Canon 915

Print More

Chaput.jpgArchbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, rising star of the Catholic right, has ruffled the dovecotes of the Catholic left with a broadside published on the First Things website, addressing the issue of excommunication for pro-choice politicians and those who support them. Of particular concern to him is the group called Roman Catholics for Obama ’08.
Let’s be clear how far Chaput and company have raised the stakes. For them, it is not sufficient for Catholics to say that they support a politician despite his or her pro-choice position. They

also need a compelling proportionate reason to justify it. What is a “proportionate” reason when it comes to the abortion issue? It’s the kind of reason we will be able to explain, with a clean heart, to the victims of abortion when we meet them face to face in the next life—which we most certainly will. If we’re confident that these victims will accept our motives as something more than an alibi, then we can proceed.

(Not to be flip here, but does Chaput also expect to be meeting unbaptized miscarriages face to face in the next life?)
Catholic conservatives have decided to take their stand on a piece of ecclesiastical law known as Can. 915:

Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion.

On their reading, supporting pro-choice politicians is manifest grave sin, and even pro-life public figures like Bob Casey, Jr. and Douglas Kmiec, by refusing to stop backing, say, Barack Obama, ought to be refused holy communion.
Whether Catholic prelates of as high or higher stature than Chaput will say this nay remains to be seen. What’s clear, however, is that the Catholic right regards with exceeding concern the readiness of some prominent pro-life Catholics (including some women religious) to publicly support the Democratic presidential candidate. Like the Dobsons of the evangelical world, they seem to regard it as anathema for a pro-choice Democrat to vie for the votes of the faithful.

  • Asinus Gravis

    It is inconceivable to me that the God made manifest in Jesus of Nazareth would be so arrogant as to claim that a person whose politics differ from His is excluded from the body of Christ. A person who would do that has clearly confused himself with almighty God.
    In his political narrow mindedness and heavy handedness he seems to have overlooked the very significant difference between being committed to significantly reducing the number and frequency of abortions and being committed to a get out the Republican base strategy in an election.
    Archbishop Chaput’s stance on this matter is a disgrace to the body of Christ, to the mission of Jesus, and to the intelligence of the American people.

  • water joe

    (Not to be flip here, but does Chaput also expect to be meeting unbaptized miscarriages face to face in the next life?)
    This was disrespectful, uncalled for, and not even relevant to the post. This blog just lost all pretense of objectivity in tracking religion and politics.
    Moreover, I find it hard to believe that a professor of religion does not really know how Catholic teaching would answer that question.

  • Mark Silk

    OK, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states in CCC 1261: “As regards children who have died without baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God, who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children, which caused him to say, ‘Let the children come to me, do not hinder them’ [Mark 10:14, cf. 1 Tim. 2:4], allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy baptism”.