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In an article intended on highlighting John Kerry's attempts to present himself as an average, ordinary guy, the Associated Press inadvertently shows how Kerry's rank manages to get him preferential treatment by some in the Church whose teachings he defies. After talking about how Kerry presented himself as a humble member of the proletariat by donning brown corduroys and a mustard-yellow jacket, Mary Dalrymple reports that a Catholic priest used Mass to endorse Kerry's run for the presidency:
Some Catholic Democratic officials arranged a private mass for the Massachusetts senator in Chillicothe, Ohio. Kerry called it a way to "stop the hurly-burly, get away from the wildness" and "have this moment of tranquility."
Father Lawrence Hummer, nevertheless, gave the moment an election-year flavor by criticizing church officials who condemn Catholic politicians who speak out for abortion rights, calling on them to use patient persistence and bring them into the fold.
"It is the task of the church to convince and to encourage through all patience, by word and example, those who do not agree, not to ostracize them or treat them like lepers," Hummer said.
"There are many people who think that the destruction of Iraqi life is as direct an assault on the sacred as is the taking of unborn life. There are many people who regard the death penalty as an admission of the smallness of our nature rather than evidence of our greatness."
"God bless you. Win, will you?" Hummer told Kerry after mass ended.
Besides the blatant electioneering that is completely inappropriate for a celebration of Mass, Hummer acts as if he's never read the Catechism. It is the Church's place to remind Catholics that the Catechism applies to all members, and to also enforce the sanctity of the Eucharist. Catholic officials have never told Kerry that he was ostracized, that he couldn't walk into a Catholic Church; the bishops told him that while he existed in a state of mortal sin, he could not receive the Eucharist. There is a huge difference between the two, and if Father Hummer doesn't understand it, perhaps he should return his correspondence-school ordination.
The Catholic Church has always defined abortion as a mortal sin on par with murder, since the earliest days of the church. While I oppose the death penalty on similar ground as abortion, the Church does not teach that the death penalty is a mortal sin, nor does the Catechism teach absolutely against it. Nor does the Catechism forbid all war; in fact, St. Augustine first developed the concepts of "just war" in the fifth century. One can argue (endlessly) whether the Iraq War met the conditions laid out in the Catechism, but any priest with a sense of what his own Church teaches cannot equate abortion with either the death penalty or war.
Hummer's moral relativity, meanwhile, is ridiculous. Of course many people think the destruction of Iraqi life is as much an issue as that of the unborn. That was one of the primary reasons for the world to put an end to Saddam's reign of terror, where thousands of Iraqis died every month from his genocidal policies and outright starvation, while he stuffed billions of dollars into his own pockets. Just this week, more mass graves filled with women and children -- some still clutching their toys as they were brutally murdered -- were discovered. This report did not come from Fox News; it came from Al-Jazeera, which has made no secret of its opposition to Anglo-American action in Iraq. Removing Saddam and his Ba'athist crime family has eliminated the genocide and has given the Iraqis an opportunity to create a stable, representative government.
How many sacred Iraqi lives has that saved? And how many sacred Iraqi lives would Saddam still be killing, through starvation, torture, and genocide had we not finally acted to remove him?
Father Hummer, instead of taking this as an opportunity to teach a wayward Catholic and return him to the path of his faith, instead chose the moment to pander to his sins in order to further his own political goals. That may suit Father Hummer just fine, but it ill serves both his congregation and even John Kerry, who needs to either follow the faith he professes or find another that matches his beliefs.
If the mission of the Catholic Church is to save souls according to its doctrine and tradition, then John Kerry was ill served yesterday. Instead of giving him the loving but firm rebuke he needs, the parish gave him a Hummer instead.Sphere It View blog reactions
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