Archbishop Wuerl's Stand on Lawmakers Who Back Abortion Angers Some Conservative Catholics
(Hat tip: Amy Welborn)
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
In the political hot seat of Washington, D.C., Archbishop Donald Wuerl has stuck to the stand he took as bishop of Pittsburgh, refusing to withhold communion from Catholic legislators who support legal abortion.Recall that Amy Welborn first reported on, and had a fairly strong reaction (for Amy) to, Abp. Wuerl's statements regarding "Nancy" and her very public pro-abortion stance here:
A response he made recently to questions about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have infuriated the far-right edge of the Catholic blogosphere, and drawn ire from some of the most conservative Catholic leaders of the anti-abortion movement.
Today, his approach to that cause will be on display as he hosts a youth rally in the capital's Verizon Center, in conjunction with the annual March for Life.
Nancy Pelosi is in a very powerful position, a Catholic, and is working in opposition to a fundamental, moral teaching of her faith: the preciousness of each human life from conception. She lives in a country in which unborn human beings are unprotected by the law, in which the culture, at every level, dehumanizes them, and she, who is in a position to do something about this, in word and deed, does nothing to help the cause of bringing greater awareness of the humanity of the unborn, and works against legal protection and is the hero of organizations that are the activist core arrayed against the humanity of the unborn. There is not a speck of ambiguity here.Then, this past Friday, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus added his take at First Things:
Perhaps Archbishop Wuerl is catechizing and attempting to work with "Nancy" in private, and perhaps he didn't mention it because he and/or Archbishop Niederauer are engaged in this private outreach and the questions asked by this reporter did not directly ask him about that. That could well be the case. And certainly "refusing Communion" has become a flashpoint in this kind of situation which has a few alternative approaches. A real pastor takes every approach he can before getting to the point at which "discipline" is all that is left. Perhaps this is going on or is in the works.
But resting on Archbishop Wuerl's statements alone, which do not indicate that there's anything problematic about Nancy Pelosi's way of living a Catholic life, and which, I admit, simply might be an expression of a reticent style that only answers the questions posed, I'll just say this again.
If this woman, engaged in a public role, very publicly works against the teachings of the Church to which she professes a very public tie isn't publicly challenged by even one of the primary teachers of the Church - the bishops - the rest of us - lay Catholics, living and working in the world, every day facing decisions on how to be faithful disciples of Jesus in the midst of the complexities of our professions, some of us who really suffer because of the things they refuse to do because of their fidelity to Christ - we get a message.
And the message we get is that - it doesn't matter. Do whatever you want. Catholicism isn't about discipleship, about (among other things) living in the truth that every person God chooses to create - from conception to natural death - is our treasured brother or sister - I'm not sure what it's about, but it evidently isn't about that.
... On the other hand, many Catholics, including clergy and laity, say they have been confused, even scandalized, by the apparent ambivalence of some bishops. Amy Welborn at Open Book has given expression to this concern in connection with the non-response of Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s highlighting of her Catholic credentials...See also Jeffrey Smith's very sensible take on all this at The Roving Medievalist.
Which brings us to two recent incidents that have caused deep consternation among many faithful Catholics. When the aforementioned Nancy Pelosi orchestrated a four-day gala in Washington celebrating her familial, ethnic, and—very explicitly—Catholic identity, people were alert to what would be said by the new archbishop of Washington, Donald Wuerl. He said nothing. Part of the festivities was a Mass at Trinity College, a Catholic institution in Washington. The celebrant of the Mass was Father Robert Drinan, a Jesuit who, more than any other single figure, has been influential in tutoring Catholic politicians on the acceptability of rejecting the Church’s teaching on the defense of innocent human life. Asked by a reporter, Archbishop Wuerl responded that Fr. Drinan has “faculties” in Washington, meaning he is authorized to celebrate the sacraments. That was it.
Also recently, Edward Cardinal Egan of New York gave a rare television interview in which he was persistently asked whether the pro-abortion position of Catholic politicians, notably Rudolph Giuliani and outgoing governor George Pataki, posed a problem for him. He just as persistently said he refused to be drawn into politics and answered, “They are my friends.” But of course he was making a statement of momentous political consequence, in that he seemed to be saying, as far as he is concerned, that the Church has no problem with pro-abortion politicians. It is understandable that Catholics and others have drawn the conclusion that, for both Wuerl and Egan, bishops of the two most prominent sees in the country, rejecting the Church’s teaching on the human dignity of the unborn child is not a big deal.
Note that the politicians in question in these instances are not struggling with the moral questions involved or trying to reconcile their position with the Church’s teaching. At least there is no public evidence of such struggle, nor any suggestion by the bishops that their longstanding and adamant support for the unlimited abortion license should be a matter of concern.
Christopher Blosser also has covered this story extensively at Against the Grain and at Catholics in the Public Square.