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Should Tom Barrett Participate in Communion?

A New Era of Conservative Catholicism

On January 4th, a new era began as Bishop Jerome Listecki was installed as Milwaukee's next Archbishop.  The installation was a tightly restricted invitation-only ceremony reserved for influential Catholics and some political dignitaries like gubernatorial candidates Scott Walker and Tom Barrett.  It did not appear, however, that Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Neumann received an invitation to attend the ceremony.  This would not be surprising since he has quickly become forgettable.  

During the ceremony, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett partook in the communion - a ritual of substantial importance for Catholics that signifies spiritual devotion to Christ.  This occurs at a time when Catholic Bishops have taken an increasing role in denying pro-choice politicians the rite of communion.  Why is this relevant?  In the late 90s when Tom Barrett was a Wisconsin Congressman, he voted against a proposed ban on partial birth abortion; and he did this not just once, but twice.  His vote opposed a bill that, if passed, would have protected unborn children from a cruel and unusual form of medical execution.

Denying Communion to Pro-Choice Politicians

Just last November, Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin made headlines by denying Patrick Kennedy (son of the late Ted Kennedy) communion.  Bishop Tobin described Kennedy as "not  a good practicing Catholic."

In August of last year, Bishop Listecki wrote a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi charging her for producing a scandal and misleading the faithful.  In particular, he accused her of incorrectly stating a Catholic Church teaching about when human life begins in order to justify abortion.  This is the same Listecki, mind you, who has just moved into Barrett's backyard.

Back in 2004, Boston Bishop Sean O'Malley denied Presidential candidate John Kerry communion because he was expressively pro-choice and stated he would never permit a pro-life judge on the Supreme Court.  And to add more fuel to the fire, he was denied communion while campaigning for president in St. Louis by Archbishop Raymond Burke for the same reasons.  More and more, Catholic Bishops are making a distinction between an ordinary pro-choice Catholic and a pro-choice politician that wields significant power to affect important policy decisions for the nation.

During the 2004 election, Kerry was trying to court Catholic voters, which made up 27% of registered voters.  Kerry felt blindsided.  At first, he argued that these Bishops had erred by not properly distinguishing between his personal views as a Catholic and his actions as a legislator.  He said it it was not appropriate in the U.S. for legislators to legislate their personal religious beliefs for the rest of the nation.

Without looking to the Catholic Church for an official response, I can say with confidence that Kerry's line of reasoning is not only fallacious, but unconstitutional.  Why are the "non-religious" allowed to vote their conscience as moral human beings while it is inappropriate for the "religious" to do the same?  Morality and religion are not easily distinguishable.  Some morals are shared by many religions, including the protection of innocent life.  By making such statements, Kerry not only demonstrated a pointed bias against the members of his professed church, but an ignorance about how religion is expressed.

Tom Barrett on the Wrong Side of Catholicism

In order to justify taking communion on Monday, Tom Barrett has one of two options: he can stay quiet about his prior votes in Congress and hope that Scott Walker doesn't resurrect it in the throes of a campaign season, or he can confess to his priest (if he hasn't done so already) and publicly recant his earlier position.

Ultimately, it was a tad bit audacious for Barrett to take communion knowing who the new Archbishop is and knowing that Walker could hang him for it politically.

Comments (11)
  • Richard Hood  - Hold to your values

    If Tom Barrett supports positions not supported by the Catholic Church then it is more than hypocritical for the Church to support him. We now have a President who openly promoted abortion and infanticide partially as a result of Catholics ignoring their own strong support of life. We get what we vote for and decisions have consequences.

  • John Hyland  - Tougher Church

    The only way we can get the politicians to adhere to Catholic principles is to take tougher stands on Church Law. Abortion is the #1 Catholic Rule for us to follow. If we cannot follow our # one important rule, get out. Excommunicate any politician who cannot comply!
    It's the only way we will get the clear message out.

  • Zeus Rodriguez  - Very nice

    Very nicely written.

