Can the American Bishops Say No to Pro-Abortion Politicians?

Can the American Bishops Say No to Pro-Abortion Politicians?
Can the American Bishops Say No to Pro-Abortion Politicians?

The case against pro-abortion politicians receiving Holy Communion should be obvious. The requirement for receiving Holy Communion is to be free of mortal sin. Abetting abortion is a public and serious sin. Those same politicians also commit the grave sin of scandal. Therefore, they should be denied Communion.

It is a clear-cut issue that needs no explanation. It can be executed without any complications. Just follow Canon 915 and say no. It’s as simple as that.

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However, nobody wants to say no.  The politicians do not want to refrain from Communion. The bishops do not want to exclude them. Thus, another issue is tied to this one more complex than a simple application of Church discipline, and it is not about Communion.

Moreover, this appears to be an American problem. Other nations are not concerned with the contradiction.  Their pro-abortion politicians do not insist upon receiving Communion.

 The Problem of Liberalism

Indeed, the American version of liberalism is in crisis. The system is crashing down, and the Communion issue is right in the middle of the drama.

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Liberalism brutally separated Church and State. It established the absolute sovereignty of the individual and society’s independence from God and His Law. Liberalism’s value-neutral system sought prosperity and general well-being without religion, relegating faith to something personal and subjective.

With order now breaking down, there are no moral standards or authorities to consult and everything fragments.

The American Model

However, this secular model without moral standards was implemented in different ways.

The European model breaks any link between religion and public life. There is open hostility toward religion, which is seen as contrary to progress. Government officials tend not to practice their faith publicly.

The American model welcomes religions with open arms— the more, the better as long as everyone gets along. Americans see religion as a guarantor of good order through a consensual Christian moral code loosely based on the Ten Commandments. Conspicuous religious practice is considered a healthy moderating influence on the social order and the economy.

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Both models prevent the Church from acting directly in society. Both propose no absolute moral standards.

The American liberal model differs from the European one in that it acknowledges religion’s indirect influence. The smooth running of society assumes each party will stay separated within this limited framework. As long as the Church’s moral teaching remained intact, it could positively influence society.

A Lack of Moral Authority

Liberalism is now falling victim to its own internal contradictions of moral relativism. Chaos rules when there is no official moral right or wrong in public policy matters. The moral decay of postmodern society leads legislators to take positions contrary to religion, while inside the Church, the crisis leads bishops to compromise, conceding everything in the name of misdirected compassion. Thus, evils like abortion take hold of society and ultimately destroy it.

According to the liberal system, America can call upon no moral authority to oppose this societal collapse. Thus, American Catholics are going outside the liberal box by demanding that pro-abortion politicians stop acting against their religious Faith and offending God. They are insisting that bishops assert a moral authority upon errant legislators that the State does not recognize.

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The resulting impasse throws the liberal framework into disarray. Liberal pro-abortion politicians dare not betray their erroneous positions. On their part, the bishops realize that any meaningful sanctions against the politicians will have the effect of reconnecting the link between Church and State. They hesitate to take a brave action that would recognize the rightful place of the Church in defining and defending moral law. It would have the effect of returning order to a society crying out for sanity.

An Existential Crisis

The result is an existential crisis. Some seek to avoid the problem by ignoring the contradictions. Others prefer to postpone the day of reckoning with ambiguous statements.  Both sides realize that the debate extends far beyond the abortion issue and broaches other areas of Christian order that the faithful want addressed.

Regardless of the outcome of this debate, the liberal model is dying. It cannot be sustained.  Meanwhile, the price of doing nothing increases. Society is falling apart, lives are ruined, and souls are lost. It is time for bishops and the faithful to say no.

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