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Late Night: Excommunicate the Nonbeliever!

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Speaking of unpleasant people who want to wine-dine-69 Jesus but haven’t heard a damn word He said: 

The Rockford Pro-Life Initiative has called on Francis Cardinal George to excommunicate Governor Pat Quinn for his outspoken support of same-sex “marriage.”


Governor Quinn’s support for same-sex “marriage” puts him at odds with the leadership of the Catholic faith he claims to belong to.  Three Illinois bishops released letters to be read from the pulpit in parishes statewide over the weekend opposing the legislation.

Members of the Rockford Pro-Life Initiative, however, do not think the letters go far enough.

“If Cardinal George and all the Illinois Bishops declare that any politician who claims to be Catholic, including Gov. Quinn, [who] votes for a homosexual marriage bill would be automatically and publicly excommunicated, this would stand a very good chance of protecting marriage,” the group said in a statement.

Quinn went right ahead and signed the bill, excommunication rumblings be (literally) damned, so obviously these scolds wield a lot of power.

Ugh, they’re so tiresome. Look, there is no “public” excommunication. This isn’t the Salem witch trials. You don’t have to stand in a public square while the Pope rips your crucifix off. You don’t have to wear a sign or serve time in the stocks. The Pope writes you a mean letter, at most, if you’re a head of state or something. And making voting in favor of marriage equality an “automatic” excommunication would require an actual change to the church’s internal laws: 

A few more points about excommunication. This penalty is biblical, and both St Paul and St John make reference to the practice of cutting people off from the community, in order to hasten their repentance. It is useful to remember that the penalty is designed to bring the sinner back to repentance. It can be abused, used as a political tool and even employed for the purposes of revenge – but those would be abuses of Canon Law.

In other words, squirrel nuts, read the damn doctrine you claim to revere. If it’s a public shaming you’re hankering after, you’re only going to bring one on yourselves.


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Allison Hantschel

Allison Hantschel

Allison Hantschel is a 10-year veteran of the newspaper business. She publishes First Draft, a writing and politics blog, with her partners Holden, Jude and Scout. She is the author of the books Chicago's Historic Irish Pubs (2011, Arcadia Publishing, with Mike Danahey) and It Doesn’t End With Us: The Story of the Daily Cardinal, about a great liberal journalism institution (2007, Heritage Books). She also edited the anthology “Special Plans: The Blogs on Douglas Feith and the Faulty Intelligence That Led to War” (2005, William, James & Co.) Her work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Daily Southtown, Sirens Magazine, and Alternet. She lives in Chicago with her husband, two ferrets, and approximately 60 tons of books.