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« "No human being ought ever be unwanted" | Main | Bishop Robert Vasa: Pelosi "is not formed by either Augustine or the Catholic Church" »

Friday, September 05, 2008

Comments

Shaun G

Carl,

I would like encourage you to try to be as open to the archbishop's methods as we all hope Speaker Pelosi will be.

The U.S. bishops have agreed that there are a "wide range of circumstances involved in arriving at a prudential judgment on a matter of this seriousness" and that "bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action."

If you disagree with the bishops and think that Archbishop Niederauer is not free to make the judgment he has about this issue, then I encourage you as a spiritual exercise to try to submit to the bishops' authority anyway, just as we all hope that Speaker Pelosi will submit to their authority.

One other thing.

You ask what St. Paul would have done to confront Speaker Pelosi, and you cite his letter to Timothy.

I would like to offer a different passage of Scripture for your consideration, a portion of John 21, in which the risen Lord has a one-on-one with Peter for the first time since Peter betrayed him:

"When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?'

"He said to him, 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.'

"He said to him, 'Feed my lambs.'

"He then said to him a second time, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?'

"He said to him, 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.'

"He said to him, 'Tend my sheep.'

"He said to him the third time, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?'

"Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, 'Do you love me?' and he said to him, 'Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.'

"(Jesus) said to him, 'Feed my sheep.' "

I don't mean to compare Peter's actions to Speaker Pelosi's, or to compare their states of penitence -- I merely hope to show you that this conversation was Christ's way of confronting (and offering forgiveness to) Peter. If we can't knock Christ for inviting Peter into conversation, I don't think we should be so quick to knock Archbishop Niederauer.

Tony Vogrincic

Carl, you're just too snarky on this one. I think the bishop's letter is quite terrific and frankly far more "biting" than I imagined.

Jack Smith

There are actually four members of the House of Representatives in the Archdiocese of San Francisco - Lynn Woolsey, Nancy Pelosi, Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo. All are pro-choice and all but Woolsey are Catholic.

Then there is the pro-choice and pro-gay marriage Catholic Mayor and Catholic City Attorney of San Francisco and Catholic members of the Board of Supervisors who advocate for numerous intrinsic evils.

That's a lot of potential invites.

Paul H

I actually thought that the Archbishop's statement was pretty good. Granted, many of the other bishops' statements were more forceful, but I really liked this part:

That statement suggests that morality can be decided by poll, by numbers. If ninety percent of Catholics subscribe to the view that human life begins at conception, does that makes Church teaching truer than if only seventy percent or fifty percent agree?

Authentic moral teaching is based on objective truth, not polling. For instance, in 1861, as the Civil War began, a majority of the residents of Massachusetts opposed slavery, a majority of the residents of South Carolina approved of slavery, and in Missouri people were sharply divided on the issue. Does that mean that, in 1861, slavery was immoral in Massachusetts, moral in South Carolina, and something of a moral "wash" in Missouri? Sound moral teaching demands much more good sense than that.

As to the "conversation" part, I took that as pertaining to the potential denial of communion, which makes sense. Even Archbishop Burke tried to correct pro-abortion Catholic politicians in his diocese one-on-one in private first, before denying them communion, and I think that Archbishop Niederauer is alluding to the fact that he really should speak with Pelosi privately first before making any decisions or announcements about denying her communion.

But the two big problems I see with the conversation idea are that Archbishop Niederauer should have held this conversation with Speaker Pelosi long before now, and that I am skeptical (though hopeful) as to whether this conversation will happen even now.

Augustine

Carl,

I think that the bishop is referring to his invitation to Mrs. Pelosi, not to his clarification of her ignorance. In the same paragraph he refers to the "consternation of Catholics", which was mentioned in the preceding paragraph of his statement about the faithful questioning him on her reception of Holy Communion.

Honestly, I think that you're jumping the gun and not giving him the benefit of the doubt, even if he has or has not been a remarkable bishop so far.

May St. Paul pray for us.

Carl E. Olson

I would like encourage you to try to be as open to the archbishop's methods as we all hope Speaker Pelosi will be.

Ouch. Well, I can assure you that I'm more open minded re: the Archbishop's methods than Speaker Pelosi likely is. Really now! Meanwhile, Shaun, I think the use of John 21 doesn't really pertain as much here as does, say, Matthew 18:21: "If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector." Speaker Pelosi knows what the Church teaches. She has been informed many times, in various ways. And yet every indication is that she is not only unrepentant, she is openly defiant.

