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[Archbishop] Wuerl: Why I Won't Deny Pelosi Communion
Politics Daily ^ | 05/6/09 | Melinda Henneberger

Posted on 05/08/2009 10:50:01 AM PDT by Alex Murphy

According to his critics, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington is insufficiently outraged – chronically, and on multiple fronts. The latest complaint is that he's not exactly apoplectic over President Obama's upcoming commencement address at Notre Dame. (He doesn't think a Catholic university ought to honor a pro-choice politician, but doesn't see disinviting him, either.)

During the more than two years that Nancy Pelosi has been Speaker of the House, Wuerl has been under constant pressure to bar her from receiving Communion. Why, he was asked recently, can't he be more like that nice Raymond Burke, who as archbishop of St. Louis told Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that unless she fell in line on abortion, she couldn't join the Communion line on Sunday?

Instead of following Burke's example, Wuerl wrote a relatively pointed editorial, published in the diocesan newspaper a couple of months back, calling a halt to the whole game of Who's More Catholic? "Incrimination of others has become a hallmark among some groups and individuals in the Catholic Church in our country today,'' he wrote. But "the intensity of one's opinion is not the same as the truth. Speaking out of anger does not justify falsehood.''

So how did we get here, anyway, with the peace-and-justice Catholic faction I'm more in line with so permanently at odds with the Church of the Republican Party? Is the polarization really any worse now than it's been at any other time since Vatican II? And is there any way out of this standoff? In an hourlong interview in the pastoral center where he works, Wuerl talked about why he thinks we've gotten angrier, and way more inclined to vent. I hadn't met Wuerl before, and much like his predecessor, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, he's a gentle presence, which I guess is part of the knock against him. As family fights go, I ask him, is this one more intense now than at any time in the last oh, 45 years?

He thinks it is: "There's always been a certain amount of that, but the polarization in our culture seems to flow into our Church. It's the society in which we live – it's so easy to be anonymous. We have websites, YouTube and You Face'' – Facebook, I think he means – "so people can unburden themselves.''

On the question of who should and should not be allowed to receive Communion, people are all too happy to be quoted by name, aren't they?

Sure, he says, because this is also "an age of polemicists'' who "seem to think they're not bound by the commandment, 'You shall not bear false witness.' The glorification of pundits contributes'' to a world in which "you're not bound by the rules of decency.''

He's beyond sorry to see Communion wielded as a weapon: "That's the new way now to make your point. We never – the Church just didn't use Communion this way. It wasn't a part of the way we do things, and it wasn't a way we convinced Catholic politicians to appropriate the faith and live it and apply it; the challenge has always been to convince people.'' Whereas sanctioning them, in his view, has the opposite effect.

For bishops, "there are two different approaches'' to bring Catholic politicians in line with Church teaching. "One is the pastoral, teaching mode, and the other is the canonical approach'' – the legal approach, in other words. He doesn't think it's a very close call: "I have yet to see where the canonical approach has changed anyone's heart.''

Has he seen his approach change anyone's heart? He smiles, and says one has to take the long view: "The teaching approach that we've used for centuries requires patience, persistence and insistence, but I believe if we teach our people, we will not have a problem with our politicians.''

Of Pelosi in particular, he cites two big reasons he hasn't and won't try to keep her from receiving Communion: First, "there's a question about whether this canon'' – the relevant church law – "was ever intended to be used'' to bring politicians to heel. He thinks not. "I stand with the great majority of American bishops and bishops around the world in saying this canon was never intended to be used this way.''

And second? Pelosi, as a San Franciscan, "isn't part of my flock!''

Moving on to the issue of embryonic stem cell research, I wonder if Obama's position is really all that different from Bush's. Though Obama has loosened restrictions on federally funded research, he hasn't done away with them, and Bush, too, allowed a limited amount of study. So is the difference really quantitative rather than qualitative? No, Wuerl says, it isn't, in part because the terms of the stem-cell debate have been set by the conversation over abortion.

Is that conversation ever going to get us anywhere?

"I would hope that with quiet, articulate persuasion, hearts can be changed. When we were growing up, one way we knew to pay attention was when my father spoke very softly and slowly; then we knew we were in trouble.'' I tell him that in my own experience, that hasn't worked at all; no matter how mildly or respectfully expressed, my pro-life views only infuriate my fellow liberals, who literally can't hear me when I talk about abortion. Meanwhile, I can't fathom why the party of science – my party, in all other regards – maintains that it's only a baby if and when we say it's a baby.

