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The term “Catholic” is in countless opinion column titles as we look to this year’s election. A short discourse about what a “Catholic” is may be helpful. It’s actually quite simple, but to understand it requires one to know a bit of history.
Two thousand years ago a Jewish rabbi named Jesus was crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem for claiming that he was the Son of God. His 11 closest followers, called apostles, claimed he rose from the dead and continued to teach them for 40 days before he ascended into Heaven. They then went throughout the known world, Rome and elsewhere, telling people about this man and what he had taught them about who God is. They appointed successors to carry on their mission. Those successors are today’s bishops of the Catholic Church. For 2,000 years, the teachings of that Jewish rabbi have been handed down, illuminated, and protected by those bishops who, with the Bishop of Rome (a.k.a., the Pope) preeminent, are in communion with one another about what the Church “binds on earth” (Matthew 16:19).
So, what’s a Catholic? It’s a person who looks at the whole of what has been “bound on Earth” and says, “Yep. And I would choose death before I denied a single word of it.” And it’s pretty easy to figure out what has been bound. It’s in a book (called the Catechism) which one can buy on Amazon for $14.
Now, the reader might hear this and say it’s naive, parochial, stupid, or even deranged to assent to everything in that book. And that’s fine—then the reader would not be a Catholic. But it really is that simple-you’re all in or you’re all out. A person is not excommunicated from the Church. A person excommunicates themselves-the Church just recognizes their decision. The same goes for being sent to Hell upon death, by the way. God doesn’t send anyone there. He simply gives them the eternity they choose.
Which brings us to all these “Catholics” in the news right now. The “Catholic voter” who is or isn’t voting for the “Catholic” Joe Biden who was the Vice President for Barack Obama who nominated the “Catholic” Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court (a current hot topic) and whose vying for the presidency might be thrown to the House of Representative where the “Catholic” Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s caucus could decide the outcome of a disputed election.
For decades, those successors of the apostles, the bishops, have stated repeatedly and unequivocally that abortion (which the Church has taught as sinful since the first century) supersedes all other political issues. And Catholics in positions of power who can draft and vote on, confirm judges who will rule on, and pass budgets which directly fund laws which enable abortion are complicit in the evil. And so are the voters who elect them.
It is not self-righteous “conservative” Catholics who have deemed Biden, Pelosi, and others “not Catholic.” There’s nothing judgmental about it. We simply take them at their word. They obviously don’t believe they must be in communion with the Church and her bishops and therefore they’ve declared themselves to be non-Catholics.
So let’s stop with the obvious charade that politicians and voters supporting politicians who champion abortion are “Catholic.” They may have been baptized and served on the altar and sang in the choir. They may even still root for Notre Dame. But they’re just “Americans” now. They left the Church when they stopped adhering to Her teachings—all of them—easily found in that $14 book.Published in