Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Lucia Excommunication, Abortion and Sex

GayNZ has a politics opinion page on their website. With all the politicking that has been going on lately in NZ, I would have thought that there might have been something posted on a local political event. Maybe something on chickens or unfair imprisonment or maybe even the Budget. But no, last week excommunication was more exciting.

I think I'm beginning to detect a pattern. Later on last week, a post on Gordon Coupland and his defection from United Future appeared. This week, we have Sour William? (On Bill English), that worryingly "conservative Catholic" who believes anything can change if the public supports it and then the most recent, Religion vs. homosexual marriage.

As I've already posted on my approval of the automatic excommunication of politicians who vote to legalise abortion, and since it's come to my attention that there currently is no excommunication on those grounds; that Pope Benedict's words on excommunication referred to an excommunication that had not occurred, but that he supported if it had occurred, I feel I need to both do a correction, and at the same time, point out a number of major errors in the opening paragraph of GayNZ: Ex-Communicate! Ex-Communicate!.
Pope Benedict XVI wants to excommunicate all pro-choice Catholics from the church when it comes to abortion, and Archbishop George Pell across the pond already denies communion to LGBT Catholics. So why aren't clergy paedophiles receiving the same treatment?


First off, the Pope does not want to ex-communicate all pro-choice Catholics from the Church.

The Pope was asked by a journalist if he supported the excommunication of Catholic Mexican politicians who voted to legalise abortion in that country. The story that I originally linked to inferred that the Pope agreed that politicians ought to be excommunicated. However, it seems that excommunication was not meant. What was meant was that if the politicians were excommunicated, the Pope supported that. Here's What does the Prayer Really Say, trying to understand what was meant by what exactly was said:
So what did the Pope say? Is there a fuller quote of the Pope in response to the original question?
Yes, this excommunication was not an arbitrary one but is allowed by Canon law which says that the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with receiving Communion, which is receiving the body of Christ.
Going on the Pope spoke about pro-abortion Catholic politicians:
Selfishness and fear are at the root of (pro-abortion) legislation. We in the Church have a great struggle to defend life…life is a gift not a threat. The Church says life is beautiful, it is not something to doubt but it is a gift even when it is lived in difficult circumstances. It is always a gift.
Now what the Pope meant has been clarified:
To a question about politicians in Mexico who supported the law to decriminalize abortion, the Pope underscored the necessity of coherence for Christian politicians, repeating that the Church announces the Gospel of life: "Life is a gift, not a threat."

The director of the Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi [who just happens also to be the director of Vatican Radio] commenting on some news flashes about the Pope’s response clarified that since no excommunication was declared on the part of the Mexican bishops neither did the Pope mean to declare one. The legislative action favoring abortion, Fr. Lombardi said, is not compatible with participation in the Eucharist. "So are they excommunicated?" he was asked: "No", Fr. Lombardi clarified, "they have excluded themselves from Communion."
For more, see also : Italian coverage of the Pope's excommunication answer and The Pope's airplane comments and the left's obsession and Cannon lawyer - Towards clarity on abortion, excommunication, and the Eucharist

From all the above, you can see that was a little confusion over whether or not Mexican politicians that voted to legalise abortion have been excommunicated. It seems not. It's a pity, really. Excommunication would have been appropriate in my opinion. However GayNZ has incorrectly extrapolated the excommunication to all pro-choice Catholics, whether or not they have been involved in any way in abortion, which clearly wrong.

Denial of communion to
LGBT Catholics

Catholic communion is the actual eating of the Body of Christ and drinking His Blood. In other words, we eat our God. We eat the divine body of the Son of God. It's not like in Protestant churches where communion is simply done in memorial of the Last Supper.

No human being is really worthy to participate in divine life in this way, but we are commanded to by Christ to do so. But there are pre-conditions. A person must be a Catholic in good standing and free from mortal sin. (See Those in Mortal Sin Can't Go to Communion, Says Pope and Cannon lawyer - when you are supposed to stay away from communion and when the Church can stop you)

Eating the divine body of Our Lord while in a state of mortal sin is a serious mortal sin in itself. As the Bible says:
"Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:27).
So, denying communion (the Body and Blood of Christ) to persons who publicly proclaim their sinfulness as an identity is the right and proper thing for any cleric to do; otherwise not only would they themselves would be profaning the body and blood of the Lord themselves, they would be allowing another to do so. To knowingly do either is also a mortal sin. (See also Cannon law 915)

In case anyone is confused at this point, let me explain that in the case of LGBT person, sex outside of marriage puts a person into a state of mortal sin - the type of sex (normal, gay, bestial, masturbation) doesn't matter. Since marriage is sacred and indissoluble, divorced and remarried people also put themselves and their marriage partner into a state of mortal sin if they do not undertake to abstain from sex.

