Hypocrites in the corporate media love using the Catholic Church to push their politics, especially when it involves “devout Catholic” Joe Biden. But the minute the church’s stand on clear doctrine threatens leftist dogma, as the annual spring meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) did, you can expect a media crusade.
The USCCB voted last week to create guidelines on the meaning of the Eucharist (also called Holy Communion) and, as an extension of those guidelines, to communicate if and when politicians who support abortion should be excluded from participation in the Eucharist. As The Federalist’s John Daniel Davidson has noted, this is not a difficult theological question for the Catholic hierarchy to answer. Canon law, statements by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and comments from senior Catholic cardinals like Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) and Francis Arinze make the answer clear.
Vilifying Catholic Doctrine
Yet to hear leftist corporate media tell the story, you’d think a vindictive, right-wing faction is cynically politicizing the Eucharist to destroy the reputation of President Joe Biden, whom the media love to characterize as a “devout Catholic” who frequently attends Mass, cites scripture in his speeches, and carries rosary beads. The bishops, they say, are unjustly vilifying St. Joseph of Scranton!
“In Rift With Biden, a Dramatic Show of Force by a Conservative Catholic Movement,” blared a New York Times report, which pitted “liberal” Catholics like Pope Francis and Joe Biden against “conservative” Catholics like Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas.
After Biden called his clash with the bishops a “private matter,” CNN contributor Father Edward Beck used the same phrase to describe Biden’s reception of the Eucharist, while praising Biden for his public Catholic observances.
The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty warned forbidding access to the Eucharist over abortion would threaten the separation of church and state. She also slammed it as hypocritical, since the church is not considering discipline for politicians who aren’t in lockstep with Catholic teaching on other issues like immigration, poverty, and the environment.
Media Are the Ones Weaponizing the Church
Who is really being hypocritical here? As The Daily Caller’s Mary Margaret Olohan put it, “the media only tolerates their own version of Catholicism.” Corporate media love to exploit the Catholic Church and its teaching to serve their ideological agenda, but when the church seeks to exert itself in any matter incommensurate with Democrat talking points, that same corporate media accuses it of suddenly engaging in reckless “politicization” of its religious identity.
For example, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other self-described Catholic Democrats are urging the bishops to refrain from “weaponizing” the Eucharist as a political cudgel. Yet Ocasio-Cortez earned a 100 percent approval rating from the activist group NARAL Pro-Choice America for her pro-abortion stance.
She has also attacked a Catholic hospital for refusing to perform a hysterectomy on a healthy woman with gender dysphoria — even though the church explicitly condemns transgenderism and won’t even allow transgender people to be godparents. But in the eyes of the Washington Post and The New York Times, Ocasio-Cortez is a praiseworthy “liberal” Catholic.
The Machiavellian cherry-picking of Catholicism and its doctrines doesn’t stop there. The Washington Post has glowingly featured Catholic priest Father James Martin, although he has been publicly rebuked by prominent ecclesial leadership for his stances on Catholic teaching regarding sexuality, among other things. The New York Times praises Catholic parishes in New York for their “gay-friendly Catholicism,” and features op-eds condemning the church for its stance on sexuality.
Corporate media finds it perfectly acceptable for the Catholic Church and its representatives to leverage their moral authority and ecclesial resources to publicly push for critical race theory, women’s rights, LGBT inclusion, or any other Democrat hobbyhorse. Yet heaven forbid she take a stand regarding her explicit teaching on abortion or sexuality. In those cases, the church must stay out of politics!
The Example of Christ
The church has always sought to inform contemporary politics through its moral witness as a faithful representative of Christ on earth. Just as ideologues seek to coerce the church into serving their own political interests, many sought to manipulate Christ to fulfill their own pet political, social, or even religious agendas. Just as some contemporaries of Christ claimed to be his followers but refused to follow his teachings, today we see people eager to claim the title of “practicing Catholic,” even while they flatly reject church teachings.
Yet Christ had his own purposes: redeeming sinful, broken humanity and creation through his power. According to Catholic teaching, one of the primary means of that spiritual transformation is the “sacrament of sacraments” — Holy Communion — which sanctifies those who partake and enables them to carry out their calling in the world. For those who partake of the Eucharist in a state of grace, it is indeed a “weapon,” one of profound spiritual conversion.
For those who flagrantly and unrepentantly reject the church’s teachings — on abortion, sexuality, or anything else — Holy Communion is a different kind of weapon: one of judgment. As St. Paul himself warned: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord … For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.”
The Eucharist, like abortion, is a matter of life and death. I pray those who seek to exploit the church for their own political advantage obtain the humility to see that.