms.
posted by biffa at 3:25 PM on May 20, 2004

My question has a lot more to do with Catholic Church priorities than with the US govt. reaction. Why push one agenda harder than the other - it's essentially the same issue, as far as the church is concerned. Look, I understand why the Church is anti-abortion, I understand why the Church is anti-death penalty. But if you are going to make a big deal about getting the Catholic Pols to tow the line on doctrine, why be selective about it?
posted by lilboo at 3:25 PM on May 20, 2004

MattD: So has God been overruled on that shalt not kill thing?
posted by biffa at 3:27 PM on May 20, 2004

This all harkens back to the days when especially in the big cities the Catholic Church ruled the roost. It wasn't just a religion, it dictated both politics and social organization.
Literally, Priests *ordered* people about in many secular ways.
You were either part of the machine or you were out in the cold.
Back then, the agreement was that if you toed the Church line, within political realities, you got Church support. But with the decline in the social and political power of the Church, politicians reneged on the deal. And, for years, the Church refused to enforce discipline, so politicians got to have their cake and eat it too.

In the current situation, the Church will win if it clamps down, because the rank and file will appreciate them laying down the law. A heck of a lot of Catholics pine for the days when Priests were leaders, rather than caretakers.

If the politicians fight this one, they will lose, the reason being that they really don't have any pull over the Church. The Church, for its part, can just demand "obedience"(*), and if they refuse to comply, they are no longer Catholics.

(*) The new Bishop of Phoenix is demanding "obedience" from Priests who signed a pro-gay document, demanding they renounce their signatures. If they don't, most likely they will be fired. It is a Church legalism.
posted by kablam at 3:54 PM on May 20, 2004

Not quite a typo, but as you've pointed out, not necessarily carried out in the way it was intended (or at least the way I hope it was intended). I try to keep in mind that it's all a bunch of flawed human beings, who sometimes don't see their own flaws while pointing out those of others. It helps.
posted by tommasz at 3:54 PM on May 20, 2004

hmm, let's see what the old man in the Vatican has to say about those nice American warmongers:

Pope calls the potential war in Iraq 'a defeat for humanity

Pope urges world to avoid Iraq war

Pope condemns war in Iraq

what's even funnier, some of the (most insane) hawks out there suggest that "In the spirit of Jonathan Swift, perhaps the Bush Administration should consider placing the Vatican on the list of rogue states that support terrorism".

but I guess that's OK that some of the Republican Catholic clergy have decided to join the Bush Campaign. that faith-based-initiatives money definitely non olet


does not categorically bar the administration of the death penalty.

yeah, that's a popular point of view in certain US Republican Catholic circles. too bad it's untrue.
let's see:

While the vast majority of U.S. Catholics support capital punishment, Pope John Paul II has declared the Church's near total opposition to the death penalty. In his encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" (The Gospel of Life) issued March 25, 1995 after four years of consultations with the world's Roman Catholic bishops, John Paul II wrote that execution is only appropriate "in cases of absolute necessity, in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today, however, as a result of steady immprovement in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically nonexistent." Until this encyclical, the death penalty was viewed as sometimes permissible as a means of protecting society. The universal catechism--book of rules--for Catholics had affirmed the right of the state to punish criminals with appropriate penalties "not excluding in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty."
From Para. 56 of Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), an encyclical letter on various threats to human life which Pope John Paul II issued on March 25, 1995.

the entire Evangelium Vitae (it means Good News Of Life) is here

The Church's view on transitory political questions such as the Iraq war are even of an even lesser degree of importance.
yeah, of course.

Invade Iraq on Halliburton's orders (and with Ahmed Chalabi's fake evidence) all you want. execute possibly innocent, badly-represented blacks and Mexicans all you want, and call it justice.
just don't try to argue that the Pope told you to. it'd be shameful, even by the GOP's admittedly by-now-nonexistent ethical standards.
posted by matteo at 3:57 PM on May 20, 2004

matteo, your abuse of whitespace makes baby allah cry.
posted by angry modem at 4:03 PM on May 20, 2004

There is no doubt that the Catholic Church has a long connection to war and execution, and for various reasons does not rule the possibility of a just war. Of course, taking part or supporting an unjust war would be reason to suffer the censure of your bishop, even if there is no blanket repudiation of all war.

