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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Michael J. Gaynor
Bio: Michael J. Gaynor
Date:  March 2, 2009
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Stop Sacrilege and Scandal at the Communion Rail

Distributing Holy Communion to Speaker Pelosi and Vice President Biden DOES signify that they appear to be in full communion with the Church, even though their positions on life issues are contrary to fundamental Church teaching, and therefore constitutes public scandal and a source of public confusion (in addition to permitting sacrilege).

Those who eschew "confrontation at the Communion rail" pretend that Canon 915 is optional, not mandatory.

Canon 915 states: "Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."

"[A]re not to be admitted" does not mean "may be admitted."

There are four parts to canon 915 that must be satisfied before Holy Communion is required to be refused: 1) The sin must be obstinate; 2) the person in question must persist in the sin; 3) the person in question must be a "manifest" (that is "public") sinner; and, 4) it must be a grave sin.

When all requirements are met, the Bishop, bound by canon 915 to protect the integrity of the Eucharist, must give the public notification to his priests and deacons not to allow sacrilegious Communions, and to not cause scandal to and create confusion among the people.

Those who must be refused are responsible for putting themselves in that position, not bishops or distributors of Holy Communion.

These days there can be no question that Vice President Joseph Biden and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi must be refused.

Visiting the Pope did not signify that Speaker Pelosi is in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

Being seen in public with ashes on his forehead on Ash Wednesday does not signify that Vice President Biden is in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

Distributing Holy Communion to Speaker Pelosi and Vice President Biden DOES signify that they appear to be in full communion with the Church, even though their positions on life issues are contrary to fundamental Church teaching, and therefore constitutes public scandal and a source of public confusion (in addition to permitting sacrilege).

Allowing either of these public sinners who obstinately persist in grave sin is itself sinful!

As Bishop of the diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, Raymond L. Burke, D.D., J.C.D., first privately communicated with three "Catholic" legislators, imploring them, "to make their consciences correct with Magisterial teachings." All three politicians refused to meet with him. Instead of tolerating the scandal they were causing in his diocese by continuous conduct "seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm," then Bishop Burkeissued the appropriate canonical notification stating: "...Catholic legislators who are members of the faithful of the Diocese of La Crosse and who continue to support procured abortion or euthanasia may not present themselves to receive Holy Communion. They are not to be admitted to Holy Communion, should they present themselves, until such time as they publicly renounce their support of these most unjust practices."

Archbishop Burke asserted, "No good bishops could stand by and let this happen. These public legislators are in grave sin."

I doubt that it is a coincidence that Pope Benedict XVI later appointed now Archbishop Burke Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the position that Pope Benedict XVI had held as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger before his election as Pope.

Likewise, I doubt that it was a coincidence that Speaker Pelosi's recent meeting with Pope Benedict XVI was private and the press office of the Holy See quickly issued a statement reporting that Pope Benedict XVI used the meeting to address the duty of a "Catholic" legislator to protect human life from conception to natural death.

It is time (really past time) for Speaker Pelosi to be refused Holy Communion until she repents.

Fortunately, Robert F. Martino, the Bishop of Scranton, Pennsylvania, has caused a public notice titled "Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion" that makes it clear that Vice President Biden is to refused Holy Communion if he returns to the diocese of his birth and presents himself for Holy communion without publicly repenting first.

The official notice states:

"The Eucharist is the source and summit of all Christian life. It is the sacrament of salvation, the Body and Blood of Christ offered for us on Calvary and received by us, the People of God. Regarding the Holy Eucharist, St. Paul says, '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' (1 Cor. 11:27).

"The law of the Church requires each Catholic, before receiving Holy Communion, to make a careful examination of conscience, using the teachings of the Church as the examining criteria. After this private examination, each Catholic is able to determine whether he or she is prepared to receive the sacrament. Canon 916 of the Code of Canon Law states:A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.

"The above mentioned preparation is private, as the state of each Catholicís soul is known to him or her alone. However, there are instances when a Catholicís unworthiness to receive Holy Communion will be determined by the Church because of a personís public conduct. This determination does not depend upon the private examination of conscience but results rather from a Catholicís public and persistent actions in opposition to the moral law as taught by the Church. In these cases, the Church forbids members to receive the sacrament. Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law 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.

"In recent years, the Holy See has declared that those who are unworthy to receive Holy Communion if they are 'obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin' include persons directly involved in lawmaking bodies. These have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life. Pope John Paul II also addressed this matter when he wrote, 'The judgment of oneís state of grace obviously belongs only to the person involved, since it is a question of examining oneís conscience. However, in case of outward conduct which is seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm, the Church, in her pastoral concern for the good order of the community and out of respect for the sacrament, cannot fail to feel directly involved. The Code of Canon Law refers to this situation of a manifest lack of proper moral disposition when it states that those who "obstinately persist in manifest grave sin" are not to be admitted to Eucharistic communion.'

"In 2004, the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) instructed the Bishops of the United States as follows: Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a personís 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 Churchís 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.

"This denial, the Cardinal noted in the same instruction, 'is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy of Communion passing judgment on the personís subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the personís public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.'

"Therefore, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, Bishop of Scranton, reminds all ministers of Holy Communion, ordinary and extraordinary, that:

1. To administer the Sacred Body and Blood of the Lord is a serious duty which they have received from the Church, and no one having accepted this responsibility has the right to ignore the Churchís law in this regard;

2. Those whose unworthiness to receive Holy Communion is known publicly to the Church must be refused Holy Communion in order to prevent sacrilege and to prevent the Catholic in question from committing further grave sin through unworthy reception."


Michael J. Gaynor

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Biography - Michael J. Gaynor

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,,, and 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.

Gaynor's email address is

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