Bishops have authority in their proper sphere, including things like who can and cannot receive the Eucharist. It does not follow that they always exercise that authority with wisdom. Dramatic examples can be found in the history regarding this principle, for example, the excommunication of Elizabeth I, who was condemned with all right and proper authority, yet whose condemnation had, shall we say?, rather spectacularly poor results for the English flock. Bishops can still make bad calls and lousy prudential judgments to this day, with all due authority.
Case in point:
Basic story: Champion of refusal to vaccinate who defied the Pope and did his part to help spread a plague that has killed a million Americans, ostensibly caring about “Eucharistic Coherence”, chooses to exercise that authority to punish Nancy Pelosi and make her an extremely public example of what happens to
Democrats when MAGAfied Catholics smell blood in the water and think they can impose authoritarian rule on 87% of the population “Eucharistically Incoherent” members of the flock. If I were in her place, I would, of course, refrain from receiving the Eucharist in obedience to my bishop when I was in his jurisdiction, and receive it if, say, I was in Rome or DC, where I have ecclesial permission to do so.
(Pope Francis is already on record saying: “I have never refused the Eucharist to anyone, to anyone. I don’t know if anyone in that condition came, but I never, never refused the Eucharist. As a priest, that is. Never.” He also says, “The problem is not the theological problem—that is simple—the problem it is the pastoral problem: how do we bishops deal with this principle pastorally? And if we look at the history of the Church we will see that every time the bishops have dealt with a problem not as pastors, they have taken a political stance on a political problem.… What must the pastor do? Be a pastor. Be a pastor and don’t go around condemning… But if he goes out of the pastoral dimension of the church, he immediately becomes a politician: You see this in all the accusations, in all the non-pastoral condemnations the church makes.”)
Unsurprisingly, Francis has already said to the American bishops that they should not deny Biden communion, and Biden’s position is essentially indistinguishable from Pelosi’s.
But Abp. Cordileone, diverging sharply from Francis, seems to be unable to curb his desire to punish somebody. So Pelosi is to be made an example of. He certainly is within the rights of his office to do it. But is it really going to help anything or is it just going to give a huge thrill to the “SOMEBODY MUST PAY!” zealots in the MAGA sect? What actual end is in view here? Certainly not “Eucharistic Coherence”.
What, precisely, is being demanded of Pelosi? That she believe and confess that punishing post-abortive and miscarrying women (as Louisiana Republicans want and as has been done in Indiana) is a good idea? That jailing or executing Jewish physicians whose religious tradition bids them prioritize women is a triumph of religious liberty? (Recall that lunatic MAGA priest James Altman (who was ousted by his bishop and now grifts the MAGA circuit moaning that he has been “cancelled”) suggested that the Jews in the Warsaw Uprising got what was coming to them Because Abortion.) That the OB/GYN/Pediatric staff of most of our over-burdened health care system should be jailed for murder?That 13% of Americans should have the power to chaotically create laws that will lead to societal upheaval far worse than the evil they claim to prevent while not actually reducing abortion rates but spiking maternal mortality rates 21%? That women who administer abortifacients to themselves should be jailed and/or executed for murder? That miscarrying women be tried for suspected homicide if they are found to have medicine that can be (but are not necessarily used exclusively for) abortions? What, exactly, is the goal here: performative piety or actually effectively saving lives of mothers and unborn children?
Given that Pelosi performs no abortions herself, what exactly is she guilty of (beyond thoughtcrime) that literally millions of other Catholics are not equally guilty of in thinking that criminalizing abortion is a bad, counter-productive idea and that the real way to reduce it is to attack demand? Having a reluctance to force people to be arrested for something only 13% of Americans want to arrest them for?
There is a difference between acting out of power and acting out of wisdom. A bishop who authorized setting up sprinkler systems to drive away the homeless seeking shelter (until public outcry made him back down) is about to discover that–again. The attempt to enforce laws that almost no American wants is not going to end well. When QANON-supporting, anti-vax, Francis-maligning Bishop Strickland is suddenly your biggest fan you should rethink what you are doing.
Meanwhile, if you believe for one second that the “prolife” MAGA antichrist cult is going to respond to this with love for Pelosi and not an orgy of “BITCH GOT SERVED! KICK HER OUT! KICK HER OUT!” you simply have not been paying attention to this vindictive cult of spite. Nor will anybody believe the Eucharistic Coherence narrative when you never hear the Eucharistic Coherence crowd crying that
- white supremacist Catholics like Steve King,
- Nazi-supporting Catholics like Paul Gosar,
- malignant Replacement Theory champions like John Zmirak
- sadists like Greg Abbott (who calls for trying to starve brown infants at the border)
- zealous champions of the death penalty like Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts or
- defiantly pro-death Trump suckups like Bill Barr (who ordered a massacre on death row in flat rejection of the Church’s teaching)
need to face disciplines for giving gross scandal.
Nope. The last thing this is about is “Eucharistic Coherence” or “consistency”. It’s about uni-directional culture war spite as far as the MAGA cult is concerned. The unborn do not matter to the MAGA cult except as human shields for all the ways in which they make war on their sundry victims (and on any point of Church teaching) that gets in the way of the GOP crime syndicate and Cult of Death. The result will be a perfectly coherent backlash that points this obvious fact out. And if the MAGA cult’s history is any indicator, they will respond to the demand that they be held accountable for their actions, not by reflecting on their own incoherence (and implicit contempt for Pope Francis’ guidance) but by moaning about “persecution” and “cancellation”.
It’s going to be a huge disaster for them and will set back real prolife work decades. They are trying to achieve by force, fear, blood, and iron what can only be done by grace and through freedom. They are, as ever, wrong about everything.
Tomorrow, we will compare and contrast the lazy sadism the MAGA “prolife” advocates vs. what we could actually do if we were serious about helping cherish human life.