Friday, September 07, 2007

Communion for Abortion-Supporting Pols? Another Look

And, not surprisingly, the answer is still "No." "No" to politicians who "obstinately persist...in grave sin" by supporting abortion (or embryonic stem-cell research, for that matter.)

So says Abp. Burke of St. Louis, who just happens to have advanced education in Canon Law.

...In addition, the Decree of Gratian quotes the discipline of the Council of Agde or Montpellier: <>. [22] The cases which demand refusal of Holy Communion are seen to include murder and false witness, both public acts involving grave matter. Until the guilty party has been absolved of the grave sin, his reception of Holy Communion would constitute sacrilege and would give scandal to others, leading them to confusion regarding the sacredness of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Abp. Burke dismisses the opinion of the West Coast Cardinal who deliberately confused Canons 915 and 916, too.

One bishop issued a statement on the same day as the statement of the body of Bishops, which intimated that can. 915 is not to be applied in his diocese. He stated:

The archdiocese will continue to follow church teaching, which places the duty of each Catholic to examine their consciences as to their worthiness to receive holy communion. That is not the role of the person distributing the body and blood of Christ [4].

The statement of the bishop in question confuses the norm of can. 916, which applies to the self-examination of the individual communicant, with the norm of can. 915, which obliges the minister of Holy Communion to refuse the Sacrament in the cases indicated.

In a tour of historical responses to questions regarding 'those to be admitted to Communion,' the Archbishop mentions (inter alia) the case of those who join or promote the Communist Party:

On July 1, 1949, the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office issued a decree in response to four questions regarding the involvement of Catholics with the Communist Party. The third question was: <>. [46] The acts treated in the first two questions were: <>; and <>. [47]

The response to the third question was:

<No, according to the ordinary principles of denying the Sacraments to those who are not disposed >>. [48]

In the response to the first question, the reason why those who cooperate, in some formal way, with the Communist Party are not disposed to receive the Sacraments is provided. The response explains:

For Communism is materialistic and anti-Christian; the leaders of the Communist Party, moreover, even if at times they declare that they do not oppose Religion, in truth, they show themselves, both by teaching and by action, to be inimical to God, to true Religion, and to the Church of Christ. [49]

The lesson that Abp. Burke draws?

The discipline, in particular, indicates that among the categories of persons who are to be denied Holy Communion are they who publicly espouse political doctrines which are hostile to the Faith and to the Church. In a similar way, those who publicly support political platforms or legislative agenda which are gravely contrary to the natural moral law show that they are not rightly disposed to receive Holy Communion.

The whole thing is at the link, and it's pretty-near-exhaustive on the topic. Near the end, the Archbishop very gently dismantles the "argument" of canonist John Huels in favor of admitting to Communion the politicians:

John M. Huels, the commentator on can. 915 in the New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, commissioned by the Canon Law Society of America, reduces scandal to a subjective reality, ignoring its essential connection to what is objective, what is right and wrong. He states:

The fact of actual scandal is, moreover, culturally relative. What causes scandal in one part of the world may not cause scandal elsewhere. In North America the faithful often are more scandalized by the Church's denial of sacraments and sacramentals than by the sin that occasions it, because it seems to them contrary to the mercy and forgiveness commanded by Christ. [76]

If a word, an action or an omission leads another into error or sin, there is scandal, whether the person who is led astray knows that he has been scandalized or not. If, as the commentator suggests, the faithful in North America believe that persons who publicly and grievously sin should be admitted to Holy Communion and that it would be wrong to deny to them the Sacrament, then effectively the faithful have been scandalized, that is, they have been led to forget or to disregard what the perennial discipline of the Church, beginning with Saint Paul's admonition to the Corinthians, has always remembered and safeguarded.

The Abp. also cites the Codes of the Eastern Churches which (as you might guess) are consistent with those of Pio-Benedict (1917) and of John Paul II (1983.)

