As long as a comment is not insulting or outright heretical, I'm happy to publish anyone's thoughts, no matter how much they disagree with me. Thus, while a commenter named "Frank" and I apparently do not see eye to eye, he is respectful in his tone, and I hope that the blog sees more of this type of discussion. Before continuing, I have to apologize for the play on his screen name for the title of this blog - sometimes I really have to stretch for a witty title (and I usually fail). I also want to make note that I won't generally make an entirely new post to respond to a comment (or series of them), but I think this is enough of a worthwhile conversation that I hope others of you join in. For that reason, I wanted a fresher look at it as the old treatment will soon slip in the archives as I add new posts.
Regarding my post on "Blacklisting", Frank has made some fairly substantial claims, and I would like to see him substantiate them. I will try to hit the bigger points that he brought up.
1) In his last comment he writes that withholding communion is "nothing more than a way for these church officials to inspire their conservative base." Our bishops would disagree, of course, and suggest that this action (had it been taken) was a matter of pastoral discipline. So ... as much as Frank claims to "respect" and have "admiration" for our bishops, the implication here seems to be that they are being dishonest in their motives. He alludes to this earlier by suggesting that the only time the church talks about homosexuality is during election time. This is an interesting comment as the recent guidelines on ministering to people with homosexual tendencies came out after mid-term election and about two years before any other major election. So, this is proof to the contrary. I would hope that Frank can point to evidence to substantiate his claim about our bishop's motives.
2) It is also interesting that of the post and the three comments so far, Frank is the first to even mention the words "Democrat" and "Republican". I'm hoping he can substantiate his implication that this discussion of the Eucharist is a political effort to help one party exclusively. In the last two major elections, I personally voted for at least two different pro-life Democrats and voted against at least one or two Republicans because of their rejection of certain pro-life issues. Can Frank point to any place in my post or in any documents from the Church or professional Catholic organizations to support his suggestion that this is ultimately a strategical move, rather than a concern for the sanctity of life? The Catholic Church cannot help that one party might attempt (however successfully) to align itself with the pro-life troops, but it is quite a stretch to suggest, then, that the Church, itself, has political affiliation or preferences.
3) He implies that my post is slanted toward abortion when "pro-life" issues such as the death penalty and just war are "equally as important". Unfortunately, according to our catechism (#2309, #2265, #2272), there is quite a bit of gray area in issues of war and death penalty, but abortion is an absolute evil. Likewise, we see Scriptural evidence to support the idea that a society may support itself through just war (such as here) and death penalty, but not once do we see the inspired text supporting the killing of the innocent unborn. Abortion is, as the Catholic Answers folks put it, a "non-negotiable" (here). He has also made the sweeping suggestion that there is no such thing as a completely "pro-life" politician, and I would be interested to know where he has come by this comprehensive overview of the political field.
4) Frank writes that the politicians are not as culpable as the doctors, mothers, and fathers who participate directly in abortions because they are only arguing the legality of it. Perhaps he is unaware that many of these same politicians also support taxpayer supported funding of abortion providers. Sure, the doctor may do the dirty work, but much of that money comes from the government's coffers, approved by the votes of these politicians.
5) Frank insists that it "should not be up to a priest, bishop, or ANYONE ELSE for that matter to decide an individual's worthiness to receive Jesus." Really? Because Scripture and the Magisterium tells us differently. In fact, a priest's job in the confessional is to withhold absolution from an individual if it is apparent that this individual has not truly repented. This is supported by the text of John 20 ("whose sins you retain"), and I would think that seeing a politician on national television supporting abortion is fairly strong evidence for a priest or bishop in determining his level of repentance. In addition, 1 Cor. 11 tells us that if we receive the Eucharist unworthily, we are sinning against the body of blood of Christ, and that this is the reason that many of the Corinthians have gotten sick and died.
6) This brings us to the last point, which is that Frank writes that the Eucharist "is the very Body and Blood of Jesus meant to nourish us, strengthen us, and send us forth to be the very presence of Jesus in the world. By withholding the Eucharist from these politicians, these bishops and priests are denying them one of the strongest ways to create change in them." Frank seems to forget that the Eucharist only effects that positive change IF we approach in a state of grace. However, if we approach in a state of mortal sin (which the Church has declared any conscious support of abortion to be), we are adding additional mortal sin to that by receiving the Eucharist. Thus, it has the very opposite effect in that it removes us even further from our relationship with God. See #1415 in the catechism for this. Frank claims, rightfully so, that we are a church of hope and reconciliation. Does knowingly allowing an individual to push himself deeper into mortal sin add to our hope and reconciliation, or would this be a cruel disregard for the eternal salvation of our human souls?
Withholding the Eucharist is a disciplinary measure in order to bring sinners back to the church. Indifference would allow them to continue on in their sins (and compounding them). As another commenter pointed out through the story of Ananias and Sapphira, and as I have pointed out with my references to Matt. 18 and John 20:23, the Holy Spirit guided Scriptures strongly support a rebuke of those sinners who are stubbornly refusing to repent. "What would Jesus think of this?" Frank asks. Well, considering that Christ is one and the same God that also inspired these passages, as well as those like Galatians 1:8, I think he would agree that love and compassion has nothing to do with allowing members of the flock to slip deeper into mortal sin by unworthy reception of his Holy body and blood. And it has nothing to do with allowing the scandal and indifference that would be caused by having our leaders turn blind eyes to such blatant, public disregard for the teachings of his church.