Letter to the editor


#1

This Sunday, a non-Catholic wrote in that he felt that it was an extreme violation of church/state separation for U.S. bishops to decide to allow Eucharist to be withheld to openly pro-choice politicians. He said it dwarfs such minor issues as commandments on public property and prayer in school. His implication seemed to be that the church was withholding communion as a punishment in order to sway politicians to represent the church instead of their constituents. He didn’t seem to have any understanding of the sacramental nature of the Eucharist and probably saw it as just another celebration of unity, as in many Protestant churches. Here’s my letter in response. I’d appreciate feedback before I send it in. It was VERY tough to do within the limit of 300 words, so keep that in mind with your criticisms - I can only go so deep.

Dear Editor,

XXXXX, in his October 30th letter to the editor, expressed concern that the U.S. Catholic bishops recently agreed to allow the holy Eucharist to be withheld from actively pro-choice politicians.  He felt that “anyway you look at it” this was an attempt for a religious institution to interfere in politics.
Catholic theology holds that life begins at conception.  We view “choice” in the matter of abortion to be the equivalent to allowing personal choice in the murder of one’s child.  For us, pro-life legislation is about protecting an innocent from wrongful death.  Some “Catholic” politicians do not agree, and one should wonder why some of them would want to maintain membership in a church whose doctrines they personally cannot accept.
Christian theology, in any denomination, has long held that sin is not just in committing a wrongful act oneself, but in failure to stand up for the defenseless.  By considering himself “Catholic”, a politician is claming to assent to these viewpoints, and to act contrarily to this, politically or privately, he is contradicting the teachings that we believe to have been delivered by God.
As Catholics, we believe that the holy Eucharist is the sacramental presence of Christ, Himself. All Catholics, not just politicians, are asked to abstain from communion when guilty of grave sin.  Paul warns that to do otherwise is to eat and drink judgment upon oneself (I Cor.11:27).  The church would be acting irresponsibly by allowing pro-choice politicians to spiritually endanger themselves this way.  Perhaps Mr. XXX disagrees with our theology, but he is wrong for concluding that the Church’s motivation is political manipulation.
This issue, of course, is much too complicated for mere letters to the editor.  Please refer to resources such as [www.catholic.com](www.catholic.com) for a better understanding of the Catholic viewpoint in these matters.

-Spencer Allen
October 31, 2005


#2

Good letter, I wonder if the individual understands that the seperation of Church and state restricts the state not the Church. The state does NOT decide how the Church is run, that’s the seperation!


#3

[quote=awfulthings9]This Sunday, a non-Catholic wrote in that he felt that it was an extreme violation of church/state separation for U.S. bishops to decide to allow Eucharist to be withheld to openly pro-choice politicians. He said it dwarfs such minor issues as commandments on public property and prayer in school. His implication seemed to be that the church was withholding communion as a punishment in order to sway politicians to represent the church instead of their constituents. He didn’t seem to have any understanding of the sacramental nature of the Eucharist and probably saw it as just another celebration of unity, as in many Protestant churches. Here’s my letter in response. I’d appreciate feedback before I send it in. It was VERY tough to do within the limit of 300 words, so keep that in mind with your criticisms - I can only go so deep.

Dear Editor,

(…)

[/quote]

You could add a few words about how recieving the Eucharist is like saying “I believe in the Catholic church and all that she holds as truth” which would include the church’s teaching on abortion. As that, it is a sign of unity among Catholics.


#4

[quote=Tom]Good letter, I wonder if the individual understands that the seperation of Church and state restricts the state not the Church. The state does NOT decide how the Church is run, that’s the seperation!
[/quote]

Yeah, Tom, most people seem to forget that. I hear so many throwing “separation of church and state” around without having actually read the wording which provides the foundation for this. The argument, however, would be that the church is tax-exempt, and he would probably say that it is overstepping its bounds and should be taxed as a political lobbying group. This, of course, is silly, since there are pro-life democrats and pro-choice republicans, so the Church is ultimately taking a stand on a moral issue, and not a certain party or candidate.


#5

Forgetting the 300 word limit, I would say that you captured the core message better than some much longer essays that I have read. Adding the web site was an excellent idea. Good job in trying to educate a public who does not recognize that there is more to The Eucharist than milk and cookies.


