Friday, May 11, 2007

Pope threatens politicians with excommunication

It appears that the E-word has sent a frisson of excitement throughout the Roman Catholic world. Speaking in Brazil, His Holiness has threatened to excommunicate Roman Catholic politicians who support abortion, declaring: ‘The killing of an innocent human baby is incompatible with being in communion with the body of Christ’.

There is no room for individual conscience; pro-choice politicians should be excommunicated, and this very public rebuke is manifestly intended to sway voters and influence the outcome of an election. Some commentators put the defeat of John Kerry in the 2004 US presidential race down to his humiliation at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church. He supported a woman’s right to choose, yet professed the Roman Catholic faith, presenting voters with a dilemma. He was barred from communion in more than one diocese, and it became a significant media story. Former Mayor of New York Rudolph Giuliani, also a pro-choice Roman Catholic, now finds himself pursued by the same issue.

However, Cranmer is intrigued by the arbitrary picking and choosing that elicits these threats. According to George Weigel, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Centre in Washington, ‘Catholic politicians who think they can remain part of the Church after supporting abortion are putting a lie on top of the original offence against justice’. As repugnant as Cranmer believes abortion to be, he wonders why the Vatican has not threatened to excommunicate those who maim and murder, or those who terrorise and torture. Cranmer could briefly mention the actions of Catholic Croats against the Serb Orthodox. And he observes that the likes of Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams are now feted by the Vatican; indeed, convicted IRA terrorist Bobby Sands received a gift of a crucifix from the late Pope John Paul II.

It appears that the Vatican does not adhere to the principle of the Sanctity of Life without qualification. There is more than a whiff of accommodation when the termination of life suits its own religio-political agenda.


Anonymous Voyager said...

Your Grace, The Pope is in Brasil...a country whose vastness makes Europe look physically Lilliputian but I see we are arguing about which end of the egg should be perforated.....

It is in Brasil that the debate on legalising abortion is underway not Roe v Wade in the USA nor the 1968 abortion Act in Great is Brasil.

If you know Brasil it is clear that pushing this agenda would be chaotic and cause untold problems. It is a simple matter that Catholics in Brasil cannot really vote for abortion, it would be ridiculous to think they could continue to receive Communion while breaching fundamental issues of principle.

When I think how the Church of england sallies forth against those who vote BNP or on a whole range of issues seeks to issue its Guardian-like fatwas against those who do not subscribe to the Gospel accotrding to the Guardian; I think The Pope should make clear his position.

As for there any issue upon which the Church of England takes an stand ? Any Absolute it upholds ?

To peddle the line that noone can be virtuous until all are virtuous - the Tu Quoque position - sounds absurd coming from the usual half-wits of the Left but for Your Grace to employ it as an argument is suggestive of sloppy thinking.

The Pope sent an emissary to Bobby Sands to persuade him to give up his hunger strike. He did not.

The funny thing is that Sands was sentenced to 14 years for gun posession near the scene of an IRA bombing - he was sentenced as a Criminal before a Court and sentenced.

This is the very way we are urged to deal with Al-Qaeda terrorists - to try them and convict them as criminals - but when the British Government did just that he was treated as a political absurd, but then again he was electedc an MP in Westminster who committed suicide which makes me question why a terrorist can be elected but not a bankrupt

11 May 2007 at 10:00  
Anonymous G Orwell said...

Perhaps the Pope could visit another South American "blessed" by his church - Colombia.
If he was to excommunicate all terrorists there it would be a very popular decision.
Hopefully it would not stop the conversion of the country to true christianity but it would ensure that more catholics remain alive long enough to convert.

11 May 2007 at 10:51  
Anonymous Oiznop said...

I think this line of argumaent is very valid. It's one thing to make an issue of the murder of the unborn, but the Vatican's chronic silence over Catholics involved in terrorism wrapped up as 'freedom fighting' is shameful.

11 May 2007 at 10:57  
Anonymous Colin said...

"To peddle the line that noone can be virtuous until all are virtuous.. sounds absurd"

I agree with Mr. Voyager. It's like accusing someone of attempting merely an improvement of 80% instead of the impossible, i.e. 100%.

11 May 2007 at 11:20  
Anonymous The Recusant said...

You Grace, the reference to excommunication was made whilst briefing journalists on the plane to Brazil. Now I know, and (excepting your Grace) would expect any self respecting commentator reporting on matters Romish to be aware of; when mention is made of excommunication in regard to heresy, violation of the seal of confession, or procuring an abortion it is specifically referring to latae sententiae excommunication.

