Catholics & the 2004 Presidential Election - Collected Readings & Resources


Friday, May 28, 2004

A Puzzling Statement by Another Bishop 

Posted by Oswald at 12:18 AM

The Catholic News Service is reporting that Pittsburgh Bishop Donald Wuerl spoke recently to a Catholic audience and stated that denying the Eucharist was not part of the "pastoral tradition" of the Church. My initial reaction is that canon law clearly envisions denying the Eucharist to pro-abortion politicians, as canonists have pointed out (see, for example, this analysis by Dr. Edward N. Peters). Does pastoral tradition nullify the explicit words of canon law? In my humble view, if it is in canon law, it is part of the pastoral tradition of the Church. Canon law reflects the pastoral tradition of the Church, and cannot contradict it.

The Pope's own words in promulgating the current Code of Canon Law bear witness to this organic and close relation between canon law and the pastoral practice of the Church by noting the purpose of canon law:

[I]ts purpose is rather to create such an order in the ecclesial society that, while assigning the primacy to love, grace and charisms, it at the same time renders their organic development easier in the life of both the ecclesial society and the individual persons who belong to it.

Source: Apostolic Constitution Sacrae Disciplinae Leges, available at this link (scroll down document).

Canon law, theology, and pastoral practice are intended to reflect the same truth. If American pastoral practice contradicts the carefully redacted text of canon law duly promulgated by the Pope, then it seems to me that something is amiss in pastoral practice in the United States (see Canon 24).

The Diocese of Pittsburgh website provides the entire text of the bishop's address on May 25, 2004. Most of the address is an eloquent affirmation that abortion and voting to keep abortion legal are both grave evils. The surprising problem is that the bishop fails to draw the logically required conclusion from his own eloquent statement of the relevant premisses! Instead, when you think he is about to concur that politicians who obstinately persist in supporting abortion should be denied the Eucharist, he pulls back citing concerns about Church interference in politics. The bishop puts forth three inadequate reasons for pulling back from the conclusion required by his own statement of Catholic teaching on abortion:

1. That the issue of supporting legal abortion is on a par with other issues such as the death penalty--but he himself states earlier in his remarks that the right to life is "the most fundamental of all human rights";

2. That we have to consider under what circumstances we would deny the Eucharist to any Catholic--but the issue, as he himself earlier pointed out, focuses on the peculiarly public position of politicians, not on the situation of unknown Catholics;

3. And that the Church recoils from judging the "state of the soul" of those presenting themselves for Holy Communion--but canon law does not require such a subjective assessment but merely a determination that the individual is in an objective state of grave sin, and certainly the Church makes that sort of determination in her rule barring divorced and remarried Catholics from the Eucharist without delving into the reasons for their marital situation.

The bishop's own analysis begs for the conclusion that pro-abortion politicians should be denied the Eucharist. His eloquent statement of the foundations for that conclusion lead me to hope that he will, sooner or later, come to the manifestly required conclusion.


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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Documentation

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Periodicals

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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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