Carl, you're just too snarky on this one.

A poor use of the word. I am critical, yes. But not snarky, sarcastic, or caustic. There is a difference, and it is one of respect. I, unlike Pelosi and Co, have respect for the Archbishop, even while I take issue with how he words some of his column. Seriously, what is there to regret? I'd like to know.

Augustine

Carl,

I think that in his mind making a public invitation to talk to her is regrettable, much like Mt. 18:21 implies that the first step should be private.

If this is the case, he's showing a remarkable courage and change of tactics that I hope he will extend to the other Catholic leaders in SF.

May St. Matthew pray for us.

Oremus

"Speaker Pelosi knows what the Church teaches. She has been informed many times, in various ways. And yet every indication is that she is not only unrepentant, she is openly defiant."
How is she acting any differently than say, Fr. McBrien? I mean, the Archbishop's response is under "viewpoint" in the LA Tidings same place McBrien's columns appear. She is ascribing to the same dissent that is tolerated in that diocese. Haven't they just shot themselves in the foot, so to speak, when it comes to authoritatively speaking?

I agree with you Mr. Olson.

Carl E. Olson

I think that in his mind making a public invitation to talk to her is regrettable, much like Mt. 18:21 implies that the first step should be private.

Which raises the questions: Has he tried to ever talk to her in private about these matters? And if not, why not? Of course, the nature of private conversations being what it is, we don't know for certain the answer to the first question. But it appears that he has not. I do hope he has attempted to do so, and I hope that if they do talk, it will lead to Speaker Pelosi changing her mind and making a public statement to that effect.

If this is the case, he's showing a remarkable courage and change of tactics that I hope he will extend to the other Catholic leaders in SF.

I hope it's clear from my post that I think that most of the column is good, and that it is wonderful that he addressed this issue. That is all very positive and too be commended. But I'm not sure about the "remarkable courage" part. Frankly, what does it say about our expectations when it's considered a remarkable act of courage for a bishop, priest, or even a lay person to say, "This is what the Church teaches and I believe it"? We need to demand more from ourselves—and by that I mean all of us Catholics, not just our bishops.

Augustine

Carl,

I agree that it seems that he hasn't talked to her before. But I consider courageous when a bishop, or any sinner for that matter, does the right thing. For doing the right thing does require courage, especially in SF, where he's probably going to be "martyred" for this, what I hope to be, new course of action with dissenters. Even when I again agree with you that that's what bishops are for.

May St. Gregory Magnus pray for us.

joe

Carl:

You are right on. Niederauer and such almost have to apologize for Church teaching. It is far worse when it comes to homosexuality. With their timidity we watch a generation being lost.

Joe

Tom Hockel

The ultimate aim of the archbishop's actions must be to effectuate a change of heart in Pelosi so she embraces the Church's teachings and becomes in full communion with the Body of Christ. That's what we all should want to happen. The aim is not to cut her off at the knees or make a specacle of doing so.

In that regard, the archbishop's approach may be prudent and appropriately pastoral. He has invited her "into a conversation" with him. In charity, we should give the archbishop the benefit of the doubt and assume that means he will try to correct Pelosi and bring about a change of heart through their conversation. Fair enough.

Unfortunately, what the statement didn't include is the next step; namely, that, in the absence of a conversation that effectuates a change of heart and puts an end to Pelosi's notorious and scandalous support of abortion and contraception, she will be admonished to refrain from receiving the Eucharist.

I suspect their "conversation" will never take place and no further action will be taken. Therefore, I agree with Carl that the statement began with a sizzle and ended with a fizzle.

Scott

In general, it makes me wonder what is the best way to act toward those who go astray from the Truth. Is it better to be "nice" and tactful? Or is it better to just "cut to the chase" and be clear about the expectations of the Truth?

I guess tact is to be used if you are trying to win over the population. But really, if you are not clear of the expectations...to what are you really winning them over? A watered-down version of the Truth?

I agree that presenting clear expectations/teaching will likely cause the bishop and/or the Catholic Church to be "martyred" in San Francisco. But isn't that already what is happening in SF? Further, it reminds me of the bishops of early Rome, who were martyred one-after-another in the 1st and 2nd centuries. Maybe openness or tact is not the right path here. Maybe we should just be clear (not overly harsh, just very clear) about the Truth. And expect the consequences and weather the storm. We might loose some of the people. But those who eventually come to the Church will be more like "gold refined in fire". The latter is a very long process, however; but we should just realize that going in.