However, it seems unfair that LGBT people are denied communion, when there may be others (such as the serial masturbator or a couple that are living together in an unwed state) saying nothing to anyone and going up every Sunday for communion. The only difference is that in the case of the LGBT person, they have proclaimed to the world their desire for sex and the type of sex they engage in by taking on the LGBT label or identity. The serial masturbator, who would also be denied communion if he or she did the same thing, instead stays quiet and no one therefore has any reason to deny him or her.

But hey, any reason to bash Catholics by the non-practising must be good, so let's not worry about the fine print!

Why is the Church so interested in sex and marriage anyway?
Jesus said that in the beginning God made marriage a permanent sign of his love. In marriage, Jesus said, God joins together man and woman so that they form a new life as one: "They are no longer two, but one flesh." Man and woman in holy matrimony become an icon of the Trinity, a single spiritual life made up of three "persons" - the man and the woman and God, who unites them in the bond of his love.

The marital act by which the marriage covenant is consummated is also a sign of the communion of love in the Trinity. As husband and wife give themselves to each other completely, each accepts the gift of the other in tender love.

God means sex to be an act of self-sacrifice and worship - husband and wife, shorn of all self-interest, offering body and soul to each other, loving wholly for the sake of each other, hearts penetrated with the love of God. We can hear an echo of this belief in a nuptial vow from the thirteenth century:
With this ring I thee wed ...
and with my body I thee worship.
[...]

Sex is central to the Catholic vision of the human person because it is a supernatural sign, a mysterious sacrament that takes us back to "the beginning." The marriage of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden was a foreshadowing of the relationship that God wants with each of us. The apostle Paul said that the two becoming one flesh in the marital union is a symbol of Jesus' union with his church. He said all humanity, joined in the church , was to be made one flesh with Jesus. Paul added, not without a little understatement, "This is a great mystery."
From The Catholic Passion: Rediscovering the power and the beauty of the Faith by David Scott.

So, in light of all of the above, you can see that sex to the Church is more than just physical pleasure. In fact, to use sex and another person for just physical pleasure is a great crime, perverting what sex was intended to be. We are more than just animals, we are creatures that exist both physically and spiritually. Physical like an animal, but spiritual like an angel. We could be called an animal/angel hybrid. Like animals we can be driven by our physical desires, but then like angels we have the freedom to choose as to how we act.

To say that LGBT persons have no choice in how they act sexually is to reduce them to mere animals. Like all of us, LGBT persons have been made in the image of God. They are no different from any of us, and so like everyone are called to follow the rules for their own happiness instituted by God, and made possible by and through Christ.

So why aren't clergy paedophiles receiving the same treatment?

Just last week, the Vatican defrocked two priests for the sexual abuse of children.
Cincinnati - The Vatican has removed from the Roman Catholic priesthood two men who served in southwest Ohio after considering evidence that they sexually abused children, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati said Thursday.

Kenneth Schoettmer and Richard Unwin have been permanently removed from the clerical state by Pope Benedict XVI.

[...]

Schoettmer, 65, publicly admitted in 2001 to three sexual encounters with teenage boys between 1984 and 1999. In 2003, he pleaded guilty to a charge that he fondled a 17-year-old boy in 1999 and was sentenced to five years of probation.

The archbishop said in 2003 that Unwin, 54, had acknowledged having inappropriate sexual behavior 15 years earlier. He has been on leave for almost four years.

Related Link: Vatican defrocks two Ohio priests.


I don't know if the men in the article above are allowed to receive communion. It may be that they are. But, the only circumstance where they would be allowed to receive communion would be if they had been absolved via Confession. That would require repentance and a sincere undertaking to never abuse children again.

The opinion writer asks why Priests that have fallen in this way are not treated in the same way as LGBT persons. The answer is, all are treated the same. If a person refuses to see anything wrong with what they have done and what they continue to do and publicly proclaim it to the world, then that person will most likely be denied communion.

Rather than there being any sort of discrimination on the part of the Church, the GayNZ opinion writer seems to want to redefine what the Church ought to consider sinful and how the Church resolves sinfulness. All I can say to that, when you're faced with the traditions of 2000 years and a very well-defined theology, you've got no chance. It's like flinging yourself against a brick wall - the wall's going to win.

2 comment(s):

nicgavstar said...

So if I read correctly on mortal sins, anyone who masturbates and then
partakes of communion is going to hell. Right?

Lucia Maria said...

If they die without having recourse to Confession, then, yes.

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