Our friend Matt Cunningham raised this issue over at Red County with this post that says Democrats don’t seem to understand Catholic voters.Â He brings up that old pro-choice Democrats should be denied Communion argument (they brought this up with John Kerry in 2004.Â What this is plainly is a further attempt at division.Â Divide Catholic voters, which makeÂ up about 25 percent of all voters,Â against Democrats becuase of positions held by many Democrats on the issue of choice.
Matt writes: And Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver expresses his opinion that Senator Joe Biden should refrain from receiving Holy Communion due to his pro-choice stance and record. Not that Biden will listen, but one can hope that if the priest or Eucharistic minister at the scene recognizes the Senator from Delaware, he or she will act accordingly.
The LA Times Tim Rutten weighs in on the issue this morning with this column.
Tim writes: In the last few weeks, commentators began a campaign over the Democrats’ failure to invite to Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput to their convention. Chaput was one of the handful of bishops who argued that Kerry and other pro-choice Catholic politicians should be denied Communion. More recently, Chaput’s book, “Render Unto Caesar,” argues that Catholics may not vote for pro-choice candidates. Under the circumstances, the Democrats’ snub was graceless but understandable.
Tim says what Pelosi should have said:
If Pelosi had half a wit about her, she might have done what most U.S. Catholics instinctively do, which is to rely on a tradition of moral reasoning that stands athwart Chaput’s novel reductionism. Nearly five decades ago, the Jesuit theologian John Courtney Murray offered this classic appraisal of the real matter at issue:
“The American Proposition makes a particular claim upon the reflective attention of the Catholic … in the matter of the ‘pluralist society … ‘ ” Murray wrote. “By pluralism here I mean the coexistence within the one political community of groups who hold divergent and incompatible views with regard to religious questions — those ultimate questions that concern the nature and destiny of man within a universe that stands under the reign of God. Pluralism therefore implies disagreement and dissension within the community. But it also implies a community within which there must be agreement and consensus. There is no small political problem here.”
Murray went on to argue that the “working out” of that political problem is itself “an exercise in civic virtue” — and a theological imperative.
Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo gace perhaps the best explanation of this issue in a 1984 speech.Â Â Cuomo said:
In addition to all the weaknesses, dilemmas, and temptations that impede every pilgrimâ€™s progress, the Catholic who holds political office in a pluralistic democracyâ€”who is elected to serve Jews and Muslims, atheists and Protestants, as well as Catholicsâ€”bears special responsibility. He or she undertakes to help create conditions under which all can live with a maximum of dignity and with a reasonable degree of freedom; where everyone who chooses may hold beliefs different from specifically Catholic ones, sometimes contradictory to them; where the laws protect peopleâ€™s right to divorce, to use birth control, and even to choose abortion.
In fact, Catholic public officials take an oath to preserve the Constitution that guarantees his freedom. And they do so gladly. Not because they love what others do with their freedom, but because they realize that in guaranteeing freedom for all, they guarantee our right to be Catholics: our right to pray, to use the sacraments, to refuse birth control devices, to reject abortion, not to divorce and remarry if we believe it to be wrong.
The Catholic public official lives the political truth most Catholics through most of American history have accepted and insisted on: the truth that to assure our freedom we must allow others the same freedom, even if occasionally it produces conduct by them which we would hold to be sinful.
I protect my right to be a Catholic by preserving your right to believe as a Jew, a Protestant, or nonbeliever, or as anything else you choose.
Pretty powerful stuff, because it makes the case for how Democrats regard religious freedom for all.