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And Then There Were Seven!

By Judie Brown

Twenty-one years ago American Life League launched our Canon 915 project. We proudly announced that Cardinal Raymond Burke was our inspiration, and Father James Buckley was our mentor. Father Buckley wrote,

It is of absolute importance for every Catholic to understand that once the words of consecration are spoken by a priest over the bread and over the chalice during the Mass, these things become the very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Son of God Himself. The appearances of bread and wine—the color, taste, the weight and shape—these remain, but what makes bread to be bread and wine to be wine are no longer present.

The Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law (915) language is clear: “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.”

American Life League ran newspaper ads encouraging the bishops to obey this canon law. We worked hard to get their attention through our Crusade for the Defense of the Catholic Church.

By emphasizing those in public life who have claim to be Catholic while supporting the manifest grave sin of killing preborn children by acts of abortion, we hoped to ignite a flame of action under Catholic bishops so that their defense of Christ would be more important to them than anything else.

Yet today the situation is grim. In the ensuing 20 years we have painfully noted that support for obeying Canon 915 has deteriorated among Catholic bishops to the detriment of the Catholic faithful, especially their souls. There are seven heroes among the hierarchy who defend Christ from sacrilege:

Of the 276 active bishops and auxiliary bishops in this nation, only seven have publicly chosen to defend Christ from sacrilege by obeying Canon 915! This is not only astounding but extremely sad.

In the midst of this disastrous situation comes a ray of hope, as it always does, from one priest who was so concerned about protecting the Eucharist from an allegedly angry lesbian that he was forced to bite her hand. Father Fidel Rodriguez, a 66-year-old parochial vicar at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in St. Cloud, Florida, was questioned by police and subsequently charged with one count of battery.

From our perspective, Father Rodriguez is a hero—the Tarcisius of our day. He explained that he refused this woman Communion and she became angry. According to news reports, she had approached for Communion with her partner, giving the impression that they planned to desecrate the sacrament.

The Diocese of Orlando defended Father Rodriguez, issuing a statement saying,

Having only one hand free, Father Rodriguez struggled to restrain the woman as she refused to let go of the hosts. 

When the woman pushed him and reacting to a perceived act of aggression, Father Rodriguez bit her hand so she would let go of the hosts she grabbed. The woman was immediately asked to leave.

St. John Paul II defined the Eucharist as the source and summit of our faith. Writing on this, Mark Brumley said, “To say the Eucharist is the ‘source and summit of Christian spirituality’ means at least two things. First, that Christian spirituality flows from the Eucharist as its source, the way light streams forth from the sun. And second, that Christian spirituality is supremely the Eucharist as its summit or high-point that to which all of our actions should ultimately be directed.”

When we reflect on this truth, the courage of Father Rodriguez, and the faith of those seven bishops who publicly stand in defense of Christ in the Eucharist, we pause to thank God for these heroes.

May their numbers multiply, please God!