... over the funding of Planned Parenthood, shouldn't Catholic bishops be willing to shut down pro-abortion politicians from receiving Holy Communion?
First, backing up a bit, there is this on the USCCB site:
WASHINGTON (April 14, 2011)—In an April 13 letter to the U.S. House of Representatives, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston urged Congress to vote for a resolution to ban federal funding of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In the midst of a budget debate involving shared sacrifice and hard choices, Cardinal DiNardo wrote, “Whether to fund the largest abortion network in the country is not one of those hard choices.”
Cardinal DiNardo is chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Cardinal DiNardo cited a March 4 letter to Congress from Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, which expressed the hope that “funds now provided to organizations that perform abortions… will be redirected to meeting the basic needs of the poor.” Cardinal DiNardo offered additional reasons for supporting H. Con. Res. 36:
• “First, it is indisputable that Planned Parenthood Federation of America is by far the largest provider and promoter of abortions nationwide, performing about a third of all abortions (332,278 abortions in Fiscal Year 2008-9). Abortions also account for over a third of Planned Parenthood’s income. The organization has aborted over 5 million unborn children since 1970.”
• “Second, the organization’s involvement in abortion (now including chemical abortions using RU-486) has substantially increased in recent years, and its provision of other services such as prenatal care and adoption referrals has declined markedly. Now the national organization insists that all affiliates provide abortions by 2013, a mandatory policy that has led at least one affiliate to leave the organization.”
More on the USCCB site, including a link to Cardinal DeNardo's letter.
One little problem, to state the obvious, is that the pro-abortion party is in power and was/is apparently quite willing to shut down the federal government in order to keep the money flowing to abortion providers. An April 11th piece on Politico.com reports:
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had spent more than an hour meeting with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, inching toward a deal to avert a shutdown, but he kept insisting that it include a prohibition against federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
That was a nonstarter for Obama. As the meeting was breaking up, Vice President Joe Biden told the speaker, in no uncertain terms, that his demand was unacceptable. If that became the deal breaker, Biden said, he would “take it to the American people,” who would presumably punish the GOP for shutting down the government over an ideological issue.
Taranto's colleague, William McGurn, writes:
In the end, President Barack Obama was the one who refused to blink on Planned Parenthood. Another way of saying it is this: The president was willing to shut down the entire federal government rather than see Planned Parenthood's federal funding cut. According to press accounts leaked by Democratic aides, House Speaker John Boehner argued for the funding cut late into the evening. The president answered, "Nope, zero." He then said, "John, this is it." Mr. Boehner accepted the budget deal without that cut. A Republican aide confirmed more or less the same account to me. He said it was "chilling" to see how inflexible Mr. Obama was. You might call it ideological....
Recall that back in 2007-08, Catholics were being told—either with reassuring condescension or exasperated annoyance—that candidate Obama was not pro-abortion. On the contrary, the young senator from Illinois insisted, "I don't know anybody who is pro-abortion". He was, certain Catholic supporters said, a man with an "open mind" about abortion; he was actually "pro-choice", which some insisted with a completely straight face is quite different from being "pro-abortion. In the end, President Obama has kept his promise to stand by Planned Parenthood, a promise he made back in 2007:
On this fundamental issue, I will not yield and Planned Parenthood will not yield. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t find common ground. Because we know that what’s at stake is more than whether or not a woman can choose an abortion.
Choice is about how we lead our lives. It’s about our families and about our communities. It’s about our daughters and whether they’re going to have the same opportunities as our sons. There are those who want us to believe otherwise. They want us to believe that there’s nothing that unites us as Americans—there’s only what divides us. They’ll seek out the narrowest and most divisive ground. That is the strategy—to always argue small instead of looking at the big picture. They will stand in the way of any attempt to find common ground.
To return to the initial thought at the top of this post: it's worth pondering for a moment the fact that a large number of politicians (some of them self-identified as Catholic) are willing to shut down the federal government in order to maintain funding and support for Planned Parenthood, but many folks (including not a few Catholics) consider it outrageous, narrowminded, and spiteful to insist that pro-abortion, Catholic politicians should refrain from receiving Holy Communion.
Or, to put into a sporting context (as odd as that sounds), consider that the National Basketball Association just fined superstar Kobe Bryant $100,000 for directing a "gay slur" at a referee during a basketball game two days ago. Yet many public servants who unapologetically support, in their voting and statements, the killing of unborn children are allowed to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ at many Catholic parishes. As Archbishop Chaput recently noted, the problem is essentially one of lack of courage:
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput gave a frank response when asked why there is so much disunity among Catholics on the question of Catholics in political life standing clearly with the church on major moral issues such as abortion.
"The reason ... is that there is no unity among the bishops about it," said the Denver archbishop, who was asked the question after his April 8 keynote address for the University of Notre Dame Right to Life Club's spring lecture series.
"There is unity among the bishops about abortion always being wrong, and that you can't be a Catholic and be in favor of abortion -- the bishops all agree to that -- but there's just an inability among the bishops together to speak clearly on this matter and even to say that if you're Catholic and you're pro-choice, you can't receive holy Communion," Archbishop Chaput said.
Individual bishops probably do take such a stand privately more often than anyone knows, the archbishop noted, and he said he is not in favor of refusing Communion without giving private notice ahead of time to the person. He emphasized, however, that Catholics who support keeping abortion legal should be told that they will not be given Communion, and not to present themselves to receive.
Archbishop Chaput said he and others have been trying to move the U.S. bishops' conference to speak clearly on this issue for a number of years. However, there is a fear, he said, that if they do so, the bishops might somehow disenfranchise the Catholic community from political life, making it difficult to get elected if a Catholic politician has to hold the church's position on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.
The strategy clearly has failed, he continued, "So let's try something different and see if it works. Let's be very, very clear on these matters," and he asked the audience to "help me to convince the bishops on that subject."
What does it say when a pro-abortion politician is more willing to upset ordinary Americans in his support for Planned Parenthood than Catholics are in taking a stand for their belief in the Holy Eucharist? What does it indicate when an entertainment/sporting industry is unafraid to levy a massive punishment/fine against one of its most public and popular figures over a vulgar, offensive word, but Catholics are unwilling to address those who publicly support the evil of abortion and then shamelessly present themselves to receive the Word of God in the most blessed Sacrament? (There are those, I know, who will immediately take up the tired and misguided argument that this is a "politicization" of Holy Communion. But those who use that argument, I find, are those who think nearly everything is political without considering that beneath all politics is a foundation of morality and ethics, which in turn is rooted in the soil of religious belief and intuition. Besides, to think that abortion is just a "political issue" is to avoid the fact that it is first of all a matter of objective truth and morality.)
I'm very glad to see Cardinal DiNardo state, "Whether to fund the largest abortion network in the country is not one of those hard choices.” Personally, I believe that whether or not to allow pro-abortion politicians to receive Holy Communion in this country is also not a hard choice.