Those who have followed the work of American Life League over the past five years, in particular, realize that we have taken up the cause of encouraging Catholic bishops to enforce Church Law, specifically Canon 915.
Why? I have not explained this in a while, so for the record let me explain it now. Catholics recognize, through our faith, the true body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ present in the sacrament of Holy Communion. When we receive Communion, we are literally receiving Christ into our bodies, our souls, and our hearts … every fiber of our being. We do so with reverence and humility to the extent that our sinful state permits.
We cannot SEE Christ, but we believe He is with us in this most holy Sacrament. In the books of Catholic Church Law, the Code of Canon Law, Volume IV, which is dedicated to the Sacraments and how they are to be administered, you will find Canon 915, which states
Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.
We have focused our attention specifically on the second part of the Church law that states that "others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion." We know that the act of abortion is a manifest grave sin, and we know that as recently as 2004, Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, told all of the American Catholic bishops in a memorandum addressed to them
4. Apart from an individual's judgment about his worthiness to present himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone, such as in cases of a declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin (cf. can. 915).
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" , nos. 3-4). 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.
We are not brashly accusing bishops or attacking them when we ask them, therefore, to enforce Church law, for our understanding of this particular law is the same as that of Cardinal Ratzinger. Those in public life who display "obstinate persistence" do not deserve to receive the body and blood of Christ because giving them the sacrament is exposing Christ to sacrilege and compounding the sinful nature of the individual pro-abortion public figure's soul. Of that, there is no doubt.
So why haven't the American Catholic bishops understood this in the same way we do? Why haven't they, not to mention every Catholic priest, and Catholic deacon, and extraordinary minister enforced this clear and succinct Church Law? We do not know, but we do not intend to cease our efforts to see that this law is enforced.
Having said that, I also want to add that we are eternally grateful to the sixteen American Catholic bishops who have stood up and acted in defense of Christ. We applaud their courage and praise God for their actions.
The sad reality is, however, that the vast majority of Catholic bishops have not made the commitment to protect Christ from sacrilege by enforcing Canon 915. This is the main reason why we are grateful to our fellow Catholics at the PewSitter web site, for initiating an outstanding petition, focused on this specific Canon Law and addressing it to the bishops of the United States.
American Life League encourages you to read the Petition to Withhold Holy Communion, posted below. Go to the web site location of the petition, and add your name to the growing number of Catholics who are making it perfectly clear that the following two fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church inspire us to stand up and proclaim the truth: Christ is truly present in Holy Communion and must be protected from sacrilege. And, the act of abortion is an act of murder; it takes the life of an innocent human being.
In the United States there has been, and continues to be, an ongoing disregard, by prominent Catholics in public life, of the Church's teaching on a variety of serious moral issues including abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, homosexual "marriage", and human embryonic stem cell research to name a few.
Whereas, many of these prominent Catholics not only disregard the Church's teachings on these issues, but also actively and publicly promote policies and legislation that undermines, opposes and contradicts the Church on these serious moral issues.
Whereas, the Catholic Church has given the local bishop, every ordained Catholic priest and deacon the authority to deal with such manifestations of public disobedience to the Church's teachings.
Whereas, Catholics understand, support and respect the behind-the-scenes dialogue and diplomacy that goes on by our bishops and their priests, with prominent Catholics, to reconcile them with the Church and further recognize that as a Church, it is our strong preference to resolve such issues in private.
However, when prominent Catholics persevere in public, manifest grave sin – it becomes obligatory for a bishop, an ordained priest and/or deacon to take decisive public action and enforce Canon 915 by denying Holy Communion.
The bishop's, ordained Catholic priest's, deacon's, or extraordinary Eucharistic minister's obligation to withhold Communion not only protects the Holy Eucharist from sacrilege, but in addition it is an act of charity intended to protect the prominent Catholic's soul from the possibility of grave sin.
Whereas, bishops, ordained Catholic priests, deacons or extraordinary Eucharistic ministers who do not withhold Communion from such prominent Catholics that obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin, leave the impression such actions are condoned, or at least tolerated, and thereby perpetuate this scandal.
Whereas I, YOUR NAME, a faithful Catholic residing within the diocese of YOUR DIOCESE do find the reception of Holy Communion by these prominent Catholics to be scandalous; that it sets an example that will undoubtedly mislead others into participating, condoning and justifying these same immoral activities.
Whereas I fear for the souls of prominent Catholics in public office who risk further grave sin by receiving the Eucharist unworthily.
Whereas, Canon 212 '3, states that the Catholic faithful have ...the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church.
Be it therefore resolved in accordance with Canon 212 '3 , that I, YOUR NAME, do petition my bishop, YOUR BISHOP, to extinguish this scandal by withholding Holy Communion from those prominent Catholics who reside in this diocese, and are in a state of public, manifest grave sin, as stipulated in Canon 915 by enforcing Church law and by requiring that each ordained priest, deacon and extraordinary Eucharistic minister in your care do likewise.
So go now to www.pewsitter.com/petition and sign today!