#6

[quote=Bruised Reed]You could add a few words about how recieving the Eucharist is like saying “I believe in the Catholic church and all that she holds as truth” which would include the church’s teaching on abortion. As that, it is a sign of unity among Catholics.
[/quote]

I really wanted to, but ran out of room. Plus, I would have to have worded that really well to avoid some die-hard Protestants missing the point and writing in to argue theology with me.


#7

Hello Spencer,

I have heard rumor that Pope John Paul II freely gave the Eucharist to Rome’s mayor who is openly for abortion. Do you know if this is true?

Personally I believe that if Church leaders want to lead they should do it directly. Unfortunately Pope John Paul II took the punch out of the Catholic Church’s power to lead when He took the punch out of anathema by disengaging it it in 1983.

Wouldnt you agree that rather than relying on the state to break down the door and haul abortionists to prison, Pope Benedict XVI should reinstate anathema and use it to deter abortion? Why rely on the state when Jesus gave Apostolic Successors the real power to lay down the law?

Please vist Throwing Stones

AnathemaIn passing this sentence, the pontiff is vested in amice, stole, and a violet cope, wearing his mitre, and assisted by twelve priests clad in their surplices and holding lighted candles. He takes his seat in front of the altar or in some other suitable place, amid pronounces the formula of anathema which ends with these words: "Wherefore in the name of God the All-powerful, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of the Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and of all the saints, in virtue of the power which has been given us of binding and loosing in Heaven and on earth, we deprive N-- himself and all his accomplices and all his abettors of the Communion of the Body and Blood of Our Lord, we separate him from the society of all Christians, we exclude him from the bosom of our Holy Mother the Church in Heaven and on earth, we declare him excommunicated and anathematized and we judge him condemned to eternal fire with Satan and his angels and all the reprobate, so long as he will not burst the fetters of the demon, do penance and satisfy the Church; we deliver him to Satan to mortify his body, that his soul may be saved on the day of judgment."
He who dares to despise our decision, let him be stricken with anathema maranatha, i.e. may he be damned at the coming of the Lord, may he have his place with Judas Iscariot, he and his companions.

Quoted from New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia. newadvent.org/cathen/01455e.htm

**NAB MAT 16:13 **

Jesus replied, “Blest are you, Simon son of John! No mere man has revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. I for my part declare to you, you are ‘Rock,’ and on this rock I will build my church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it. I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you declare bound on earth shall be bound in heaven; whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.**NAB REV 1:16 **

A sharp, two-edged sword came out of his mouth, and his face shone like the sun at its brightest. When I caught sight of him I fell down at his feet as though dead, he touched me with his right hand and said: “There is nothing to fear. I am the First and the Last and the One who lives. Once I was dead but now I live-- forever and ever. I hold the keys of death and the nether world.”

NAB ISA 11:4

The Rule of Immanuel[indent]He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. [/indent]**NAB JOH 20:20 **

At the sight of the Lord the disciples rejoiced. “Peace be with you,” he said again. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Then he breathed on them and said: “Recieve the Holy Spirit. If you forgive men’s sins, they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound.” NAB MAT 5:22

What I say to you is: everyone who grows angry with his brother shall be liable to judgement; any man who uses abusive language toward his brother shall be** answerable to the Sanhedrin,** and if he holds him in contempt he risks the fires of Gehenna.


#8

[quote=awfulthings9]Catholic theology holds that life begins at conception.
[/quote]

Science holds that life begins at conception.


