Bishops’ Double Standard

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By Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th., ChurchMilitant, June 20, 2018

Strict on debatable social justice issues but lax on absolute moral evils like abortion

Prelates continually refuse to sanction Catholic pro-abortion politicians as required by Church law. They are, however, pondering the use of such penalties to punish Catholic government officials for enforcing previously established laws regarding illegal immigration.

Regarding immigration policies, the Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph 2241 affirms, “Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions.” Such policies are multifaceted and morally debatable, yet prelates like Bp. Ed Weisenburger are tellingU.S. bishops that “canonical penalties” might be used against Catholic government officials who are enforcing U.S. laws that prevent illegal immigration.

The bishop is saying such penalties would be used “for the salvation of these people’s souls.” He, in effect, is saying that it’s intrinsically evil to follow established laws on illegal immigration. But Catholics are free to disagree on social justice issues such as employing the death penalty, waging a just war, addressing poverty or stopping illegal immigration.

In 2004, one year before becoming pope, Cdl. Joseph Ratzinger, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in a letter to U.S. bishops said as much:

If a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. … There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty.

In his letter, Cdl. Ratzinger was reaffirming that it was the duty of U.S. bishops to withhold Holy Communion from Catholic pro-abortion politicians and those who vote for them. This penalty is truly for the salvation of such souls, who would otherwise continue in the sin of promoting abortion or commit sacrilege by receiving Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin.

Faithful Catholics are upset by how most U.S. bishops won’t obey Church law when it comes to abortion but are willing to wrongfully apply it on social justice issues like illegal immigration.

Watch the panel discuss prelates being hard on immigration but soft on abortion in The Download—Bishops’ Double Standard.