Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Conservative commentator Sean Hannity’s support for contraception and a segment on his TV show has led to criticism of him as a dissenting “cultural Catholic,” led by a priest who heads a major pro-life group and who said Mr. Hannity should be denied Communion.

“I have no problem with birth control. It’s a good thing,” Mr. Hannity has said, prompting the Rev. Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, to send a mass e-mail last week calling the Fox News Channel and talk-radio host’s repeated public defenses of contraception “just devastating for the faith of others who may be weak or vacillating in this area.”

“We have enough pretenders to the title of Catholic in public life without being treated to superficial assessments of profound moral issues. … Public Catholics like Hannity have no right to profess ‘another Gospel,’ or the faith of millions — and indeed their own souls — are in serious jeopardy,” Father Euteneuer said.

The sparks have been flying via the YouTube.com video site and the conservative Catholic blogosphere ever since.

The priest appeared on Friday’s “Hannity & Colmes” program, where Mr. Hannity defended himself by telling the priest that he studied Latin and theology, and went to a Catholic school. He repeatedly warned Father Euteneuer by citing the Bible passages of “judge not, lest ye be judged” and “ye who is without sin cast the first stone.” Mr. Hannity demanded, “Why don’t you work on the corruption in the church? Why don’t you work on the sex scandal?”

When Mr. Hannity asked if the priest would deny him Communion, Father Euteneuer responded, “I would.”

The Rev. Jonathan Morris, a Fox News commentator, defended his network colleague, saying Father Euteneuer “exercised, on this occasion, shockingly poor judgment,” but called it “an honest mistake” in “brandishing law without palpable love.”

Prominent Catholic bloggers saw it differently. Amy Welborn at her site (https://amywelborn .typepad.com) criticized Mr. Hannity for “running all over” Father Euteneuer and “refusing to give him three seconds to actually explain church teaching.”

Mr. Hannity is not backing down, saying on Monday’s radio program that if he were excommunicated he would call the Rev. Jerry Falwell and ask to join his Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va.

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