"Oh, I think we've been making progress,'' Wuerl assures me. "There was just a setback with the distraction of Communion. But sonograms are an enormous support. I still remember the day I got the call from our niece and she said, 'We just saw our baby!' She called me on my cell phone, which is really supposed to be for emergencies. But back to what we said earlier, [proponents of abortion rights] have to keep the child anonymous. The party of science also couldn't bring itself to recognize that an embryo is the beginning of human life.''

What most worries him about Obama's shift on stem cell research, he says, is "the perception that this administration is moving us to a point where people who conscientiously object to taking human life'' might lose their jobs in clinics and hospitals as a result. That's a fear expressed by opponents of the Freedom of Choice Act, which would eliminate restrictions on abortion and might – or might not – force pro-life heath care workers to choose between their jobs and their beliefs.

Only, FOCA has zero chance of passing, or even being introduced, doesn't it? Wuerl strongly disagrees, closing his eyes and tapping his finger on the conference table in front of him as he argues, "FOCA will probably be passed, but not using the name FOCA. It will be repackaged so it will have a new name, and they'll do it step by step.

Wasn't it Huey Long who, when asked whether Fascism would come to America, said, "Of course not. But when it does, it will be called the Fight against Fascism.''

He also disagrees when I equate Notre Dame's invitation to pro-choice Obama to its past invitations to George W. Bush, as enthusiastic a proponent of capital punishment as is possible to find, or to Ronald Reagan only a few months after the murder of Catholic nuns by Salvadoran death squads funded by the government his administration was supporting.

"The big difference is that abortion is the defining issue of this generation," Wuerl says. "Those other situations you're talking about could have gone either way. On the death penalty, the church has said it's not necessary, but it hasn't said it's intrinsic evil.''

Then the famously mild Wuerl goes all fire and brimstone on me – in his smiling, bookish way: "In his circles of Hell, Dante places the people with sins of passion at the very brim – barely burned. But at the core are those who sinned against the truth.''

And circling back to where we began, he says he sees a lot of sinning against the truth in our squabbling over who is and is not fit to call himself a Catholic. Yet in the very long run, he remains optimistic, both as a Catholic and as an American: "One of the best parts of our nation is if we're left to struggle with an issue long enough, we'll get it right. The truth wins; you just have to wait a long time, and that's why the Catholic Church feels so comfortable preaching and teaching, preaching and teaching, preaching and teaching...We're in it for the long haul.''


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Ministry/Outreach; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS: abortion; communion; pelosi; wuerl
Why, he was asked recently, can't he be more like that nice Raymond Burke, who as archbishop of St. Louis told Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that unless she fell in line on abortion, she couldn't join the Communion line on Sunday?....

....For bishops, "there are two different approaches'' to bring Catholic politicians in line with Church teaching. "One is the pastoral, teaching mode, and the other is the canonical approach'' – the legal approach, in other words. He doesn't think it's a very close call: "I have yet to see where the canonical approach has changed anyone's heart.''

Has he seen his approach change anyone's heart? He smiles, and says one has to take the long view: "The teaching approach that we've used for centuries requires patience, persistence and insistence, but I believe if we teach our people, we will not have a problem with our politicians.''

Of Pelosi in particular, he cites two big reasons he hasn't and won't try to keep her from receiving Communion:

First, "there's a question about whether this canon'' – the relevant church law – "was ever intended to be used'' to bring politicians to heel. He thinks not. "I stand with the great majority of American bishops and bishops around the world in saying this canon was never intended to be used this way.''

1 posted on 05/08/2009 10:50:01 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy

That’s ok. She probably does even go to church anyway.


2 posted on 05/08/2009 10:52:24 AM PDT by Dacula (You are where you are by the choices you make)
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To: wagglebee
Ping as a follow-up to our conversation yesterday...
3 posted on 05/08/2009 10:55:26 AM PDT by Alex Murphy (Presbyterians often forget that John Knox had been a Sunday bowler.)
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To: Alex Murphy
First, "there's a question about whether this canon'' – the relevant church law – "was ever intended to be used'' to bring politicians to heel. He thinks not. "I stand with the great majority of American bishops and bishops around the world in saying this canon was never intended to be used this way.''

