Friday, September 30, 2005

The Holy Communion of Politicians

I heard today on the radio (not Dave FM) that this weekend there is to be a conference at the Vatican. One of the topics for discussion will be whether Roman Catholic politicians should be barred from participating in Holy Communion if they espouse policies which contravene Church Doctrine.

Please note that I am now using capital letters because we are speaking of Important Things.

You may remember that a Bishop in Calgary threatened to do just that to Paul Martin for his support of same-sex marriages.

It’s an interesting and complex debate. I think the Catholic Church has the right to decide who gets to participate in the Sacraments. Ie. to decide who is Catholic and who is not. But just where does this intersect with public policy?

Politicians have a choice to make here. If they have strong religious beliefs, these should be known to the public, and voters should include this in their consideration of whom to vote for. I think it would speak to the strength of character of a politician who put his/her election on the line by standing up for the beliefs of their religion. This is what the Catholic Church is telling politicians they must do. If you want to be Catholic, you must be opposed to abortion. You must be opposed to same sex marriage.

Fine. On the other hand, any politician worth his salt must be able to represent and respond to all his constituents. Not everyone is Catholic. Not everyone is opposed to abortion or same sex marriage. If I were a Buddhist politician, I think I would not denounce the existence of Canadian armed forces. They have their purpose. (Now if that purpose were to engage in foreign aggression, that would be a different matter.)

Can a politician say, “Such and such are my beliefs. I hold them strongly and my personal preference is to have these values supported by public policy. However, neither I nor my religious institution has the right to impose these on the whole populace. Sorry, but the Church will just have to stay out of it.”?

Would that satisfy the Church?

This is not what Paul Martin did with same sex marriage. His government actively promoted the policy. His Church saw that. I wonder, did It also see that the government was simply acknowledging a legal fait accompli?


Anonymous said...

Render therefore to Ceaser the things that are Ceaser's and to God the things that are ...

always thought that was a nifty division between Church and state...

If a rep can't by the doctrines of their church represent all the people then that rep should step down...

Anonymous said...

Well, interestingly, the priest of Paul Martin's "home" church was on the news a few nights ago. He stated he'd give the PM communion, regardless of what was ordered by the Vatican. Now to me, there's a brave man. Good for him. He's making his own decisions based on what he thinks is right.

A religious leader shouldn't have to leave the church or his religion because he doesn't support all of what it says, or promote all of the dictates throughout everyday (secular) life. A politician in particular needs to be able to view situations without preconceived biases. Otherwise, we become a dictatorship of some sort...

Who, in the end, is the church or a religion anyway - is it doctrine? Or the "high priest" - whether that be the Pope, the Dalai Lama, or whomever?

Religions grow and change, and there needs to be flexibility built into them. Otherwise, we're back in the dark ages, and women (or men) will be burnt at the stake - metaphorically or literally. And the earth is the centre of the universe, and may anyone who doubts that, be sent to meet their Maker...

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