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Will President Obama offer Vatican ambassadorship to Catholic denied communion?

According to the student paper of the school on whose faculty he sits, Pepperdine University:

....Kmiec, who has also served as legal counsel under Presidents Ronald Reagan and [George] Herbert Walker Bush, confirmed that Obama may be considering appointing him to the position of Vatican Emissary. "The President is nowhere close to determining such things because of the order of events … everyone's first order of business is economic recovery," Kmiec said. "At the appropriate time, when diplomatic relations through the State Department need to be addressed, I think my name would be part of the discussion."

In May 2008, Professor Kmiec publicly announced that he had been denied communion at Mass, presumably because of his vocal and impassioned support of then-Senator Barack Obama, whose unwavering commitment to abortion rights is so strong that he opposed a prohibition on partial-birth abortion as well as laws that require health professionals to care for and not kill infant survivors of abortion. Of course, no one would have known about the denial of communion if Professor Kmiec had not said anything. So, instead of going privately to the priest and discussing it within the confines of the Church, Professor Kmiec announced it to the world. What would motivate a man to do this except that he thought it provided to him some cultural or political advantage? Sadly the avalanche of liberal outrage that followed his announcement seems to support that thesis. (See, for example, Andrew Sullivan's comments)

Now Professor Kmiec wants to be selected by President Obama to be the U. S. ambassador to the Vatican, to succeed the legendary Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law School. But, ironically, the communion denial story works against his nomination. What in May probably appeared to Professor Kmiec as cultural leverage that would garner him much sympathy in some sectors of the American Catholic Church, now works against him. Does anyone seriously think that President Obama, a Protestant, will want to be known as the first American president in history to select an ambassador to the Vatican who was denied communion?

If you play full court press for the entire first half, you won't have anything left for the second. Even the coach of the Pepperdine Waves basketball team knows that.

(cross-posted)

Comments (21)

Guy ought to have his name legally changed to Richard Rich.

Does anyone seriously think that President Obama, a Protestant, will want to be known as the first American president in history to select an ambassador to the Vatican who was denied communion?

My first instinct is to say that it would be regarded by the secular messianiacs as a badge of honor, but in fairness, Obama seems to do his best to avoid sticking a thumb in people's eye, which is what appointing Kmiec would mean.

FOCA is a thumb in the eye to millions. That thumb seems not to be overly reluctant.

Does the Vatican *have* to receive an ambassador? Do the concerns of the entity have any wieght in the selection process since the whole point of an ambassadorship is that of relationship?

The fact that the guy played the media against the Catholic heirarchy shows who his god really is. If he really believed that the Roman Catholic Church was what it says it is, he'd have [necessarily] acted differently. It would seem to me that his actions ARE worthy of excommunication.

Maybe he wants the ambassadorship in part so that when, as he hopes and would probably be the case, the Pope doesn't take the time to personally criticize his positions, he'll be able to claim orthodoxy. I pointed out on my personal blog that Kmeic's "I'll accept correction if the Holy Father personally corrects me" position leaves him about one more public tantrum away from Martin Luther. (Well, without the historical significance of being Martin Luther).

I mean, one possibility is that the guy is just not very bright. His public aggrieved tantrums do point in that direction: his Commonweal article was basically one long petulant whine that some people on the Internet, in a generic sense, were mean to him. I'm not sure how a thinking person could write such an article, even as a blog post, let alone as a magazine article.

But another possibility is that he is not as adolescent as his actions might suggest, and is setting himself up as an authoratiative heresiarch.

Makes sense. From his ambassadorial perch Kmiec could directly evangelize the Pope, help modernize the Magisterium, conform the Church to contemporary culture and make it a vehicle for a more progressive form of Christianity. Men nursing such delusional goals suffer from an acute case of the Judas Complex.

FOCA is a thumb in the eye to millions. That thumb seems not to be overly reluctant.

Yes. And he selected Gene Robinson, out of all the Bishops in the entire Anglican communion (such as it is), to lead pre-inaugural prayers.

His reputation for moderation and discretion is, it seems to me, based on endless repetition by his boosters rather than on any actual, observable behavior on his part.

"Does anyone seriously think that President Obama, a Protestant, will want to be known as the first American president in history to select an ambassador to the Vatican who was denied communion?"

Well since the denial of Communion was in error, I don't think so. Though there are tons of other reasons why the Vatican would reject him. This guy is pure ego and everything is about him. His rant against "right wing" Catholics who brought up his inconsistencies certainly shows he has no temperament to be an ambassador. The question is Pres Obama stupid enough to submit him?