He's confusing abortion with politics.

4 posted on 05/08/2009 10:56:18 AM PDT by Mr Ramsbotham (A fine head of hair lends beauty to a handsome face, and terror to an ugly one.)
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To: Alex Murphy
And you won't do anything about that, either, will you, Excellency, except perhaps to tap your finger on the conference table some more as faithful Catholics are being dumped on the unemployment line for upholding Catholic teaching ... while those who architected the dumping are queuing up for communion at your Cathedral?

Just what would it take to make you angry at a liberal Democrat, Excellency?

Then the famously mild

Too mild by half.

Wuerl goes all fire and brimstone on me – in his smiling, bookish way: "In his circles of Hell, Dante places the people with sins of passion at the very brim – barely burned. But at the core are those who sinned against the truth.''

Wrong. Completely and absolutely wrong.

Dante places at the very core of hell those who are traitors against their masters. At the center is Satan (traitor against God), who eternally chews Judas (traitor against Christ), Brutus, and Cassius (traitors against Caesar).

Ringed around them in the lowest circle are the traitors against their guests, traitors against their country, and traitors against their family.

Pro-abortion Catholics are traitors.

5 posted on 05/08/2009 11:08:20 AM PDT by Campion ("President Barack Obama" is an anagram for "An Arab-backed Imposter")
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To: Mr Ramsbotham

Decency, what does this man know of decency? So the Catholic church having standards is “bringing politicians to heel”

This is one complaint that many Protestants have about Catholics or at least their priests. They are just too into their own convenience when it comes to Catholic beliefs. Rigid is not good either, but standards!!!! There has to be SOME line doesn’t there?


6 posted on 05/08/2009 11:09:18 AM PDT by DeLaine (Youth frequently stands ready to demand their inexperience be heard.)
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To: Alex Murphy
And third, I am a political beast who does not want to burn any bridges with my liberal friends.

As for the Archbishop not knowing if the canon should be applied to our political lives, he may want want to bring that up with his boss.

Jesus' biggest in-your-face confrontations during His ministry on this earth were not with the "sinners". They were with the religious/political leaders in Jerusalem.

7 posted on 05/08/2009 11:10:51 AM PDT by 5thGenTexan
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To: Campion

“Pro-abortion Catholics are traitors.”

They were of the opinion during the general election that the question of abortion should be relegated to second place because there are “more important issues than abortion”.


8 posted on 05/08/2009 11:18:26 AM PDT by 353FMG
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To: 353FMG

Well, it’s all about the peace and justice, right?

Freegards


9 posted on 05/08/2009 11:25:35 AM PDT by Ransomed (Son of Ransomed Says Keep the Faith!)
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To: Campion
The article posted was written by one Melinda Henneberger.

It was a competent piece of journalism. But I'll wager that Ms. Henneberger did not recognize the "Roman Diplomatic Shuffle" she was treated to in this interview.

In addition to not knowing her Dante, the poor woman is obviously not familiar with latinate circumlocution, obfuscation, and biblical quotational prestidigitation. I am surprised wily old Wuerl didn't spring the old "Principle of Double Effect," on the charmingly naive reporterette.

Yes, I think Wuerl is long overdue for his transfer to Rome ... of the 1940's. When important cardinals and archbishops are driven about Rome in their limos, the natives say the "SCV" on the license plate stands for "Se Cristo Vedesse," which means "If only Jesus could see this!"

10 posted on 05/08/2009 11:27:28 AM PDT by Kenny Bunk (The Election of 2008: Given the choice between stupid and evil, the stupid chose evil.)
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To: Campion

I’d like to see even one of these “pro-choice catholic” politicians who has responded to the non-confrontational approach by the clergy with repentence and repudiation of abortion...


11 posted on 05/08/2009 11:43:08 AM PDT by papertyger (Advertising makes journalism an assault weapon.)
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To: Kenny Bunk

I often think that many these wimpy bishops are desperately needed in Antarctica.

Freegards


12 posted on 05/08/2009 11:44:17 AM PDT by Ransomed (Son of Ransomed Says Keep the Faith!)
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To: Alex Murphy

I think, when Pelosi or someone like her is allowed to receive communion in a particular parish, Catholics should begin to shun that church, and attach to the nearest telephone pole an explanation why.


13 posted on 05/08/2009 11:52:53 AM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: Ransomed

Hopefully, Benedict XV1 won’t promote him to Cardinal!


