New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey will comply in part with Newark Archbishop John J. Myers' new opinion that abortion rights supporters should not receive communion: He will not take the corpus christi at public mass (though he might do so in private).

You may have noticed that this new move to deny the eucharist to pro-choice politicians varies from place to place. Washington's Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, for example, seems to have given John Kerry the cover he needs, for the time being. (And Bob Novak objects.) While it's unclear that the principle of subsidiarity applies to RCC governance, this seems like a civilized way of keeping the controversies as local as possible.

Novak and an assortment of Catholic pundits are calling for the no-wafer rule to be applied strictly; Andrew Sullivan lodges an objection to these calls. Obviously, the little princes of the church are free to meddle in politics if they choose, and the possibility that John Kerry or Nancy Pelosi or George Pataki might lose the Catholic vote (if there is such a thing) costs me exactly zero (0) seconds of sleep. But I do have to ask whether these garden variety American politicians are really more deserving of religious censure than Generalissimo Francisco Franco. The late Spanish dictator retained the ardent support of the church in Spain while his regime was killing people by the box lot. I believe he was a daily communicant.*

I'm sure interested parties can demonstrate that this seeming inconsistency is either justified or immaterial or not inconsistent at all. But it's a real stretch to pretend that there's some kind of immutable moral law demanding that the bishops take this measure.

* While I've always heard Franco kept a daily minister on retainer, I don't know for sure and have found no indication one way or another on the web. I dont' know much about Franco except that he's still dead. Portugal's Ant?nio de Oliveira Salazar, whose platform of "fado, Fatima, and football" kept him in office for 40 golden years, was more my style.