On the Bishops, Biden, and the Eucharist
Proud of my bishop:
As near as I can tell, there is no actual document, just a decision to write something (or talk about writing something?) that may or may not take up the question of denying communion to pols who uphold the abortion regime that is 100% the creation of GOP SCOTUS judges. Even if the USCCB decided to foolishly say, “No communion for Joe Biden” (which I cannot believe they would be foolish enough to do), the simple fact remains that “the bishops” don’t have the power to do that. Only his bishop gets to make that call and that is not going to happen. Gregory has made clear that’s a stupid idea.
I get that American bishops are in a cleft stick, having spent forty years trapped in the notion that abortion is a “non-negotiable” and increasingly dominated by a monied class that uses the unborn as human shields to make war on the rest of the Church’s teaching. I think they genuinely have no idea what to do and are flailing. But I also think that they have to realize at some level that trying to punish Catholics who don’t want to tell a 15 year old in a crisis pregnancy what to do is a terrible way to proceed.
Increasingly, I think the Church in the US is going to require a paradigm shift, a new way of thinking about how to address the problem of abortion that takes into account the hard realities of American demographics if it is reduce abortion while respecting her own teaching on free will. The prolife movement put all its eggs in the basket of outlawing abortion as the one and only means of addressing it. In a pluralist society where 80% of Americans have no intention of doing that, the Church has become dominated by monomaniacs who can conceive of no other approach and who increasingly believe that if that is the case, then the 80% must be dominated and overruled by a fascist regime who will make their fantasies come true.
The bishops appear to me to be inclined to side with these lunatics, largely because they have no idea about what to do about abortion other than try to outlaw it. They seem to me to be stuck in the notion that it’s all about supply and it still does not seem to occur to them that it is all about demand. What the Dems get right is that it is about demand, which is why abortion rates went up under Trump after reaching their lowest rates under Obama/Biden.
The other problem the Church seems to be facing is that it is dominated by people (laity with money, I mean) who don’t seem to grasp the idea that it is useless to impose by law a moral code that comes from Christian discipleship if you do not first make disciples. The inevitable conclusion is that they themselves are not disciples and don’t know what they don’t know. They want the Good Old Days (what else does MAGA mean, after all) and they mistake that fantasy for the Tradition and try to impose it by force, fear, and law. But Paul is extremely clear that the law cannot save or give life. It was disciples committed to obedience to Jesus Christ at great cost to themselves, not culture warriors committed to demanding pagans knuckle under to law, who converted the Roman empire. The “prolife” MAGA heresy is not interested in self-sacrifice, but in using the unborn as human shields to inflict vengeance on a wide variety of poor and brown people while declaring “No sacrifice is too great for everybody but us to save the babies.” These are the people whose influence seems to dominate the minds of far too many bishops. And some of them, such as Strickland, are so far out at the end of the bell curve that they are doing tremendous damage to the Church’s witness with their kooky conspiracy theories and crazy nonsense about vaccine conspiracies.
I’m asking the Holy Spirit to guide the bishops and help them listen to the guidance of the Holy Father. I think the panic and hysteria on social media is unhelpful. Try going to Mass and praying for them instead of just giving up. Jesus chose average people to be his apostles and the bishops have always displayed that. Super-geniuses and saints are rare among them because they are rare among humans. Ask God to guide them in their averageness through Christ our Lord.