#9

[quote=awfulthings9]Dear Editor,

XXXXX, in his October 30th letter to the editor, expressed concern that the U.S. Catholic bishops recently agreed to allow the holy Eucharist to be withheld from actively pro-choice politicians. He felt that “anyway you look at it” this was an attempt for a religious institution to interfere in politics.
Catholic theology holds that life begins at conception. We view “choice” in the matter of abortion to be the equivalent to allowing personal choice in the murder of one’s child. For us, pro-life legislation is about protecting an innocent from wrongful death. Some “Catholic” politicians do not agree, and one should wonder why some of them would want to maintain membership in a church whose doctrines they personally cannot accept.
Christian theology, in any denomination, has long held that sin is not just in committing a wrongful act oneself, but in failure to stand up for the defenseless. By considering himself “Catholic”, a politician is claming to assent to these viewpoints, and to act contrarily to this, politically or privately, he is contradicting the teachings that we believe to have been delivered by God.
As Catholics, we believe that the holy Eucharist is the sacramental presence of Christ, Himself. All Catholics, not just politicians, are asked to abstain from communion when guilty of grave sin. Paul warns that to do otherwise is to eat and drink judgment upon oneself (I Cor.11:27). The church would be acting irresponsibly by allowing pro-choice politicians to spiritually endanger themselves this way. Perhaps Mr. XXX disagrees with our theology, but he is wrong for concluding that the Church’s motivation is political manipulation.
This issue, of course, is much too complicated for mere letters to the editor. Please refer to resources such as www.catholic.com for a better understanding of the Catholic viewpoint in these matters.

-Spencer Allen
October 31, 2005
[/quote]

Above in the Red Font, it would be better if you used the word “doctrine” instead of the “theology.” Those are two different terms. Theology is the study of religion and a way of looking at religion. In the Church there are many forms of theology. “Doctrine” however is the official authoritative teaching of the Church. Theology is a religious perspective; Doctrine is a teaching. The word “Theology” is more like religious opinion. “Doctrine” is fact.


#10

As Catholics, we could have an extra couple of reasons to condemn abortion (it is a murder and also a sin). But the basis to oppose abortion are merely anthropological (what, when, from when human life must be protected). To identify opposition to abortion with Catholicism is a wrong path. Of course, we are the first ones in defending the ones without voice. And this is certainly one of the most important tasks of the Church. But it has to be absolute clear that opposition to abortion is not a religious belief. We defend life from the very beginning to the very end. If you do not like that, stop calling yourself a Catholic. It is not possible on logical basis to be at the same time Catholic and pro-death. The Church has the right to deny communion to those false Catholics.


#11

[quote=Steven Merten]Hello Spencer,

I have heard rumor that Pope John Paul II freely gave the Eucharist to Rome’s mayor who is openly for abortion. Do you know if this is true?

Personally I believe that if Church leaders want to lead they should do it directly. Unfortunately Pope John Paul II took the punch out of the Catholic Church’s power to lead when He took the punch out of anathema by disengaging it it in 1983.

Wouldnt you agree that rather than relying on the state to break down the door and haul abortionists to prison, Pope Benedict XVI should reinstate anathema and use it to deter abortion? Why rely on the state when Jesus gave Apostolic Successors the real power to lay down the law?

Please vist Throwing Stones
[/quote]

I never heard that rumor of Pope John Paul II, but if that was the case maybe he didn’t know about the guy’s stand on abortion. If he did, then he was wrong for doing so. As for anathema, I do agree that the Pope should rule that for pro abortion politicians. If you’re going to disagree with the Church (in matters of faith and morals) you have no business being in it and have no business representing yourself as “catholic.”


#12

Thanks to everyone who read and critiqued. I haven’t the time to respond to all of it now - too much trick-or-treating with my daughter - but I’ll fix it up tomorrow and e-mail it to the paper. Take care


#13

It’s a more than a little silly when people think the term “separation of church and state” means that churches cannot apply standards to its members - who are, seemingly, willing active members of that particular church.

It isn’t like the Catholic Church is dragging unwilling pro-choicers into mass and then cruelly denying them communion.
In order to be a catholic, a person is expected to seriously consider the Church’s teaching - and to pay attention to the leadership of the Pope and the Magisterium.

This expectation has nothing to do with separation of church and state.
The fact that a non-catholic thinks there is something wrong with this should show us that there are those who think the Catholic Church should not be able to have the right to freedom of religion.


#14

May I suggest that since you have a word limit, you leave out Cathoic teaching on abortion? I’m not saying that it isn’t important, but a statement that Catholic dogma teaches us that abortion is wrong, and that we are required to accept that as part of our Catholic belief would suffice. The issue you are addressing is not the right/wrong of abortion but the right of the Church to withhold the Eucharist from dissenting people. All practicing Catholics are required to assent to the Church’s teaching on abortion. By publicly dissenting, as in the case of certain politicians, one has separated him/herself from the Catholic Church. Therefore, that person may not recieve the Eucharist.
By doing this, you can then include a statement about the Eucharist as a sign of unity in the Church. Just a suggestion.

