The Washington Times - August 25, 2008, 04:17PM

In a reprise of 2004, it’s now Round 2 of the Catholic bishops versus pro-choice politicians in who does or does not get Communion.

Sen. Barack Obama’s weekend announcement of his new running mate, Sen. Joseph Biden, was not even 24 hours old when Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver told an AP reporter the senator should not be presenting himself at the Communion table.

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In case any of you have not read a newspaper in the past month, the Democratic convention is in Denver as we speak, which makes the archbishop’s comments kind of in your face, don’t you think? And if the Democrats don’t get that message, they’re welcome to join the prelate tonight when he and Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, demonstrate in front of a Planned Parenthood clinic not far from the convention center. Must say the archbishop is no shy guy when it comes to making a point.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that his new book, “Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life,” is just out and now at No. 134 on Amazon.com, which is pretty good for a book on Catholic theology and history. Usually it’s only the pope who gets those kinds of sales figures. 

Some good background on Sen. Biden’s dilemma is here at this excellent Catholic blog. Seeing that, I whipped together a story Monday morning which appeared here. Now here is my question for Democrats: Wasn’t 2004 lesson enough? That was when Sen. John Kerry got blindsided by 12 to 14 Catholic bishops who publicly told him not to show his face at a Communion table in their diocese. It was horrific publicity, and Kerry never recovered. Some Democrats, including Amy Sullivan in her book “The Party Faithful,” attributed Kerry’s loss in Catholic votes to his losing Ohio and, with it, the election. 

I am curious: Do the Democrats think the bishops have just faded away? Archbishop Chaput’s statement was just an opening salvo. I just checked out the Priests for LifeWeb site,which, in commenting on the Biden selection, calls pro-choice politicians “public hypocrites.” A group called Catholic Democrats says the selection of Biden is a good thing. A Chicago Catholic group called Fidelis calls the choice of a pro-choicer “a slap in the face to Catholic voters.” And on and on. Has Sen. Obama any idea of the religious war he has stirred up?

So here we go again with more “wafer watch” stories. (Don’t criticize me for using this term. Archbishop Chaput also uses it on Page 223 of his book). Which is good for us religion writers. I am not convinced it’s beneficial to the Democratic Party. 

 

 

— Julia Duin, assistant national editor/religion, The Washington Times