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.


60 Responses

  1. A Catholic citizen is supposed to oppose the legality of abortion. We can debate the workings of a democracy, the conscience of the voter, the need for social justice, the culpability of the abortionist and the weirdness of Bishop Strickland etc. ad nauseam. But if we don’t agree on this simple teaching, we find ourselves on opposite sides. The Pope is on my side in this matter and I’m on his.So is the catechism, where Peter Is, and the USCCB. What side are you on?

    1. The law is made for man, not man for the law. The goal is to save human life, not keep rules. Excommunicating Biden will not save a single human life. It will simply alienate more people from the Church and the prolife movement to no good purpose. It’s a terrible idea.

    2. Sometimes it seems like we are all playing word games. (I know that I am personally jaded somewhat because of the mean spirited attitude of some of the pro-lifers I’ve known. They would never put their money where their mouth is.) My thoughts on the matter are also colored by the heartbreak of many losses. I believe all of those aborted souls, wanted and unwanted return to God.

      We need to follow through with the thought process. It’s easy to say that abortion should be illegal, but what would actually happen? (Would it make us more like fascists?) I wonder if the corollary to such an action would be the mandatory obligation of all ( certainly Christians)citizens aged 50 and under, earning $150,000 and above to accept an infant into their home. Those above 50 would need to support those younger than themselves/with less income in order to be able to afford an infant.

      Why am I inclined to believe that if the above scenario actually came to pass, the very same Christians who vociferously demanded that abortion be made illegal would change their minds.

      1. The way the most vociferously loud voices in the “pro life movement” (as opposed to being merely pro life) conduct themselves is indeed a scandal to the sentiment that abortion is an immoral act.

        I think those of my sex should also take heed of C.S Lewis’s advice to heart about never most loudly condemning those sins which you yourself are not tempted by. In the case of abortion, it’s literally impossible for a man to choose to undergo one , so the loudest anti abortion voices in the laity should ideally be women of childbearing age themselves, not men or even women past their childbearing years.

      2. @Benjamin, that makes sense to me too.

        Also, just to clarify,upon rereading what I wrote, I realized that it might sound like I’ve had induced abortions, which is something I would never do. As you said–this isn’t something to boast about. I have lived a life of privilege, with layers of protection around me..

      3. I’d favour an approach that is family-based and/or community-based, rather than focusing on the individual. I agree though that one should have little patience for those who think a woman’s body is not *entirely* her own, but who cling to their purses as if there is no higher good in all the universe.

  2. When controversies like this come up, it’s always a good idea to check the instructions. If your dishwasher has stopped working, check the instructions. Might be a simple fix.

    Based on what I read in 1 Corinthians 11 and Canon Law 915-916, it seems that President Biden’s Bishop would be just in denying Biden communion.

    But why is abortion the straw breaking this camel’s back? What about Catholic politicians who persist in the sin of usury (the backbone of the American economy) or putting desperate children in cages? What of the Catholic businessman with three houses and four luxury automobiles whose employees can’t afford health care? What about all those Catholic politicians and businessmen who are on their fourth marriage and sixth mistress? What about gossips and liars? What about all of us with two cloaks who fail to give to the one with no cloak?

    My point: The Church could do with a health house-cleaning, starting in the upper echelons of power and going all the way down to little ol’ parishioner me. I think we need it. But it ain’t gonna be pretty.

    1. @marksofmaine

      Agreed. Hipocrisy and partisanship are not Christian virtues, last time I checked.

    2. Or remarriage after divorce, for that matter. From what I can tell, the RCC hierarchy (in the United States, at least) hands out anullments like M&Ms.

      I’m not going out of my way to pick on your Church here, either–there are *extremely* prominent examples of this, including among politicians, starting with Newt and Calista Gingrich. It’s kind of hard to ignore when it’s in my face like that.

      1. I doubt they’ll eventually go for the ”Biden bad, Gingrich and Barr good” approach. We’ll get some sort of generic, wolly statement on eucharistic coherence.

  3. Until and unless the bishops condemn those who actively signed death orders for prisoners, they will have zero credibility trying to excommunicate someone who believes that the laws of the country apply to everyone, while our individual decisions are our responsibility.

