Sen. Kennedy given com­mu­nion in front of pope

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Ju­lia Duin

De­spite a 2004 or­der from the fu­ture Pope Bene­dict XVI bar­ring pro-choice Catholic politi­cians from the Com­mu­nion ta­ble, a quin- tet of elected of­fi­cials flouted his wishes twice dur­ing his re­cent six­day visit here by par­tak­ing of the sacra­ment right be­fore his eyes.

The bishops whose job it is to en­force the pope’s wishes have been all over the map in re­spond­ing. While New York Car­di­nal Ed­ward Egan pub­licly chas­tised for­mer New York Mayor Ru­dolph W. Gi­u­liani for tak­ing Com­mu­nion dur­ing an April 19 Mass at St. Pa­trick’s Cathe­dral, the bishops of Wash­ing­ton, Bos­ton and Nor­walk, Conn., have not dis­ci­plined mem­bers of their flock who par­took April 17 at Na­tion­als Park.

In fact, Sen. Ed­ward M. Kennedy, a lib­eral Mas­sachusetts

Demo­crat, got a per­son­al­ized de­liv­ery of Com­mu­nion, said Dan Ske­han, a busi­ness­man from Lan­caster, Pa., who sat in Sec­tion 216 di­rectly above the sen­a­tor.

Min­utes be­fore the rest of the enor­mous crowd lined up to re­ceive the sacra­ment, Mr. Ske­han and his two sons spot­ted a priest mak­ing his way down the steps to the sen­a­tor to hand him the con­se­crated host.

“It was ob­vi­ously pre­ar­ranged,” Mr. Ske­han said, “maybe out of re­gard for his girth and lack of mo­bil­ity. I turned im­me­di­ately to both my sons and said, ‘Oh my gosh, look at that.’ Ev­ery­one in my sec­tion, which was filled with peo­ple from Lan­caster, said, ‘That is out­ra­geous. How could they do that?’”

They were aware that Car­di­nal Joseph Ratzinger — now Pope Bene­dict XVI — had told Amer­i­can bishops in 2004 that pro-choice Catholic politi­cians should first be pri­vately ad­mon­ished to cease their ac­tivism on the abor­tion is­sue and then — if there was no change — to refuse the sacra­ment.

At first, on April 30, arch­dio­cese spokes­woman Susan Gibbs de­nied that Mr. Kennedy had par­taken, say­ing such a sce­nario “wouldn’t be pos­si­ble.”

Then on May 1, Mr. Kennedy’s of­fice e-mailed The Wash­ing­ton Times a one-sen­tence state­ment say­ing the sen­a­tor had in­deed re­ceived Com­mu­nion at the Mass.

Mr. Ske­han was in­cred­u­lous that the arch­dio­cese would plead ig­no­rance.

“They know which priest was as­signed to dis­trib­ute Com­mu­nion in that sec­tion,” he said. “Those priests couldn’t wan­der around. They had 47,000 peo­ple re­ceive Com­mu­nion in 15 min­utes. That was or­ches­trated. They knew who was where.”

The Catholic Church teaches that the con­se­crated host is the body and blood of Je­sus Christ and that to take it while con­sciously in a state of sin is, cit­ing the Apos­tle Paul in 1 Corinthi­ans 11:29, “to eat and drink your own dam­na­tion.”

The other pro-choice Catholic politi­cians who took Com­mu­nion at Na­tion­als Sta­dium were House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat; Sen. Christo­pher J. Dodd, Con­necti­cut Demo­crat; and Sen. John Kerry, Mas­sachusetts Demo­crat.

As word of Car­di­nal Egan’s chas­tise­ment spread, the Wash­ing­ton arch­dio­cese re­leased an April 28 state­ment ex­plain­ing why Wash­ing­ton Arch­bishop Don­ald W. Wuerl said noth­ing.

“The de­ci­sion con­cern­ing the re­fusal of Holy Com­mu­nion to an in­di­vid­ual can best be made by the bishop in the per­son’s home dio­cese with whom he or she pre­sum­ably is in con­ver­sa­tion,” it said. “Arch- bishop Wuerl re­spects the role of the lo­cal bishop as each bishop grap­ples with this de­ci­sion.”

As crit­i­cism mounted, the arch­bishop de­fended him­self in the May 1 is­sue of the Catholic Stan­dard, the arch­dioce­san news­pa­per.

“I have not ac­cepted sug­ges­tions that the Arch­dio­cese of Wash­ing­ton or epis­co­pal con­fer­ences have some par­tic­u­lar role that su­per­sedes the author­ity of an in­di­vid­ual bishop in his par­tic­u­lar church,” he wrote.

The Wash­ing­ton Times then con­tacted the home dio­ce­ses of Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Kerry, Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Dodd to ask whether those bishops had taken any dis­ci­plinary ac­tion against the politi­cians.

No re­sponse came from the Arch­dio­ce­ses of San Fran­cisco and Bos­ton, nor the Nor­walk, Conn., dio­cese.

Bos­ton Car­di­nal Sean P. O’Mal­ley an­nounced in April 2004 that pro-choice politi­cians should ab­stain, an in­struc­tion Mr. Kerry ig­nored at an April 11, 2004, Easter Mass in Bos­ton. Four days later, Mr. Kerry met with Car­di­nal Theodore E. McCar­rick, arch­bishop of Wash­ing­ton and chair­man of a U.S. Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bishops task force on bishops and pro-choice Catholic politi­cians.

The con­tents of that 45-minute meet­ing were not pub­li­cized, but the sen­a­tor has con­tin­ued to take Com­mu­nion.

In the days be­fore Bene­dict’s visit to the U.S., the Amer­i­can Life League (ALL), based in Fred­er­icks­burg, Va., ran news­pa­per ads with pho­tos of pro-choice politi­cians along with a note to the pope: “Don’t give th­ese peo­ple Holy Com­mu­nion be­cause there’s blood on their hands, and here are pic­tures so you can iden­tify them.”

“Arch­bishop Wuerl is right that it’s up to the bishop to dis­ci­pline their mem­bers,” said ALL spokesman Michael Hich­horn. “But to deny Com­mu­nion is not a dis­ci­plinary ac­tion; it is a de­fense of the Holy Eucharist.”

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