St. Paul, indeed, ora pro nobis.

Jackson

Is this the same Archbishop who not long ago served communion to homosexual activists dressed as clowns?

Matt C

Shaun G.

Christ said "If your brother sins, rebuke him". Christ also said "Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone". Are these contradictory statements? Of course not. There can be no contradiction in God.

The difference is one of intent. To form an opinion (which invloves passing judgment) and then rebuke your brother who is sinning, is an act of mercy. To say nothing to someone who is leading a destructive lifestyle (i.e. using drugs) is not charitable, it is indifference. The pharisees who wanted to stone the adulteress were not motivated by charity. "Let he who has not sinned, cast the first stone" could also be stated "Do unto others as you would have done unto you" or " Forgive us our tresspasses as we forgive those who tresspass against us". If the pharisees were just, they would have asked that they be judged and punished (for their specific sins, whatever they were) to the same degree that they wanted to punish the adulteress.

Speaker Pelosi is a heretic and should be labelled as such. To rebuke her is just and merciful (there is no such thing as justice without mercy). By her actions (her continued support for abortion for example), I believe she has incurred the penalty of automatic excommunication (i.e. no formal action from a bishop is required). However, when the individual guilty of heresy is a public figure, scandal is also one of the effects, and this needs to be addressed by the Catholic Leadership. The Archbishop of San Francisco shouldn't be using ambiguous, diplomatic language when discussing an abomination like abortion. He isn't commenting on how tax dollars should best be appropriated.

Dan Deeny

This would be fascinating if it were in a novel. But it isn't. It's real life and many children have died because of the abortion business. Bishop Niederauer should study the life of Blessed Cardinal von Galen. Sen. Obama can perhaps be forgiven for his support for abortion, for he knows no better. Imagine being educated in the Ivy League schools and then going to the Rev. Dr. Wright's hothouse for twenty years. Sen. Biden, Rep Pelosi, and the others are different. They are Catholics and know the rules.

Mark Brumley

It might help the discussion if a distinction were made between (1) the Archbishop's pastoral actions in relation to a Catholic as an individual Catholic who is at odds with the Church in serious ways, and (2) his pastoral action in relation to a prominent, national officeholding Catholic who (a) has staked out an objectively gravely sinful position on an issue on which she owes her assent to the teaching of the Church, (b) facilitates the deaths of millions of children by her position, (c) legitimizes government's disregard/violation of the right to life of those children, and (d) as a Catholic continues to mislead and confuse many other Catholics on the subject.

BTW, although abortion is the most serious issue here, there is also the issue of experimentation on embryonic human beings and same-sex unions, not to mention the public endorsement of the use of contraception and support for federal funding of the same. These are all issues that, whatever one thinks about Nancy Pelosi as a lawmaker, have serious bearing on her status as a Catholic and upon how she affects the Catholic community at large.

Telemachus

I think of the "invitation to conversation" as a way for the good Archbishop to say "Miss Pelosi, I'd like to see you in my office, please." And as someone already stated, it is better if Nancy's "confusions" (and yes, of course, he knows she's not *really* confused) be addressed privately rather than embarrassing her publicly. My POV is "whatever, excommunicate the lot of 'em," but that's why I'm not a member of the clergy.

More important, what's up with San Francisco? How is it that there are even still Catholics (nominally, at least) that can stand to live there under the ultra-liberalism of that city? Obviously the "Catholic" public figures there are false believers, but what of the regular people there? I hope they are listening to the Church leadership rather than these public officials.

Stohn

Carl I'm with you! We need to stand up for the truth, without compromise, and without regret. St. Athanasius of Alexandria would burn heretical alters and break their chalices and St. Thomas More stood up to a king you was a blatant heretic. We need to do the same. Enough of these politicians publicly proclaiming heresy!

Sleeping Beastly

Telemachus,
Yes, we still have orthodox Catholics here in San Francisco. It's not always easy, but some of us stay because it's our home. It's the site of one of the first (Catholic) missions in California, it's named after Saint Francis, and it is, in many ways, still a beautiful place. If the first Christians could stand to live in Rome, I think I can suck it up and stay in San Francisco, where at least they aren't busy tossing us to lions or pouring hot lead down our throats.

