Saturday, June 19, 2021
Few words in contemporary discourse are as hokey and tedious as "weaponization"; it simply means "making an argument that makes me uncomfortable because it forces me to consider the possibility that I'm failing to act as I should." And so, the "statement of principles", issued by some politicians who support abortion rights, which objects to the alleged "weaponization" of the Eucharist (note that no such "weaponization" has really occured), is pretty thin stuff.
As it happens, my own view is that it would difficult to administer -- i.e., to expect parish priests to administer -- a live-action, case-by-case rule that officials who fail to support legal protections for unborn children should be denied the Eucharist (just as it would be difficult to administer such a rule that focused on officials' -- or my own -- many other failures). But, this letter -- like much of the astroturfed outrage being expressed on social media about a "weaponization" that, again, has not actually happened -- is making a different point: The letter's claim is that the letter writers are entitled (a) to support, fund, and indeed coerce people to provide a wrong action and (b) to declare themselves immune from the Church's determinations regarding the sacramental implications of such support (etc.)
The letter writers claim that they "agree with the Church about the value of human life." Not that "agreement" is really the issue but . . . they don't (agree). As for the invocation of the "primacy of conscience" in this context, John Henry Newman is rolling over in . . . I mean, he's enjoying the Beatific Vision and is utterly unmoved by the writers' mistake.
It seems unremarkable to me for Catholic bishops to remind Catholics that (i) legal regimes that do not protect unborn children are unjust; (b) it is wrong to support knowingly injustice; and (c) one should avoid receiving the Eucharist if one is aware that one is engaged in wrong actions. It seems urgently needed for our bishops to teach and lead better with respect to love and reverence for the Eucharist. Again: I'm inclined to think it's a mistake to focus on politicians with such reminders and I'm inclined to think that priests should not adjudicate questions about mental states, etc., at the front of the Communion line. Still, the letter is exquisitely individualistic, even Promethean; it does not seem particularly Catholic.