Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Give me that old-time religion!

Gerald has posted on the non-response of D.C's Archbishop Wuerl to Nancy Pelosi's ardent and public opposition to the church's teachings on matters of abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and so on. The comments are well worth reading, too, particularly those that urge us to respect the Archbishop's decision to forego any public criticism of Ms. Pelosi in favor of a more "pastoral" approach.

Me, I think that the "pastoral" approach -- that is, doing nothing publicly (and probably nothing privately, either) -- has been given far too much time already. About twenty years' too much. It's time for Ms. Pelosi to be confronted publicly, given a short deadline for public repentance and admission of error, and then publicly excommunicated and denied the sacraments. Some people will think me heartless for suggesting this, but I ask them: what about the 4,000 children killed in the U.S. every day through the abortion rights on which Ms. Pelosi has built her career? Do they count for nothing? What about the 4,000 who will be killed tomorrow? and the day after that? and the day after that? If Ms. Pelosi were to have a change of heart because her church finally spoke honestly to her about the spiritual consequences she has already brought upon herself, might some future day's 4,000 live, not die? Isn't such a goal worth a little strong language?

And what about Ms. Pelosi's immortal soul? If twenty years of pastoral (in)action has made no change in her public behavior, which by canon law has already separated her from the Church by latae sententiae, turning every reception of Holy Communion by her into sacrilege, isn't it kinder to point out her peril to her in a way that she can no longer ignore?

A while ago I posted on the chilling scene in the 1964 movie Becket in which the title character, Archbishop Thomas Becket of Canterbury, excommunicates a baron who has publicly stepped over the line (by standing by approvingly while his men murdered a priest). Here are the words he uses:

In that Lord Gilbert has rendered no act of contrition or repentance ... we do here and now separate him from the precious Body and Blood of Christ, and from the society of all Christians. We exclude him from Holy Mother Church and from all her sacraments, in heaven or on earth. We declare him excommunicate and anathema. We cast him into the outer darkness. We judge him damned with the Devil and his fallen angels and all the reprobate to eternal fire and everlasting pain.

Does this old-time religion seem outdated? Does this strong warning seem too strong? It doesn't to me. Archbishop Wuerl and all the other bishops with pro-abortion Catholic politicians in their dioceses should take a page from Becket's book. It may be the only way to save Ms. Pelosi, not to mention tomorrow's 4,000. And tomorrow's. And tomorrow's.