Sunday, April 6, 2014

US: pro-abortion politicians are denied communion

Marco Tosatti
Vatican Insider
April 6, 2014

Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, who is well known for his fervent defence of the right to life and the natural family, has sent out a strong message, publicly announcing his support for priests who call themselves Catholics but refuse to administer Communion to Catholic politicians who favour policies that go against the Church’s teaching.

According to Lifesitenews, the prelate wrote to a pro-life activist explaining that he fully supports the decision taken by a priest in his diocese to deny the Eucharist to Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois. Durbin has a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood which favours abortion.

The content of Bishop Paprocki’s email was published by Catholic commentator Matt Abbott. “Senator Durbin was informed several years ago by his pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish here in Springfield that he was not permitted to receive Holy Communion per canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law,” Paprocki wrote. “My predecessor upheld that decision and it remains in effect. It is my understanding that the senator is complying with that decision here in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois,” the prelate wrote.

Canon 915 stipulates that “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.” The local diocese explained that canon 915 leaves it up to the individual ministers to decide when to deny someone Communion, whereas canon 916 leaves the decision up to the faithful, in cases where they are conscious of having committed a grave sin. Naturally, this is the subject of much debate in the Church because some bishops claim that to deny someone Communion would turn the Eucharist into a political weapon. But as others rightly say, denying the Eucharist to someone who has sinned gravely is an act of charity because it prevents the individual in question from committing sacrilege. It also prevents a scandal in the Christian community.

In 2004, the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, gave a very thorough response to this, making specific reference to abortion and euthanasia. “The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorize or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a "grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. [...] In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to 'take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it’"

“Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s 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 Church’s 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,” Ratzinger added. If “precautionary measures have not had their effect” or if “they were not possible”, the priest should refuse the person in question the Eucharist. “This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.”

The letter Ratzinger addressed to Cardinal McCarrick was leaked to the press and published and its authenticity confirmed. But the points mentioned are not widely or uniformly practiced. The Prefect of the Signatura, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, is one of its biggest supporters, stressing that denying Communion in certain cases is not a punishment but an act of “pastoral charity” for the above-mentioned reasons. Given his position, Burke can be considered one of the foremost authorities on Canon law. But a decision of this kind would require great courage on the Bishop’s part and could lead to politicians arguing over it or using it for their own ends. This would explain why the Paprockis out there are so few.

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