The RCC recognises two impositions of excommunication, A 'ferendae sententiae' excommunication comes after a formal canonical trial, and is often a matter of public record. A 'latae sententiae' excommunication is incurred automatically, under the terms of the Code of Canon Law, as the punishment for certain offences. In the case of a latae sententiae excommunication, there is no requirement for formal trial or announcement; in fact, the individual brings the punishment upon himself.

Regarding the Popes statement, he was responding to questions about comment made from some Mexican Bishops who have threatened to excommunicate Catholic lawmakers for voting to legalize abortion on demand in Mexico City.

He said "this excommunication" was not an arbitrary decision but one foreseen by the Church. "The killing of an innocent human baby is incompatible with being in communion with the body of Christ," the Pope said this in a news conference aboard the plane taking him to Brazil last Wednesday. See not arbitrary at all!

From this and the fertile imagination of those journalists comes the image of His Holiness on the Papal throne, lightening darting from his fingers like some latter day Queen of Hearts bellowing 'Off with His Head' handing down excommunication after excommunication (I think they just like to sound of the big word). Sloppy, lazy, sensationalist, just what we have become used to from the Press, too ignorant or too indifferent to bother with the truth, no doubt they dragged out the same old weary liberal British Catholic chattering class 'experts', Christina Odone, Peter Stanford, Michael Walsh or the Duchess herself failed nun Karen Armstrong. As I've heard it said "The British press yet again making a headline out of nothing, and allowing people who don't know what they're talking about to write as if they do."

As for Bobby Sands and his ilk, Has not the British Government always put principals behind the real politic of negotiating with terrorists, David Ben-Gurion, Archbishop Makarios, Nelson Mandela, Yasser Arafat, what is so special about those closer to home? Murder, as for any Mortal Sin effectively excommunicates the individual concerned without sacramental confession and with the penalty of condemning oneself to the other place. I don't see a great rush to the confessional of those you refer to so I shouldn't worry too much about them, its taken care of.

Regarding South America as a whole you will not find Pope Benedict is not a supporter of Liberation Theology and has silenced numerous clergy who support this in the past however it is naïve to say the least of anyone to think that because the RCC is against a particular action, all participants in said action will cease their activities.

11 May 2007 at 12:56  
Blogger Wibble said...

Your Grace,

I think The Recusant has already very well covered the point that there is an explicit instruction in Canon Law involving an automatic sentence of excommunication on those involved with abortions - extending to the politicans who vote for them.

The reality is - and one that is not paid not enough attention to by the media - that when a senior cleric of the RCC makes a statement like this on abortion, it will grab more media attention than the condemnation of things the vast majority of people would also condemn. The current Pope has made his position on political violence very clear - indeed, as I blogged last year, one of the more surreal sights was the criticism of Pope Benedict for not condemning the violence of liberation theology in South America.

I believe the issue with Adams and McGuinness is not they were violent - but that they have at least given up violence to follow a more peaceful path. If their attitude change is good enough for Dr. Ian Paisley, then its no surprised its good enough for the Pope. Feted by the Vatican does seem to me be an exaggeration of the Vatican's attitude to these men.

11 May 2007 at 14:08  
Anonymous Father Ted said...

Well that's put paid to Blairs hopes of being received into the Catholic Church

11 May 2007 at 16:04  
Anonymous Alexandrian said...

This is about church discipline.

Any church which does not attempt to practice church discipline, would, it seems to me, be departing from the teaching of Scripture.

Any church which does attempt to practice church discipline will invariably be accused of being selective.

11 May 2007 at 18:02  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Any church which does attempt to practice church discipline will invariably be accused of being selective.

or Anglican

12 May 2007 at 12:47  
Blogger Wibble said...

Any church which does not attempt to practice church discipline, would, it seems to me, be departing from the teaching of Scripture.

It also needs to be pointed out that the abortion issue is one that is regularly spun by "Catholic" politicans as being opposed in private but not in public, whereas the vast majority of Catholics know that the actions of the IRA or the crimes of the Croats during WWII are completely and utterly wrong.

12 May 2007 at 18:05  
Anonymous Observer said...

or the crimes of the Croats during WWII

I just wish that Bill Clinton and Madeleine Halfbright thought that the more recent crimes of the Croats had been wholly wrong in every sense.....but they did encourage them to purge Serbs from their homes in Krajina

12 May 2007 at 19:11  
Blogger Quentin Langley said...

Your Grace, of course, knows what it is like to be excommunicated, and presumably bears the badge with pride - or perhaps an appropriate humility.

But when did Your Grace start referring to the Bishop of Rome as "the Pope", or accepting that he has any authority outside his own diocese in central Italy?

Quentin Langley
Editor of

25 May 2007 at 17:44  

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