Logomachon






Clearing the Fog
in the
War of Words

 

   
  logomachy--1. A dispute about words. 2. A dispute carried on in words only; a battle of words.
logomachon--1. One who argues about words. 2. A word warrior.

   
   
   
 

2004-05-08
 

Just say it: Abortion is a mortal sin

Just say it: Abortion is a mortal sin


Andrew Sullivan posts an e-mail about Newark's archbishop John J. Myers. The writer describes Myers as a "pompous dullard" who doesn't understand "that the bishops need to persuade people gently, and with humility". Myer's refusal to admit pro-abortion politicians to Holy Communion is "mean-spirited and unfair". So it is not surprising that he "has begun attending a wonderful and welcoming Episcopal church down the street."

Myers explained the requirement that people—including politicians—who receive Holy Communion actually be in communion with the will of Christ and the teachings of the church in a pastoral letter.

The letter gives some credence to the "pompous" charge, but if anything Myers tries so hard to be gentle as to be ineffective.

Every faithful Catholic must be not only 'personally opposed' to abortion, but also must live that opposition in his or her actions.
That's clear, but look at this:
Catholics who publicly dissent from the Church's teaching on the right to life of all unborn children should recognize that they have freely chosen by their own actions to separate themselves from what the Church believes and teaches.

To receive communion when one has, through public or private action, separated oneself from unity with Christ and His Church, is objectively dishonest…Because the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith, the most sacred action of our Church, to misuse the Eucharistic symbol by reducing it to one's private "feeling" of communion with Christ and His Church while objectively not being in such union is gravely disordered. [my emphases]

First, that the Eucharist is a symbol is one of the deceptions of the abortionist Catholics. It is Real, and to receive the Body and Blood of Christ while in the state of mortal sin is itself a mortal sin. The abortionists love to picture the Church as mean-spiritedly depriving the poor public servant of the comfort of symbolically practicing (devoutly, or course) his faith, as though he'd been told he can't wear a costume on Hallowe'en.

Second, abortion rhetoricians love it when the Church uses talk like "right to life of all unborn children". It is so worn with use, so recognized as the catch phrase of one side in an unpleasant disagreement, that it has no sticking ability.

Likewise, for a different reason with "objectively . . . gravely disordered". Nobody listens to it or understands it. It just makes the Church's teaching seem arcane and distant. This is the measured circumlocution of canon lawyers, not of pastoral instruction to the faithful. Why not say that people who promote abortion have committed a mortal sin? They have turned their backs to God, commit sacrilege by receiving Holy Communion, and are going to Hell if they don't repent and confess.

I think the Church has made a grave mistake by giving up the blunt language of "sin", "mortal sin", and "Heaven and Hell". Ted Kennedy, John "Band of Mongols" Kerry, and Saddam Hussein can say "moral" without blanching—after all, we define for ourselves what morality is. No one cares--who could?--that his behavior is gravely disordered. Most of us feel our lives are disordered; how could they not be, we're all so busy? While there is a steady market for organizer-planners, life coaches, and financial advisers, we have pretty much lost the idea that there is a moral order, except to feel that it is an intolerable restriction of our personal freedom.

But talk of sin is shocking, so shocking that it appears nowhere in current American public speech except in the comforting context of ads for double-chocolate desserts. Now, the bishops are speaking of politicians' promotion of abortion as though it were a membership issue. This leaves the rhetorical gate open to cliched liberal complaints about separation of church and state, just as it is open to distracting blather about a woman's right to choose. It also leaves the gate open for the ignorant and half-ignorant to parse and misrepresent Church discipline, such as Tony Auth's cartoon equating teachings about abortion, war, and capital punishment.

Returning to the language of sin would bring to the fore the point that the abortionists conceded long ago and have since buried with inattention: Abortion is murder. Speaking this way would turn a putative institutional assertion of authority and power to an assertion of moral leadership. Anyone, the bishops should say, who has misused his public office to become complicit in the murder of the innocent unborn has committed a grave sin. Consequently, because he has separated himself from God's grace, he is unfit to receive Christ's Body and Blood in Holy Communion.

If the bishops made the murderous nature of abortion their starting point, the issue of refusing Holy Communion to abortion politicians would become simple and clear. The Democrats and RINOs would protest and scream, but they would be protesting that they are not murderers. Anytime you do that, you're already halfway lost.

Now, if the bishops would just do that. Maybe some catchy little slogan would be persuasive, like "Speaking truth to power!"

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