  4. I’m as socially conservative as they come–as I think all Christians should be, at least in the real sense of the term–but the idea that SCOTUS will ever overturn Roe v. Wade (or, more properly, Planned Parenthood vs. Casey) is an utter pipe dream.

    That doesn’t change until the culture does, you can’t make culture downstream of politics in a democracy. No, it’s very much the reverse. So long as so much of our current culture hates kids and sees them at best as consumerist lifestyle accessories and at worst, burdens*–including very the vast majority of Republican voters, I might add–Roe will stand.

    (*I include myself in this indictment, btw, the seeing them as a burden part I mean, it’d be disenegous for me not to–but SCOTUS ain’t gonna fix me!)

  5. So, once again, Mark, you seem to be saying that this is all about power and money, not abortion. Quelle surprise!

    To me, it is morally bankrupt to claim the moral high ground over abortion, but refused to do anything at all about the things that lead to abortion: opposing birth control, opposing family planning, opposing jobs, opposing adoption by people qualified to do so, opposing opposing opposing opposing , but not doing anything other than a pose.

    Mr. Biden is not the president of Catholics, American Catholics, or the minority of Americans that oppose abortion. He is the president of all Americans, including the American Catholics that support abortion rights, who use birth control, and on and on and on. This is strictly Republican politics. Unfortunately, the Johnson amendment is pretty much dead as an actual issue. I suspect that if the money source started to dry up because it was no longer tax free, they might change their mind.

    It’s funny how the hyper conservative bishops were opposing any sensible health measures last year. In San Francisco, the church, I to get a prominent Italian American families wedding happening in North Beach. The result was sick and dead people. Right to life. Hah. Double hah.

    It’s funny how the bishops don’t seem to manage to come up with a policy that requires that every single priest who gets accused of child molestation also gets turned over to the police. Instead, we are left with a “policy“ which allows the church to do its own investigating, and think about maybe, and a vague general sort of a way, talking about maybe reporting this to the police.

    It’s funny how the bishops are sworn to obedience, but don’t think they have to obey Francis.

    Yesterday, the Vatican objected to an anti-homophobia bill in Italy, claiming that somehow it would allow them to be charged with hate speech. One has to wonder about the contents of what they are saying if they think that merely saying “it’s a sin“ it’s going to be considered hate speech. One more time, the church is not showing itself to be a moral leader, but quite the opposite.

    As Benjamin points out, the churches teachings on marriage or ignored if the people involved have power or money or both. Newt Gingrich isn’t the only one

    Yeah. I’m back.

    1. Joe Biden has plenty of power–he’s the President of the United States!!–and a lot of money, too, albeit less than a lot of prominent politicians. But he’s still a heck of a lot wealthier than then, well, than the average Joe.

      Yet there’s an off-chance he gets refused the Eucharist.

      So, no, it isn’t only about that.

      I also am unprepared to say about every single Republican voter that abortion is “all about power and money”–I’m not a mind reader, and it’d be uncharitable to assume they’re all unconcerned with abortion and that it’s all a con. It’s like when those who don’t think abortion is immoral accuse those who do of “hating women”, or if you can’t wrap your mind around that, like when people favoring the Iraq War criticized those who didn’t not as abhorring war, or even merely abhorring this particular war, but as being “unpatriotic” or, even worse, “objectively pro-Saddam.”

      One should, generally speaking, take people’s moral objections to something at face value unless one has an extremely good, specific reason not to. Consantly employing the hermeneutic of suspicion on everything and everyone is not healthy, either as an individual or as a society, though I realize it’s been a perennial of the college educated class ever since Karl Marx.

      I’m only prepared to say those who vote Republican with the goal of ending abortion have a confused idea about how we get to a place where that abominable practice is banned again.

      1. @ benjamin

        I wouldn’t, and didn’t say that it is all about power and money for the average voter. But I certainly think that is true about the Republican leadership and the grifters who run the “pro-life“ movement. That is Mark’s point. One of my favorite examples are the speakers that show up at the antiabortion conventions, and get paid $10,000 of speech to preach to the choir. What if that $10,000 went to something useful, like helping a woman carry her fetus to term?

      1. @ agnikan

        I’m not sure if I understand the reference, but then, not exactly up on current pop culture thingummies.

        But making a wild guess, inconvenient truth is not often a welcome dinner guest.

