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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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So Much for LEADERSHIP on Eucharistic Disposition

Are We Collaborators with the Thieves of Life?

Is it a sin to vote for a pro-abortion politician? Is one excommunicated for voting for a pro-abortion politician?  Is the pro-abortion politician excommunicated?  Is it a sin for such a politician to step forward in receiving the Eucharist?  Is it a sin for the priest or minister to give Holy Communion to a person who enables and promotes the murder of unborn children?  At least for the present, particular politicians are off the hook as the bishops have thrown away this hot potato. 

Any directed address to politicians and the sacrament was dropped from the USCCB June 2021 conference.  As I said before, the focus would be a general document for all believers.  Of course, while any of us might get off easy before men, it may be a far different case when we stand before almighty God.

Before being concerned about censures, we should be cognizant of the danger of mortal sin. The subjective element of sin requires many considerations and I would hesitate to tell voters that they have committed a sin at the election box— although it is sometimes very hard for me to close my mouth. This does not mean that such is not the case, especially if one votes for a candidate precisely because of his or her advocacy of abortion or other objective evils. Although tyrants often take power rather than having it given, would it be wrong or sinful to vote for a person filled with poisonous hate and violence like Hitler or Stalin? If a white supremacist candidate stated that if elected he would seek the restoration of segregation laws and the forced expulsion of blacks to Africa, would it be a sin to vote for him?  I would think so.  I might also hope that such a nut would be locked up as crazy.

The code of canon law really does not discuss elections and politicians who are pro-abortion.  I would suspect that their participation in the killing of children is not immediate or specific enough to merit the censure of excommunication.  My one caveat is that they might be excommunicated for teaching heresy.  I am reminded of when Pelosi distorted Catholic history and teaching in trying to legitimize her radical pro-abortion stance.  Given current church laws, the defense against heresy is the tact I would recommend.        

Who is in Control?  Are Policies Just?

The current argument about the dynamics of withholding Holy Communion from public dissenters like politicians and celebrities has expanded to include well-meaning Catholics. A number of priests have been in the news for taking hard lines in their preaching.  Many chancery offices and legal departments have been quick to reprimand priests for such actions, arguing that decisions of this sort rest solely with the local bishop whom they are to respect and obey. Many dioceses have policies that demand that the minister uniformly extends the sacrament.  Priests are also told that while they can preach on issues, they cannot identify politicians as either pro-abortion or pro-life.  Especially outside of election time, I am hard pressed to see how clergy can be ethically silenced.  Maybe it is due to the fact that campaigning is now all that candidates really do throughout their entire terms?  My Ordinary and many others took public exception with President Trump in reference to racial unrest and illegal immigrants. While all bishops would likely object to President Biden’s stance on abortion, it is often remarked that there is a delicate partisan divide in the difference paid the office of one elected official over another. While they may not always be tactful, there are increasing numbers of clergy raising questions about the legal counsel retained by dioceses given that they dictate policy and even tell pastors what they should and should NOT preach. Are these lawyers Catholic?  What are their political alliances?  Are they fully committed to the Gospel of Life and all the Church’s interests?    

It is frequently brought up that pro-abortion politicians and even tyrants have received the Eucharist from popes like the late Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.  This is true and we must wonder how much concern was given matters by handlers.  Note that Pope Francis gives Holy Communion to a few and leaves the task largely to others.  I suspect that it is about more than his bad back.  The Holy Father, while often saying things that perplex and which cause headlines, is acutely aware of the affirmative sign value when a pope is photographed with anyone.  The Pope has been critical of legislators seeking to legalize abortion in Mexico. He even seemed to defend the right of bishops in Uruguay in regard to excommunications.  

The Matter of Culpability

There is an irony with this issue that is often missed.  If one should through ignorance promote or permit abortion, failing somehow not to understand the gravity of this evil, then he or she would be less culpable than one who knows full well the wrong.  Indeed, even the so-called pro-choice advocate should find repugnant and dangerous the candidate who says that he accepts the Church’s teaching about abortion as murder and nonetheless enables and supports this evil.  We should all be wary of those who seek power, influence and wealth by selling their integrity to the loudest voice or highest buyer. Reflecting upon canon law, I am presumptuous enough to suggest an injustice in church sanctions. A distressed woman might seek out one abortion and face excommunication.  However, a politician might enable and even provide funding for millions of abortions, and he will likely escape any sanction. At this point should I confess than I am sometimes a selfish man?  How will God judge me as a priest for silence upon this issue?  How will God judge me for my friendship with pro-abortion advocates?  How will God judge me for giving communion when that public figure or politician who widely advocates child murder stands before me?  Will it be enough to say I followed the advice of archdiocesan lawyers?  Will it be enough to save me if I should point at the bishop and tell the Lord that the one you placed over me told me to do it?  I have this nightmare that Jesus will show me the faces of all the unwanted children that we sped to their deaths without even the dignity of graves. The Divine Mercy will speak with a gentle voice, “I love you. . . I love all my children.” Then there will be a frightful transmutation in the great Pantokrator or Divine Justice.  Raising his voice as the God of Judgment and stressing each syllable, he stares at me and says, “Now, for your failure to love— go to hell!” 

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