The US bishops took care of other business yesterday, in addition to voting on the new translations of the Mass. They also voted on recommendations on what to do about pro-abortion Catholic politicians who present themselves to receive Communion. After working for three years, including a massive public debate during the height of the 2004 presidential election, what did the task force led by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick finally come up with?
U.S. Catholic bishops on Thursday ended years of soul searching over whether Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should be denied communion, leaving the decision with local bishops.
After years of “soul searching,” the best they could come up with was to punt?
Let’s get one thing straight: The decision always belonged to local bishops. Each bishop decides what must happen in his diocese. He is sovereign in matters like these. The job of the bishops’ conference was to provide guidance and principles based on the Church’s teachings. Both then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, were pretty clear on what should be done. Arinze even said that a First Communion child would know what to do: Follow Canon 915.
“Those who are excommunicated or interdicted after the impostion or declaration of the penalty and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”
Everyone agrees that there should be unity on this matter among the US bishops so as not to confuse the faithful, with one bishop giving Communion to Ted Kennedy, say, and another refusing. But no matter. The bishops who know what to do will continue to do it.
It’s not about politics and not about individual pols
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