14 posted on 05/08/2009 11:59:50 AM PDT by ethics
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To: Alex Murphy

“What in the world were these bishops talking about, claiming that religious freedom in America was under attack? Keep up the hysterics, boys, I thought as I scanned the latest story, and this will be birth control all over again: Your lips are moving but no one can hear you. And the most ludicrous line out of them, surely, was about how, under Obama, Catholic hospitals that provide obstetric and gynecological services might soon be forced to perform abortions or close their doors.”
http://www.slate.com/id/2205326

That’s how much respect the author of this thread has for our Bishops.


15 posted on 05/08/2009 12:00:56 PM PDT by chase19
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To: Alex Murphy
Wuerl: Why I Won't Deny Pelosi Communion

Because he's a good Democrat first and a good Catholic second?

16 posted on 05/08/2009 12:04:50 PM PDT by penowa
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To: chase19
That’s how much respect the author of this thread has for our Bishops.

I'm the author of this thread, and I've made no such comments. Did you maybe mean the author of the article?

17 posted on 05/08/2009 12:19:23 PM PDT by Alex Murphy (Presbyterians often forget that John Knox had been a Sunday bowler.)
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To: Alex Murphy

I’m not aware of anyone of note “denied at the rail.”

Perhaps this is one reason for the Catholic Church’s being ripped assunder daily by its rabid assailants.

Respect doen’t just come from what people say....


18 posted on 05/08/2009 12:23:45 PM PDT by onedoug
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To: Campion
So, will Abp. Wuerl allow me to receive?

I believe and uphold much, MUCH more Catholic doctrine than Nancy Pelosi.

19 posted on 05/08/2009 12:27:25 PM PDT by Jim Noble (They are willing to kill for socialism...but not to die for it.)
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To: Jim Noble

Besides that there is a lot of money involved..


20 posted on 05/08/2009 12:30:34 PM PDT by BooBoo1000 (Some times I wake up grumpy, other times I let her sleep/)
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To: Alex Murphy

John 21:15-17

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

Feed my lambs: Grow the young in the church.
Tend my sheep: Keep the sheep in line with Jesus’ teachings, disciplining where necessary.
Feed my sheep: Nuture in the church.

Where is this bishop “tending” the sheep?


21 posted on 05/08/2009 12:49:09 PM PDT by melissa_in_ga (Welcome to the USSA. Be alert. Stock up.)
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To: DeLaine
There has to be SOME line doesn’t there?

Could one be a Klansman and subscribe to the NAACP at the same time? Or vice versa? What has gotten into the human race that nothing can be defined?

22 posted on 05/08/2009 1:54:27 PM PDT by Mr Ramsbotham (A fine head of hair lends beauty to a handsome face, and terror to an ugly one.)
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To: Alex Murphy

Cutting and pasting doesn’t make you an author; claiming that you’re an author only proves that you’re an egomaniac.


23 posted on 05/08/2009 3:25:34 PM PDT by A.A. Cunningham (Barry Soetoro is a Kenyan communist)
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To: Mr Ramsbotham

“There has to be SOME line doesn’t there?
Could one be a Klansman and subscribe to the NAACP at the same time? Or vice versa? What has gotten into the human race that nothing can be defined?”

Apparently so. Very good analogy BTW.


24 posted on 05/08/2009 4:43:26 PM PDT by ReformationFan
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To: Mr Ramsbotham

“...and it wasn’t a way we convinced Catholic politicians to appropriate the faith and live it and apply it; the challenge has always been to convince people.’’ Whereas sanctioning them, in his view, has the opposite effect.”

Mr. R—You captured my thought so to add to your observation, it seems that, given His Excellency’s preference for ‘convincing’ [a proper choice of word, as opposed to let’s say converting or saving a soul, because we try to convince a mind] catholic politicians and their catholic followers, it is he who is perhaps inadvertently participating in what he describes as the politicization of the Eucharist.


25 posted on 05/08/2009 6:45:16 PM PDT by cthemfly25
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To: Alex Murphy

Yes, thanks for the correction. :)


26 posted on 05/08/2009 9:29:58 PM PDT by chase19
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To: Dacula

She has already excommunicated herself and cannot receive Holy Communion worthily anyway!


27 posted on 05/08/2009 10:35:38 PM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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