On route to his first trip to Latin America, Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday he supported excommunication for politicians who backed Mexico City’s decision to legalize abortion. I was intrigued… what does excommunication mean?
Turns out that this does not mean you’re thrown out of the club (which I originally though) but it’s kinda more like a “censure”. You can’t serve as in a leadership role during mass, but you can still attend. It is usually only used with “influential public figures” and is meant to serve as pressure (repent in your ways!) than a punishment, per se. The only thing that struck me as odd was that if you were excommunicated, you could not participate in the sacrament of Communion.
In my heart, someone who is promoting the practice of abortion is not following in the footsteps of Christ (so repentance is on order)… but I am troubled by the fact that an excommunication seems to be driven more by political agenda than a spiritual one.
Catholics are not alone. A few months ago I was troubled even more by a piece in the New York Times that noted that leaders of several conservative Christian groups wanted the National Association of Evangelicals to stop speaking out on global warming as it was “diverting the evangelical movement from what they deem more important issues, like abortion and homosexuality.”
And you wonder… why are so many people turned off by God?
In the early church, you get the sense that leaders saved their reprimands for the “insiders” (the true believers) and dealt with outsiders (non-believers) with heartfelt teaching and love. Somewhere along the way we turned that up-side down. We love ourselves and reprimand the outsiders. Ouch!