I am very familiar with how Archbishop Niederauer runs things here, and I am a big fan of his. I suspect that he has been trying to meet with Speaker Pelosi in private, and that she has been ignoring him. When her comments first became public, the website of the Archdiocese posted an article unequivocally stating the position of the Church regarding abortion, and if it took him this long to respond to her, it's not because he's ashamed of Catholic teaching, but because he thinks the matter should be resolved in private if possible. It's his job to tend his flock and make sure we know the truth the Church has to teach, but it is not necessarily his job to chastise members of the church in public if he doesn't have to.

Jackson

"I am very familiar with how Archbishop Niederauer runs things here, and I am a big fan of his."

Then you must be familiar with this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrDbgjLKoxU

You're really a big fan of his?

Joe

After reading his remarks in full, I have to take back my shrill remarks. It is solid. IYAM.

Sleeping Beastly

Yes, I'm familiar with that incident. He did not invite those men to Mass, but he's been dragged through the mud for not having the presence of mind to make an absolute decision about the state of their souls and a subsequent scene in the communion line. In a country with so many actual heterodox priests, the treatment our archbishop has received is disgraceful. I, for one, am grateful for his service to the local faithful.

Big Lou

I agree wholeheartedly with the commentary.

In summary, I have 3 issues with Archbishop Niederauer's statement:

1) This issue should have been dealt with long ago: everyone and anyone who pays attention to politics knows where Speaker Pelosi and her ilk stand with respect to many of the social ills facing our society - abortion, homosexuality/same sex marriages, etc.. Thus, it would be disingenuous for the Archbishop to claim he has never privately counselled Speaker Pelosi (not that he is stating this), but conversely, if he truly hasn't, then he has failed in his most basic pastoral duties.

2) Even acknowledging the excellent analogy to slavery and polling in addressing her "what's the big deal, most Catholics don't ascribe to this view anyway" defense, his whole tone ("regret") is one of "I wish this hadn't have come up 'cause now I need to deal with this mess.." This tone of regret is difficult to square with his job as the leader of his flock;

3) In finding justification for his ability to decide alone what is the appropriate course of action, it felt like he was grateful to find an "out" and that the church said it was legit!; and

4) His final action is no action at all - the conversation should have already happened as I stated above, and even if it does, does anyone really believe she's going to change, especially if she's been warned before - and he should have enumerated the potential outcomes and consequences that would result from the "conversation"; namely that either a) she will immediately reconcile herself with the Church personnaly and professionally, b)she will not do so, but will agree not to take communion, c) she will leave the church willingly, or d) or she will be excommunicated.

The truth is tough. There is such thing as 'tough love' and this requires it!

We have had enough – If we have a Catholic church half the size it is now, but filled with true believers, we will be stronger for it. We must prayerfully prune ourselves of the 50% of our members (cafeteria and cradle catholics, C&Eers) who are not truly catholic. We must pray for them - that they come back or for their salvation elsewhere, but we must act now so that we, the Body of Christ, may grow back stronger than ever. We must do so especially in these troubled times where the dual evils of Secularism and Islam are spreading rapidly, espousing eerily similar messages of hate and intolerance.

Mark Brumley

but he's been dragged through the mud for not having the presence of mind to make an absolute decision about the state of their souls and a subsequent scene in the communion line.

Whatever one can say for Archbishop Niederauer's present statement--and I am certainly glad he made a statement--the issue re: his giving communion to members of the so-called Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is another matter. He did not need to make "an absolute decision about the state of their souls" to know that men dressed as women with clown-face makeup, red lipstick and high heels should not have been given Holy Communion. He apologized for doing so, which implies he realizes he made a mistake. Let's not try to defend his present statement re: Nanci Pelosi by arguing that he acted correctly in that other, sad affair.

Paul

Thank You Carl! You are 1000% correct. And you did not distort scripture as other who have responded to you.While we are waiting for Bishops and openly deffiant "Catholic" Polititions to come around, 4000 unborn babies are being ripped out of their Mothers womb EVERY DAY IN AMERICA! God Help Us!

Sleeping Beastly

Mark,
The archbishop's apology was issued because he made a mistake, not because he had been willfully indifferent.

