A Current Events Commentary Blog from a Public Relations/Marketing Perspective.
Donald Tremblay, a PR/Marketing specialist who has been “making it rain” for over a decade reviews today’s news, sports, entertainment, etc . . .

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Eucharistic Dilemma

Ever since Vatican II and the secular unrest of the 1960s, the American Roman Catholic Church has been dominated by cafeteria Catholics: a term used to describe Catholics who pick-and-choose which Church teachings they will follow and which they will ignore. Church doctrine and dogma are treated like a Wendy’s salad bar. When asked to defend their actions cafeteria Catholics cite the intellectually flawed concept of “primacy of conscience”.

Primacy of conscience teaches that our conscience should be the final arbiter in deciding what is right and wrong. On the surface this seems obvious. Since childhood we have been taught to listen to that inner voice telling us what paths to follow. But what if our conscience is malformed or immature? Many argue that “reason” alone is enough to guide our conscience in its decision-making, but that is a dubious claim considering some of the philosophical systems Man has conceived throughout history. For ex, utilitarianism: “The idea that the moral worth of an action is determined solely by its contribution to overall utility: that is, its contribution to happiness or pleasure as summed among all people.” At first glance this view may seem logical because we live in groups and communities, but on further inspection we realize that it makes no provisions for the inherent dignity of the individual. Under utilitarianism citizens would be justified, perhaps even encouraged, to euthanize those “unproductive” members of society, such as the sick and the disabled. Hence, what is unthinkable to most consciences would pose little dilemma to a utilitarian. He would justify it as a “reasoned” judgment selected in the best interests of society.

I raise the issue of primacy of conscience because the concept has become newsworthy again thanks to Providence, RI Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin. It was reported last week that in 2007 Bishop Tobin asked Representative Patrick Kennedy to stop receiving Holy Communion because of his pro-choice views. Since 2007 there have been many instances of U.S. bishops not only discouraging pro-choice politicians from receiving the Eucharistic, but in some cases demanding outright that they don’t. Considering the Church’s position on abortion, a strong message against it is necessary. But is denying the Eucharist the wisest course of action?

Receiving the Eucharist is the central act of worship in the Roman Catholic faith. Catholics believe that at consecration the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. Refusing to distribute the Eucharist to a Catholic is akin to ejecting them from the Church community, an act which does have historical precedence. For ex., in 1 Corinthians St. Paul indignantly rebukes a man who is living with his father’s wife and warns that “the one who did this deed should be expelled from your midst.”

I am conflicted as to whether the Church should deny the Eucharist to those who “remain in sin”. I am concerned that it will do more harm than good. After all, the Church teaches that once a cleansed soul accepts the Eucharist it is infused with Sanctifying Grace. Although those who support abortion rights are considered guilty of mortal sin and thus not capable of receiving Sanctifying Grace, wouldn’t they still reap some spiritual benefit from receiving the Lord’s body and blood? Wouldn’t receiving the Eucharist increase their chances of experiencing a conscience-altering, spiritual awakening?

Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps the Church is right from a spiritual perspective and a public relations perspective. Abortion is anathema to the Church and, truthfully, the best way to deliver that message is to ban abortion rights supporters from participating in Catholicism’s central sacrament.

Yet, something about it still troubles me.

Perhaps it is nothing more than me being guilty of believing in the primacy of my own conscience.

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