It seems mere casuistry to start claiming that abortion is different than any number of church positions when it comes to denying communion to politicians. Lack of knowledge of canon law may mean that some of the examples given are slightly off the mark, but the idea that there is one rule for castigating pro-choice democrats and another for politicians who work against other church teachings is blindingly obvious.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 4:13 PM on May 20, 2004

The Church's opposition to abortion is absolute and obligatory -- elective abortion is prohibited without qualification, as a matter of canon law.

the church may be in broad agreement about abortion at the moment, but I think it's disingenous to suggest it has always been that way - st. augustine is famous for having regarded the fetus as essentially part of the woman's body in the early stages of pregnancy. Anyway, there are some catholics who think the modern church has got it wrong - this is an interesting account of the two possible reasons for opposing abortion, the "ontological" and "perversity" arguments:catholics for choice article

Anyone who calls themselves "pro-life" and supports the death penalty is seriously deluded, Catholic or not. Likewise, condemning someone for their support of the former and ignoring those who support the latter.

I believe what it comes down to is what it is about the life that you are holding up as important - if it's innocence, you can be anti- abortion, but pro- death penalty; if it's consciousness, you can be pro- abortion and anti- death penalty. To be against both, you either imbue the fetus with consciousness, which it does not have, or believe that the criminal can be rehabilitated, which to me is more reasonable.

FUnnily, if you highly value both, you may be fine with either form of death; in a way it's a generosity of application that allows people to hold both in high value and simultaneously be outraged by the deaths of the non-conscious and guilty*. Personally, I think the distinction "innocent" is harder to draw a line around. I value consciousness primarily; innocence is an ideal we humans have drawn off our sadness at the fact that all living always destroys to some minimal degree... anyway. fetuses are only innocent because they are infacent (?) - they have done no harm because they have done nothing. (I know nocere is latin for "do harm to" and facere is latin for "do, make" - but I'm making up words, so don't check a dictionary). Wow, I'm rambling and have to run now, so I guess I'll just post some pretty much unrelated babbling. apologies.

* being against the death penalty for practical reasons - that it can't be applied fairly, or that we can't be sure of guilt - is a philosophically different position.
posted by mdn at 5:07 PM on May 20, 2004

Fetuses are not innocent because of original sin. Baptized murders are fully capable of repentance and therefore can go to heaven. Oh well.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 5:58 PM on May 20, 2004

Why stop with banning the Eucharist to politicians only?

Hell, ban it for ALL the "faithful" who practice birth control too you damned hypocrites!! :-)
posted by nofundy at 5:46 AM on May 21, 2004

I wish they'd serve Jesus Dip along with those crackers at church. They are so dry! Can't they just bless some salsa or cheese sauce? Then I'm sure they'd have them lining up outside for more tasty Jesus treats!
posted by CrazyJub at 6:09 AM on May 21, 2004

The push to deny the Eucharist to Kerry is the doings of a few individual Catholic bishops who are campaigning for cardinal, as far as I know. To say that "the Church" is behind this is misleading. It's like saying that all Republicans want to destroy the United States' diplomatic standing in the world, when that's really the aim of only a few hundred politicians and bureaucrats who have hijacked the party.
posted by Holden at 6:37 AM on May 21, 2004

The church and the pope didn't mind interceding when local clergy where interfering in politics in South America. Of course, those clergy were on the left.
posted by biffa at 7:29 AM on May 21, 2004

Something I really don't get with big-C Catholicism (as opposed to little-c catholicism which I don't think anybody really believes anyway) as an outsider is how much people will stretch the cognitive dissonance between doctrine and practice. Within most protestant sects which argue that the ultimate arbitrator is the personal relationship with god (or the Bible as interpreted using a personal relationship with god) this works a bit better because there is more wiggle room to reach individual interpretations.

Granted, as Holden points out, one of the things that outsiders seem to miss about the big-C Catholic church is that while the pope is the spiritual head, the actual politics of the Catholic church are a lot more complex. But still, these conflicts and tensions are interesting.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:30 AM on May 21, 2004

I have to second angry modem's sentiment. If you're not a Catholic, why the hell would you care what the church says about its members?

And where does the rude mocking come from? Of all the things to criticize the Catholic church for, you pick Communion? What a non-threatening, irrelevant thing to single out. So they don't believe the same thing as you do--so what? Until the day they start forcing their wafer down your throat, I suggest you stop making fun of people's religious beliefs. Focus more on the politicians who are making decisions that are good for their religion but bad for the country--they're the ones to worry about.

Sorry--I was raised Catholic, and although I've distanced myself from the church for decades, I don't get some of the petty hatred for the church.
posted by turaho at 1:35 PM on May 21, 2004

I really don't have a problem with the Catholic church enforcing its doctrine. But I hate the idea that they are pushing one major issue to the hoop, while letting its other major issue totally slide. If the church is flexing its muscle regarding its moral authority, it should do so across the board. Esp. with all of the issues plaguing the church right now, the lack of equal rights for women, the molestation scandals, you would think they would be interested in looking a little less hypocritical these days.
posted by lilboo at 2:48 PM on May 21, 2004

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