McGreevey, Kerry and the Church
Although Flawed, McGreevy
Showed Some Integrity
but according to Catholic policy, Kerry is “not fit” to receive the sacred elements
The recent news of a homosexual affair by
Democratic Governor James McGreevey of New Jersey is a stunning revelation. We are not accustomed to this
kind of thing in America. The British find it quite familiar. Indeed, in Britain, when a story breaks of a sexual scandal involving a
male MP, the first question often asked is: was it with another man?
That’s not a standard assumption in American politics.
Though he clearly has his failings,
there’s something impressive about McGreevey: He has the integrity to
discipline himself for moral misconduct; in this case, he is resigning.
Yet, one of the more impressive displays by McGreevey took place weeks
ago, and went almost unreported outside New Jersey , possibly because sympathetic journalists in the
national media feared its repercussions on John F. Kerry:
Governor McGreevey is a pro-choice
Catholic, in stark opposition to Church teaching. In June, Archbishop
John J. Myers of the Newark diocese released a five-page statement titled, “A
Time for Honesty,” in which he wrote that Catholic politicians who
support abortion rights should not seek communion. In response, New Jersey’s pro-choice governor said he would respect the
archbishop’s request and not seek the Eucharist at Mass. Oddly,
McGreevey said he would accept communion in private (whatever that
means) but not in public, even though Myers made no distinction. Still,
unlike most pro-choice politicians, he was willing to accept Church
authority, on an issue the Church understands as a matter of literal
life and death.
McGreevey’s response begged the
question, or at least should have begged the question, if anyone at CBS
Evening News or the New York Times cared to ask: Would John F. Kerry do
Kerry, also a Catholic, is not
just passively pro-choice; he is a champion of the cause. At the 2003
NARAL Pro-Choice America Dinner, where he described pro-lifers as “the
forces of intolerance,” Kerry boasted that his maiden speech as a
freshman senator had been in support of Roe v. Wade. On the floor of
the U.S. Senate on August 2, 1994 , he
staked a frightening position: “The right thing to do is to treat
abortions as exactly what they are—a medical procedure that any doctor
is free to provide and any pregnant woman free to obtain. Consequently,
abortions should not have to be performed in tightly guarded clinics on
the edge of town; they should be performed and obtained in the same
locations as any other medical procedure…. [A]bortions need to be moved
out of the fringes of medicine and into the mainstream of medical
Like Al Gore, John Kerry is one of
those shameless (mostly Democrat) politicians who says he is personally
against abortion and that abortion should be rare but legal, all the
while doing absolutely nothing to make it rare—quite the contrary.
Perhaps we could take these assurances more seriously if these men gave
just one hour or one dollar to a crisis pregnancy center or devoted a
single speech to alternatives to abortion.
In Kerry, Democrats are nominating
the most fiercely pro-choice individual ever to receive a major party
nomination for president. This greatly disturbs the Catholic Church,
which has worked as steadfastly to slow abortion as any institution. To
the Church, nothing would be more aggravating than to watch its
progress on abortion reversed by no less than a Catholic president.
Support of “abortion rights” is a
family affair for the Kerrys. Despite agreeing with her husband that
abortion ends the “process of life” (as she put it), Teresa Heinz Kerry
(also a Catholic) likewise remains pro-choice, recently telling
Newsweek: “I ask myself, if I had a 13-year-old daughter who got drunk
one night and got pregnant, what would I do. Christ, I’d go nuts.”
Kerry’s daughter Vanessa and two sisters joined him at the April “March
for Women’s Lives” in Washington, DC, where he gave the keynote speech.
Ironically, as Kerry addressed
the rally, Cardinal Francis Arinze, speaking from the Holy See,
presented Redemptionis Sacramentum, a Vatican declaration stating that
priests must deny communion to unrepentant pro-choice Catholic
politicians. Arinze said that “unambiguously pro-abortion” Catholic
politicians are “not fit” to receive the sacred elements—the bread
and wine that Catholics consider the body and blood of Christ.
A number of Catholic archbishops
have suggested or stated that if John Kerry presents himself for
communion in their diocese he will be turned away. These include
Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of St. Louis,
Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans, and even Archbishop Sean O’Malley of Boston—Kerry’s
home diocese. Bishop Michael J. Sheridan of Colorado Springs went further, issuing a stern pastoral letter saying that
Catholics who vote for politicians who advocate legal abortion should
be denied communion.
That brings us full circle to
McGreevey. Around the same time as Sheridan’s
bold letter, Archbishop Myers of Newark released,
“A Time for Honesty,” to which McGreevey complied. And that again begs
Could just one person in the
national media ask John F. Kerry if he will follow McGreevey’s example?
At the very least, it’s an interesting question that seems
newsworthy—surely, worth a single headline. Please? Someone?
Paul Kengor, Ph.D. is author of God
and George W. Bush and the new critically acclaimed God and
Ronald Reagan. He is also a professor of political science at
College and a visiting fellow with
the Hoover Institution .
Contact Kengor at firstname.lastname@example.org.