In short, we will feel free even strongly to condemn the public policy positions of Catholic politicians who support abortion, embryo-destructive research, and homosexual marriage. They stand against the teachings of the Church and in favor of morally repugnant practices that are counter to the common good and that should be unwelcome in a just or even polite society. And we support bishops who move strongly to eliminate their grave public scandal. We say this not as Democrats or Republicans but as faithful Catholics.
Phony "Catholic" politicians, regardless of political affiliation, are to be deplored, and their attempted sacrilege and public scandal must be resisted, not ignored.
Canon law, that is, the law of the Roman Catholic Church, is clear: when a person distributing Communion objectively knows that another person seeking Communion is, in the words of Canon 915, “excommunicated, interdicted, or…obstinately persist[ing] in manifest grave sin,” the person distributing is obligated ro refuse Communion to the person seeking.
In response to the question,“Who is to judge the state of a Catholic communicant's soul? Who may make the decision to refuse Holy Communion?,” Archbishop Raymond Burke responded: “Canon 915 does not require that the competent authority in the church actually judge the state of a person’s soul, which only God can do, but rather the objective contradiction between the faith the person professes and his or her persistent actions contrary to clear teaching, after pastoral admonition, especially in the light of the harm that such counter-witness causes."
The Catholic Church has long declared that abortion is intrinsically evil and gravely sinful. Its position is that Communion should be received only by those "in full communion with the Church." No one who rejects the church's teaching on abortion can possibly be said to be "in full communion with the Church." The right to life from conception to natural death is as fundamental a church teaching as there is. Therefore, even though it may be politically incorrect and financially detrimental, all bishops should fulfill their responsibility to refuse Communion to notorious, unrepentant pro-abortion nominal Catholics, like 2004 Democrat presidential nominee Senator John Kerry and current Republican presidential aspirant former New York city Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
Archbishop Burke explained why in plain terms: “Supporting legislation that provides for procured abortion is participation in a gravely sinful act, what the church’s moral teaching calls formal cooperation. The natural and divinely revealed moral law forbids this cooperation in the taking of an innocent life (Evangelium Vitae, No. 73b). Therefore a Catholic politician who supports or votes for laws that are unjust, because they permit procured abortion, persists in a gravely sinful act.”
The claim that Holy Communion should be given to notorious politicians who deny fundamental church teachings on life and marriage in the name of civility is absurd.
A group of 96 principled prominent Catholics issued a petition opposing a noxious November 2007 "Call for Civility" that had urged Catholics not to demand excommunication for politicians at odds with Catholic teachings on abortion.
"As lay Catholics we should not exhort the Church to condemn our political opponents by publicly denying them Holy Communion based on public dissent from Church teachings," the statement read. "An individual's fitness to receive communion is his or her personal responsibility. It is a bishop's responsibility to set for his diocese the guidelines for administering communion."
Full text of "A Catholic Response to the 'Call for Civility'":
"1. All men and women of good will value civility, but civility is not the highest --- or the only --- civic virtue. Rather, justice is. As Pope Benedict XVI reminds us in Deus Caritas Est, 'Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics.'
"2. If Catholic politicians advocated segregation or --- even worse --- slavery, would there be a call for civility towards them?
"3. If Catholic politicians said they did not believe in just war principles but rather in aggressive wars of conquest, would there be a call to be civil toward them?
"4. If Catholic politicians said the poor are poor because of their bad behavior and we are not obliged to help them in any way, wouldn't we say they are heartless and even un-Christian?
"5. We know the answer to these questions. There would be a justified public and not very civil call for their removal from public life. Moreover, there would be a public and justified call for the Catholic hierarchy to do something about them. And leading the public cry would be many who have signed the 'Call for Civility.'
"6. Some ask for civility now for one reason, abortion. John Paul the Great called abortion the greatest civil rights issue of our time and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops recently called it the number one political issue of our time. Embryo-destructive research, and homosexual marriage follow right behind, though numerous Catholic politicians also oppose the fundamental teachings of the Church on these issues.
"7. The lack of public civility comes not from pro-lifers but from those Catholic politicians who support the right to kill innocent life in the womb and those who support defining man-woman marriage out of existence. But, some want to treat these politicians differently because they agree with them on important but purely prudential questions like health care, and the minimum wage.
"8. These are old and tired arguments that have been criticized by successive Popes and by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops for putting unequal problems on the same moral plane. Though not all of its signers intend it, we believe the effect of the 'Call for Civility' would be to silence the pro-life and pro-family movements. We oppose this effort root and branch.
"9. One of the greatest moral leaders in modern history led the fight in Britain to end the slave trade. William Wilberforce also campaigned for prison reform, the end of child labor and many other worthy social reforms. But Wilberforce knew that all these questions would never be answered until the great poison of the slave trade was ended. The slave trade coarsened the British people, the British ruling class, and British public life. In precisely the same way, abortion and other issues have coarsened our public life, and have poisoned American political discourse and our politics. Progress will not be made on other important but prudential issues about which well-intentioned people may disagree civilly unless and until the Culture of Death is as much a part of history as the slave trade.
"10. In short, we will feel free even strongly to condemn the public policy positions of Catholic politicians who support abortion, embryo-destructive research, and homosexual marriage. They stand against the teachings of the Church and in favor of morally repugnant practices that are counter to the common good and that should be unwelcome in a just or even polite society. And we support bishops who move strongly to eliminate their grave public scandal. We say this not as Democrats or Republicans but as faithful Catholics."
Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.
Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.
The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.
Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.