(The third of four blog entries that originally appeared on Beliefnet when I was guest-blogging for Charlotte Hays.)
Last week, the US bishops held their biannual meeting and one of the hot items discussed by the press was a proposed uniform policy on Communion for Catholic politicians who are pro-abortion. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington is heading up the task force delegated to handle that task and he told the Washington Post that most US bishops and the Vatican are not inclined to do deny Communion on that basis.
How can he say that when we have the text of a letter sent by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the leading Vatican voice on the matter, to McCarrick that says just the opposite. Ratzinger is very clear and unambiguous:
Apart from an individuals’s judgement about his worthiness to present himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone, such as in cases of a declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin (cf. can. 915).
Notice he uses the word “must” not “may”, implying that the Eucharistic minister has an obligation and a duty to follow through.