Peace,
Linda


#15

[quote=LindaS]May I suggest that since you have a word limit, you leave out Cathoic teaching on abortion? I’m not saying that it isn’t important, but a statement that Catholic dogma teaches us that abortion is wrong, and that we are required to accept that as part of our Catholic belief would suffice. The issue you are addressing is not the right/wrong of abortion but the right of the Church to withhold the Eucharist from dissenting people. All practicing Catholics are required to assent to the Church’s teaching on abortion. By publicly dissenting, as in the case of certain politicians, one has separated him/herself from the Catholic Church. Therefore, that person may not recieve the Eucharist.
By doing this, you can then include a statement about the Eucharist as a sign of unity in the Church. Just a suggestion.

Peace,
Linda
[/quote]

Thanks Linda. I thought about that, but the main problem I’ve had in talking with many Catholics and non-Catholics is that when I mention that the church is against abortion, their response, almost every time, is this: “That’s fine, but you can’t expect other people to have the same beliefs as Catholic politicians, and this is why the ‘choice’ must be left up to the individual.” They see abortion on the same level as, say, recreational marajuanna use, where we see it as immoral, but not everyone does. For that reason, I’ve learned it to be very effective to explain that abortion isn’t an issue of personal rights, which could be debatable in the public spectrum, but as a matter of protecting the innocent. In that light, nobody who sees abortion as murder can justify leaving it to someone else’s religious viewpoint to decide morality. Anyway, the letter has been sent, so thank you for your help. I’ll update in a couple weeks to let everyone know what responses I get. I won’t respond to these, but I’m always interested to see the reactions.


#16

You wrote a good letter.

Can you imagine the State ordering Catholic Bishops to dispense the Holy Eucharist to certain people :bigyikes:

The person that wrote that letter had it all backwards :ehh:


#17

[quote=Roman_Army]I never heard that rumor of Pope John Paul II, but if that was the case maybe he didn’t know about the guy’s stand on abortion. If he did, then he was wrong for doing so. As for anathema, I do agree that the Pope should rule that for pro abortion politicians. If you’re going to disagree with the Church (in matters of faith and morals) you have no business being in it and have no business representing yourself as “catholic.”
[/quote]

Hello Roman Army,

I disagree. The Pope should not be trying to lead by threats to politicians, the Pope should lead directly by threatening the purpatrators of abortion. I think the Church is kicking the dog for not doing the Church’s work. “Oh! I will just sit here in my Cathedral and blame, bash and anathema to hell politicians for not getting my work done.”

George Bush, like the Pope speaks out in opposition to abortion. So are Bishops and the Pope happy that George is at their level. No. They want force. They want abortion made illegal so police will break down the door and physically stop abortion. Obviously if the state or Church simply make abortion illegal without enforcing a law making it illegal, there will be no change.

It is time for the Pope himself to step up to the plate and say here it is, I put your eternal salvation on the line through my Christ given power to anathema your soul to hell if you participate in an abortion. Anathema was designed as a deterant and it should be used as a deterant to the gravest evil of abortion, in order to save lives. If the Pope is not willing to step up to the plate and lay down the anathema law on abortionists, then he should get off politicians backs for not doing what he himslef refuses to do. And that is to enforce Christ’s law.

Please visit Throwing Stones

AnathemaIn passing this sentence, the pontiff is vested in amice, stole, and a violet cope, wearing his mitre, and assisted by twelve priests clad in their surplices and holding lighted candles. He takes his seat in front of the altar or in some other suitable place, amid pronounces the formula of anathema which ends with these words: “Wherefore in the name of God the All-powerful, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of the Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and of all the saints, in virtue of the power which has been given us of binding and loosing in Heaven and on earth, we deprive N-- himself and all his accomplices and all his abettors of the Communion of the Body and Blood of Our Lord, we separate him from the society of all Christians, we exclude him from the bosom of our Holy Mother the Church in Heaven and on earth, we declare him excommunicated and anathematized and we judge him condemned to eternal fire with Satan and his angels and all the reprobate, so long as he will not burst the fetters of the demon, do penance and satisfy the Church; we deliver him to Satan to mortify his body, that his soul may be saved on the day of judgment.”

