Friday, February 12, 2010

Have the Bishops Missed a Teaching Opportunity With Regard to Torture?

Writing at both First Thoughts and The American Catholic, my friend Chris Blosser ponders whether a prime teaching opportunity has been missed by the U.S. Bishops in regard to the intrinsic evil of torture and the receipt of Holy Communion by those Catholics who advocate on behalf of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques":
Writing at Vox Nova, the author known as “Morning’s Minion” has published a post calling for consistency in the application of canon 915 — the denial of Holy Communion to those who “obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin” — in this particular case, the public advocacy of abortion and torture. The post was occasioned by the recent appearance of Mark Thiessien on Raymond Arroyo’s “The World Over”, in which the duo lobbied vigorously in defense of waterboarding...


With respect to abortion, readers may recall a number of opportune moments during the 2008 presidential elections when Catholic bishops were obliged to speak out, publicly, forcefully and collectively, in correction of blatantly false presentations of Catholic teaching on abortion by Nancy Pelosi and (then) Senator Joseph Biden.

There have been numerous missed “teaching moments” for our bishops and the Catholic Church on the matter of torture.
The post by our old friend Tony A (aka Morning's Minion) that occasioned Chris's response isn't the first time Tony has raised this issue. And, as I noted at that time, I wholeheartedly concur with the notion that Catholics who publicly dissent from the Church's teachings on intrinsic evils such as abortion and torture should not receive Communion.

But, as has been pointed out in the comments at The American Catholic, it is not altogether clear that Tony actually agrees with the position being advocated. In his defense, I must admit that the torture debate is a tu-quoque-rich target for one intent on exposing the hypocrisy of pro-lifers on the right.

Nevertheless, if pointing out hypocrisy is the true intention of of Tony's post, I think it ill serves the seriousness of the subject matter. It assumes that those in favor of the Bishops taking corrective action against advoctes of legalized abortion are doing so merely for political reasons - to use the Eucharist as a "cudgel" against poltical opponents.

Abortion and torture are about as serious evils as man can devise. And the Eucharist - Christ Himself - is not a weapon to be used to score points - political, rhetorical, or otherwise - against those with whom we have philosophical differences. But if abortion and torture are what the Church claim they are, and if the Eucharist is Who the Church claims it is, then denial of Communion to those who publicly advocate against the Church's teaching on these matters seems not only appropriate, but imperative.

Here's where our old friend the Regular Guy, fresh off his heroic-but-unsuccessful run for the Illinois legislature, comes in with his usual cut-to-the-chase commentary:
As far as I can see, we already have perfectly consistent application of Canon 915. It is virtually never applied.

The bishops have consistently condemned both torture and abortion, and have done precious little against Catholic public figures who advocate either.
Yep, that about covers it.

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At 2/12/2010 12:18 PM, Blogger Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

Thanks for the shout-out, old friend!

At 2/12/2010 4:49 PM, Blogger Christopher said...

Thanks for the link and well said, Jay.

At 2/13/2010 1:41 PM, Blogger Matthew Siekierski said...

MM would have a valid point if there had been numerous, near uncountable, corrections of those publicly supporting torture. How many times has Pelosi been educated in the truth about abortion?

Arroyo et al should be corrected, and quickly. But this is not on par with continued public support of abortion in spite of countless public and private corrections. If Arroyo and Thiessien are corrected, and refuse to recant the position, then it would be right and proper (and necessary) for Holy Communion to be denied to them.

I have misgivings abut MM's sincerity. It looks to be more an attempt to discredit pro-lifers than to actually make sure that Catholics know what the faith teaches.

At 2/13/2010 1:58 PM, Blogger Tito Edwards said...

I concur with Matthew's last point about MM's sincerity.


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