When Levada was promoted, I was worried that we'd get someone tepid or embarrassing or downright heretical. But we didn't; we got George Niederauer, who has been solid in his faith and his teaching and his service to his flock. I understand that a lot of faithful Catholics are upset with the American episcopate in general, and we have reasons to be. But Archbishop Niederauer is not one of those reasons.

Ed Peters

Abp. N has "been dragged through the mud for not having the presence of mind to make an absolute decision about the state of their souls and a subsequent scene in the communion line" ? What a ridiculous claim, but Brumley's already repied to it. More patiently than I would have, yes, but one would have predicted that. I post a different point.

...On second thought, I'll save that point for another forum. Anyway, I still wanted to second MB's post.

Mark Brumley

Sleeping Beauty, in replying to me, you have gone from a specific statement about the Archbishop's activity at Most Holy Redeemer parish, in distributing Holy Communion to people even Mr. Magoo would have been able to recognize as not appropriate recipients of the sacrament, to a generalized statement about the Archbishop and criticism of him. My post concerned only the former and not using a defense of it--which seems utterly indefensible, regardless of whether it was done with "willful indifference"--as part of an effort to defend this recent statement about Nancy Pelosi.

The fact of the matter is, Archbishop Niederauer did not, contrary to the implication of your assertion, need "to make an absolute decision about the state of" the souls of the two men, to know that he should not have given them Holy Communion. Why you would want to try to defend his action in this regard and connect it with defending his recent statement re: Nancy Pelosi is baffling to me. If you believe that the statement re: Pelosi is a sound one, I think you'll have a considerably greater likelihood of getting a hearing for your position if you don't include a defense of the Archbishop giving Holy Communion to two men dressed as nuns, wearing white face, red lipstick, and high heels.

Mark Brumley

Dr. Peters, please post soon on the Niederauer statement. We're eagerly waiting to read what you have to say.

Sleeping Beastly

Mark,
I wasn't the one who brought up the MHR debacle; that was Jackson. I wasn't trying to connect the two cases, beyond saying that I approve of the way he serves my archdiocese.

I imagine that he was not expecting to see anyone dressed like that in line to receive Communion, and didn't realize what had happened until after the fact. That was more or less what he said in his public letter on the subject. If you're not accusing him of being willfully indifferent on the matter, what exactly are you criticizing him for?

Mark Brumley

I wasn't the one who brought up the MHR debacle; that was Jackson. I wasn't trying to connect the two cases, beyond saying that I approve of the way he serves my archdiocese.

I know you didn't bring it up. My point was not that you brought it up but that your characterization of his action was incorrect. He did not need to make the kind of judgment you implied that he needed to make in order to make the sound judgment that the men in question should not have received Holy Communion. Furthermore, my point included the fact that citing his action as appropriate doesn't help the case for others to judge the appropriateness of his comments re: Nancy Pelosi.

(If an accountant issues a financial report that some people in management question, it doesn't do to point to examples, by the same accountant, of other reports that are widely regarded by management as erroneous, even if you happen to think that those reports were correct.)

I imagine that he was not expecting to see anyone dressed like that in line to receive Communion, and didn't realize what had happened until after the fact.

I am not sure whether it was sensible not to expect such a thing at MHR under the circumstances in which the Archbishop was there, and given the history of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the efforts of other militant gay activists to receive Holy Communion from bishops. But, be that as it may, when the men in drag came before him, he should have had the good judgment to say something to the effect of, "I am sorry but the manner of your dress puts me in the position of not being able to give you Holy Communion. I can pray for you and if you would like to discuss my decision later, I will be available to do so."

There is a bit more to the matter than that he did not realize what had happened until after the fact. It is clear from the video of the event that he knew something unusual was going on--his demeanor and the exchange with the first man make that clear.

If you're not accusing him of being willfully indifferent on the matter, what exactly are you criticizing him for?

For exercising very poor judgment in the matter. That does not imply that he was "willfully indifferent". If he had been "willfully indifferent", I doubt he would have reacted the way he clearly did in the video. Still, he made a poor judgment, the judgment to give Holy Communion to the men dress in drag, with white face, red lipstick, and heels, at a very well-attended Mass, at a parish known for its gay activism. That was a mistake--not only because it involved the Archbishop in an action that appeared to mock women religious, but because, whatever the subjective intentions of the recipients, it demeaned the Holy Eucharist, and it misled the men in drag and those present who witnessed the event.

Which, oddly enough, brings us back to Nancy Pelosi and other proabortion rights Catholic politicians receiving Holy Communion.

