Serious Situation

“Cardinal Will Meet With Lawmakers on Communion” (May 30-June 5) mentioned that the Code of Canon Law in No. 915 says those who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Communion.

Some have called the denial of Communion to pro-abortion politicians a sanction. It's really a canonical remedy. The priests are not condemning anyone. They are trying to heal and save souls. They are pointing out the grave seriousness of the situation.

Wouldn't it be a sacrilege for a priest to give the Eucharist to anyone who publicly goes against Church teaching committing a grave sin?


Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Politicizing Doctrine

In the Catholic News Service article “Life Issues Must Come First for Catholic Voters, Cardinal Says” (May 9-15), Washington, D.C., Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who is leading a group of bishops working to determine the Church's response to politicians who publicly contradict Church teaching — including their reception of the Eucharist — said the group would not complete its work until after the November election. This unfortunately makes the worthy reception of the Eucharist sound tied to electoral politics. The group needs a publicized schedule to complete its work independent of electoral politics.

According to Cardinal McCarrick, the task force is also going to engage in “deep consultation” with U.S. bishops, episcopal conferences all over the world and the Vatican. It sounds as though the group could take a decade or more to finish its tasks. If this group has to spend all this time in consultation, then the canon law regarding the reception of Communion by publicly obstinate sinners must be so vague as to be useless.

This problem has been with us in the United States for more than 31 years since the legalization of abortion, and it has been a problem since St. Paul's time. It is unfathomable that lay people should have to wait so long and see so much money spent to answer what appears to be obvious: Politicians who persist in publicly encouraging the killing of anyone should be denied the Eucharist until they repent.

Letting such politicians receive Communion is letting them define the Catholic faith as a religion that sanctions the killing of the pre-born. Their reception of the Eucharist is a very bad example, especially for young people, and it is very bad for the future of the Church. Lay people deserve better!


Gaithersburg, Maryland

Listen Here

Regarding “Pro-Terrorism, But Great on Other Issues!” (April 11-17), Father Frank Pavone's guest editorial:

I just wanted to let your readers know that St. Joseph Radio has recently recorded two talks by Father Pavone regarding the importance of the foundational pro-life issue in the upcoming elections. Father does a great job of explaining how our country was founded on the basis that our nation's laws would not conflict with God's laws.

I think it is a set of talks that everyone needs to listen to before they vote and that they need to share with their pastors and friends.

The tapes can be ordered through St. Joseph Radio by calling (714) 744-0336 or visiting our bebsite, www.stjosephradio.com.


La Palma, California

Judging Kerry

Regarding Trappist Father James Conner's letter “Don't Judge Politicians” (May 30-June 5):

I'm sorry, but I cannot see any similarity between St. Mary Magdalene and Sen. John Kerry. The former recognized the fact that she had sinned grievously against the Lord and committed herself to repentance. The latter refuses to admit he sins in voting for abortion, even partial-birth abortion, which most doctors agree is never “medically necessary.”

Kerry reminds me much more of the Scribes and Pharisees who insist they are righteous and to whom Jesus says, because of the very fact that they believe they are righteous, “Woe to you.” We are insisting that Communion be refused to those who publicly sin and are publicly unrepentant in order to avoid the scandal of seeming to condone a horrible form of sin: making it fully legal for a mother to murder her own child.

Perhaps if President Bush were Catholic, he should be denied the Eucharist, too, but he is not Catholic. And though the wartime activities are horrible, and though he has done other things that do not truly support those who are least among us, he is not fighting to keep laws that are evil. We need to be rid of those immoral laws as a nation — the fact that we have this as a “right” is worse than any war. More American children are killed every year by abortion than Americans killed in all our wars combined.

I ask that Father Conner call to mind what St. Paul said about the man who publicly engaged in incest and refused to repent (1 Corinthians 5).



Episcopal Cops

Regarding “Communion Issue Shows No Sign of Letting Up” (May 23-29):

New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey is being commended because he said he would obey Newark Archbishop John Myers, who said he should not receive Communion. What was left out of your article was that the governor said he would not receive at “public Mass,” intimating that he will receive privately.

We don't expect our bishops to be policemen, standing at the Communion line and rejecting people. However, these are our shepherds and we expect them to lead our confused sheep. We expect them to get their act together.

What good will [Cardinal Theodore McCarrick's task force] be if it won't release its conclusions or plans until after the November election? By then it will all be over and we will get what we deserve.


Brick, New Jersey

Pentecost Past

I enclose a clipping from your May 30-June 5 edition to ask: Why was there no mention of Pentecost or the Holy Spirit for the great feast of Pentecost?

As you are aware, Easter and Pentecost stand alone as our two great feasts in Christianity. What happened? Suppose we did that to Easter or even Mother's Day?

As the Holy Father said at Vatican II: “No Holy Spirit, no Church.”

Otherwise, I love your paper.


North Providence, Rhode Island

Editor's reply: Good catch, Father. We try to include at least one mention, if not some form of dedicated coverage, for every major feast as the liturgical calendar rolls along. Some years, one of the big ones manages to slip past. That's what happened this past Pentecost. Lord willing, we'll make up for the oversight next 50th day after Easter.

Nonexistent Noah?

Regarding “Raider of Noah's Lost Ark” in the June 6-12 issue:

There were statements in this article implying that Noah was not a physical being, a real historical person. I have heard similar stories regarding Adam and Eve, too.

When I read Genesis 5:3-32, 11:10-26 and Matthew 1:2-19 as well as Luke 3:23-38, these genealogy passages include the names of Adam and Noah. If Adam and Noah did not exist, then guess what? Neither did Jesus.

Some atheists say religion is a man-made means to control the masses. If Adam, Noah and Jesus did not exist, maybe they are correct — in which case our faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:14).

If I am understanding this issue incorrectly, please educate me and my six children. Please include documents that exclude my understanding and show it as false.


Flower Mound, Texas

Editor's reply: If Jesus did not exist, our faith is most certainly in vain. The article did not imply that Noah did not exist, just that the account of the ark is not meant to be taken as historical reporting. If you're interested in reading more about genealogy, or any other aspect of Scripture studies, look up the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, founded by Dr. Scott Hahn, at salvationhistory.com.

Restorative Justice in Review

Regarding the Catholic News Service article “Southern Bishops Suggest Restorative Justice Rather Than Imprisonment” (May 23-29):

The article states: “The idea is not to replace the current court system, the bishops said, but to offer, for example, programs such as mediated victim-offender community conferences.”

The last sentence of the article states: “If the parties are unwilling or unable to reach a resolution, the case goes back to regular criminal court.” This sounds as if this system is intended to replace the criminal court system.

I agree that the criminal should have to face his victim and make restitution. He or she must also pay the penalty required by law.

We have seen in the past where such programs lead to the regular release of criminals who repeat the same crime again and again. Remember the murderers who were released from life in prison because they wrote a book and a famous author felt they had repented of their sins and secured their release? They murdered again.

The bishops have also pressed for the lenient treatment of juveniles. I remember a TV interview many years ago with a juvenile who had been arrested for killing a rival gang member. When asked if he would kill after he became an adult, he replied: “Heck no. They can fry you as an adult.”

I hope the bishops will not short-circuit our justice system.


Los Angeles

The Earth is Not Our Mother

“The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate.”—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy