McGreevey, Kerry and the Church

Though he clearly has his failings, there’s something impressive about McGreevey: He has the integrity to discipline himself for moral misconduct; in this case, he is resigning. Yet, one of the more impressive displays by McGreevey took place weeks ago, and went almost unreported outside New Jersey, possibly because sympathetic journalists in the national media feared its repercussions on John F. Kerry:

Governor McGreevey is a pro-choice Catholic, in stark opposition to Church teaching. In June, Archbishop John J. Myers of the Newark diocese released a five-page statement titled, “A Time for Honesty,” in which he wrote that Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should not seek communion. In response, New Jersey’s pro-choice governor said he would respect the archbishop’s request and not seek the Eucharist at Mass. Oddly, McGreevey said he would accept communion in private (whatever that means) but not in public, even though Myers made no distinction. Still, unlike most pro-choice politicians, he was willing to accept Church authority, on an issue the Church understands as a matter of literal life and death.

McGreevey’s response begged the question, or at least should have begged the question, if anyone at CBS Evening News or the New York Times cared to ask: Would John F. Kerry do the same?

Kerry, also a Catholic, is not just passively pro-choice; he is a champion of the cause. At the 2003 NARAL Pro-Choice America Dinner, where he described pro-lifers as “the forces of intolerance,” Kerry boasted that his maiden speech as a freshman senator had been in support of Roe v. Wade. On the floor of the U.S. Senate on August 2, 1994, he staked a frightening position: “The right thing to do is to treat abortions as exactly what they are—a medical procedure that any doctor is free to provide and any pregnant woman free to obtain. Consequently, abortions should not have to be performed in tightly guarded clinics on the edge of town; they should be performed and obtained in the same locations as any other medical procedure…. [A]bortions need to be moved out of the fringes of medicine and into the mainstream of medical practice.”

Like Al Gore, John Kerry is one of those shameless (mostly Democrat) politicians who says he is personally against abortion and that abortion should be rare but legal, all the while doing absolutely nothing to make it rare—quite the contrary. Perhaps we could take these assurances more seriously if these men gave just one hour or one dollar to a crisis pregnancy center or devoted a single speech to alternatives to abortion.

In Kerry, Democrats are nominating the most fiercely pro-choice individual ever to receive a major party nomination for president. This greatly disturbs the Catholic Church, which has worked as steadfastly to slow abortion as any institution. To the Church, nothing would be more aggravating than to watch its progress on abortion reversed by no less than a Catholic president.

Support of “abortion rights” is a family affair for the Kerrys. Despite agreeing with her husband that abortion ends the “process of life” (as she put it), Teresa Heinz Kerry (also a Catholic) likewise remains pro-choice, recently telling Newsweek: “I ask myself, if I had a 13-year-old daughter who got drunk one night and got pregnant, what would I do. Christ, I’d go nuts.” Kerry’s daughter Vanessa and two sisters joined him at the April “March for Women’s Lives” in Washington, DC, where he gave the keynote speech.

Ironically, as Kerry addressed the rally, Cardinal Francis Arinze, speaking from the Holy See, presented Redemptionis Sacramentum, a Vatican declaration stating that priests must deny communion to unrepentant pro-choice Catholic politicians. Arinze said that “unambiguously pro-abortion” Catholic politicians are “not fit” to receive the sacred elements—the bread and wine that Catholics consider the body and blood of Christ.

A number of Catholic archbishops have suggested or stated that if John Kerry presents himself for communion in their diocese he will be turned away. These include Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of St. Louis, Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans, and even Archbishop Sean O’Malley of Boston—Kerry’s home diocese. Bishop Michael J. Sheridan of Colorado Springs went further, issuing a stern pastoral letter saying that Catholics who vote for politicians who advocate legal abortion should be denied communion.

That brings us full circle to McGreevey. Around the same time as Sheridan’s bold letter, Archbishop Myers of Newark released, “A Time for Honesty,” to which McGreevey complied. And that again begs the question:

Could just one person in the national media ask John F. Kerry if he will follow McGreevey’s example? At the very least, it’s an interesting question that seems newsworthy—surely, worth a single headline. Please? Someone?