Ed Peters

Hmmm. The complexity of the point for a combox, the importance of the point, and the press of prior duties are making me wait.....for now anyway. wkyp.

Mark Brumley

I would not go as far as Carl when he writes that "there is an inherent contradition in saying, 'It is my responsibility as Archbishop of San Francisco to teach clearly what Christ in his Church teaches about faith and morals, and to oppose erroneous, misleading and confusing positions when they are advanced,' and then stating, 'I am writing to invite her into a conversation with me about these matters.' What, exactly, is there to 'converse' about? Speaker Pelosi's public record, her many statements in support of abortion, and her embarrassing and offensive remarks on 'Meet the Press' make such a conversation quite irrelevant. If her position on this matter isn't clear, I'm not sure what is."

It does not seem to me to be a problem that Archbishop Niederauer invited Speaker Pelosi to discuss things, even if her position on the relevant issues is already clear to the world. I hope the Archbishop is able to persuade her to change her mind. As Archbishop Chaput observed, that's what an ardent Catholic does when he discovers that his views conflict with the teaching of the Church. I don't think it likely but I think the Archbishop should make his best effort to persuade her and to settle for nothing less. What's more, it seems reasonable that at such a meeting that the Archbishop would communicate to her the consequences of her continuing to take the position she holds.

My difficulty with the invitation to meet is not that but when it occurred. It seems that this should have happened years ago. The issues are that important, Nancy Pelosi is that prominent a proabortion rights Catholic, and the need for clarity among the faithful is that profound.

Still, better late than never.

Sleeping Beastly

Mark,
You write:
I know you didn't bring it up. My point was not that you brought it up but that your characterization of his action was incorrect. He did not need to make the kind of judgment you implied that he needed to make in order to make the sound judgment that the men in question should not have received Holy Communion. Furthermore, my point included the fact that citing his action as appropriate doesn't help the case for others to judge the appropriateness of his comments re: Nancy Pelosi.

First, I didn't say his action was appropriate, just that it didn't merit the kind of criticism he received for it. He was faced with an unexpected situation, and he made a snap judgment he later regretted and apologized for.

And second, I was not using the one case to justify the archbishop's actions in the other, although they are both examples of just the kind of unmerited criticism I was talking about.

I am not sure whether it was sensible not to expect such a thing at MHR under the circumstances in which the Archbishop was there, and given the history of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the efforts of other militant gay activists to receive Holy Communion from bishops. But, be that as it may, when the men in drag came before him, he should have had the good judgment to say something to the effect of, "I am sorry but the manner of your dress puts me in the position of not being able to give you Holy Communion. I can pray for you and if you would like to discuss my decision later, I will be available to do so."

It sounds like the archbishop himself would agree with you. As I said, it was a snap decision, and he regretted it and apologized. The way Catholic bloggers and radio personalities jumped on him for that, you would have thought he'd been passing out the Eucharist in a booth at the Folsom Street Fair.

There is a bit more to the matter than that he did not realize what had happened until after the fact. It is clear from the video of the event that he knew something unusual was going on--his demeanor and the exchange with the first man make that clear.

Even so, that doesn't mean he wasn't taken off guard. It's unreasonable to expect a priest to be prepared to play Communion Cop every time he performs a Mass.

For exercising very poor judgment in the matter. That does not imply that he was "willfully indifferent". If he had been "willfully indifferent", I doubt he would have reacted the way he clearly did in the video. Still, he made a poor judgment, the judgment to give Holy Communion to the men dress in drag, with white face, red lipstick, and heels, at a very well-attended Mass, at a parish known for its gay activism. That was a mistake--not only because it involved the Archbishop in an action that appeared to mock women religious, but because, whatever the subjective intentions of the recipients, it demeaned the Holy Eucharist, and it misled the men in drag and those present who witnessed the event.

Hence, I suppose, the apology issued after the fact. It seems petty to continue to criticize someone after they've apologized, especially when you can be fairly certain that the initial oversight was made in good faith, and the apology was issued in all sincerity.

Which, oddly enough, brings us back to Nancy Pelosi and other proabortion rights Catholic politicians receiving Holy Communion.

