Regarding the recent debate concerning the Catholicity of those running for civil office, it is incumbent upon the Church and its leaders to inspire and teach the Magisterium with fidelity, accuracy, passion, conviction and consequence. According to the teachings of the Catholic Church, abortion is an abhorrent sin; in Thomistic moral theological parlance, “vitanda” — to be avoided in every instance. Not to accept this fundamental truth publicly incurs mortal sin, separation from the ecclesial body. In this instance, one cannot receive Holy Communion, the ultimate sign of one’s unity and fidelity to the Church and its teachings. Abortion offends against “recta ratio” that is right reason, since it is the violent and senseless destruction of human life; in a word, murder!
The Church, like a loving and devoted mother, protects especially the most vulnerable among us from biological conception to natural death. With this in mind, one must draw the distinction between NOMINAL CATHOLICS, those who stray from the Church’s instruction; for example, supporting abortion and endorsing its execution and in some cases even up until the moment of birth and PRACTICAL CATHOLICS, who are faithful to the Magisterium; thus, absolutely upholding the right to life, completely rejecting abortion in all its manifestations.
Baptism, the first sacrament of initiation, guarantees full communion with the Church, a life-long relationship with God and others. However, throughout life’s journey, one must reaffirm that faith-commitment each day. Sin, one’s personal choice to reject God and the Church, invariably interrupts that relationship. It is the sine qua non; without which one cannot claim full communion with the Church. To live outside the Church’s Law, particularly in the matter of abortion, separates one from the ecclesial assembly. Abortion is the greatest offense to God and to the Church, the People of God!
Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of Providence, was completely justified in his comments regarding the presumptive Democrat nominee for President Joe Biden’s claim to be a Catholic. As the principal shepherd of the Church of Providence, the Bishop rightly exercised his ministry, his moral obligation to champion the life of children whether they exist in vitro or ex vitro! As long as Joe Biden publicly and firmly holds to his liberal stance on abortion, he is merely a nominal Catholic, who practices his “faith” on his own terms, rather than God’s, which is preserved and communicated by the Holy Spirit through the Church, the Sacrament of encounter!
In Robert Bolt’s play, “A Man for All Seasons,” there is a discussion which ensues between St. Thomas More and his son-in-law, Roper. When questioned about the absolute necessity for the maintenance of law, More responds: “And when the last law was done and the Devil turned around on you, where would you hide, Roper? The law all but flat! Do you really think that you could stand upright in the wind that would blow then?”
Church Law, especially regarding abortion, supercedes one’s personal position and affectations on the matter, with far, far reaching consequences. Each person possesses an affinity to sin. Reject sin! Expose abortion for what it is! Embrace the Gospel of Life, the mercy and love of God. Conversion and forgiveness are always in reach. Be healed, reconciled! Enter the circle of grace, which the Sacrament of Penance affords. Return to the Lord with hearts filled with gladness. And know His peace!
Father Spina is Pastor Emeritus, St. Mary Church, West Warwick, R.I.