When we examine the education-alone approach of pastors with respect to pro-choice politicians, we see that it has basically become a personally opposed, publicly pro-choice position as well. There’s obviously a clear personal repugnance on the part of pastors to the pro-choice Catholic politicians’ separation between faith and moral action, schizophrenia between private and public personality, and lip service to the Church’s teachings. Many pastors have sought to exercise their teaching office, stating forthrightly what abortion is and what the responsibilities of all legislators are with respect to it. All of their teaching, however, has been trumped by the weightier educational value of the de facto “law” that has left everything to the conscience, however ill-informed, of the pro-choice Catholic politicians. These men and women have learned over time that, regardless of what canon law says, they are at liberty to ignore the Church’s teachings on life. Even though the U.S. bishops have taught with one voice that pro-choice Catholic legislators should not present themselves to receive Holy Communion, if they pay no heed to that teaching and present themselves anyway, they have observed that in practice they will almost never be denied. With Senator Kennedy’s funeral, they have now grasped that even a 100% pro-abortion voting record will not only not prevent them from having a Catholic funeral, but will not even stop them from receiving possibly one of the most publicly panegyrical Catholic funerals in U.S. history. The upshot — these smart men and women have concluded — is that the Church’s practice is essentially “pro-choice” with respect to “pro-choice” Catholic politicians. The politicians’ own determination in conscience, erroneous or not, is given greater weight than, combined, the truth proclaimed by the Church, the duty to protect the politicians’ souls from a potentially mortal wound, and the responsibility to do all that is possible according to one’s office to try to stop the killing. The education-alone approach has failed for the same reason that the personally opposed, publicly pro-choice position has led to massive abortion on demand: the nature of sin is that the easier it is to commit, and the fewer the consequences for doing it, the more sin we’ll have.
The issue of Senator Edward Kennedy's elaborate Catholic funeral Mass that turned into the circus of adoration has been covered all over the blogosphere. There is no problem with Senator Kennedy receiving a Catholic funeral. There is no problem with Cardinal O'Malley presiding at this funeral. There is a huge problem with the public praise and adulation of Senator Kennedy. There is a problem with the abuse of the Eucharist by turning the Holy Mass into a public political platform. The intercessory prayers for the passage of health care reform and for gay rights were beyond the pale. Cardinal Sean O'Malley has shot back with a strong defense of his actions. Think about this in light of the second reading from this past Sunday (James 2:1-5)
|1||My brethren, show no partiality as you hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.|
|2||For if a man with gold rings and in fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in,|
|3||and you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "Have a seat here, please," while you say to the poor man, "Stand there," or, "Sit at my feet,"|
|4||have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?|
|5||Listen, my beloved brethren. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him?|
Senator Edward Kennedy and most of the Kennedy clan (Eunice Kennedy Shriver being the most notable exception) made a mockery of the Catholic Church for decades. They have publicly flouted her teachings on marriage, sexuality, and life issues including abortion, contraception, and embryonic stem cell destructive research. In spite of this they were courted and lauded by the Church hierarchy in Boston. Their public dissent from Church teachings never received public repudiation. This lack of pastoral discipline produced two results. It told the average Catholic in the pew that Church teachings are negotiable if you have enough wealth, power, and prestige. It also very clearly sends the message that all the priests' and bishops' words about the sanctity of human life are empty. They lose all credibility as teachers on all issues, not just life issues. It is only bishops like Finn, Burke, Chaput, and Naumann, who do not bow to the altar of earthly prestige who will be able to lead us to the Truth.