Today is Good Friday when the Christian world remembers the death of Jesus. This Friday is part of Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum which precedes Easter Sunday. It also coincides with the Jewish observance of Passover. The title "good" possibly comes from the original "God's Friday" although exact reason for calling it "good" is unclear. For Christians it is a day to reflect on the meaning of the the death of Christ on the cross. On this day I was reflecting on a article by Nicholas P. Cafardi who is a lawyer and a canon lawyer who teaches at Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh. He is also a life long Republican. Professor Carfardi wrote an Op-ed in the April 3rd National Catholic Reporter entitled "Civility, Respect should be our aim." I am in full agreement that the hateful attacks by one group of Christians against another should stop and we should practice common decency towards those with whom we disagree. Today is an appropriate date to meditate on this issue.
Examples of the current climate of ill will are cited in his article. He notes that the vice president of the United States was told by the bishop of his home diocese that he should not receive communion because of his views on abortion. The same bishop rejects the election guide approved in 2007 by the U.S. bishops "Faithful Citizenship" that conflicts with his demand because he insists they aren't binding on him. He points out that a Catholic Republican is circulating a petition for Catholics to sign which urges bishops to bar Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas from receiving communion. She is President Obama’s selection to head the Department of Health and Human Resources and her views on abortion are the reason.
He expresses concern about the increasing efforts to urge bishops to use communion as a sanction. There is a small but vocal group of Catholic prelates who claim that the Republican party is the only one appropriate for Catholics and that bishops should bar Democratic politicians from receiving communion whose political stance on issues like a abortion and gay rights are in conflict with Catholic moral positions. I have addressed the problem of "heavy handed bishops" in this connection more then once because it is an sad situation for all Catholics. https://paulluverajournalonline.com/weblog/2008/06/i-had-hoped-that-since-we-did-not-have-a-catholic-running-for-president-this-year-we-would-be-spared-the-ugliness-of-politica.html
I have complained abouth Archbishop Raymond Burke of St Louis, Missouri before. https://paulluverajournalonline.com/weblog/2008/06/the-news-reports-that-pope-benedict-has-named-archbishop-raymond-burke-of-st-louis-to-the-vatican-supreme-court-as-a-resu.html . Last November, he advised priests in the diocese that pro-abortion Catholic politicians should be refused communion. Even though his position was in conflict with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops he insisted they could not force him to back down. In addition, he criticized by name other bishops who have failed to take that action in their dioceses. He also said that Catholics who voted for Obama were cooperating with evil.
The Los Angeles Times http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-notredame1-2009apr01,0,4893557.story has observed that when Barack Obama was elected president, the Pope sent him a letter of congratulations as did the Cardinal who is the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. At the time they were fully aware of the president’s opposition to outlawing abortion. Nevertheless a group of conservative Catholics have started a vocal campaign against what they call the "Notre Dame scandal" because the University invited the president of the United States to speak at a commencement in May. A website has been created to urge Catholics to protest to Notre Dame about the President of the United States to speak at a commencement service.
In Madison, Wisconsin Bishop Robert Morlino, before the November 2008 elections, singled out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then vice presidential candidate Joseph Biden for criticism in not upholding the church’s teaching on abortion and was critical of Catholics who would vote for them.
While not directly in point with these observations, we also had the recent example of the bishop in Brazil, Archbishop Don Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, who excommunicated the doctor, the medical team and the mother of a nine year old rape victim for their role in performing an abortion on the pregnant child. The only reason he said he didn't excommunicate the child was because children were exempt under Church law. Even the Vatican said publically that the move was ill advised.
We live in a time of where one segment of Christians are totally intolerant of another group. These so called followers of Christ speak and act in a totally judgmental manner about differences of moral thought. There is no attempt at civility, rather strong personal attacks are the norm. Ritual is, for these Christians, more important then Christian love, understanding and tolerance. I am not saying we must agree with those whose view points we think are morally wrong. I'm saying we should take a Christian approach to the disagreements. We should not be so totally judgmental about the moral state of other people. Christ uniformly condemned this very conduct and reached out for those Jewish society treated as outcasts. We should learn from the example of Christ how to treat those who with whom we have moral disagreements.