Frankly, there's not much left to say...

HT: Catholic World News

11 comments:

Michael Ejercito said...

It is one matter for bishops to tell Catholics, "YOU cannot have an abortion
and still be a good Catholic" and quite another to say, "You must try to
pass laws that say NO AMERICAN can have an abortion." The latter brings
back some VERY bad historical memories about the Catholic Church trying
to run countries-- I recall that this is how it got itself kicked out of
England in the late 16th century-- and it will NOT be tolerated by a
nation that prides itself on relgious freedom.

Dad29 said...

I thought my post was pretty clear---it's about "Catholic" pols who SUPPORT abortion and ESCR.

That's different from banning it--as you know.

Of course, I would ban it entirely. The Catholic church is not the only one which operates on the basis of the 10 Commandments.

capper said...

The Catholic Church also came out against the Iraq war. Would they withhold the sacraments from those that support it?

Dad29 said...

I'm sure you know, Capper, that the teaching on abortion is infallible and that the opposition to the war in Iraq is NOT 'infallible.'

That makes all the difference in the world.

By the way, Capper, Just War Theory does allow for war to relieve horrific oppression; just wars are not only 'defensive' in nature. Saddam was a nasty fellow; ask any Kurd.

St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse said...

Well, this discussion may be germane to both sides.

Are we called by God to represent Christ to the world, or represent fallen Man to the World?

A Politician who claims to follow Christ cannot, when politically expedient, excuse his deviancy from the Gospel by saying "I'm representing my constituents." Either Christ is your constituent, or He is not.

By claiming to be a member of the Church, or one of many splinters, one is obligated to honesty in relation to one's beliefs and adherance to the doctrine attibuted to the congregation. But Politicians, I observe, while wholly believed by constituents to be honest while on the stump, are expected to be duplicitous in exercise of their office.

RAG said...

It's so nice Ray Burke found a home in St. Louis. Hope he stays there a long time.

I have a lot of issues with "politicians who support abortion." How many politicians have said that they do? And how do we really know if they do?

The fact that a politician may not vote to criminally punish abortions does not necessarily mean support. The criminal law is not the only authority. One could, arguably, not punish criminally the right of the individual to choose yet that does not end the matter. There is an authority higher than the government.

Dad29 said...

Evidently you're a pal of the Archbishop of St. Louis, eh?

We could look at funding, too, my friend. Unless you're merely looking for excuses.

RAG said...

What's also nauseating are the politicians who play both ends.

I think the "right to choose" in any situation also carries with it a responsibility for the choices that are made.

How many people drive the wrong way on I-94? Not many.

Why is that?

Probably because you know what the consequences will be if you do.

Sometimes I think abortions are the symptom of a much larger problem that nobody wants to address.

Dad29 said...

Abortions are symptomatic of a society which worships Mammon.

I'll say it.

M.Z. Forrest said...

While the judgment regarding the disposition of the individual who presents himself to receive Holy Communion belongs to the minister of the Sacrament...

Nothing has changed. He is affirming that his judgement is an acceptable one to hold, a finding contested by some on the left. I think the left is groundless in their objection on the matter. The Archbishop is of the opinion that one is in poor judgement if he does not refuse the Sacrament to those whose support of abortion is manifest. I am sympathetic to that sentiment and pray that ministers adopt it. However, poor judgement does not make a bishop or priest an apostate or heretic as is so often alleged at sites like the Cafeteria is Closed.

Anonymous said...

Withholding the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist from someone in an obstinate state of sin is not a matter of opinion. It is canon law. Further,it is not a form of punishment, but of fraternal correction which one is obligated to do in order to save the person's soul. The Eucharist is Jesus Christ, God man, only present in two places, here on earth in the Blessed Eucharist and in Heaven. If a person is in a state of mortal sin and receives the Holy Eucharist, then he commits a sacrilage. THis is what Judas did. After he betrayed Christ, he received Holy Communion.