    2. “Rather than punishing discrimination — it would end up striking the expression of a legitimate opinion, as learned by the experience of the legal systems of other nations in which similar internal regulations have already been introduced,” the statement said.

      Ben, the Catholic Church should have the right to define sacramental marriage, as only between a man and a woman. It should also have the right to teach that any form of sex outside of sacramental marriage between heterosexuals or anybody else is not licit. If a homosexual lobby made it a hate crime to teach chastity as the Church defines it, then any group at all–polyamorous, B&D–you name it, they could sue the Church for hate speech.

      I know you get it.

      That said, I will reiterate my opinion that many homosexual partnerships practice a higher form of morality than many supposedly sacramental ones.

      We need to be very careful about this.

      P.S. The Church DOES instruct us to go straight to the civil authorities if we suspect abuse by a priest. I took the course. You will get the answer wrong on the test if you state your desire run your concern by the parish pastor first.

      1. @ taco

        And of course, you know I agree with you. The church can define marriage, sacramental or not, however it wishes to.

        But the whole question is one of “legitimate opinion.” “it’s a sin” qualifies as an opinion, although its legitimacy is to me open to question.

        The polish government has declared on several occasions that gay rights is an ideology that is worse than communism and stems from nazism. There is no question about the illegitimacy of that.

      2. @Ben

        It seems ridiculous that we would need to recognize “gay rights” at all, or to even have to say “BLM”. That’s how inhuman we are.

        As someone who believes in an afterlife, I am sure that some day every human will be able to finally see the full majesty of all of the different humans that God created. Gay people exist for a reason.

        The other big surprise just might be that *everyone* is gay after all. Hahahaha.

        I don’t like labels or putting people in little boxes. I tell my kids to identify as human, and to live up to that responsibility.

      3. @ Ben, taco

        Sophie Scholl called and wishes to know what happens when she steps outside carrying pamphlets with illegitimate opionions. She has also googled the term ‘legitimate opnion’ but could not find its meaning.

      4. @ arteveide

        You are far more intelligent than that. Please don’t insult our intelligence or your own by pretending that you are not.

        But inadvertently, You bring up precisely the point I brought up to Benjamin in the other thread. Who has the power to decide whose lives are valuable and whose are not, for what reasons, and with what results and effects on the lives of their victims– because they usually are victims, aren’tthey? Just like the Scholls.

        Legitimate opinion, though completely unjustified as god’s alleged word:homosexuality is a sin.

        Illegitimate opinion, justified by absolutely nothing except prejudice: homosexuals are a threat to marriage, family, children, faith, freedom, morality, heterosexuality, and western civilization, such as it is.

        Really illegitimate opinion: we can say whatever we like about those homosexuals, and claim “Sincere religious belief“ to protect ourselves from blowback, to justify peddling hate and fear as god’s love, and to exempt purselves from laws of general applicability because we really want to say that crap so that people don’t focus on our 1000 year old sexual abuse problem.

        If you want to understand why people in the west are abandoning Christianity, even in the good ol’ US of A at a rapidly accelerating pace, look at that.

      5. @ taco

        You always, ALWAYS choose the path of kindness and love. That’s what I like about you.

        guon minsken koene in les fan jo leare.*

        *Sorry, but Frisia is a close as I could get.

      6. @ Ben

        Oh, I’m quite aware of what constitutes power, though I’d say Benjamin should have chosen Machiavelli to illustrate his point, rather than Foucault.

        I just don’t think you and your kind should be let anywhere near even the slightest shred of power. And no, I don’t mean those who share your sexual identity.

      7. @ arteveide

        Another slander. The only power I have any interest in is preventing theocrats and authoritarians from having power over the lives of people who don’t share their beliefs.

        Butbyou knew that.

      8. @ Ben

        Oh, and in kindness, and in love, two remarks on bullying tactics.

        1. There is no ‘our’ in ‘insulting our intelligence’. That doesn’t wash. Try picking on the weak at the local schoolyard. Making them feel isolated is always a good start.

        2. Your answer to taco is probably the most paternalistic display I’ve ever seen here. I’m not a huge fan of physical violence, but if I ever, in a discussion, tell a woman I agree with her, while riding roughshod over her arguments and then stating the exact opposite while praising her for her kindness, I hope I get a well deserved slap in the face.

