Sunday, September 06, 2009

On the misguided mercy of the clergy

Fr. Thomas Rosica's blogpost about pro-life condemnation of the public funeral of Ted Kennedy is incredibly misguided.

Fr. Rosica condemns the "divisiveness" of those pro-lifers who condemned the public funeral. He says that our message is "screamed into a vacuum" and that no one is listening, and that this method will never bring about the conversion of hearts.

Well let's talk about what hasn't worked. Not talking about abortion doesn't work. Not condemning abortion doesn't work. Not condemning pro-abortion politicians doesn't work.

The uneducated and liberal Catholics who watched that funeral and saw how the clergy raised Ted Kennedy on a pedestal got the message: if you're Catholic but support abortion, the Church doesn't really mind. Nobody will call you on it.

How is that supposed to lead to conversions?

It doesn't. It leads to people being lukewarm on abortion. If they ever manage to become pro-life in spite of the Church's example, they don't speak out against it; they don't vote pro-life, they don't go to pro-life protests. They don't do anything, because it's not a big deal.

The Church acts like it's not. So why should they?

In our Catholic Church, the pope and the Magisterium is the source of unity. Those who stand with the pope and the Magisterium are the ones who stand in unity with the Church.

Those who are apart from them are outside of Catholic Unity.

The Church has made is clear numerous times that politicians who support legal abortion are not in Communion with the Church. Over and over again.

So we're not saying anything different than the Church.

So where's the problem? Even the US Bishops said that the Catholic community and Catholic bishops should not honour those who are pro-abortion.

Logically speaking, then, a church should not hold a public funeral for a pro-abort politician.

And the idea that we're not being heard is bogus. The outcry against John Kerry and other pro-abort Catholic politicians is what's compelled the Church to act.

This is not just about votes in legislatures. This is about the integrity of the Church and her laws.

How is it that people who should know better vote for laws that oppress God's children, and then the bishops act like it's no big deal and give them the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ?

Catholic Colleges can't let Nancy Pelosi speak on their campuses, but the Catholic Church can give a public funeral eulogizing a man whose doesn't support the equal rights of all of God's children?

But let's make a case for mercy. There could be a case made for allowing the law not to be applied, as in the episode of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus used his own divine power to not apply the Law and stone her.

But there's a catch.

The adulterous woman got Jesus' most important message: GO AND SIN NO MORE.

If Jesus had known that the woman was going to sin again, then mercy would have made no sense. There would have been no lesson. Because mercy is only useful if it helps reinforce conversion.

If Ted Kennedy, or his family, or fellow pro-abort Catholics got the message that killing unborn children was wrong and they gave the message that they would never do it again, a merciful stance may not have been misguided.

But there was none of that here.

Instead, this "merciful" stance will reinforce people's perceptions that the Catholic clergy are only half-serious in their defense of unborn children.

They produce a lot of nice documents, and a handful will go out and stand up for the unborn, but when it comes to actually disciplining errant Catholic politicians, nothing will happen.

And it's human nature that when a transgression is not punished, people will continue doing it.

The purpose of all this canonical and pastoral discipline is to get people to stop. To stop going down the path of hell. And to stop enabling abortion for others. We'd like for people to convert, but until such time, it's good enough to get them to stop sinning.

The clergy thinks it's being prudent, (re: nice) in not imposing discipline.

But they seem to be tone-deaf to the message they are sending to the Church at large.

And they may allowing more people to merit hell because of their own inaction.

How is that merciful exactly?