If all Catholic bishops in the United States faithfully follow unambiguous canon law and papal guidance instead of disregarding it (for whatever reason) and prioritizing their personal preference, sacrilegious and publicly scandalous distribution and receipt of Holy Communion resulting in public confusion and disgust and utterly unCatholic "territorial morality" will mercifully end in the United States and the Catholic Church in the United States will be one and holy, as it's supposed to be.
When it came to the death of a Pope (John Paul the Great), the election of a new Pope (Benedict XVI, previously Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) and Pope Benedict's visit to the United States of America, the best coverage was provided by Raymond Arroyo, News Director of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), host of EWTN's "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" and author of the premier biography of EWTN’s foundress, Mother Angelica, and Mr. Arroyo’s favorite guest, Father Richard John Neuhaus.
During the papal visit last month, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Senators John Kerry and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, all baptized Catholics and Democrats who ardently advocate abortion as a civil right, nevertheless sought to receive and received Holy Communion from distributors of Holy Communion during the Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in Washington, D.C., even though they had not repented their grave sin of supporting abortion and were committing sacrilege and creating a public scandal by contemptuously receiving Holy Communion under those circumstances.
Most prominent pro-abortion politicians who did it politically helpful and/or amusing to pretend to be in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church by receiving Holy Communion are Democrats, but Democrats do NOT have a monopoly on such sacrilege and public scandal: when Pope Benedict celebrated Mass in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City a few days later, Rudy Giuliani, a Republican and a former New York City mayor and, thankfully, an unsuccessful candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, contemptuously sought to receive and received Holy Communion, even though he was barred from doing so under church law (Canon 916) not only for supporting abortion as a civil right, but also for remarrying while the woman to whom he is still married in the eyes of the Church is still alive.
In the May 2, 2008 installment of "The World Over," the astute, articulate and entertaining Mr. Arroyo and his knowledgeable guests, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz and Father Joseph Fox, focused on the pernicious problem of prominent pro-abortions politicians not only committing sacrilege by unworthily receiving Holy Communion, but creating a public scandal and sowing confusion by doing so.
Mr. Arroyo himself unhesitatingly and unambiguously explained that refusal of Holy Communion to such persons as required by Canon 915 is both an act of protection of a sacrament and an act of mercy toward a person who seeks to receive Holy Communion despite the mandates of Canon 915 to the distributors of Holy Communion and Canon 916 to persons seeking Holy Communion.
In describing mandatory refusal under Canon 915 as an act of mercy instead of a penalty, Mr. Arroyo reiterated the teaching of St. Augustine that “[m]edicinal rebuke must be applied to all who sin, lest they should either themselves perish, or be the ruin of others…." St. Augustine continued: "Let no one, therefore, say that a man must not be rebuked when he deviates from the right way, or that his return and perseverance must only be asked from the Lord for him.”
On April 23, 2004, Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, explained at a press conference in Rome that unrepentant pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians should be denied Holy Communion. Cardinal Arinze put it succinctly: "If they should not receive, then they should not be given." Cardinal Arinze was humbly following the mandate of Canon 915, which specifies that "[t]hose...who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."
Inspired by Cardinal Arinze, I began to write articles for Internet posting.
In my first article at www.catholiconline.com, titled “Holy Communion Should Be Denied to Kerry” and posted in May of 2004, I complained that the Roman Catholic Church ha[d] neglected to bar from Holy Communion many prominent nominal Catholics who publicly and proudly support abortion, in blatant violation of the fundamental Church teaching that human life is sacred and begins at conception,” and urged the Catholic Church in the United States to protect the Holy Eucharist instead of pandering to politicians.
“The protection of the Holy Eucharist must be the bishops’ paramount consideration today.
“House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, an ardent abortion supporter and nominal Roman Catholic, ‘fully intend[s] to receive communion, one way or another,’ despite Vatican opposition to the receipt of Holy Communion by persons professing to be both Catholics in a state of grace and abortion supporters.
“Ms. Pelosi explained that receiving Holy Communion is ‘very important’ to her. That makes good sense politically, since a Catholic who presents herself or himself for Communion thereby represents that she or he is in a state of grace and being in a state of grace (or at least appearing to be) is still a political plus.
“Will America’s Catholic bishops cooperate or chastise America’s Nancy Pelosi's, Tom Daschle's, Ted Kennedy's and John Kerry's? (Prominent nominally Catholic politicians tend to be Democrats, but there are some nominally Catholic Republicans who share their perverse priorities, such as Maine Senator Susan Collins.)
"That may depend upon which is more important to America's Catholic bishops, the Church's fundamental principles or its tax exemption.
“Canon 915 provides that “[t]hose… who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”
“Canon 915 protects the Holy Eucharist and prevents the public scandal that would result from ineligible persons receiving Holy Communion.