He who dares to despise our decision, let him be stricken with anathema maranatha, i.e. may he be damned at the coming of the Lord, may he have his place with Judas Iscariot, he and his companions.

Quoted from New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia. newadvent.org/cathen/01455e.htm


#18

[quote=awfulthings9]This Sunday, a non-Catholic wrote in that he felt that it was an extreme violation of church/state separation for U.S. bishops to decide to allow Eucharist to be withheld to openly pro-choice politicians. He said it dwarfs such minor issues as commandments on public property and prayer in school. His implication seemed to be that the church was withholding communion as a punishment in order to sway politicians to represent the church instead of their constituents. He didn’t seem to have any understanding of the sacramental nature of the Eucharist and probably saw it as just another celebration of unity, as in many Protestant churches. Here’s my letter in response. I’d appreciate feedback before I send it in. It was VERY tough to do within the limit of 300 words, so keep that in mind with your criticisms - I can only go so deep.

Dear Editor,

XXXXX, in his October 30th letter to the editor, expressed concern that the U.S. Catholic bishops recently agreed to allow the holy Eucharist to be withheld from actively pro-choice politicians. He felt that “anyway you look at it” this was an attempt for a religious institution to interfere in politics.
Catholic theology holds that life begins at conception. We view “choice” in the matter of abortion to be the equivalent to allowing personal choice in the murder of one’s child. For us, pro-life legislation is about protecting an innocent from wrongful death. Some “Catholic” politicians do not agree, and one should wonder why some of them would want to maintain membership in a church whose doctrines they personally cannot accept.
Christian theology, in any denomination, has long held that sin is not just in committing a wrongful act oneself, but in failure to stand up for the defenseless. By considering himself “Catholic”, a politician is claming to assent to these viewpoints, and to act contrarily to this, politically or privately, he is contradicting the teachings that we believe to have been delivered by God.
As Catholics, we believe that the holy Eucharist is the sacramental presence of Christ, Himself. All Catholics, not just politicians, are asked to abstain from communion when guilty of grave sin. Paul warns that to do otherwise is to eat and drink judgment upon oneself (I Cor.11:27). The church would be acting irresponsibly by allowing pro-choice politicians to spiritually endanger themselves this way. Perhaps Mr. XXX disagrees with our theology, but he is wrong for concluding that the Church’s motivation is political manipulation.
This issue, of course, is much too complicated for mere letters to the editor. Please refer to resources such as [www.catholic.com]("http://www.catholic.com/") for a better understanding of the Catholic viewpoint in these matters.

-Spencer Allen
October 31, 2005
[/quote]

Way to go! Great letter…


#19

[quote=Steven Merten]The Pope should not be trying to lead by threats to politicians, the Pope should lead directly by threatening the purpatrators of abortion.
It is time for the Pope himself to step up to the plate and say here it is, I put your eternal salvation on the line through my Christ given power to anathema your soul to hell if you participate in an abortion. Anathema was designed as a deterant and it should be used as a deterant to the gravest evil of abortion, in order to save lives.
[/quote]

it is done…
Canon 1398 provides that, "a person who procures a successful abortion incurs an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication."
abortionists are [font=Arial]condemned to hell.[/font]


#20

I agree with Linda. You should delete as much as you can about the Church’s Teaching on Abortion. You have only 300 words and I think the issue you are trying to address is that when one confesses/professes that one is Catholic it includes that our public positions will reflect Church Teaching. If we don’t hold such beliefs and express our disagreement, we can no longer hold ourselves out as Catholic. Additionally, the consequences of holding dissident beliefs is that we are to refrain from Communion. Furthermore, if we refuse to refrain, it is within the responsibilities of the Church via the Bishop to withhold Communion. This is the issue you are trying to address and not specificly to justify our abortion teaching. Additionally, the importance of our abortion teaching is such that it shouldn’t be given short-shrift in a 300 word letter on scandal.


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