The Rocky Mountain News reports on a clarification by Bishop Sheridan published in the diocesian newspaper The Catholic Herald (Sheridan is in Rome and his spokesman was unavailable for further comment):
Catholic Bishop Michael Sheridan, of Colorado Springs, said this week he wants to clarify parts of an earlier letter on Holy Communion and politics that has inspired calls for IRS tax scrutiny.
"The most serious misrepresentation of my letter was the conclusion drawn by many that I, or other ministers of Holy Communion, would refuse the sacrament to people who voted in a particular way," Sheridan wrote. "Nowhere in the letter do I say this or even suggest it."
Sheridan continued: "The church calls upon sinners to withhold themselves from receiving Holy Communion until they have been forgiven their sins," including support for abortion. "This is a far cry from denying someone Communion. How, in fact, could I deny anyone Holy Communion since I would not know the condition of the communicant's soul?"
Members of this blog have pointed out the difference between refusing communion to anyone who approaches the alter and refusing communion to a politician or individual who by their persistent and public acts of disobedience to the Church (and refusal to change their position) become a source of grave scandal. Apparently, Sheridan's clarification wasn't good enough for some:
Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a watchdog group based in Washington, D.C., has asked the IRS to investigate whether the diocese forfeited its tax exemption because of Sheridan's May 1 letter.
In that letter, the bishop repeatedly refers to the November elections and also says that Catholic candidates "or those who would vote for them, may not receive Holy Communion until they have recanted their positions" and gone to confession.
Lynn said Sheridan's second letter may be milder and less controversial but it doesn't substantially change the message of his first.
"I don't buy it," Lynn said Wednesday. "I don't think that the clarification is good enough. He, in fact, said that you should not vote for candidates who disagreed with the church on certain issues.
Apparently Barry Lynn would simply prefer that Bishop Sheridan stop teaching the truth of the Catholic faith altogether in regard to "certain issues."
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, in his strongest statement to date, told Catholic journalists that "I'm not going to do it. I'm not going to ask my priests to do it."
McCarrick said denying Communion to politicians puts the church on a "slippery slope" that would eventually lead to denying Communion to voters who support those politicians.
"We should have no confrontation at the altar," McCarrick told members of the Catholic Press Association on May 27, according to Catholic News Service. "I'm not going to have a fight with someone, holding the sacred body and blood in my hand."
McCarrick, who had said previously that he was reluctant to use the Eucharist as a "sanction" against dissenting politicians, is heading a task force of bishops that is expected to make its recommendations after the November elections.
Is it just me, or does anybody else think that, having so clearly made up his mind against taking any action on this issue whatsoever, the fact that Cardinal McCarrick is heading such a "task force" seriously compromises its capability in deciding on a course of action?
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.