“Bishops who are reluctant to embarrass prominent politicians need to recall that Jesus had no patience for those moneychangers in the Temple. Protecting the sanctity of the Temple was His paramount consideration then. The protection of the Holy Eucharist must be the bishops’ paramount consideration today.
Instead the bishops as a conference chose to put their individual authority first (as though the answer should depend upon geography)!
In an article posted at www.intellectualconservative.com and titled "The Fundamental Flaw of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Statement on Politics and Public Life, I strongly criticized the conference for issuing a statement "empower[ing] each bishop to give or to deny Holy Communion as he chooses, at the expense of the Holy Eucharist, the Roman Catholic Church’s oneness and the plain meaning of Canon 915."
I reported that then Archbishop William J. Levada had stated at the conference: “[W]e bishops must…remember that we are called to shepherd the unity of the Church, in all its diversity. Thus the application of restrictive practices regarding the reception of Holy Communion in one diocese necessarily has implications for all. In this matter, we bishops owe it to our people to achieve a reasonable consensus among ourselves on issues affecting the common status of Catholics in American culture and political life.”
Instead of reaching a reasonable consensus to respect canon law regardless of political correctness, personal feeling and/or fear of retaliation, the conference opted for a territorial approach that contradicts the oneness of the Church in both theory and practice.
Mr. Arroyo reported that this continues to concern now prefect of the Congregation for the Protection of the Faith William Cardinal Levada.
As I wrote in 2004: “Averting public scandal is vital. As St. Thomas Aquinas long ago explained, a distinction ‘must be made’ between secret and open sinners, and ‘Holy Communion ought not to be given to open sinners when they ask for it.’”
Alas, like his predecessor Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Washington, D.C.'s current archbishop, Donald Wuerl, is not up to the task of refusing Holy Communion to prominent Catholic politicians, at least those legally residing outside his archdiocese, not matter how notorious their support of abortion is and how much time they spend in his Archdiocese.
Criticized for not doing so, Archbishop Wuerl responded that he would not bar a politician from receiving Communion unless the bishop of that politician's diocese had taken that step, and, even though Canon 915 does not provide for it and a bishop has jurisdiction over what happens in his diocese, whether it involves residents or visitors, he tried to justify his abdication of his responsibility to enforce Canon 915 in his Archdiocese as due deference based on respect for "the role of the local Church and the ministry of the individual bishop as shepherd of the Church entrusted to his care."
Note to other bishops: Please send Archbishop Wuerl a list of those to be refused Holy Communion when presenting themselves for Holy Communion in Archbishop Wuerl's Archdiocese.
I repeat which I wrote in 2004:
”A priest who knowingly gives Communion to a pro-abortion politician commits a grave sin as well as the unworthy recipient.
“'Sacrilege consists in profaning or treating unworthily the sacraments and other liturgical actions, as well as persons, things, or places consecrated to God. Sacrilege is a grave sin especially when committed against the Eucharist, for in this sacrament the true Body of Christ is made substantially present for us.’ Cathecism of the Catholic Church, Section 2120.
“St. Paul was unambiguous: ‘Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.’ 1 Corinthians 11:27-28.
“'Anyone who desires to receive Christ in Eucharistic communion must be in a state of grace. Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance.’ Cathecism 1415.
The Eucharist is properly the sacrament of those who are in full communion with the Church. Cathecism 1395.”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops needs to reread now Pope Benedict XVI's (then Cardinal Ratzinger’s) once confidential memorandum to Cardinal McCarrick and Bishop Wilton Gregory, then president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on the “General Principles” with respect to “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion.”
In that memorandum, delivered as guidance for the meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops last month, then Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 1981, stated succinctly, emphatically and unambiguously as follows:
“1. Presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion should be a conscious decision, based on a reasoned judgement regarding one’s worthiness to do so, according to the Church’s objective criteria, asking such questions as: 'Am I in full communion with the Catholic Church? Am I guilty of grave sin? Have I incurred a penalty (e.g. excommunication, interdict) that forbids me to receive Holy Communion? Have I prepared myself by fasting for at least an hour?' The practice of indiscriminately...presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion, merely as a consequence of being present at Mass, is an abuse that must be corrected (cf. Instruction “Redemptionis Sacramentum,” nos. 81, 83).
”2. The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorise or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a 'grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. [...] In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to "take part in a propoganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it"' (no. 73). Christians have a 'grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. [...] This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it' (no. 74).
”3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.
”4. Apart from an individuals’s judgement 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 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.'"
If all Catholic bishops in the United States faithfully follow unambiguous canon law and papal guidance instead of disregarding it (for whatever reason) and prioritizing their personal preference, sacrilegious and publicly scandalous distribution and receipt of Holy Communion resulting in public confusion and disgust and utterly un-Catholic "territorial morality" will mercifully end in the United States and the Catholic Church in the United States will be one and holy, as it's supposed to be.
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.