The full text of Bishop Sheridan's letter of clarification countering further misinterpretation and misrepresentation by the press can be found here. (Thanks to Episcopal Spine Alert for the link).
Bishop Sheridan concludes his letter by responding to two pertinent and persistent questions posed by the press and those who disagree with him: "Won't your letter be the cause of some people leaving the Church?" and "Should the Eucharist be used as a weapon to force certain behaviors or punish others?"
In response to the first, Bishop Sheridan replies:
The truth of God can be divisive. Jesus foretold this. Truth is especially divisive when it challenges opinions that we hold dear. Jesus wanted his followers to accept His truth rather than their own opinions. Some did and some did not. But Jesus never stopped teaching the truth. And the Church will never stop teaching the truth.
In response to the allegation that the Eucharist is being "used as a weapon", he responds:
In hearing [this] from some Catholics I learned that there is a certain way of thinking that suggests that the Eucharist has little or no relationship to the way we live our lives in the world. It seemed beyond comprehension to them that anything should ever separate them from the Eucharist. This way of thinking comes as no surprise if we simply take note of the fact that everyone receives Holy Communion on Sunday and almost no one goes to confession.
Turning to Sacred Scripture once again, we recall St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians in which the apostle expresses his concern that some in the Corinthian community were receiving the Eucharist unworthily. He had heard of behavior in the community that was so contrary to Christian teaching that he told the Corinthians to examine their consciences well. He did not hesitate to write that "whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup unworthily sins against the body and blood of the Lord" (1 Cor. 11:27). The Church has always held that a Catholic must approach Holy Communion in the state of grace. Anything less is a sacrilege.
This, of course, is where the disagreement occurs. Some people have written to me and said that nothing or no one outside of themselves can determine the moral significance of their actions. They alone would decide what is right and what is wrong. This stance, claimed as Catholic, ignores Jesus' constitution of His Church and the Church's teaching authority. Jesus said to Peter: "I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you declare bound on earth shall be bound in heaven; whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 16:19). Again, as Catholics we live under a divinely established law. It is this law that must guide our every action.
Sheridan's stance on this issue runs counter not only to that of Senator Kerry but Cardinal McCarrick as well. Indeed, his rejection of the notion that the Eucharist is being used as a "weapon" in this matter seems to me a direct challenge to McCarrick's protests that he is "uncomfortable" using the Eucharist as a "sanction."
Let's hope that the Cardinal and the Bishop will have the opportunity to speak with each other during the conference later this month.
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.