a demurral

By Fr. Paul Mankowski, S.J. ( articles ) | Jun 28, 2004

A recent Washington Post article juxtaposes contrasting views on the communion wars held by a prominent lay author and a high-profile Jesuit:

In a public debate in Washington yesterday, papal biographer George Weigel said the bishops had "moved the ball forward a little bit" with the declaration that politicians such as Kerry are cooperating in evil. But the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, editor of the Jesuit journal America, said that if the church insists that only people who are in full agreement with all of its teachings on abortion, contraception and other "life issues" are worthy of the Eucharist, "I'm afraid we're going to have nobody taking Communion."

Nobody taking Communion. As I parse it, Father Reese's statement amounts to a declaration that all Catholics of his acquaintance or awareness -- including, by implication, his brother Jesuits -- dissent in some manner from Church doctrine on human life and sexuality.

Last September the General Superior of the Jesuits reminded the Society that "the Jesuit who speaks or writes represents the Society and his confreres, even if he does not wish to do so." Father Reese does not speak for me on this matter. I am personally acquainted with seven Jesuits who (contra Reese) are "in full agreement with all of [the Church's] teachings on abortion, contraception and other life issues."

It seems to me that Reese exaggerates the global extent of Catholic dissent -- I have excellent reason to believe that at least two U.S. bishops accept Evangelium vitae full stop -- but I'm certain he's wrong about the Society of Jesus. Opinion is not unanimous.

UPDATE: Fr. Martin McDermott, S.J., currently working in Beirut, has written asking me to add him to the list of assenting Jesuits. I have heard rumors of a possible Ecuadoran as well.

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