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Letters to the Editor: A church that would deny Communion to Joe Biden has lost its way

Archbishop of Los Angeles José H. Gómez leads a service.
Archbishop of Los Angeles José H. Gómez leads an Ash Wednesday service at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on Feb. 17.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” Friedrich Nietzsche’s sage observation defines the august Roman Catholic Church: Two thousand years of sanctimonious tilting against the perceived forces of evil have revealed it to be hollow and venal. (“Decrying ‘evil’ of abortion, L.A. archbishop became public face of plan that could deny Biden Communion,” Aug. 9)

The stubborn stance taken by Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gómez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, against the perceived “moral evil” of abortion, and the U.S. bishops’ calculated willingness to consider withholding the Eucharistic sacrament from President Biden for supporting a woman’s bodily autonomy, are the latest jaw-dropping indictments against this battered institution.

Biden’s policies regarding climate change, immigration reform, racism, inequality and the death penalty are eclipsed by one specious issue — an equation of myriad positives canceled by one negative.

My mother, a former nun and devout to the end, laughed about her favorite florid phrase from the church’s fulsome prayer-book sentiments I grew up with: “the odor of sanctity.” There’s an odor here, but it has little to do with purity.

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Mary MacGregor, La Quinta

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To the editor: What the bishops appear to forget is that at the time of Communion, a person is not a president or a member of Congress, but simply a recipient of a sacrament, as is anyone of the faith who comes forward to receive the Eucharist. Singling out those in government makes the bishops’ stance political.

Furthermore, there is a basic hypocrisy in claiming that adherence to Catholic doctrine requires these sanctions, when their actions are in direct conflict with the position of Pope Francis, whose role is the primary interpreter and enforcer of Catholic doctrine.

Finally, the bishops need to take a pro-life rather than an antiabortion stance — that is, they must show concern beyond the fetus with regard to policies that place those who have already been born at risk, be they victims of racism or immigrant children and their families.

If the bishops are going to be political, their mission demands they take broader responsibility.

Diane de Anda, Playa del Rey

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To the editor: Gómez’s decision to call out high-profile Catholic politicians is the proper thing to do when it comes to the precious issue of life.

As Americans, these politicians have every right to oppose the tenets and principles of the Catholic Church, but they do not have the right to masquerade as committed followers of the faith.

It is the moral responsibility of Gómez to remind all of us what is right and what is wrong, what is acceptable and what is not of those who practice this faith, and the reality that the acceptance of Holy Communion is based on the regular practice of penance and confession.

Those in high positions of power are required by oath to adhere to the U.S. Constitution, and they have made a willful decision in some cases to ignore the basic principles of life and death as seen through the lens of Catholicism. That is their choice.

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Nicholas J. Antonicello, Marina del Rey

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To the editor: How insulting for Gómez to claim that if bishops allow pro-choice politicians, including Biden, to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, that it could sow “confusion with the faithful about what the church actually teaches.”

American Catholics know what the church teaches on abortion, and polls consistently indicate that a majority of them disagrees with it.

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Where was the talk of withholding Communion when the Catholic former U.S. Atty. Gen. William Barr resumed federal executions last year? The archbishop and his conservative allies among the American bishops are proposing selective enforcement of church teaching.

Pope Francis reminds us that Communion “is not the reward of saints, but the bread of sinners.” It must not be used as a political weapon.

Christopher Cappiello, West Hollywood

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To the editor: The hypocrisy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is truly breathtaking.

If its members want to deny Biden the Eucharist, that is their right. But they should also deny the Eucharist to those in the church’s hierarchy, including themselves, who allowed the “moral evil” of the abuse of generations of children and protected the molesters instead of the victims.

This systemic hypocrisy is one of the main reasons I no longer consider myself a Catholic.

Mary Ellen Barnes, San Pedro

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To the editor: Gómez and his brother bishops have no choice but to deny Holy Communion to politicians who defend and facilitate the killing of millions of unborn babies.

That’s because all Catholics are subject to the church’s Code of Canon Law, which says those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” It’s hard to imagine a sin graver than presiding over the mass killing of innocent unborn babies.

When the church denies these politicians its holiest sacrament, it is protecting their eternal souls. According to 1 Corinthians, Chapter 11: “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”

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Mike Engler, Santa Barbara

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To the editor: We atheists and agnostics either laugh or cry at the quarrel over whether, within the church, Catholics who support abortion rights should be able to take Communion.

We humans exist in such great numbers because we enjoy sexual intercourse. Modern humans have existed for around 200,000 years, and couples, especially women up until very recently, haven’t been able to control their fertility, often with tragic consequences.

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So for me and the great numbers of people worldwide who have figured out that there is no god, we hope that these petty quarrels over nothing evolve into a recognition that we can all believe in science, and perhaps adopt the philosophy of Thomas Paine: “My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.”

Jane Roberts, Redlands


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