That’s an oxymoron, when you’re talking about social policies that
should affect everyone equally. And a double standard. But both are at
play in politics and media on a regular basis. When religion is
involved, it gets more gnarly.

GetReligion
has an interesting post on all this, especially as it involves the
ongoing tension publicly playing out between Rep. Patrick Kennedy and
Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin. The key snip picks up after citing a
Reuters faith blog piece that asks questions about who can oppose
various Catholic Church teachings and to what consequence. Legitimate
questions which we hear asked all the time, but not so intelligibly
answered.

These are not bad questions. They are brought up
routinely by critics of the Catholic Church and critics of the church’s
teaching on abortion. Sometimes I think we should have a GetReligion
drinking game. If we did, there would have to be an entry for taking a
shot when someone commented on a post by questioning the church’s
consistency.

But — and I say this as an avowed non-Roman Catholic here — these
questions also have answers. And since these questions are raised so
regularly, the media need to do a better job of at least explaining
what the Catholic Church teaches in this case.

There’s a key point right there. Religion reporters do not have the
same aptitude for their subject as….say…..business or economy
reporters, who have to know the language of the markets and translate
it for those who don’t.

So GetReligion goes to a good source for answers to Catholic Church teachings on the issues in question here. Pope Benedict:

Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as
abortion and euthanasia. For example, 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. While the Church
exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise
discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still
be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have
recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of
opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death
penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia…

Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s
formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a
Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for
permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with
him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he
is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end
the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise
be denied the Eucharist.

Bishop Tobin has done that, discreetly. Rep. Kennedy has taken his refutation public. Tobin responded in that public arena. And continues to clarify.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....