[ Left-leaning Evangelical Jim Wallis challenges Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, who announced that “Any Catholics who vote for candidates who stand for abortion, illicit stem cell research or euthanasia [place themselves outside full communion with the Church and so jeopardize their salvation]. It is for this reason that these Catholics, whether candidates for office or those who would vote for them, may not receive Holy Communion….” Wallis:
As more and more lives continue to be lost in Iraq, and more and more of our resources are diverted to the war, will the bishop make a similar declaration about Catholic politicians and voters who support war?
It would be interesting to learn whether the Bishop would be so consistent, however repugnant his position. –BL ]
‘Stop…in the name of abused humanity’
by Jim Wallis and Duane Shank
In the months before the start of the war in Iraq, Pope John Paul II and the Vatican were among the strongest voices in the religious community opposing war. Archbishop Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, issued a series of stronger and stronger statements.
On March 11, 2003, Archbishop Martino contrasted the looming war with the first Gulf War that followed Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait; in the present case, he said, “there is no aggression and so this preventive war is, in itself, a war of aggression.” A week later, two days before the war began, he upped the ante: “It is a crime against peace that cries out with vengeance before God. Let us pray so that the Pharoah’s heart will not be hardened and the biblical plagues of a terrible war will not fall on humanity.”
His (and our) prayers were not answered. Pharoah’s heart was hardened, war began, and more than a year later the plagues continue. Nearly 800 U.S. servicemen and women have died along with thousands of Iraqis, the reports of prison abuse by the U.S. military continue to unfold, and the Bush administration is asking Congress for additional funding to increase and maintain the U.S. military presence through the end of next year, while cutting vitally needed programs here at home.
Next week, President Bush is traveling to Rome for a meeting with the Pope. Cardinal Pio Laghi – the former papal nuncio who visited Bush last spring to personally deliver the Pope’s message against war – spoke last week to an Italian newspaper. In a preview of what Bush can expect to be told, reports say the Pope will challenge Bush’s support for policies of military force in Iraq and the Middle East.
“We are at the edge of a precipice and we must stop. ‘Stop’ is the cry expressed by the Church in the name of abused humanity,” Cardinal Laghi said, according to the Vatican’s Zenit News Agency. “The United States must also stop and I think it has the strength to do so. It must re-establish respect for human beings and return to the family of nations, overcoming the temptation to act on its own. If it does not stop, the whirlwind of horror will involve other peoples and will lead us ever more to the abyss.”
Echoing growing calls for an end to the U.S. military occupation of Iraq, the Cardinal concluded: “The forces present in Iraq not only must not be in fact under the command of the United States, but they must not even give the impression that they are. There should be a multilateral presence, which is not under those who organized and wanted the war.”
There is much in the news lately of some U.S. Catholic bishops declaring they will refuse communion to pro-choice Catholic politicians. A few days ago, Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs went further. In a pastoral letter, he said: “There is…one right that is “inalienable,” and that is the RIGHT TO LIFE.”
Therefore, Sheridan concluded, “Any Catholic politicians who advocate for abortion, for illicit stem cell research or for any form of euthanasia ipso facto place themselves outside full communion with the Church and so jeopardize their salvation. Any Catholics who vote for candidates who stand for abortion, illicit stem cell research or euthanasia suffer the same fateful consequences. It is for this reason that these Catholics, whether candidates for office or those who would vote for them, may not receive Holy Communion….”
As more and more lives continue to be lost in Iraq, and more and more of our resources are diverted to the war, will the bishop make a similar declaration about Catholic politicians and voters who support war? It’s doubtful, but perhaps a strong pronouncement from the Pope to the president could have some effect. Let us all pray that “the Pharoah’s heart will not be hardened” again.