These politicians know exactly what they're doing, and they don't care. It's not a matter of being improperly catechized or confused about the issue. They know what's what, and the rest of us do too. Those who persist in material support for abortion aren't just lacking in pastoral care; they're heretics. Bishops making public statements about the Church's stance on abortion is all well and good, but it's not news to anyone. Pelosi's insistence on supporting abortion and receiving Communion is not so much a problem of scandalizing others by confusing them about this very clear teaching as it is a personal sin that ought to be first addressed in private. If Pelosi has agreed to meet with the archbishop, it's only because he has made his invitation public, not because he's previously refused audiences with her. If he hasn't made this invitation before, perhaps it's merely because he's been busy ministering to those with ears to hear.

Again, I understand why Catholics are nervous about the poor performance of our bishops, but Niederauer is a very poor target for our criticism. Not that he can't handle it (locals have been riding him for his position on gay marriage and adoption for years) just that it's misdirected.

Mark Brumley

I suppose we'll just have to agree to disagree on a lot of the aforementioned points. We can't even agree on the meaning of what you wrote, much less on the meaning of the incident in question.

You see, I take this comment

but he's been dragged through the mud for not having the presence of mind to make an absolute decision about the state of their souls and a subsequent scene in the communion line.

to mean that he has been unjustly criticized by people for giving the two men in drag Holy Communion. "After all," I take you to mean, "how could he reasonably be expected to make such a judgment under the circumstances?"

My point was, he did not have to make such a judgment in order to conclude that he should not have given Holy Communion to the two men in drag. If you agree with me on that point, I suppose that's the best we'll do here. If you do not, then comment box exchanges probably won't help us find agreement at this point.

And second, I was not using the one case to justify the archbishop's actions in the other, although they are both examples of just the kind of unmerited criticism I was talking about.

The Archbishop was rightly criticized for giving Holy Communion to the two men in drag. So it is hard to see how the two things--criticism for the communion-to-men-in-drag incident and criticism of his Pelosi statement--are both examples of unmerited criticism. Again, my point was, rather than try to defend the indefensible, just say, "He should not have done that", and defend what is (or may be) defensible, his column on Pelosi. It seems now that you have said as much regarding the Holy Communion incident--although I think calling the Archbishop's giving the Blessed Sacrament to two men in drag, with white face, ruby red lipstick, and heels "an initial oversight" seriously minimizes the reality of what happened.

But perhaps we have gone as far together as we're going to on this subject.

Gabriel McAuliffe

While I am weary of getting in the middle of the discussion between Sleeping Beastly and Mark Brumley, I couldn't stop laughing after the Mr. Magoo remark!

Thanks for your good sense of humor.

Mark Brumley

Weary or wary? Perhaps both. But for me now:

Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed

Maggie

In a KCBS radio interview with AB Niederauer in February 2007, the following transpired:

One of the show hosts described Pelosi as “not only pro-choice, but she would be someone who would be working to try to keep abortion legal.” The Archbishop was asked, “In your view is she less of a Catholic because of that?” He replied saying about Pelosi, “We haven’t had an opportunity to talk about the life issues. I would very much welcome that opportunity, but I don’t believe that I am in a position to say what I understand her stand to be, if I haven’t had a chance to talk to her about it.”

In a letter to the editor of CSF at that time, I suggested the AB did not need to "talk with her personally" to understand her position. He could just check her "voting record" and have a very good understanding of her views on pro-choice and abortion. I think the AB has had many opportunities to set Pelosi straight on church teaching.

The column in this week's CSF quoted a lot of references on church teaching and a lot of bishops (who took very firm stands), but it was basically very rambling and evasive. I am disappointed.

Ed Peters

Maggie wrote: "I am disappointed."

Princess Bride! Princess Bride! "I'm afraid you'll just have to learn to live with disappontment." Princess Bride!

Maryd

Let all of us take seriously the words of Sunday's reading :

Ez 33:7-9

Thus says the LORD:
You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel;
when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.
If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die, ”
and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way,
the wicked shall die for his guilt,
but I will hold you responsible for his death.
But if you warn the wicked,
trying to turn him from his way,
and he refuses to turn from his way,
he shall die for his guilt,
but you shall save yourself.

It isn't just Mrs. Pelosi, Ab. N, who is in danger.


Bill Hurley

It all seems so incredibly simple to me: "You cannot be a practicing Catholic; if you support abortion, support anyone who suppoets abortion, or supports anyone who supports anyone who supports abortion. We need to stop using the word abortion and simply say the more revealing "murder of children".

Our Bishops need to say so In public to all!

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