Vatican correspondent Francis X. Rocca misleads readers of The Wall Street Journal that the U.S. bishops eschewed controversy by neglecting to barr pro-abortion Catholic politicians from receiving Holy Communion in their new document on the Eucharist. Rocca correctly notes that the bishops never specify names of individual Catholics prohibited from the sacrament. It’s unclear this was ever intended. Publishing a list of certain individuals would equate the USCCB with a sinister form of neo-puritanism in the perception of the public. And the public wouldn’t be wrong.
Nevertheless, the bishops clearly re-iterate the constant teaching of the Church, explicitly referenced as early as St. Paul: manifest, notorious sinners must not receive holy communion, lest they commit sacrilege and give scandal to the faithful. The bishops reference John Paul II in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, who distinguishes between subjective culpability and objective public evil. The Holy Father writes, “In cases of outward conduct which is seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm, the Church, in her pastoral concern for the good order of the community and out of respect for the sacrament, cannot fail to feel directly involved.” The Pontiff then cites canon 915 —legislation still binding today — which legislates withholding holy communion from those who “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin.”
One must ascribe to a bizarre form of mental gymnastics to hold that a Catholic politician who publicly supports the destruction of innocent human life escapes this criterion. While the bishops did not name any Catholic in particular in their document, they did teach the perennial discipline of the Church, which applies to every Catholic, from postman to president. If you publicly act in a way which supports evil, you are not to receive holy communion.
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