Catholics & the 2004 Presidential Election - Collected Readings & Resources


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Canon Lawyer Critiques Cardinal Mahoney 

Posted by Christopher Blosser at 9:33 PM

Cardinal Mahoney made a number of interesting comments on the topic of giving communion to pro-abortion Catholics politicians. According to Tidings Online:

In Rome, Cardinal Mahony told CNS: "I'm slightly mystified why this is all coming up now. We've had pro-choice Catholic politicians going to Communion since Roe vs. Wade," the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

"The church has always been quite cautious about denying anyone the sacraments of the church," he said. "And, in fact, with respect to the Eucharist, it really is not possible for a priest or bishop to deny someone Communion unless that person is known to have been a public sinner, in the sense of having been interdicted or excommunicated or formally sanctioned in some way.

"The presumption is that if someone presents himself for Communion, that they are doing so with the belief that they are in a state of grace and receiving in good faith the Eucharist," he said.

"That is the decision the communicant makes, not the person giving Communion," Cardinal Mahony said.

The Cardinal's position appears to be that education is a more efficient and productive strategy than sanctions:
The cardinal said the only way to reduce and eventually eliminate abortion is to convince people that it is wrong.

"What the church has been doing has had great success," he said, citing a recent poll of young women showing that support for the most liberal access to legalized abortion "has dropped from 64 percent to 55 percent."

"The politicians themselves are not going in for abortions; it's women themselves, so that's the group we need to influence," he said.

I'll agree with Mahoney that education should be emphasized -- from every pulpit, in every parish, our bishops and priests should be proclaiming the Church's teaching. Denying communion to obstinate sinners, however, is another matter. Canon law professor Dr. Peters has posted an analysis of the Cardinal's comments to his blog, pointing out statements by the Cardinal that are either incomplete or altogether erroneous. Dr. Peters concludes:
Let's be clear about what Abp. Burke and others are doing: Their stance against pro-abortion Catholic politicians receiving the Eucharist is completely justified. In brief, their decisions are 1) made in the realm of sacramental discipline, not penal law; 2) meant to prevent serious scandal to the faithful, curb sacrilegious reception of Communion, and impress upon certain persons the gravity of their deeds; 3) binding on all ministers of the Eucharist in their jurisdictions; 4) illustrative for others who, someday, as will we all, have to account to Jesus for what they did with His Precious Body and Blood. I need hardly add that all that is necessary to secure one's readmission to the Eucharist would be confession and firm purpose of amendment. 

I agree with His Eminence that we have had pro-abortion Catholic politicians receiving the Eucharist since 1973. What’s changed is that we now have bishops who are saying enough is enough.

Dr. Peters is also author of "Denial of the Eucharist to pro-abortion Catholic politicians: a canonical case study", which he wrote more than a decade ago and has posted to his website (Please alert your local bishop).

Thanks to Benjamin Blosser for the link.


Ongoing commentary by the editors of CatholicKerryWatch


Sen. John Kerry stands with Kate Michelman (right) President of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Since 1995, Michelman's group has given Kerry a 100% rating for his voting record to defend abortion.

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Related Documents & Articles

Worthiness To Recieve Communion: General Principles
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Evangelium Vitae
Pope John Paul II

Worthy to Receive the Lamb: Catholics in Political Life and the Reception of Holy Communion, from Archbishop Donoghue (Atlanta, GA), Bishop Baker (Charleston, SC) and Bishop Jugis (Charlotte, NC).
August 4, 2004

Catholics in Political Life U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. June 7, 2004.

Catholic Politicians and Bishops. By Most Rev. Raymond L. Burke, Archbishop of St. Louis. America June 21-28, 2004.

A Time For Honesty, Pastoral Statement by The Most Reverend John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark. May 5, 2004.

Why Communion Could Be Denied to Anti-Life Legislators. Interview with Father Thomas Williams, dean of the School of Theology of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum.

Why Don't Catholic Politicians Practice What the Catholic Church Preaches?, by Judie Brown. Washington Dispatch April 19, 2004.

How to tell a Duck from a Fox: Thinking with the Church as we look toward November, by Archbishop Chaput. Denver Catholic Register April 14, 2004.

On the Dignity of Human Life and Civic Responsibility, a Pastoral Letter by La Crosse Bishop Raymond L. Burke.

Blood On Their Hands: Exposing Pro-abortion Catholic Politicians, by Mark Stricherz. Crisis May 2003.

The Failure of Catholic Political Leadership, by Robert P. George & William E. Saunders. Crisis 18, No. 4 (April 2000).

Denying Holy Communion: A Case History, by Bishop Emeritus Rene Henry Gracida. [PDF Format].

Ten questions regarding the denial of the Eucharist, by Barbara Kralis.

Recommmended Reading

John Kerry, Abortion and the Catholic Church

Irreconcilable Differences", by Matthew Mehan. NRO Sept. 16, 2004.

John Courtney Murray and the 'Liberal Catholic' Justification of Abortion Investigative report by Christopher Blosser. August 30, 2004.

"Please answer the question, Senator Kerry", The Mighty Barrister. August 2, 2004.

You wouldn't even ask. Fr. Pavone (Priests for Life). July 2004.

Kerry isn't making abortion stand clear, by Raymond J. Keating. Newsday July 27, 2004.

Senator Kerry May Be Human . . . But is He a Person?, Catholic Kerry Watch. July 23, 2004.

Kerry's Catholic Problem, by Brent Bozell. July 7, 2004.

The Body Politic and the Body of Christ: Candidates, Communion and the Catholic Church. Debate btw/ Thomas J. Reese, S.J. and George Weigel. June 23, 2004.

The Kerry challenge, by George Weigel. May 5, 2004.

Rites and Wrongs: Why John Kerry should not take communion, by Philip F. Lawler. Wall Street Journal April 30, 2004.

John Kerry's Catholic Problem", by Cal Thomas. April 26, 2004.

Kerry Distorting Catholic Doctrine. Newsmax.com interviews George Weigel. April 16, 2004.

"Personally Opposed, But…" Five Pro-Abortion Dodges, by Todd M. Aglialoro. Crisis April 1, 2004.

On Embryonic Stem-Cell Research

Reagan vs. Reagan and The Stem-Cell Cover-Up, Catholic Kerry Watch, August 14, 2004.

Senator Kerry dismisses religious convictions as "ideology"  Catholic Kerry Watch. August 9, 2004.

Ron Reagan & Functionalism, Revisited, Catholic Kerry Watch. July 29, 2004.

Out of Touch, by Michael Fumento. Refuting Kerry's claims on the use of embryonic stem cells. Citizen Magazine August 2004.

Stem Cell Defection, by Ramesh Ponnuru. National Review August 16, 2004.

Stem Cell Research: Fact Sheets, Letters to Congress and Articles from the USCCB.

On Voting, "Proportionality" and Cardinal Ratzinger's Memorandum

What Ratzinger Said, by James Akin. Sept. 9, 2004.

Bishops Refute Flawed Theology (of Andrew Greeley) Barbara Kralis. August 22, 2004.

Thoughts on Proportionality, Catholic Kerry Watch. July 12, 2004.




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