Dear Jeff:

We actually don't know whether the communion denial was in error, for we have only heard Kmiec's side of the story and not the priest's. (If the priest has spoken, I stand corrected. But I have not read anything about it). Perhaps the priest was told something in private by Kmiec that the priest cannot reveal because of priestly confidentiality. We just don't know, since the priest really cannot defend himself by citing testimony that he is sworn to not reveal.

Frank

From his ambassadorial perch Kmiec could directly evangelize the Pope, help modernize the Magisterium, conform the Church to contemporary culture and make it a vehicle for a more progressive form of Christianity.

I think somebody has already beat him to it.

"What is important is to know how to listen... without locking oneself into ideological visions with the arrogance of a person who, having the power, thinks they can decide on life and death,..."I do not believe that those who voted for him took into consideration ethical themes, which were astutely left aside during the election debate. The majority of the American population does not take the same position as the president and his team," he added."
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.ae20b64499f4af8b4c9bf8793c4ba754.341&show_article=1

Send Kmiec. After a couple of dinners with Martino and Fisichella, he'll be begging for an intervention conducted by Fr. Gabriele Amorth, Rome's lead exorcist.

I think somebody has already beat him to it.

Oh no. The Vatican doesn't bless unleashing the Western Wehrmacht on the civilians of Third World sink-holes and you see that as a sign of decadence. Figures.

Kevin no doubt Obama echoing his commets from this week will say

"Catholics can't expect to get anything done if they keep listening to the Vatican"

What would motivate a man to do this except that he thought it provided to him some cultural or political advantage?

Well, it's not as if it's at all difficult for one inclined to being charitable to come up with a good motivation. This possibility, for instance, comes immediately to mind: He (obviously) thought he was wrongly denied communion, and he thought that a public airing/discussion of the incident would make it less likely that others would be similarly wrongly denied in the future.

"This possibility, for instance, comes immediately to mind: He (obviously) thought he was wrongly denied communion, and he thought that a public airing/discussion of the incident would make it less likely that others would be similarly wrongly denied in the future."

You're right, Keith, if he were a Congregationalist. In Catholicism, communion is not an ordinance; it's a sacrament, and ought not to be taken lightly, by either priest or parishoner. Could the priest have been wrong? Of course, I don't deny that. But the way you resolve is to go to the bishop.

Having been a recipient of a host (pardon the pun) of uncharitable declarations of my eternal salvation after my return to Rome, I know how difficult it is to remain silent. But even the Lord kept quiet when larger things were at stake.

Even if he chose the wrong course of action, he needn't have been acting from a base motive. If he thought it might help make the situation less likely to occur in the future, then the more important it was, the stronger might be the call he felt (rightly or wrongly) to discuss it publicly. Possibly: He realized that it would likely just hurt him personally, but felt a duty to discuss it anyway. Of course, it also possible, for all I know, that he was just grandstanding and/or just trying to secure some cheap "cultural or political advantage." I try to be charitable.

I was thinking of bringing up your own case for comparison purposes, Frank. You of course have very publicly (often on the "world wide web") discussed incidents in your own life. (But I should also add that it's perfectly possible, from what I know, that you have kept a lot to yourself, or pursued more private channels, wrt many such incidents.) And given the heat you've taken, I would be positively shocked if it hasn't happened that at least some non-well-wishers have accused you of grandstanding and/or of seeking cheap cultural of political advantage by airing aspects of your life to the world. But since it's easy in every case (as I also find it is in the case of Kmiec) to also come up with good motivations for your going public, I'm inclined to pay no heed to such accusations.

I also wonder about this --

If you play full court press for the entire first half, you won't have anything left for the second.

Try telling Nolan Richardson. "40 minutes of hell" worked pretty well in '94, as I recall. (And it was 40 full minutes of full-out hell, as I recall.) The legendary John Wooden, too, especially when he knew he had the deeper bench (which was often the case), seemed to realize that when you pressed through the first half, it would be your opponent who would have nothing left for the second.

(I have no interest in applying this to the Kmiec situation. I have an independent interest in b-ball philosophy. As here: tar.weatherson.org/2004/03/19/were-1/ ).

I pointed out on my personal blog that Kmeic's "I'll accept correction if the Holy Father personally corrects me" position leaves him about one more public tantrum away from Martin Luther. (Well, without the historical significance of being Martin Luther).