      9. @ Ben

        Abject and disingenuous nonsense.

        Nowhere in the western world does the Catholic Church have ANY legal power over those that do not share its faith. She barely has legal power over those who do, though she has some.

        Those who lie about the power of minorities, religious or otherwise, always have ulterior motives. Always.

        The only thing that irks you is that Catholics have a different opinion than you. So you seek to silence them. You are like the legions of Rome. They also consistently managed to convince themselves that they were fighting defensive wars.

      10. @ arteveide.

        The frisian was for you, not her. That should have been obvious.

        Another slander. I was the perceived as weak, object of bullying when I was a child, until i stopped caring whether I was hurt and started fighting back. Exactly as I have done as an adult.

        And I will always feel that way. I have stated repeatedly, I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU BELIEVE. But I am sick to death of WHAT YOU BELIEVE being used as a club against those who don’t believe what you believe. i am sick to death of gay kids killing themselves because of the toxic spew from conservative religion. I am sick to death of the Catholic Church claiming authority over the lives of people who are not catholic. I am sick to death of being blamed for YOUR CHILD MOLESTATION problems— 2000 years of that is enough. I’m sick to death of such actions as your church opposing a suicide prevention bill because gay kids were being treated humanely.

        If you don’t understand that about me, after four years on Mark’s blog, then that’s not my problem, that’s yours.


      11. @ Ben

        If you no longer wish to interact with me, that is your choice.I regre that.

        I am sorry you were bullied. I don’t know if I’d have had the courage to stand up for you had it been there, but I hope I would have.

        I regret every suicide, and I would consider myself in a state of grave sin if I ever contribute to such. I have told you before that the *worst* thing I’ve ever done in my personal interaction with a homosexual man, is to tell him that I could not answer his affections. I also made very clear to the adminstrator what my opinion was on those who thought it was funny to put ”a dirty f*****t lives behind this door” sign on his door.

        I am not familiar with the bill you mention, but after a quick trip through the internet, I have not been able to find any justification for the USCCB’s opposition. Extra funding for the most affected seems reasonable when creating a hotline.

  6. As a catholic I’m now in a moderate (Joe Biden) position. Abortion is wrong but given that many women cannot afford to care for their children it should remain legal. Certainly a political issue should not divide Catholics. There have always been Catholics on the issue of say slavery even. Was anyone excommunicated in the civil war for supporting or opposing slavery?

    1. @ Ken

      I don’t think so, but Archbishop Rummel of New Orleans once threatened opponents of desegregation with excommunication.

    2. Poverty is not a justification for abortion. Poverty is a justification for charity and social aid.

      The position you propose has been considered and dismissed by the Church. We should be united on this:

      “It is true that the decision to have an abortion is often tragic and painful for the mother, insofar as the decision to rid herself of the fruit of conception is not made for purely selfish reasons or out of convenience, but out of a desire to protect certain important values such as her own health or a decent standard of living for the other members of the family. Sometimes it is feared that the child to be born would live in such conditions that it would be better if the birth did not take place. Nevertheless, these reasons and others like them, however serious and tragic, can never justify the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. “ ~Evangelium Vitae 58

  7. “As near as I can tell, there is no actual document, just a decision to write something “

    Correct. And the intent of the document is not how it is being reported by most secular media (although USA Today had a surprisingly well-written editorial on the topic yesterday). The media wants controversy in order to garner interest, and focusing on political implications while also misportraying political implications as political motives gets them the ad views they want.

    I haven’t seen the actual text of the proposal in writing yet, but a summary was given in the session in which it was voted on. The video for that is linked from the USCCB’s website, and it is not consistent with how most media outlets are reporting on it.

    Meanwhile, other concerns raised during the USCCB meeting as reasons for this new document are being ignored, like the recent Pew survey results about widespread lack of belief in the True Presence.

    “Only his bishop gets to make that call and that is not going to happen. Gregory has made clear that’s a stupid idea.”

    Correct. This is by canon law. Nobody who actually understands how the Church works thought the USCCB was going to release a document that mandated a specific action by a bishop.

