Writing in last week’s Wall Street Journal (Houses of Worship: Abortion and the Grumbling Crowd), Fr. James Martin said Jesus broke bread with sinners, which makes the case against denying communion to pro-abortion politicians, by his way of thinking. He also drew a moral equivalence between abortion and the death penalty, quoting San Diego Robert W. Bishop in the process:
“Bishop McElroy also notes that the focus of these restrictions is often highly selective. Why target only abortion? There are other important “life issues.” Consider former Attorney General William Barr, who supported the death penalty, which the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” clearly declares “inadmissible.” Yet there was little outcry about Mr. Barr’s receiving communion. By focusing only on abortion, pastors risk politicizing something sacred. “The Eucharist must never be instrumentalized for a political end, no matter how important,” Bishop McElroy says.”
Pulse board president, Tom Quiner responded to the Journal as follows:
“Fr. James Martin claims that support for the death penalty is the moral equivalent as support for abortion. [Abortion and the Grumbling Crowd, July 21st.] Let’s contrast the issues:
Some 800,000 innocent unborn American were ‘executed’ (aborted) for the crime of being inconvenient last year in contrast to the 11 criminals who were executed for the crime of murder.
There is no moral equivalency between human abortion and the death penalty.”
Fr. Martin’s essay drew other sharp rebukes. Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, IL, points out that one needs to turn away from sin to truly follow Christ:
“Jesus broke bread with sinners, but he called them to conversion. He didn’t leave them in sin. He required that they choose between following him and rejecting his call … But with a public figure who publicly and obstinately persists in promoting grave evil, the matter is laid bare for all to see, adding scandal and confusion of the faithful to the weight of the sin.”
And Rev. Brian A. Graebe, S.T.D. agrees with Quiner that drawing a comparison between abortion and capital punishment is a false equivalence and reduces the unique gravity of abortion:
“Many progressives risk diminishing the unique evil of abortion through false equivalences. A favorite, cited by Fr. Martin, is the death penalty. The church has always taught that the state has the inherent right to carry out capital punishment. How and when is a matter for debate. The last three popes have sought to limit its application, and Pope Francis has declared it “inadmissible.” The designation is something of a theological unicorn: The pope says that capital punishment should never actually take place. But that’s not the same as saying it is wrong in itself. To say that would be to contradict the apostolic faith of the church.”
Fr. Martin has a gift for sowing confusion with Catholic laity and the secular community at-large. Abortion has been a great divider in our country. By reducing pro-lifers to the lowly rank of being mere ‘grumblers,’ he has succeeded in dividing us even more.
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