Monday, April 25, 2005

The excommunication problem, restated.

Steve (aka "Feddie") noticed I'd linked to Southern Appeal in my post about William Pryor and left a comment:
The distinction between Kerry and Pryor is actually quite simple. Kerry, as a senator and president, is in a position to directly or indirectly influence public policy. Pryor, as a judge, is not.
I agree that Kerry would have more ability to influence abortion policy than Pryor would, but he certainly couldn't make any changes on his own. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm under the impression that overturning Roe v. Wade could only be done by the Supreme Court. Otherwise, the legislature would have to amend the Constitution, which requires all kinds of hoop jumping.
Moreover, Senator Kerry has made numerous statement in support of abortions rights. Indeed, it is hard to recall Kerry ever opposing any piece of abortion legislation (including the bill to ban the horrific practice of partial birth abortion). Kerry is, to put it plainly, directly in the pocket of the abortion lobby.
I look at that and think that Kerry is honestly pro-choice. Why do you think he's in a lobby's pocket instead? It's certainly not unusual to see Catholics disagreeing with official church policy.

If you support Pryor because he agrees with your views on abortion and you're against Kerry for the same reason, that's fine with me, but it's beside my point. Kerry and Pryor both said they'd go into office and ignore what the church would have them do. In Kerry's case, that implies excommunication. Does that imply that Pryor is automatically excommunicated as well? I'm no expert on excommunication, but it's described as "the most serious ecclesiastical penalty for Roman Catholics." If Pryor is an excommunicated Catholic, how do Catholics justify support for him in office? If not, what is the difference between his case and Kerry's?

As a non-Catholic, the difference I see is that Kerry actually believed in what he would do in office, but Pryor would put United States law above his own beliefs (and church law). It's a non-issue for me since:
  • I find excommunication pretty meaningless.
  • Kerry's position agrees with mine (or close enough for government work).
  • Pryor doesn't agree with me but can't do anything about it.
Even disagreeing with Pryor, I don't hold it against him. If he's a good judge, that's enough for me. What galls me is that the question of whether he's a good judge is hardly asked; instead we get the stinky fish.

(To be clear, I think the excommunication angle is a red herring too. I point out the contradiction of applying it to Kerry but not Pryor as a way to flush out what I think is some intellectual dishonesty.)
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