    I would characterize a lot of what has been reported on this topic as at best willful ignorance. Another Catholic politician, Representative Lieu (CA) seemed to exemplify this yesterday. Without bothering to bring up the actual USCCB motion, he cited secular news reports as justification for falsely claiming the bishops are seeking to ban from Communion anyone who does not support imprisoning women for abortion, among many other misleading and inflammatory statements.

    “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.”

    I don’t understand what you intend to say here. Who wants to punish Catholics who don’t want to tell a 15 year in a crisis pregnancy what to do? The whole mess revolves around Catholics who want to tell 15 year olds in a crisis pregnancy that killing the baby is the solution. Evangelium Vitae was not ambiguous about that: “Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize.”

    Something I have been keeping in mind, however, is that Pope John Paul II did not explicitly call out political actions supporting abortion as gravely immoral. I can not escape the extremely strong sense that at some point, such a political action does cross that line, but such a line was not defined. Probably it would not have been prudent to try to do so, but regardless, the bishops do not have a mathematical formula to calculate whether Canon 915 applies or not. They have to use their own judgement.

    “The prolife movement put all its eggs in the basket of outlawing abortion as the one and only means of addressing it.”

    I agree. Focusing all effort on defending the Maginot Line when the opponent is already past it and relaxing in Paris makes no sense. Furthermore, we can not lose sight of the fact that if material needs are addressed, one of the primary arguments made in favor of abortion is eliminated. As you said, there is a demand side problem. And as a bonus, willingly supporting those in need, whether through private action or participation in societal policies is an opportunity for personal sanctification.

    That said, I don’t think all the eggs are truly in one basket. Although far from perfectly, I do see the Church in the United States working to address poverty and support the dignity of individuals so that the value of human life might be better recognized. We have a long ways to go, but we do have a start to build on.

    “it is useless to impose by law a moral code that comes from Christian discipleship if you do not first make disciples”

    I have to point out that the matter getting the most attention right now is not about imposing “Christian” morals (as if not killing was a concept unique to Christianity) on non-Christians, but about the actions of professed disciples that are contrary to true discipleship in the form of public support for grave wrongs. I refer to Evangelium Vitae repeatedly because it has so much useful insight in it. Pope John Paul II wrote helpful guidance about how Catholics like President Biden or Senator Pelosi can balance their faith with their obligations as political leaders who have to work within the existing laws.

    1. Your last paragraph reminded me that Jesus was also ambushed by the religious authorities by being put in what seemed like an impossible moral situation. Rome was far more licentious and murderous than the U.S.

      Biden has never stated that abortion isn’t gravely disordered. He isn’t pro-abortion. What if abortion absolutely revolts him and reduces him to tears? The Catholics aren’t working with him for change, they are putting him in an impossible position. It’s disingenuous.

  8. I again refer to Evangelium Vitae. It is not an impossible situation. Pope John Paul II talks in that encyclical about the responsibilities of civic leaders, but also recognizes the limits to what they can do. Certainly President Biden can’t ban abortion, nor in his role as executive can he simply refuse to carry out what Congress has legislated and ignore certain limits on federal authority the Supreme Court has (wrongly) judged to exist. At the same time, he does not have to sign executive orders increasing funding to abortion providers, and certainly does not have to continue to repeatedly declare that abortion is a right.

    Unfortunately, his “I’m personally against it” statement is a position that rings hollow when he promises to fight to protect abortion:

    “Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, and we must fight any and all attempts to overturn it. As president, I will codify Roe into law and ensure this choice remains between a woman and her doctor.”

    That’s a shocking statement for a Catholic to make. It’s only thinkable out tragic familiarity, rather than on the basis of any actual merit. Imagine instead “I will codify slavery into law,” or “I will codify nullification of rights for immigrants into law.”

