On Catholicism and Politics

Kevin Walzer is a poet who runs a publishing company named WordTech. I ran into him over at the Foetry forums a few weeks ago, and followed him to his blog. He's not a daily blogger and I don't blame him--he's running a publishing company while I'm leeching off a fellowship--and I certainly don't agree with his politics in general, but his blog today is about the shameful way some in the Catholic hierarchy are treating John Kerry. Here's an excerpt.

The idea that a bishop can tell those to whom he ministers that their salvation depends on their more or less adopting the Republican Party platform (even if, like me, one agrees with much of that platform) offends me. To consider them sinners for adopting a different viewpoint just appalls me. To suggest that there is no room for prayerful contemplation on one's own, to arrive at an individual vision of morality grounded in Christian teaching based on one's personal relationship with God--that is, frankly, alarming.

I don't plan to vote for John Kerry, but I find public repudiations of him by various bishops--because he supports abortion rights in violation of church teaching--to be sickening. If they want to criticize him, fine. Ideologically, I am far closer to their stance on abortion than Kerry's. But to argue that he should not receive Communion--the holiest sacrament in both Catholicism and Episcopalianism--because of his political beliefs is playing fast and loose with a sacred responsibility, to minister to their flock.

I couldn't agree more.

I was raised in a church that emphasized God's role in judging the actions and heart-motivations of people. I'm not a member of that church anymore, but that has stuck with me. If you're a believer, you've got to think that if someone is breaking the rules, God's going to deal with that person in His own time, and no one is better able to handle that situation better than God.

The priests in this situation with Kerry are stepping outside their designated roles as mediators between the laity and God. They're not supposed to determine who is worthy to take communion--only the supplicant can determine if he or she is worthy, and since it's a mortal sin to take communion with an unshriven soul, it's not something any Catholic would take lightly.

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