On November 23 this year JOHN L. ALLEN JR. Senior Correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter commenting on U.S. Bishop Thomas Tobin's admonition aimed at U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy advising him not to take communion because of his pro-choice views, wrote. . . . . "It's the same logic that has led a handful of other bishops to issue similar edicts to other pro-choice Catholic politicians: communion implies unity with the church, and if you can't accept a core principle of Catholic morality such as the right to life, then taking communion is a sham."
Continued threats by some Bishops opposed to pro-choice left me wondering how they and their supporters can so easily look into the hearts and minds of those who seek Christ? Would Jesus similarly refuse to share himself with those who choose 'pro-choice' for the purpose of bringing human compassion and understanding to the issue? In the future should the Eucharist be denied to all those who express doubt in any Church doctrine and dogma? What do we mean by community? Finally, who eventually would be left to receive Christ?
Well it appears that still some, including Bishop Tobin, are indeed prepared to take the issue on abortion to the extreme. Please note the responses to my (Bert) initial note of Nov. 23 and conclusion of the 26th.
Submitted by Bert (not verified) on Nov. 23, 2009.
If "communion implies unity with the church" then Jesus too would have to be excluded from the Catholic Church. Jesus clearly broke with established Tradition again and again as is evidenced throughout the Gospel stories. Have I been mistaken in believing that Jesus came to unite people regardless of race, colour or creed? Was I wrong in thinking that Jesus is more concerned with our hearts than what is dictated by man? Am I in error to believe that Jesus would deny himself to me if I don't subscribe to apostolic succession, forced celibacy, non acceptance of female clergy and gay or married priests, etc.? Should I refrain from communion because I do not practice birth control, believe that condoms are a viable option for those stricken or exposed to aids and living in poverty in Africa. Should I avoid communion because my heart does not always agree with the dictates of the Church? Must I be denied communion because I pose questions that may be contrary to Tradition, dogma or doctrine? I often wonder what our Saints think about this Catholic institution. Particularly those who tried to bring change to the church but were condemned, jailed or excommunicated by the same church that later made them Saints. Similarly I think about the apostles and their immediate followers who did not have access to a church, were not exposed to any dogma or doctrine, and did not always agree with one another – did Jesus refuse his presence to them also?
Do we truly believe that for Jesus the word 'unity' meant conformity? Unity to me means 'bringing together through diversity'! The Catholic church needs to again learn the true meaning of ecumenism and trust in the mystery of our unknowable and indefinable God!
Submitted by Matt (not verified) on Nov. 23, 2009.
God still loves you, even while you're "in error".
Submitted by Bob Hunt (not verified) on Nov. 23, 2009.
Jesus Himself said that He came to bring a sword, that we might have to choose between our own families or following Him, and He made a clear distinction between those who chose the light and those who, though seeing the light, chose the darkness. Part of the problem in understanding these issues is that so many today image Jesus as the nice guy who wouldn't hurt a soul and just wanted everybody to get along. Salvation by means of being nice, where the highest virtue is not truth or love, but tolerance and respect for diversity. It's impossible, really, to come away from reading the Gospels with that idea of Jesus. Jesus overturned the tables of the money-changers, cursed the Pharisees, made it clear that the road to the Kingdom was narrow and few there were who walked it, and promised to spit the lukewarm out of his mouth. Of course Jesus came to unite people, but He came to unite them around Himself. Rep. Kennedy is the one more interested in following the dictates of man than he is in following Jesus. How else can his support of killing innocents be explained, other than it serves the political agenda of so many of those who voted for him?
Submitted by Leo Holahan (not verified) on Nov. 23, 2009.
Yes you are sadly mistaken.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Nov. 24, 2009.
This comment is about the stupidest thing I've ever read! You don't know anything about Jesus or Christian theology. Please refrain from blabbing on when you are so poorly informed. Get an education, especially a theological one. By the way, all those teaching you denounce and claim Jesus didn't teach...well they are actually rooted in his words and deeds.
Submitted by Christopher Peter (not verified) on Nov. 24, 2009.
OK Bert, please tell us which Saints went against the moral teachings of the Church (the visible Body of Christ on earth).
Submitted by Bert (not verified) on Nov. 26, 2009.
kindly consider one of the greatest Saints in Church history as follows: "Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins". Icon of Christ Crucified speaking to Francis of Assissi
Submitted by frère charles du désert OSB OBLAT (Congrégation de Subiaco) (not verified) on Nov. 26, 2009.
each and every one of us
Submitted by Pete the greek (not verified) on Nov. 24, 2009.
"Am I in error to believe that Jesus would deny himself to me if I don't subscribe to apostolic succession, forced celibacy, non acceptance of female clergy and gay or married priests, etc.?"
- He is not denying Himself to you. YOU are denying yourself to HIM. You are demanding that He come to you on YOUR terms, not HIS.
"Should I avoid communion because my heart does not always agree with the dictates of the Church?"
- are you now the one who decides what is and is not true and must be believed? is EVERYTHING taught by the Church up for grabs, using your logic? If you think you have the right to defy the moral teaching on the sinfulness of contraception, do i have the right to defy the moral teaching on the sinfulness of slavery? Or are only the things "Pope Bert" decides are 'optional' ok for me to cast aside?
"Must I be denied communion because I pose questions that may be contrary to Tradition, dogma or doctrine?"
- you should not approach the Eucharist if you deny some aspect of doctrine and moral teaching, just as you should not approach the Eucharist if you are not in the state of Grace.
"Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord."
Submitted by Bert (not verified) on Nov. 26, 2009.
The responses to my original questions (posted Nov.23) reminded me of a wonderful story (parable) of a man who went to a priest to express certain doubts about his belief in the Creator. The priest in an immediate gesture of compassion put his arm around the despondent individual and embraced him with understanding. Several days later another person came to the same priest to express his doubts about certain church teachings. Immediately the priest rose up in anger and accused our hapless individual of heresy and told him to leave.