If Catholic Church Wants To Use Communion To Influence Policy, Maybe Tax Exemption Is Not For Them

Religion
Communion-wafers | Awareness Campaign | Flickr

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is moving forward with its plan to try to deny President Joe Biden and other pro-choice Democratic politicians the Eucharist due to their support of legal abortion, in spite of the fact that the actual pope has said not to use Communion as a political weapon.

So much for infallibility!

Cardinal Luis Ladaria, Pope Frank's top guy, wrote the American bishops a letter telling them this policy would likely "become a source of discord rather than unity within the episcopate and the larger church in the United States." Which just seems like common sense. Also, an official "Republicans Only" doctrine doesn't seem like it would do the Church a lot of good, membership-wise.

But they remain committed.

Catholic and Christian News agencies have also been reporting breathlessly on a tweet from California Democratic Rep. Jared Huffman suggesting they should lose their tax exempt status, if this is how they're going to play.

"If they're going to politically weaponize religion by 'rebuking' Democrats who support women's reproductive choice, then a 'rebuke' of their tax-exempt status may be in order," Rep, Huffman said on Twitter.

And you know what? Yeah. They should, if that's how they're going to play. (We know it's not going to happen, but hey, at least we're talking about it.) We have a separation of church and state in this country. And if the USCCB is willing to go against the pope in order to achieve a political aim, it's no longer a church but a political organization.


It would be one thing if the group's rule was that anyone who supported any policies that allowed for things the Catholic Church considers mortal sins would be denied communion. But it seems highly unlikely the church would deny Republican politicians communion for supporting the death penalty. Or for opposing a minimum wage raise and supporting policies that hurt the poor.

Because guess what? While the Catholic Church does consider abortion to be a "grave matter," they also consider both taking advantage of the poor and defrauding workers of fair wages to be not just "grave matter" but "a sin that cries to heaven for vengeance." That's the most serious level of sin, Catholic United States Senator Marco Rubio.

Rubio has admitted he knows there is no way for people to live off of the minimum wage, and yet he does not support increasing the federal minimum wage. He has pushed tax plans he pretends will help the poor, when they in fact benefit the rich.

Frankly, any Catholic who is a Republican has voted for policies that hurt the poor and prevent workers from earning enough to support themselves and their families. In 2017, every House Republican voted in favor of a bill that would keep employers from being held responsible when they commit wage theft. Surely, some of them were Catholic.

But the USCCB is not discussing denying them Communion just because they support policies that hurt poor people and defraud workers of their wages. This is not a uniform, across-the-board denial of the Eucharist based on support for things the Catholic Church considers a sin. It's just abortion. And while two of the Senate Catholics are pro-choice Republicans — Murkowski and Collins — this policy would disproportionately affect Democrats. Oddly enough, there are far more Catholic Democrats in the Senate than Catholic Republicans. Same deal in the House.

It's easy to see how people who aren't Catholics might think this is silly — and the USCCB is certainly being ridiculous — but for Catholics, taking Communion is a very big deal, as is being denied it. That's their religion and the fact that the USCCB wants to use its religious beliefs to blackmail Biden and others is gross.

So yeah, they do this, they're not functioning as a church, but rather as something else entirely, and they deserve to lose their tax exempt status. They can't claim to be doing it in the name of Catholicism, because the Pope said "no," so either they have to form their own religion where this is a thing, or they ought to pay taxes.

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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