Jesus didn’t say anything about racism, sexism, wars of aggression, global warming, capital punishment, or even slavery. This is the needed comeback to remarks made on May 24th by Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough, remarks made just before introducing his guest, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, fresh from being told by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone she may no longer receive Holy Communion.
Scarborough started his speech by indicating that opponents of Roe v. Wade claim that the abortion issue has distorted American politics. “They’re right,” he said, but “they’re the ones mostly responsible by dragging abortion up into the altar of the Church.” Scarborough told his audience:
My church, the Southern Baptist Church, was effectively pro-choice until 1980. It wasn’t about Jesus, it was about politics—the rise of the Moral Majority in 1980—bringing abortion politics into the pews of the Republican-leaning churches. Now the Catholic Church, mind you, has been focused on abortion a bit longer, but how disconcerting that religious leaders in that Church would deny communion to faithful members of their congregation over a political issue that Jesus never once mentioned in the Gospels, despite the fact that abortion was a political and philosophical issue during ancient Greece and Rome when Jesus was alive.
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Scarborough went on to point out that Jesus, however, did teach His disciples something in Matthew 25. We “would be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven if we gave water to the thirsty, fed the hungry, clothed the poor, and brought hope to the hopeless; that we are to lead with forgiveness and love.” Scarborough closed his introduction and his defense of Pelosi asking, “How does a religious leader bar from Communion a congregant who spent her life supporting politics that focuses really on those truly disadvantaged?”
Scarborough’s comments are a lesson in classic pro-abortion packaging and articulation—comments filled with falsehood, half-truths, obfuscation, sophistry, and doublespeak. Let me point out that of course the Catholic Church has been “focused on abortion a bit longer”—namely, for two-thousand years.
Scarborough first wrongly characterizes abortion as mere “politics”—and how wrong it is to drag such politics “up into the altar of the church” as did Archbishop Cordileone when, on May 20th, he instructed Pelosi that she may not receive the Eucharist. This rhetoric is, of course, meant to avoid the truth that abortion is a moral issue. Purposely avoided is the fact that abortion kills innocent human beings. Politicians such as Pelosi, who advocate such legalized killing, are responsible for immoral—indeed, objectively sinful—actions, and so the issue certainly must be “dragged up into the altar of the church.”
And why is abortion just politics? Because Jesus Himself never said a word about it even though, according to Scarborough’s version of ancient history, abortion was a political and philosophical issue in the Greco-Roman world at the time of Christ. Apparently, Jesus didn’t think abortion was any big deal or He would have said something about it. Since He did not, abortion is just a political issue that has nothing to do with religion—or religious practice.
It is incredible that a national political talk show host could make such an inane argument and actually believe he can get away with it. And so I began this article with that provocative statement—Jesus didn’t say anything about racism, sexism, wars of aggression, global warming, capital punishment, or even slavery—the latter arguably the greatest social injustice of Jesus’ day. Certainly, no one who supports legalized abortion would claim that slavery or racial discrimination is just politics since Jesus never addressed those issues!
Scarborough’s sermon ends with a commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25. Without citing the text specifically, this is the famous parable of the sheep and the goats where Jesus teaches: “Whatsoever you did to the least of my brothers, you did unto me.” This parable is referenced to demonstrate that all the Church should be concerned about is whether the followers of Christ are giving water to the thirsty, feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, and so forth.
According to Scarborough, it’s Nancy Pelosi who has practiced Christ’s teaching, as her politics are focused on “those truly disadvantaged.” Thus, it is unfair for Cordileone to declare that she must be denied Holy Communion. Of course, there is absolutely no recognition that the unborn, named non-persons under the law and subjected to violent acts of extermination, might also be among the “truly disadvantaged.” Indeed, the killing of the unborn counts for nothing.
Pelosi made her appearance dressed in soft pink, looking much younger than her 82 years, and sporting a Ukrainian flag pin and bracelet. Scarborough immediately acknowledged that Nancy’s faith means so much to her. She wasted no time launching into criticism of those members of Congress she has spoken to over many years who not only oppose “terminating a pregnancy”—but also “are against contraception, family planning, in-vitro fertilization.”
She argued that opposition to abortion is just “a front man” for all these other issues, “a cover for a lot of other issues the far-right wants to accomplish.” Since the leak of Justice Alito’s draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, this is a common argument and scare tactic made by those in favor of keeping abortion legal—namely, that other reproductive rights are at risk of being revoked.
Pelosi noted, for instance, that many opposed the Affordable Care Act because of these other issues. This accusation is disingenuous. Most opposition was to the Health and Human Services mandate that forced employers to make abortifacients available and that religiously affiliated groups such as the Little Sisters of the Poor underwrite contraception into their health plans contrary to their religious beliefs.
Pelosi also stated, “I am opposed to the death penalty—so is the Church, but they take no action against people who may not share their view.” What she means is that bishops do not deny Communion to Catholic politicians who support capital punishment. This, of course, is a straw man. There is scant comparison between legalized abortion and capital punishment—which this author also opposes. Legalized abortion is a full-frontal attack on innocent human beings, and it claims the lives of such persons at the rate of approximately two thousand per day. The horrific body count alone—sixty-two million lives lost since 1973—places abortion into another category.
