Why should Speaker Pelosi re­ceive Com­mu­nion?

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Catholic Democrats pushed through a gov­ern­ment takeover of health care that forces all tax­pay­ers to fund abor­tion on de­mand. This re­jected the in­struc­tion of the U.S. Catholic bish­ops. Why, then, can th­ese pub­lic dis­senters against Catholic teach­ing re­ceive Com­mu­nion at churches in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal?

In the last year, my col­leagues and I have taken two trips to Rome to meet with Vat­i­can of­fi­cials con­cern­ing the scan­dal caused by Wash­ing­ton Arch­bishop Don­ald Wuerl, who per­mits Catholics who pro­mote abor­tion to re­ceive Holy Com­mu­nion in his arch­dio­cese, which in­cludes the U.S. cap­i­tal.

On our first trip in March 2009, we pre­sented “Oves Sine Pa­s­tore” (Sheep Without a Shep­herd). On our more re­cent trip three weeks ago, we pre­sented “San­guis In­no­cens, San­guis Sanc­tus” (In­no­cent Blood, Sa­cred Blood). Both de­tail this prob­lem. All to­gether, we met with of­fi­cials from over 25 Vat­i­can offices, in­clud­ing four car­di­nals, a half-dozen bish­ops and nearly 20 priests.

Our mes­sage got straight to the point: Arch­bishop Wuerl is in open de­fi­ance of Pope Bene­dict XVI’s in­struc­tion to Ameri- can bish­ops that he wrote as Car­di­nal Joseph Ratzinger in 2004, when the car­di­nal was pre­fect of the Con­gre­ga­tion for the Doc­trine of the Faith, which is the Catholic Church’s doc­tri­nal watch­dog.

In “Wor­thi­ness to Re­ceive Holy Com­mu­nion,” then-Car­di­nal Ratzinger said Com­mu­nion “must” be “de­nied” to Catholic politi­cians who pro­mote the killing of un­born ba­bies by abor­tion. Car­di­nal Ratzinger specif­i­cally re­ferred to Canon 915, which 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.”

The logic is sim­ple. The church teaches that abor­tion is mur­der. For a Catholic politi­cian — such as Mrs. Pelosi — to pro­mote mur­der while claim­ing to be Catholic is a grave pub­lic scan­dal, which au­to­mat­i­cally dis­qual­i­fies her from re­ceiv­ing Com­mu­nion. It is not up to her con­science; she must be de­nied.

About 15 U.S. bish­ops fol­low Car­di­nal Ratzinger’s in­struc­tion. Bishop Rene H. Gracida of Cor­pus Christi, Texas, Bishop Fabian Bruske­witz of Lin­coln, Neb., and Arch­bishop Joseph F. Nau­mann of Kansas City, Kan., have pub­licly de­nied Com­mu­nion to pro-abor­tion Catholics.

In open op­po­si­tion to the Vat­i­can di­rec­tive, Arch­bishop Wuerl and dozens of other U.S. bish­ops — in­clud­ing prom­i­nent prelates such as Car­di­nal Sean O’Mal­ley of Bos­ton and Car­di­nal Fran­cis Ge­orge of Chicago — say that the lo­cal bishop can de­cide whether or not to with­hold Com­mu­nion from those re­spon­si­ble for abor­tion. Some say the de­ci­sion de­pends on “pas­toral style;” oth­ers claim they are try­ing not to “politi­cize Com­mu­nion.” Af­ter the ex­cuses are prof­fered, they pro­ceed to give the blood of Christ to those whose hands are cov­ered with the blood of ba­bies.

Our ques­tion to Vat­i­can Sec­re­tary of State Car­di­nal Tar­ci­sio Ber­tone and other church leaders in Rome was sim­ple: “Who is right? Car­di­nal Ratzinger, or Arch­bishop Wuerl? They can­not both be right.”

Arch­bishop Wuerl has tried to write him­self a “pass,” stat­ing that th­ese er­rant Catholic politi­cians are the prob­lem of the bish­ops of their home dio­ce­ses and are merely guests in his arch­dio­cese. How­ever, His Ex­cel­lency is the chief shep­herd of the ter­ri­tory as­signed to him and the chief presider of the Eucharist. He is there­fore canon­i­cally re- spon­si­ble for what hap­pens in his dio­cese re­gard­ing those who ap­proach to re­ceive the Eucharist.

We told our Vat­i­can hosts that the fruit of Arch­bishop Wuerl’s “col­le­gial treach­ery” is that the teach­ing of the church is marginal­ized, the mur­der of ba­bies is min­i­mized and Holy Com­mu­nion is triv­i­al­ized. The mes­sage sent is that killing ba­bies isn’t so bad; Holy Com­mu­nion isn’t so sa­cred.

We asked the Vat­i­can to in­ter­vene in this scan­dal and to “cau­ter­ize the wound” by in­struct­ing Arch­bishop Wuerl as the bishop of our na­tion’s cap­i­tal to for­bid Mrs. Pelosi and other pro-abor­tion Catholic politi­cians from re­ceiv­ing Com­mu­nion. If His Ex­cel­lency will not obey, we re­quested that he be re­lo­cated — per­haps to Idaho or Mon­tana — and re­placed by a bishop with true Apos­tolic valor. We need a man who will up­hold the teach­ings of the church in the place where Amer­ica’s laws are made.

One Vat­i­can of­fi­cial joked, “What do you have against Mon­tana?” On the se­ri­ous side, one prelate shook his head in dis­may at the mess in Wash­ing­ton and de­clared his full sup­port for the po­si­tion put forth by then-Car­di­nal Ratzinger. Arch­bishop Ray­mond L. Burke, who as pre­fect of the Apos­tolic Sig­natura is the Vat­i­can’s chief judge on canon law, told us plainly: “I would en­cour­age the faith­ful when they are scan­dal­ized by the giv­ing of Holy Com­mu­nion to per­sons who are pub­licly and ob­sti­nately in sin, that they go to their pas­tors, whether it’s their parish priest or to their bishop, to in­sist that this scan­dal stop.”

Our dis­cus­sions in Rome showed that the same abor­tion strug­gle we face in Amer­ica is hap­pen­ing in­side the Vat­i­can. Some want the Eucharist prop­erly pro­tected from scan­dal; oth­ers want to go on with busi­ness as usual. My sense is that both sides know that this cri­sis is not go­ing to go away, and that at some point — no mat­ter how painful it is — this boil must be lanced.

If bish­ops will not with­hold Com­mu­nion over child killing, for what crime would they with­hold it? Our un­happy task is to lift up our voices un­til truth pre­vails, in­no­cent chil­dren are pro­tected from mur­der and Holy Com­mu­nion is pro­tected from sac­ri­lege.

Ran­dall Terry is the founder of Op­er­a­tion Res­cue. More in­for­ma­tion can be found at ahum­ble­plea.com.

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