“I don’t understand anyone who would call themselves a Christian, let alone a Catholic, and could vote for someone who’s a pro-abortion candidate,” said Ted Kelly, 64, who volunteers his time as lector for the church. “You’re talking about the murder of innocent beings.”
A priest in South Carolina wrote a letter to his parishioners warning them that they place their immortal souls at risk if they take communion after having voted for Barack Obama because there was a viable “pro-life” candidate also on the ticket. Such support of a so-called “supporter” of abortion constitutes, in this priest’s words, “material support of intrinsic evil.” The gentleman quoted above attends the priest’s church.
This may expose my inner Super Protestant / Anabaptist, but I take issue with the magical thinking implied in this priest’s warning. Communion is not some magical ceremony that will unleash destructive power upon unworthy participants. Mass isn’t an Indiana Jones movie.
Communion is a shared meal (commune-al!) in which we remember Christ’s sacrifice for us. Scriptures indicate also that it had an economic / class element as well, in that it self-consciously transcended both. But I have never understood church leaders who feel the need to inject fear of hellfire and damnation and magical curses into the shared meal, the Messianic banquet.
The priest’s letter infuriates me most when I juxtapose what it said with what it didn’t say. He took the time to threaten parishoners with damnation for supporting an opponent of abortion bans, but ignored both candidates support for the use of military force and its attendent murder of innocent bystanders. Like the man said, “You’re talking about the murder of innocent beings.” This is an awfully large blind spot. If you’re not willing to go the full distance with Christ on opposition to violence in all circumstances, then you should at least be willing to follow the very simple instruction of not trying to help a neighbor with the mote in his eye until you get the log out of yours.
The letter also illustrates an inappropriate preoccupation with what the government should do to reduce abortions. The government does not directly generate supply for abortions. Pregnant people who don’t want to be pregnant generate the demand for abortions. The government can outlaw a thing, but when demand remains, supply remains. Remember Prohibition? Now imagine in every speakeasy was a hidden room with a “doctor” and a bent coathanger.
I said the government does not directly generate supply for abortions, but it can indirectly influence abortion through the effects of its policies on poverty rates. Poverty rates and abortion rates are tied together. Reduce poverty and you reduce abortions.
I long for the day when the scaremongers at least threaten your soul for not supporting the most anti-poverty, anti-war candidates, and when the church starts to understand it must stop ceding its responsibility for serving others and passing along its values to the state.