By Judie Brown
The erroneous and nasty idea that someone in public life can be both Catholic and pro-abortion is once again front and center in the news.
Just recently a public figure said, “I have a traditional Catholic personal position, but I am very strongly supportive that women should make these decisions and government shouldn’t intrude.”
Scandalous gobbledygook has been the case for some years now. The hierarchy, for the most part, will avoid commenting on this or doing anything about it. Frankly this is not really all that shocking to me. Over the years, a pattern has developed—one that is troubling in many ways.
To be specific, efforts launched by American Life League in 2003 focused on Canon 915 and the reasons why we begged Catholic bishops to enforce it. But what is Canon 915?
Canon 915 is part of the Catholic Church’s set of laws addressing “order and discipline, structures, rules, and procedures in the Church.” Canon 915 specifically sets forth the conditions that require a denial of the sacrament of the Eucharist. It states in part that those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”
Pope Benedict XVI, who was prefect of the Congregation for the Faith before being elected pope, sent a memo on this topic to America’s Catholic bishops in 2004. He wrote:
5. 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.
6. When "these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible," and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, "the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it." . . . This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.
The explanation, like the law itself, is clear. Yet many bishops said otherwise at the time and since. It is obvious that the right thing to do when a public figure claims to be Catholic and yet supports abortion is to deny that individual the sacrament of Holy Communion until he has repented of his sin of supporting the killing of the preborn.
Yet most prelates are mute. Consequently, the conscious decision to ignore Canon law creates confusion, scandal, and worse among Catholics in general while allowing the offending Catholic to skate.
In the case of Vice President Biden, his bishop said, "I do not intend to get drawn into partisan politics nor do I intend to politicize the Eucharist as a way of communicating Church teaching."
He preferred dialogue to obeying Canon 915. Note that he suggested that enforcing the law and denying the Eucharist to someone like Biden or any other public figure supporting abortion could be viewed, in his opinion, as “partisan politics.”
Since when is protecting the body of Christ from sacrilege “partisan politics”?
Many other prelates agreed at that time, and to this day have done nothing. Therefore, today’s headlines should not surprise anyone. The lack of action from our hierarchy breaks our hearts. Our sadness runs deep and the despicable lack of zeal for Christ among many of our shepherds frightens us.
When we consider the challenges that confront us today as Catholics, we would be wise to recall Father Regis Scanlon’s words: “Before we can straighten out the problems in marriage and the family, we must first straighten out the problems between Christ and His Church—in other words, we must straighten out the problems between the Eucharist and us.”
Until we do, “Catholic and pro-abortion” will continue in all its arrogance, each time spitting on the face of Christ!