    It would have been laudable of him to say he wants to pursue policies that reduce the incentive for abortion. It would have been valid for him to acknowledge the position of president is not empowered to restrict abortion. It would even have been understandable for him to express concern, as Mark has, that a simple position prioritizing a ban on abortion may not be effective. Unfortunately, even though such statements would all be consistent with the Democratic platform, he went much, much further. In contrast to what President Biden actually said, we are taught:

    “In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it‘.” (Evangelium Vitae 73)

    1. From Wikipedia, an example that shows both Belgium’s flair for the absurd and provides, I think, a good example of what Evengelium Vitae speaks of:

      ”In 1990, when a law submitted by Roger Lallemand and Lucienne Herman-Michielsens that liberalised Belgium’s abortion laws was approved by Parliament, he refused to give Royal Assent to the bill. This was unprecedented; although Boudewijn was de jure Belgium’s chief executive, Royal Assent has long been a formality (as is the case in most constitutional and popular monarchies). However, due to his religious convictions, Boudewijn asked the Government to declare him temporarily unable to reign so that he could avoid signing the measure into law.[21] The Government under Wilfried Martens complied with his request on 4 April 1990. According to the provisions of the Belgian Constitution, in the event the King is temporarily unable to reign, the Government as a whole fulfills the role of Head of State. All members of the Government signed the bill, and the next day (5 April 1990) the Government declared that Boudewijn was capable of reigning again.”

      1. I sort of remember that in the news.

        I don’t know, I feel like I’ve somehow committed that same form of subterfuge at least a few times in my life. And that is why I dislike those games (politics).

        I don’t trust Biden solely because he has compromised himself by representing a tax haven state, but I will give him the benefit of the doubt that he is against abortion based upon the losses he has suffered in life. He seems to be a saint compared to Trump…

        But what do I know? I’d bet my last dollar that he is more pro-life than Trump.

    2. Sorry for missing a closing tag on a link. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a way for me to edit the comment to fix it.

      Also, please note the above comment was intended as a reply to tacoanybody’s response to another comment of mine in this discussion. I wonder if the malformed link might be why it did not show up in the proper location in the thread.

  9. @tacoanybody

    Wouldn’t have suspected that of you, not in the least, of what you wrote.

    This country needs more charity all around in our sordid political debates.

    God bless!

  10. 1, None of us are worthy of the Eucharist.

    2. We admit so, before the Eucharist: “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.”

    3. The Eucharist then is itself a reconciiliatory sacrament, asking Jesus for healing. So it is then, that bishops who deny the Eucharist, do so at their soul’s peril, for they are denying the mercy of God.

    1. Our admission that we are not worthy to receive the Eucharist acknowledges our fallen state and dependence on God’s will to be able to receive, but does not examine whether we are individually and in that instance properly disposed to receive Communion.

      Also, while Communion has reconciliatory effect for venial sin, it does not for mortal sin. If we have turned greviously away from God, we need the sacrament of confession to be reconciled. If a priest refused absolution to a penitent sinner in confession without good reason, they would be doing so at their soul’s peril, but this is distinct from the matter of being properly disposed to receive Communion.

      It is written into Church law, with a lot of theology backing it up (including 1 Corinthians 11:27), that first of all, we must refrain from Communion if we are aware of being in a state of mortal sin, and secondly, that the minister is not to administer Communion to someone who obstinately persists in manifest, grave sin. I’m not going to waste time on my opinions about the relevance of the latter to any individual person, but I do want to clarify that your line of thinking overlooks some key considerations.

      1. @iamlucky

        It helps to go back and read in the catechism what constitutes mortal sin. Can you you honestly say that you know for a fact that someone like Biden is in a state of mortal sin?

        As far as I know he has never brought anyone to an abortionist, nor has he performed one. He could in fact believe that abortion is a great moral evil. My guess is that he does.

        I think the general idea is that you can’t preach the gospel to somebody that hasn’t eaten in days.

        That said, I think Biden *should* speak more on the sanctity of life, but Biden does seem to be concerned with poor families that are struggling right now, and actions trump words.

  11. I may be misinterpreting him, but Mark seems to be advocating for “safe, legal and rare”. Keep it legal but change hearts instead, kind of like sodomy, adultery etc. Isn’t this prioritizing the plight of some mothers, which can be awful, over the lives of their unborn children? If so, is that ok?

    1. Changing hearts is the way to be effective. Prioritizing that instead of alienating others in a culture war is what would eventually get us to a time when abortion could be done away with.

      That is not the same as “safe, legal, and rare.” The Church is emphatic that abortion is never justified, and that laws that allow it are unjust. But focusing strictly on changing the law in a democracy when we don’t have majority support for our position is unlikely to succeed, and can even be counterproductive if we compromise on other important moral issues in order to try to game our democratic system to get around that majority problem.

