Caution Misplaced

November 16, 2006 09:00 AM

In the November 15 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' statement, "Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper: On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist," we read the following on page 7: "Moreover we should be cautious when making judgments about whether nor not someone else should receive Holy Communion."

If the bishops are writing about public figures who are claiming to be Catholic while supporting abortion, they might have done well to recall the words of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, who wrote in his 2004 memo to the bishops, "Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion - General Principles":


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” (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Declaration “Holy Communion and Divorced, Civilly Remarried Catholics” [2002], nos. 3-4). This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgement 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 acts of pro-abortion Catholics in public life require a courageous response from the bishops, not caution. To deny the body and blood of Christ to someone who is publicly acting against Church teaching is to protect Christ from sacrilege and the people of the Church from scandal.

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