Bell, Book and Candle

Sen. Joe Biden has a problem with the Catholic Church – his stance on abortion which is in direct defiance of teachings and precepts of the religion the Delaware Senator purports to belong to.

Several Bishops and Arch-Bishops have already issued declarations denying Biden the Eucharist within their diocese and arch-diocese. This is but one step away from excommunication.

Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, wrote in 2004:

Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.

So one must wonder how long it will be before the Catholic Church takes the next step in remonstrating the wayward Senator and formally excommunicates him. Since all 55 US Catholic Bishops and Arch-Bishops have denounced the Democratic vice Presidential candidate I do not believe this step is very far away.

Indeed, Pope Benedict XVI has previously in 2007 unequivocally stated that pro-choice politicians not only should be denied communion, but face outright excommunication from the Church for supporting the killing of a human child.

Yes, that they are excommunicated isn’t something arbitrary. It’s envisioned in the law of the Church that the killing of a human child is incompatible with being in communion with the body of Christ.

— Pope Benedict XVI

According to Wikipedia, in the Middle Ages, formal acts of public excommunication were accompanied by a ceremony wherein a bell was tolled as for the dead, the Book of the Gospels was closed, and a candle snuffed out – hence the idiom “to condemn with bell, book and candle.”

It is not normal for such public ceremonies to be held today. Only in cases where a person’s excommunicable offense is very public and likely to confuse people – such as Biden’s case – is a person’s excommunicated status even announced, and that usually by a simple statement from a church official.

This may present quite a problem for the Obama-Biden campaign. Biden is being trashed across every state of the Union by Catholic newspapers, TV and radio stations, and blogs – and the likelihood of his excommunication will only make that worse.

There are 47 million Catholic voters in the United States. One quarter of all registered voters are Catholics. At every presidential election in the past 30 years the Catholic vote has gone to the winning candidate, except for Al Gore in 2000.

How many of these Catholic voters will vote for a man on the verge of being excommunicated?

Will the tolling of a bell be the death knell of Obama’s campaign? Will the book that is closed be the book on the Democrat’s chance at the White House? Will that candle that is snuffed out be the hope of the pro-choice Liberals?

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