      1. @ Iamlucky

        This is, in my opinion, correct, but I would like to point out two things.

        1. When engaging in politics, it is not uncommon to argue in favour of things that may not be immediately attainable. It is also not uncommon to have a program containing many elements, some of which are immediately attainable, some only in te long run, and some that can be used as bargaining chips.

        2. Not *prioritizing* criminalizing abortions is not the same as arguing that criminalizing abortion is conditional on futher progress in matters of social justice and social policy. As you quoted ”Poverty is not a justification for abortion. Poverty is a justification for charity and social aid”. The various elements that make up the seamless garment are rooted in a Catholic understanding of society and the human person, and in our faith in Jesus Christ, but they are not conditional upon each other.

    2. This is facing the facts about what can, in fact, be done vs. the destructive fantasy of Total Legal Abolition the MAGA cult has been chasing for forty years while they sell themselves to deep evil in the process.

  12. @ arteveide


    There was no justification for it, other than the usual crap coming from some old men with a lot of secrets. If you wish, I will see if I can dig out the story. It may take a while.

    I am sorry and not sorry that I was bullied, too. I am sorry because no kid should have to go through that, ever, especially if they have no idea why they are being singled out as different from the others. That is a reality in the lives of many, many gay kids. They don’t know WHY they are being bullied, or WHY they are being called a fgaggot. But they are.

    I understood why, as much as an 11 year old can understand such things.

    I am not sorry, because it made me stronger, and more than willing to fight back on behalf of those who cannot fight back for themselves. I’ve related this before: my brother, who was also gay, died of murder or suicide or both in a Mexican desert 19 years ago. Unfortunately for him, the bullying did not make him stronger. It made him weaker: so weak, that he couldn’t even tell me that he was gay until after he had completely wrecked his life. and by then, it was too late for me to help him. That will never happen again if I have anything to say about it.

    1. @ ben

      Now I have a question for you. The redheaded girl and the chubby boy know why they are being bullied? Why doesn’t the gay boy? is he not aware of his desires, while others are? Is it that he doesn’t know the meaning of the slurs?

  13. Artevelde!

    That was very rude of you. Sometimes you come off as above it all. Tsk. You also remind me of my Dad’s friends who sneered at homosexuals.

    I don’t even know where to begin, but if the Holy spirit has anything to say in this matter, it was to remind me of one of the best pieces of advice a GREAT priest once gave me.

    *The enemy of the good is the perfect*

    As you know, I have eight kids. I didn’t really sign up for that, but I have tried my very best to obey the teachings of the Church. I am a grateful daughter of the Church. One of the most rewarding things about being a parent is enjoying the amazing companionship of the amazing human beings that I helped bring into this world. One of the worst things about being a parent is *not* enjoying the companionship of the amazing human beings that I helped bring into this world. Some have sorely tested my patience.

    Being a parent is humbling. I argue with my kids, have differences of opinion, get exasperated, sometimes get dumped on…BUT, we always end up saying “I love you and I’m sorry that_________”. There comes a point in a discussion when one simply needs to agree to disagree and shrug.
    Sometimes my kids try the troll card. My fourth kid has been known to tell me that all religions are the same and that Buddhism is just as good as Christianity. I don’t let him get my goat. I’ll chat with him about the beauty that can be found everywhere and the love God has for everyone of every faith. I’ll even tell him that I’d be mortally confused about it all –had it not been for Jesus. I have no problem laughing at the idea of placing Jesus and the Buddha on the same level. No problem at all. –But I wouldn’t do that to my Buddhist friends unless they pressed me for an answer about it. They know I’m Catholic. Patience wins the game–and as I told Ben a couple of months ago–that same fourth kid called me in tears one day, telling me he had gone to confession, and is Catholic again. He said, “I thought I could do religion on my own, but now I realize that I just can’t.” –Ben doesn’t say anything about the Church that my own kids haven’t said already. And Frankly, most of what they complain about is true. That’s life. I don’t expect it to be any different, and Jesus didn’t either, based upon what he said.

