He Who Is Without Sin
Yesterday, I came home from church, switched on my computer, and scanned the headlines. One in particular caught my attention: Kerry Takes Communion. I was shocked and appalled that this had become headline news. I was furious with the Catholic Church for abusing Her power to attack Kerry. I decided right then and there that my next posting would be a scathing critique of the Church’s judgmental, un-Christ-like behavior. I would pull from the Bible and from the Church’s own documents to show how wrong they are to behave like this.
But, I had other obligations and couldn’t write my post at that moment, which gave me time to think through the issue a little more. Something tickled the back of my brain and it took a couple of long walks and a train ride to the suburbs of Rome for it to materialize: There was a picture of Kerry taking communion. It wasn’t some paparazzi shot. It wasn’t a surprise. It was a well-posed Reuters photo. Then it hit me smack in the frontal lobe: I should be just as angry with Kerry as I am with the Church.
Kerry has made clear his position of supporting separation of Church and State. He says that he wants to a president who happens to be Catholic, not a Catholic President. Fine. I wholeheartedly agree with all that.
What I don’t agree with is taking these positions and then inviting the press in for a Eucharistic photo-op. I doubt the photographer crashed the church doors or snuck up on the candidate. The photographer was told where Kerry would be and given permission to be there, if not invited even. This was a well-staged event.
And Kerry knew that having a photo of himself taking Communion would inflame the Church. He willingly made his private faith a public political issue.
If Kerry wants to say that he supports the separation of Church and State, then he needs to act that way, which means he shouldn’t use Catholic mass as a campaign stop. Sure, someone would have leaked the story anyway, a parishioner or a journalist who had snuck in the back pew. But let them do it. If Kerry wants me to believe that his presidency and his faith are separate, then he needs to keep his campaign and his faith separate.
So here it stands: I am angry and disappointed with both my Church and my preferred candidate for President. Both have made a mockery of faith by using it for political ends.
Both need to practice a little more of that faith: seeking to understand, not to judge; spreading the fire of love, not inflaming anger; and spending some time in conversation with God rather than the media.
I conclude with the wisdom of St. Frances:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying
that we are born to eternal life.