Communion Statement Stirs Controversy
A new document from the U.S. bishops on the worthy reception of Communion skirts the issue of pro-abortion Catholic politicians.
BY WAYNE LAUGESEN
November 26-December 2, 2006 Issue | Posted 11/22/06 at 11:00 AM
And, contrary to the wishes of at least one bishop, it contains no specific guidelines regarding couples who use contraception.
Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper, adopted 201-24 Nov. 14 at the
It lists 10 sinful activities of modern life — inspired by the 10 Commandments — as general examples of behavior that should prevent Catholics from receiving Communion in the absence of reconciliation.
Bishop Sheridan said the document should have stressed that canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law forbids Communion to those who “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin.”
Several bishops, including Bishop Sheridan, have stated in recent years that politicians and others who aid the abortion industry are obstinately complicit in grave sin and should not take Communion.
The issue emerged again during
debate on the Eucharist document when
St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke said Catholics who write or vote for pro-abortion laws are rampant and cause widespread scandal and confusion by defying canon law and receiving Communion.
“Why is it that whenever one of these politicians is notorious for voting against the natural moral law ultimately he gets his picture in Time magazine receiving holy Communion?” Archbishop Burke asked. “It’s an open affront to the Church and her most sacred teaching. It’s profoundly confusing to the faithful, and we should clear it up.”
Opponents of Bishop Tobin’s amendment, which failed on a voice vote, said the document was not intended as a technical tool for bishops, pastors or ministers, but as an aid to the laity in personally preparing for Communion.
The list of grave sins mentioned in the document includes “committing murder, including abortion and euthanasia.”
Though the document says nothing about pastoral refusal of Communion to Catholics who make pro-abortion laws, it says anyone who publicly rejects definitive Church teaching gives scandal and should refrain from receiving Communion.
“Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil,” it states.
San Diego Auxiliary Bishop Salvatore Cordileone tried to amend the document to state specifically that contraception, in absence of reconciliation, would be reason to avoid Communion. His amendment failed 75-148.
Bishop Cordileone argued that on the list of examples of grave sins should be “those issues that are serious and commonplace because they’re readily accepted as morally legitimate by society as a whole.”
“Contraception fits those criteria,” the bishop said. “We all know how widespread it is, and there’s no doubt about its seriousness. The contraceptive mentality is at the heart of all of the problems our contemporary society is experiencing in the areas of marriage and family life. People have been misled.”
Bishop Cordileone told the Register the document should not be confused or misused as “tacit approval” of contraception.
“The Committee on Doctrine
unanimously felt it would call too much attention to this one particular issue
and detract from the whole document,”
Bishop Serratelli said that the document, drafted by the Committee on the Doctrine that he heads, was never intended to include an exhaustive list of specific sins.
“This is not meant in any way to be a tacit approval, and the other document we approved today [on married love] deals with the issue of contraception very thoroughly,” Bishop Serratelli said. “It would be difficult for anyone to believe we approve of contraception.”
In response to the defeat of
amendments to the Communion document,
“He said we must not forget that the episcopal conferences have no theological basis,” Bishop Bruskewitz said. “He said ‘they do not belong to the structure of the Church, as willed by Christ, that cannot be eliminated. They have only a practical concrete function.’
“He said, quote: ‘No episcopal conference as such has a teaching mission. Its documents have no weight of their own save that of the consent given to them by the individual bishops.’
“He said quote: ‘It is a matter of safeguarding the very nature of the Catholic Church, which is based on an ecclesial structure and not on a kind of federation of national churches. The national level is not an ecclesial dimension.’”
Said Bishop Bruskewitz, “I just say this to contextualize all of the various productions of this episcopal conference.”
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