    All of the sin, and pain and horror of this world boils down to a lack of love. I really have no idea how to parse through all of the trillions of sins that humans commit in order to number them from one to a trillion based upon their gravity. Sexual sins? Heck, I don’t know. There are probably at least a half a dozen sex workers in Thailand that are more generous than I am. What do I know about sin? What I know is that indifference for my neighbor is the worst thing that can infect my soul. When I lived in my ivory tower before having teenagers and 20-somethings, I was much more careful about coloring within the lines. That priest that gave me the above advice knew I needed to hear it. When you live in an ivory tower it is much easier to categorize people by the sins you think they are guilty of–an write them off.

    I don’t write anybody off anymore. I know God loves them as much as he loves me, and more than I love my own children–and I would die for my children. You love the ones that are weakened by their obvious sins–even more.

    And that’s why we are all here –to work it all out and learn how to be more like God.

    1. @ taco

      Noone is without sin, and I am no exception. You remind me of that one – not so great – priest that always insisted one confess the sins he had in mind, not the sins that were committed or confessed. He would usually bring up these sins himself, for reasons I cannot fathom. I don’t think he was guilty of these sins himself. He just longed to see them in everyone.

      Amy Jill Levine once, during a lecture in which she illuminated the parables with the light of Jewish tradition, said this:

      ”they had enough time to call the band and the caterer, and nobody thought to call the older son, because a man had two sons and he didn’t count”.

    2. “I have no problem laughing at the idea of placing Jesus and the Buddha on the same level.”

      In a sense, the Buddha has been recognized as a Christian Saint: the story of the Buddha traveled from India to Europe, in the process being transformed into the story of St. Josaphat. There were some changes to the story. For instance, Josaphat, the Christianized story goes, lived around 400 CE, rather than around 500 BCE; and Josaphat became a Christian hermit, rather than the founder of a major world religion.

  14. @Artevelde
    Not so great confessors are the worst. Ugh.

    The priest that delivered that famous quote to me was one of 12 children, European, and from what many consider a very conservative branch of the Church. He wore a cassock. He had a refined manner.

    He became my spiritual director (for many years) after I asked God (on my knees!) to send me one. I was barely 21, had a new baby, and my entire (easy) (fun) world had been turned on its ear. I’ve never had God answer a prayer so quickly and directly. Within days of the petition, he was asking me, “would you like me to help direct your soul?” or something to that effect. I was speechless. Nobody had ever said that to me in confession and hasn’t since.

    He didn’t drop that little (enemy of the good) bomb on me for decades though. I guess I needed to hear it. And that’s the thing, that priest spoke to me like a Pope Francis before the inkling that there could ever be a Pope Francis. From time to time his instructions would *shock* me.

    By the time Francis came along, and I was done wondering if it was the devil that sent me that confessor, that ugly little part of my soul had been excised. I’m ashamed to say that watching the conservative Catholic world be shocked by Francis was somewhat entertaining. I no longer had those misgivings. The work is never done for any of us here, eh?

    Do I ever have temptations against the faith? No, not really. All of the infighting seems natural to me–that’s how families are–wonderful at times, and unfortunately corrupt in some ways.

    I think the older son *was* called–even begged. He was just too darned jealous and disgusted to grace a whoremonger with his faithful presence.

    1. @ taco

      25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

      28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

      Your interpretation is the more common one, and it focuses on the pride and resentment of the older son. Levine says that there is more going on, and that we’re dealing here with three consecutive parables about counting (sheep, coins, sons). We don’t get closure at the end of the story, but there’s something in it to learn from, for all of us.

      For me, the father is the true hero of the story. While he forgives and rejoices in the return of the Prodigal, I also feel that at some point he feels he made a mistake. He has two sons and for a moment, he forgot to count the elder one. He pleads and stresses that the inheritance will not be split again (though if we read it allegorically, and there is good reason to, considering Jesus’ words when he talks about the lost sheep, this is a moot point since God’s mercy is not divisible).

      Anyway, I’ve always been fascinated by these three parables, as well as by the Workers in the Vineyard and the Parable of the Talents. These are my favourite ones, and the ones that cause most anguish to my soul.

  15. Artevelde
    It is no coincidence that you brought that exact parable up. It caused me a good deal of anguish too. I’m so glad it is in the past. I realized that I had been the older brother and confessed it, not wanting to have to confront myself, but knowing it was crucial in order to become free of it. My confessor didn’t call me that or even infer it, but I came to him after the realization, literally saying, “I don’t want to be the older brother anymore…”

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