Moreover, while there are good reasons to oppose the death penalty, capital punishment is not inherently immoral, notwithstanding Pope Francis calling such punishment “inadmissible.” This doesn’t change the fact that the Catholic Church has always upheld, including papal statements on the subject, the possible application of capital punishment. This is very different from abortion—which is inherently evil.
Indeed, when he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger, specifically addressed this issue in a 2004 memorandum ironically entitled “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion.” He stated, with the approval of Pope John Paul II:
Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.
Pelosi then wrapped herself in the mantle of the Gospel of Matthew. She stated that the parable of Chapter 25 was “the agenda of the Church and is rejected by many who side with them on terminating a pregnancy.” She means that many who oppose “terminating a pregnancy” reject Christ’s teachings in the parable of the sheep and the goats, unlike herself. She is fond of explaining her ability to respect the views of others, an ability rooted in her upbringing, coming from “a large, pro-life, American Catholic family.”
However, when it comes to opposition to abortion she stated, “I don’t respect foisting it on others.” And she believes the Catholic Church is doing exactly that. Pelosi, along with other pro-abortion Catholic politicians, including Joseph Biden, treat the Catholic teaching on abortion as a kind of quirk of Catholicism—that the Catholic condemnation of abortion as an inherent evil, as an act of injustice toward another is mere religious, sectarian confessionalism—private religious belief that cannot be imposed on others.
Of course, they don’t feel that way when it comes to other social justice issues embraced by the Church with which they do agree! Indeed, Catholic social thought is based ultimately on natural law that transcends religious belief—laws based on the nature and dignity of the human person which therefore have a universal significance and application.
Pelosi launched into a criticism of Archbishop Cordileone—that he “is vehemently against LGBTQ rights”; that “in fact he led the way in some of the initiatives, the initiatives on the ballot in California.” Undoubtedly, Pelosi is referring to Cordileone’s support for California’s Proposition 8, a failed 2008 ballot initiative, eventually ruled unconstitutional, that attempted to ban “gay marriage” and dared to define matrimony as a bond between one man and one woman. Pelosi thinks Catholic bishops should support same-sex “marriage” contrary to the teaching of Jesus and the Church which they have a God-given responsibility to proclaim and defend.
Getting back to abortion, Pelosi states that the reversal of “privacy and precedent is very dangerous and not consistent with the Gospel of Matthew.” Here is where the audacity of the Pelosi pro-abortion rhetoric reaches its apex. She believes she can, and with complete impunity, connect opposition to legalized abortion with opposition to the Gospel of Matthew—most specifically having in mind the parable of chapter 25!
Such a connection is gross and, frankly, idiotic. What is most concerning is that she believes she can make such a statement at all! After all, Pelosi, at least indirectly, claims that support for the “right-to-privacy” as it applies to the choice of abortion is consistent with the Gospel of Matthew!
Let’s look at the parable upon which Pelosi believes she stands. It is a parable unique to Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus, seated on His royal throne, now judges the nations as He separates the human population into sheep on His right side and goats on His left. To those on His right, Jesus exclaims that they will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, I was ill and you comforted me, in prison and you came to visit me.”
Then the just ask Jesus when did they ever do such things for Him. The Lord explains, “I assure you, as often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me.” The goats on His left, who neglected acts of charity to the least of Jesus’ brothers, are banished from Christ’s sight and condemned to eternal punishment.
It’s incredible that Pelosi believes she could make use of any teachings in the Bible to justify support for a woman’s “right” to abortion. Scripture teaches quite the opposite, and it is ridiculous that this writer should have to point this out! Contrary to Scarborough’s New Testament exegesis, did Jesus ever address the subject of abortion? The answer is “yes.”
A few years ago, I edited a booklet of abortion victim photography. Each photo is accompanied by a meditation from various pro-life leaders and others not well-known in the movement. The booklet was entitled I Was a Stranger: Meditations on the Innocent Unborn—Lost to Abortion, published by St. Benedict Press/Tan Books. When a woman is pregnant, she and the baby’s father are, in a sense, called to honor and embrace a “stranger.” Yes, they know this unborn child is their son or daughter, but they really do not know who this person is—or will become.
In any case, this is certainly true for those working in the pro-life movement to defend the unborn, as they do not know the unborn children for whom they advocate! The unborn child may say in a true sense, “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.” Moreover, as Cordileone himself pointed out, the unborn are the least among us—and the least among Jesus’ brothers—thus, Jesus can say to us: “Whatever you did to the least of my unborn brothers—and sisters—you did to me.” When Pelosi, and those like her, reject the unborn, expose them by the thousands each day to the violent rejection that is legalized abortion, casting them out of the human family—it is Jesus whom they reject.
Cordileone, on May 20th, explained why he barred Pelosi from reception of the Eucharist. He quoted Pope Francis. On September 20, 2013, The Holy Father addressed the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations. Pope Francis stated, “Every child who, rather than being born, is condemned unjustly to being aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ, bears the face of the Lord, who even before he was born, and then just after birth, experienced the world’s rejection.”
This is the true application of the Gospel of Matthew in relation to the abortion issue—contrary to Scarborough and Pelosi’s twisted and perverted exploitation of the Matthew parable that teaches that love of neighbor is required to enter the Kingdom of Heaven—and required for a worthy reception of the sacrificed Body of the Risen Christ. And love of neighbor includes protection of the unborn—the most helpless and the least among us.
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]