Novak Criticizes Cardinals for "Disobedience" in Giving Pro-Abort Catholics "a Pass" During Papal Visit
Columnist Robert Novak, a Catholic, writes in today's Washington Post:
In the aftermath of the U.S. visit by Pope Benedict XVI, traditional Catholics are asking a troublesome question: Did pro-choice politicians receiving Communion at the papal Masses indicate the pope had softened on the abortion question? The answer is no. On the contrary, it reflected disobedience to Benedict by the archbishops of New York and Washington.While I might not agree that the politicians at issue should have been invited to the Papal Masses or that they should have received Communion while attending, I think Novak goes too far in accusing the Cardinals who invited them of outright "disobedience".
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sens. John Kerry, Christopher Dodd and Edward M. Kennedy received Communion at Nationals Park in Washington, as did former mayor Rudolph Giuliani at Yankee Stadium in New York. Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington and Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop of New York, invited them. Given choice seats, they took Communion as a matter of course.
Vatican sources say the pope has not retreated from his long-held position that pro-choice politicians should be deprived of Communion, but the decisions in Washington and New York were not his. The effect was to dull the pope's messages of faith, obligation and compassion. In his Yankee Stadium homily, he talked of "authority" and "obedience" -- acknowledging that "these are not easy words to speak nowadays." They surely are not for four former presidential candidates and two princes of the church, representing Catholics who defy their faith's doctrine on abortion.
Benedict's position was unequivocal when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Asked in 2004 whether Kerry, as the Democratic presidential nominee, should be allowed to take Communion, he replied, "The minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it."
Ratzinger's demeanor necessarily has changed with his elevation from doctrinal enforcer to global pastor, but he has not altered his position. When the pope arrived in Brazil a year ago, he declared: "The killing of an innocent human child is incompatible with going into Communion in the body of Christ."
Michael Sean Winters responds to Novak's column at the America Magazine blog:
Robert Novak, famous for publishing the name of CIA officer Valerie Plame [ED.: Relevance? Or does ad hominem pass for intelligent dialogue at America these days? Besides, Novak was "famous" long before Richard Armitrage - State Department hero of lefties everywhere - outed Plame to him.], has decided to use his morning column to pose as the head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He notes that several pro-choice politicians received communion at the papal Masses in Washington and New York but assures us that this shows no softening of Benedict's presumed hard-line stance. Novak instead says the culprit is the "disobedience to Benedict by the archbishops of New York and Washington."Tito also offers his take on the controversy at Custos Fidei.
Really? Who told him this? I watched Benedict and Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl chatting in the popemobile after the papal Mass here, and I did not notice any frigidness or hostility. But, Novak knows better. He not only knows the pope's mind, he claims to know the motives of Archbishop Wuerl whom he recklessly charges with being afraid of clashing with the movers and shakers of D.C.'s political class. Wuerl even shook hands with Senators Kerry and Kennedy at his installation Mass in 2006. Horror! Shaking hands!
Novak also rehashes the canard that then-Cardinal Ratzinger made his opposition to giving communion to certain politicians crystal clear in a memo to Washington's former archbishop, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, in 2004. (Conservatives have long used McCarrick as a whipping boy on this and other issues. He was an outstanding archbishop.) Parts of that memo were leaked to the press and certainly did suggest that pro-abortion politicians should absent themselves from taking Communion. But, the memo was more nuanced than Novak suggests, it was never an authoritative theological statement on the issue, and if Cardinal McCarrick had so thoroughly ignored its reasoning, as Novak suggests, there would have been repercussions. There were none. [ED.: Seriously? Is that how it works? Never mind that His Eminence was on the verge of retirement anyway. And, so, we see the mind of the "progressive" Catholic at work: if we here in AmChurch do something we really oughtn't do, but there are no "repercussions" from Rome, then that should be read as tacit approval of our actions.]
I am tired of conservative laymen denouncing our bishops when they fail to follow the talking points from the Republican National Committee... [ED.: I'll agree that Catholic laymen shouldn't be denouncing our Bishops as "disobedient". But does Winters truly believe that those of us who are concerned by the scandal given when pro-abort politicians take Communion are merely parroting GOP "talking points"? And, if so, why did Novak spend an entire paragraph noting how "even more remarkable" it was that Republican Rudy Giuliani had received Communion during the Papal Mass in St. Patrick's Cathedral at Cardinal Egan's invitation? Is the RNC really that concerned about fellow-Republican Rudy receiving Communion? Is there some GOP "talking point" about denouncing Cardinal Egan for inviting Republican Giuliani to the Papal Mass that Novak was adhering to when writing his Op/Ed? And, for that matter, are Archbishop Burke et al on the GOP payroll and/or following a set of RNC "talking points"?]
I note that the title of my post is somewhat off in its reference to "Cardinals" - Archbishop Wuerl is not, yet, a Cardinal. Nevertheless, Novak also uses his column to criticize the former Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal McCarrick, in addition to Cardinal Egan and Archbishop Wuerl, so the title is at least sorta accurate.
Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
"Wafer Wars, Wedge Issues and the Pope’s Visit" [UPDATED]
Twice-Divorced, Pro-Abort Rudy Giuliani Receives Communion at Papal Mass
Pro-Abort Catholic Politicians to Receive Communion at Papal Mass [UPDATED]
Archbishop Burke Preaches Tough Communion Rule
More on Archbishop Burke's Article on Canon 915 (Regarding Communion and Pro-Abort Politicos)
Archbishop Burke on Bad Catholics in Political Life
Archbishop Wuerl's Stand on Lawmakers Who Back Abortion Angers Some Conservative Catholics
Abortion and the New Archbishop - A Shot Across the Bow
Wuerl to be Installed Today - Mass in Washington, D.C., Will Mark His Debut as Archbishop
McCarrick's Successor Seen as Loyal, Diplomatic, "a Vote for Continuity"; Not Denying Communion has "Served Us Well" (15 links)
Pope Names Wuerl New Archbishop of Washington, DC
Bishop Wuerl's Name Surfaces for D.C.
The Final Word on Pro-Abort Pols and Communion?
Bishop Wuerl: Bishops Should Consult One Another Before Speaking On National Issues Like Kerry And Communion