One of the unexpected bits of news yesterday was Douglas Kmiec's report that he (a pro-life, conservative,law professor who is supporting Obama) had been barred from Communion. He joins Kathleen Sebelius in the small but growing group: "not at my Communion rail."Here is a response by Catholic Democrats.org on these two most recent outcasts."So, with the Democratic governor's political star rising, the registered Republican Archbishop of Kansas City revived the use of Holy Communion as a political weapon to take her down. He publicly called on her to stop taking Communion with her Catholic community, because of her widely-known opposition to the use of criminal law in dealing with abortion. In a Catholic newspaper column, Archbishop Joseph Naumann indicated that he had made the request because he had been angered by her vetoes of several Republican bills restricting abortion in Kansas. In her most recent veto message, Gov Sebelius offered a detailed description of the lengths to which she had gone to address the abortion issue constructively, and lauded the success her administration had achieved in decreasing its incidence."Coincidentally, a California law school professor and Constitutional scholar, Douglas Kmiec, who is one of the country's most outspoken opponents of abortion, found himself denied Communion because of his public support for Senator Obama. Prof Kmiec was attending a Mass prior to giving a speech to a group of Catholic businessmen, and reported on the website CatholicOnline that he was singled out because of his prominence as an Obama supporter. By this standard, anyone who expressed public support for President Bush could be excluded at Communion, given Mr Bush's support for torture and the Bishops' recent inclusion of torture (along with abortion) in their Faithful Citizenship document as 'an intrinsically evil act.'"The common thread in these two stories is that individual Catholic authorities took it upon themselves to judge that an association with a Democratic presidential candidate was sufficient cause for a subtle form of excommunication from the Catholic community. "Catholic dems here:http://www.catholicdemocrats.org/news/2008/05/conservatives_gear_up_again_to.php#moreKmiec's piece here:http://www.catholic.org/politics/story.php?id=27956
Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.