Certainly, it seems he seeks to rival Luther's impudenta.

With his record, I'm almost surprised that he has not suffered an excommunication latae sententiae.

In Catholicism, communion is not an ordinance; it's a sacrament, and ought not to be taken lightly, by either priest or parishoner. Could the priest have been wrong? Of course, I don't deny that. But the way you resolve is to go to the bishop.

Nonsense.

This is something that goes back even to the pages of Scripture itself.

In particular, in Matthew 18:17:

17 And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.

In order to communicate the very severity of disobedience to the Church, Christ used the strongest language possible:


The Greek word used for those who will not hear the church in Mt 18:17 is parakouo. This means to “disobey”; it is from this word we get parakoe which is the very word used for Adam's disobedience in Rom 5:19. This is quite significant since there's another word which could have been used instead for disobedience of the church and this is the Greek word: apeitheia.

Even further, Jesus compared those who disobey the Church with two of the worst groups of people that the Jews despised at the time. He says he who rejects the Church is to be treated as a heathen or a publican (other translations say a gentile or a tax collector). Hence, "Excommunication". This means that if one does not accept the teaching or the proclamation of the Church, this person ought to be 'excommunicated'.

Choice of these specific terms suggests a policy of non-association with those who are disciplined by Church leaders (cf 1 Cor 5: 9-13, 2 Cor 6:14-15 in reference to the man guilty of incense).

The consequences mean that if one does not accept the teachings or the proclamation of the Church, he is to be excommunicated (i.e., separated from communion with the Church and the Sacraments); therefore, if one is excommunicated, there is indeed a “spiritual death” since one is outside the divine life that flows through the sacraments and the Church.

Aristocles, the problem with using Matthew 18 is that it concerns a wrong committed. The issue with the priest denying Kmiec communion concerns the question of whether or not it was a wrong. Matthew 18 assumes a wrong. The Kmiec case, from what we know as third parties, may or may not involve a wrong. We just don't know.

Keith, you are absolutely right about "40 minutes of hell." I actually thought about the mid-1990s Arkansas teams (which included the "Big Nasty."). But I was on a rhetorical flourish and couldn't help myself.

BTW, the way Notre Dame is playing defense these days, they may want to claim its defense "40 minutes of purgatory."

Concerning Kmiec, I guess I am "you first keep it in the family" kind of guy. You don't go trashing people in a liturgical dispute until you have exhausted all legitimate means of reconciliation and/or you are in a public position in which you need to correct the record to protect your reputation. But I don't see that in the Kmiec case. In fact, if he had not said anything, it is unlikely it would have went beyond the confines of the church on that day.

As for my own cases, there are many, many things I have kept confidential. In fact, the first manuscript of Return to Rome--which is nearly twice as large as the final version--contains strong, though charitable, rebuttals to much of the nonsense going on at Baylor and my relationship to the ID movement. But, my better angels won out and I decided to not "get my pound of flesh." It would have been unseemly and would have detracted from the purpose of the book, to celebrate the Evangelical and Catholic brethren who contributed to my spiritual journey.


Frank:

Concerning Kmiec, I guess I am "you first keep it in the family" kind of guy. You don't go trashing people in a liturgical dispute until you have exhausted all legitimate means of reconciliation and/or you are in a public position in which you need to correct the record to protect your reputation. But I don't see that in the Kmiec case. In fact, if he had not said anything, it is unlikely it would have went beyond the confines of the church on that day.
That isn't just a generally good idea. It is the law:
But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. And if he will not hear thee: take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church: let him be to thee as the heathen and publican. Matthew 18:15-17
Taking it public without first trying to resolve the matter privately is gravely wrong, in fact, even when one is substantively in the right on the particular matter. The mere fact that we heard about this from Kmeic rather than his Bishop, and that his complaint was with the particular priest rather than that his Bishop did not back him up, tells us all we need to know. This event, assuming it is true, and despite the fact that it was wrong to deny him Communion, presented Kmeic with a political opportunity which he exploited very publicly for political gain. Doing so was shameful and despicable, and he should publicly abase himself for having done so. That's it, end of story.

the way Notre Dame is playing defense these days, they may want to claim its defense "40 minutes of purgatory."

Purgatory must be pretty cushy. (I just got to watch my UCLA Bruins play Notre Dame on TV: UCLA 89, ND 63.)

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