Ryan as Catholic Dissident
Eduardo Moisés Peñalver October 16, 2012 - 10:32am
Agood op-ed in today's NY Times by Fordham theology professor Michael Peppard (I hope he has tenure!). It's nice to see that others have noticed (as I did in a post a few weeks back) the inconsistency between Ryan's insistence that questions about abortion be turned over to the democratic process and the Catholic hierarchy's official teaching on that question. Peppard also makes another very nice point about Ryan's support for exceptions in the case of rape, incest and life of the mother and the inconsistency of the "wafer watchers":
The churchs staunch position on fetal personhood was on display two years ago in Phoenix, when Margaret McBride, a nun on the ethics board of St. Josephs Hospital, authorized an emergency abortion to save the life of a dying woman. Sister McBride was automatically excommunicated by her bishop (though later reinstated quietly). Mr. Ryans new position unites him with Sister McBride in defending the threatened life of a pregnant woman.Most Catholics, myself included, think the denial of Communion to Sister McBride or Vice President Biden is an inappropriate use of pastoral power. But at the very least, such judgments should be consistent. Sadly, that would mean the wafer watch starts for Paul Ryan.
As I understand it, those who insist on obedience to the hierarchy's teachings on abortion do not think these things should be graded on a curve. Ryan (in their view) should not get bonus points for being closer to the official position than Biden, any more than Sister McBride did. But for many who like to play this communion game, the issue is not an assessment of whether the Catholic politician is advocating the official position on when abortion should be legal, it is rather a not-so-covert way of signaling to the faithful who is worthy of Catholic votes. So I won't be holding my breath for one of them to suggest that Ryan should abstain from receiving the sacrament.
About the Author
Eduardo Moisés Peñalver is the John P. Wilson Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the subjects of property and land use law.