No Fool Like A Catholic Politician Fool

18 House Democrats think it's their place to change canon law. They've written to the Pope to say:
But the Democratic legislators, led by Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, charged that the Pope's stand (and by implication the laws of the Church) "offend the very nature of the American experiment."
A move to exclude pro-abortion legislators from receiving Communion would be "a great disservice to the centuries of good work the Church has done," the 18 Congressmen argued.
"The fact is that religious sanction in the political arena directly conflicts with our fundamental beliefs abotu the role and responsibility of democratic representaties in a pluralistic America," the 18 write; "it also clashes with freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution." The group did not specify which Constitutional freedom would be violated by the exercise of internal Church discipline.
I won't rehearse here the argument that abortion is itself a violation of the right to life enshrined in the Declaration and thus a blot on our Constitution much as slavery was. But three points.
  1. I don't see how this follows, unless the Dems think this is a confessional state and one must be Catholic & receive communion to be a citizen. Mitt Romney understands this better. Asked what he'd tell bishops who deny politicians communion for advocating abortion, he said:
    I wouldn’t say anything to Roman Catholic bishops. They can do whatever the heck they want,” he said. “I can’t imagine a government telling a church who can have communion in their church …
  2. Just for the record, the Pope didn't "move" to do anything. He re-iterated the clear and timeless teaching of the Church on the matter. Here's a summary of canon law, with longer explanation available.
    First, Canon 916. There are lots of mortal sins out there; if you commit any one of them, you're not supposed to go to Communion. It's your obligation to stay away. Next, Canon 915. Some mortal sins are committed under circumstances that, if the Church finds out about them, not only are you supposed to the stay away from Communion, but the Church is supposed to turn you away if you try to receive. Finally, Canon 1331. A few mortal sins are serious crimes under canon law; if you commit one of those, you can suffer the penalty of excommunication, and one of the consequences of excommunication is, you can't go to Communion.
  3. If you feel you must rebuke the Pope for adhering to canon law, might it not at some point dawn on you that you are not in communion with him? Which is the reason you can't receive, since receiving communion in the Catholic Church is an expression not only of belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the sacrament, but also of communion with the faith of the whole Church. The argument of the letter is therefore: I'm not in communion with you! Therefore I am too in communion with you! And the Congress of the United States demands a change in canon law!