Mad Men Logic
Excommunicado: Don't like health care bill, kick Pelosi out of the church
An American group dubbing themselves The Vanguard of St. Catherine of Siena has made headlines by protesting outside the Vatican this week, with the purpose of getting House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a practicing Catholic, excommunicated from the church based on her pro-choice politics. The protestors claimed to be spurred on by the passing of the health care bill, which one one protestor wrote, "is the most horrific treachery against life since Roe versus Wade."
Now on one hand, this excommunication request seems like something the current highly conservative Pope could consider. Pope Benedict XVI was, after all, the Cardinal who wrote the memorandum to American bishops in 2004, instructing them to deny communion to politicians who consistently promote legal abortion. The move was noted as an unprecedented intrusion into politics by the Vatican at a time when a pro-choice Catholic senator was running for president.
This is also the Pope who signed off on the excommunication of the family and medical team who performed an abortion on a nine-year-old Brazilian girl who was pregnant with twins after being raped by her stepfather, a sanction so harsh it outraged the Catholic country and made global news.
But when it comes to excommunicating Nancy Pelosi, there are plenty of obstacles, with a fact-based view of reality as the least of them.
The Pope, as anyone following the news might recall, is currently in the middle of a global scandal regarding priests who molested children and how the church tolerated and covered up their behavior, including the Pope's personal overseeing of a priest transferred for abuse, who was assigned to a new parish and abused more children. What's my point? Mostly that the Pope doesn't have a lot of leverage to condemn Nancy Pelosi while a Michigan priest known to have abused over 200 deaf boys lies in a consecrated, Catholic grave.
Not to mention the Catholic Church is all about gaining members these days, not kicking them out, fast-tracking conversions for Anglicans who don't like the women priests, openly gay members and blessings for same-sex unions their church has allowed.
And when it comes to The Vanguard of St. Catherine of Siena, the name is more impressive than the organization. Only about 10 members showed up to the protest in Vatican City, and the leader, Randall Terry, has lately become more notorious than respected even in American anti-abortion circles. Terry declared bankruptcy in 1998 after settling a lawsuit filed by the National Organization of Woman; was kicked out of Operation Rescue, the anti-abortion group he founded; and now spends his time burning Pelosi and Harry Reid in effigy, getting kicked out of health care town halls and attempting to turn the man convicted of the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller into a martyr.
But the Pope doesn't need a scandal threatening to take down his papacy, a wing-nut protestor or an abortion-health care boondoggle to inform his actions. He just has to look at the Holy Operations Manual, which, I believe, tells us to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and to render unto God what is God's.