    I do think that Barrett's stance on Abortion can hurt him politically but I don't think it would be effective or wise if Scott Walker were to bring it up in the context of receiving the Eucharist. Since Scott is not Catholic, an open condemnation of Barrett on this issue could backfire. Most Catholics would be at least a little offended, minus myself ;) . An unnecessary risk at the least.

    However, I think this is a big issue and Tom Barrett better recognize that his words will be weighed carefully come November and Catholics will be listening and watching.

  • Jason Crye

    Zeus,

    I agree. All Walker needs to do is ask Barrett why he flip-flopped on partial birth abortion. This would open the door without offending religious sensibilities.

  • Keith Schmitz  - How Hard Is It to Be Catholic

    Gee, looks like to be a Catholic you only have to do one thing -- make life tough for poor pregnant women. Viola. Ticket punched. You are off to heaven.

    What's so hard about that?

  • Rob  - This is Not 1492

    If a man is punished for exercising his freedom of conscience, what does that say about the Church? It seems as if the spirit of the inquisition is alive and well in some bishops.

  • Zeus Rodriguez  - You Can Leave

    Keith and Rob,

    What you need to realize is that it is the rebellious individual who persecutes the Church not the other way around, since they can EASILY not go to a Catholic Church. If they don't believe in Church Authority they can join King Henry's congregation.

    How is the Church in anyway forcing these individuals to deny their "conscience" or lack there of since they are contributing to the killing of unborn children?

  • ??????

    Character problem. empty comment

  • Mary Chonowski  - I DON'T BELIEVE IT!!!!!!!


    My name is Mary, and I have read thoroughly through the mentioned article.


    I absolutely DO NOT BELIEVE that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett supports abortion.........I don't believe it.


    I do believe that Mayor Barrett is being blackmailed, and it should stop. He should indeed partake in Communion.

    By the way: do you nasty conservatives FIND IT HILARIOUS that Mayor Barrett was lying in a pool of blood, being beaten HORRIBLY by Anthony Peters, and has a fractured hand? I bet you were lauging your butts off when you found out about it.

    Also, answer me this: do you actually TAKE the side of Anthony Peters? Do you find what happened to Mayor Barrett hilarious? Do you side with Peters than Barrett? Barrett was abused HORRIBLY.........and he needs to heal from what had happened.

    He helped out a child, and a grandmother. Anyone for abortion would have taken off in the opposite direction.........Barrett was helping out - he is not for abortion.......that is a lie, and this lie should be nipped in the bud.

    But do you find what happened to the poor Mayor hilarious? He was beaten up horribly........I do not find it funny..........do you?

    God bless Mayor Barrett, and I defend him - he's a kind, caring person.

  • Aaron M. Rodriguez

    Mary,

    That was somewhat of an undeserved rant. Of course we don't feel that Barrett deserved the beating, nor do I find it funny.

    I've never met the man, and everything I hear about him as a person is positive. I may believe he is a kind and loving man, but it is hard to come to grips on how a kind and loving man can vote for abortion rights. And he certainly did this while he was a Congressman in the House of Representative.

    It's not a matter of speculation, his voting record can be acquired online.

  • Mary  - Hurt, and Confused

    This is Mary, again.


    While I am still skeptical about believing that Tom Barrett supports abortion, I do want to apologize about snapping like that.


    I am hurt..........and confused...........because he did come to the defense of a child.......the ones abortion folks hate...........Barrett came to the defense of a child.


    I still do defend Barrett, and am confused about this. I mean, the man did absolutely nothing wrong to deserve the beatings, and he wears some sort of contraption on his hand several hours a day to help him make a fist.


    This is a confusing - and hurting situation, if he is truly for abortion.


    Yet again.........even if he does support abortion (which I still have a hard time believing)...........he still did absolutely nothing wrong to deserve what he endured. I also hope to Christ that Anthony Peters rots in hell.


    Let us consider Peters: he is evil to the core, he beat up a man who was trying to help a child (and grandmother), and that is certainly not pro - life. Peters should have received life behind bars.

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