Monday, May 14, 2007

media reactions

Read Ed Peter's primer on excommunication should be mandatory reading for any reporter covering the issues of the Catholic Church. I love/hate watching them flail away at what they mistakenly think is the teachings of the Church.

Time Shows Media Bias in Portrayal of Pope Benedict on Abortion
During an unprecedented 25-minute on-flight press conference, Benedict left little room for interpretation: pro-choice politicians not only should be denied communion, but face outright excommunication from the Church for supporting "the killing of a human child."
Wow, sounds grave. It is, but a proper understanding of excommunication is as a "medicinal" not "vindictive" measure in Church discipline, according to the online Catholic encyclopedia New Advent:

Excommunication (Latin ex, out of, and communio or communicatio, communion -- exclusion from the communion), the principal and severest censure, is a medicinal, spiritual penalty that deprives the guilty Christian of all participation in the common blessings of ecclesiastical society.

Being a penalty, it supposes guilt; and being the most serious penalty that the Church can inflict, it naturally supposes a very grave offence. It is also a medicinal rather than a vindictive penalty, being intended, not so much to punish the culprit, as to correct him and bring him back to the path of righteousness.
It reminds me of the best line in the recent Republican Presidential debate. Romney was asked what he would say to the Catholic bishops regarding this issue. He responded, "I wouldn't say anything to the Catholic bishops..." I don't like much about him, but at least he understands what the questioner doesn't. A politician has no business instructing a church leader on how to run their church. Especially when it is a leader of a different church.

And it reminds me of this quote by Archbishop Chaput. "I don't think the government should listen to the church - the government should listen to the people and the people should listen to the church."

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