UNBORN WORD of the day


eucharistic consistency and the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia
May 1, 2008, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Inspirational Pro-life leaders, Pope Benedict XVI, Pro-life

Kelly Clark had an interesting post concerning the recent discussion in the news about pro-abortion politicians receiving communion. Her title was: Bishops: I know you were busy with the Papal visit and all but Communion is…serious

We thought the following quotes and links would contribute to the ongoing discussion:

The following two quotes are taken from a memorandum sent by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in his capacity as Prefect for the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, in June 2004 to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick (who at that time was exercising leadership in the U. S. Conference of Bishops concerning matters of domestic policy). The memorandum is entitled Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion – General Principles:

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.”

Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

In Sacramentum Caritatis an Apostolic Exhortation issued by Pope Benedict on February 22, 2007 we find this:

“Here it is important to consider what the Synod Fathers described as Eucharistic consistency, … Evidently, this is true for all the baptized, yet it is especially incumbent upon those who, by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defense from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one’s children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms (230). These values are not negotiable. Consequently, Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce and support laws inspired by values grounded in human nature (231). There is an objective connection here with the Eucharist (cf. 1 Cor 11:27-29). Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them (232).”

Bishop Rene Henry Gracida, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, in an essay entitled A Twelve Step Program for Bishops said:

If the Penal Canons of the Code are now to be dusted off and brought out of the cupboard within which they have lain dormant for almost half-a-century, it is because the balm of mercy and discretion of measure have failed to heal the growing infection of error and scandal inside the Church and the genocide increasing daily in the world around us. The time for half-measures and fear of reprisal, loss of position, temporal advantage, or career opportunity is over – the time for action in now.”

To bring into focus the application of canon law to this topic, we highly recommend the recent scholarly article by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke entitled The Discipline Regarding the Denial of Holy Communion to Those Obstinately Persevering in Manifest Grave Sin (Periodica De Re Canonica, Vol. 96, 2007) and the interview with Archbishop Burke conducted by Barbara Kralis entitled: Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, the new ‘John Fisher’ by Barbara Kralis August 5, 2004.


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