The Eucharist is Not a Weapon: Part I

This reflection is now available in Daniel P. Horan, OFM’s book Franciscan Spirituality for the 21st Century: Selected Reflections from the Dating God Blog and Other Essays, Volume One (Koinonia Press, 2013).

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75 Responses to “The Eucharist is Not a Weapon: Part I”

  1. Thanks for your post – very thoughtful critique of an extremely important issue.

    I wrote about the same issue from an Orthodox Christian perspective – http://bit.ly/ii1IVf – would love to have you join the conversation there.

  2. Ken Lovasik Says:

    I sincerely question the motives of those so quick to jump in judgement of another person. They think they are being ‘prophetic’ when in reality they are merely ‘clanging cymbals’. In the Gospels, Jesus says nothing about who should/should not share His Body and Blood … BUT HE DOES SAY “JUDGE NOT LEST YOU BE JUDGED” … AND “I HAVE COME, NOT FOR THE WELL WHO DO NOT NEED A DOCTOR, BUT FOR THE SICK…”
    Those who judge so quickly — and condemn so sharply — are really spiritually descended from the “scribes and pharisees” who had an insatiable need to condemn Jesus for his “eating with sinners”.

    • Not so fast here Ken. Those in public who are not remorseful of their sin bring scandal not only to themselves but to the Catholic Church which they profess they are part of. This is not ‘judging’, as we all know what the sins are, but when we live public lives and do not change our sinful behavior we are ex-communicating ourselves whether we realize it or not. We must love the sinner (we all are), but never the sin!

  3. [...] This article is fascinating…really fascinating. It’s written by a Franciscan friar about withholding the Eucharist from some politicians because of judgments made about the state of their soul. [...]

  4. Knocking it out of the park. I’m so very tired of people who would deny communion, using it as a political football. I kind of like the Orthodox notion of it being medicine for sinners, though.

  5. I’m so glad that you wrote this. We only have to go back to the Gospels to see that this is not the way that Jesus would have it. He gave his Body, his very life for all of us, how dare we not give to others what he entrusted us to continue giving? And, as you say, at the Last Supper, knowing full well what was to come, he offered his Body to Judas. And as for judgment, it is not for us because we do not read hearts. But, if we are in sin (separation from God), then that is all the more reason that we should run, not walk to receive the Eucharist…if we do truly believe that it is Jesus. After all, isn’t the Eucharist the ultimate Sacrament of Forgiveness?

  6. Chris VanHaight Says:

    One aspect of this issue is about giving scandal, not the state of one’s soul. As you rightly state, one cannot judge the soul of another, but one can judge their public actions and declarations. The argument concerning refusing communion to pro-choice candidates is not about their interior lives but their exterior actions that are counter to Catholic teaching. Their public rejection of Catholic moral teaching can be viewed as them publicly “breaking communion” with the Church and hence sharing communion with them comes across to some as making a mockery of the Eucharist, and that sharing communion with them could lead others to think that abortion is ok or at least not that big of a deal. Yes, the Church can be quite selective about who it declares is giving scandal, but that does not take away from the seriousness of pro-choice politicians’ statements and actions. It’s not like they are publicly disagreeing with the no-meat-on-Lenten-Fridays rule.

  7. With regard to the reception of Holy Communion, Saint Francis underlined two solemn moral obligations of the minister of Holy Communion: first, the obligation to be personally disposed to receive the Body and Blood of Christ worthily, and, second, the obligation to give Holy Communion with discretion, that is, with attention to those who, in a public way, have made themselves unworthy to receive the Sacrament.

  8. I whole heartedly agree with everything in your post Dan. Refusing communion to someone because of this or that sin (acutal or imaginary) is like refusing food to the hungry until they prove they are full.

  9. Howard Hubbard is without a doubt a political bishop. He holds a lot of “Clout” in and around The Albany Catholic Dioceses. I know, I am a victim of what Bishop Hubbard can allow, and never even be questioned. Please don’t think for a minute that Bishop Hubbard is going to deny a wafer to a Powerful Politician, just be cause the recipient is shacking up with his girlfriend, which by the way, goes against every Bible Teaching the Bishop says he believes, and talks about. Now if it were one of us little folk, you can believe that if Bishop knows, you don’t get wafer.

    • The Catholic Church does not distribute “wafers.” If you are saying that Hubbard denies the Holy Eucharist to others, your beef is with the Church teachings, not the practice of an individual bishop. Hubbard did not dismiss the instructions of Cannon Law by offering Eucharist to Cuomo–nor was he condoning Cuomo’s adultery. He simply and accurately discerned that Cuomo was not to be denied the Eucharist, in continuity with Church Law.

  10. I have to say that this notion of ‘judging’ someone is false. We are to love the sinner, but never the sin. The problem herein is that Cuomo has excommunicated himself whether he knows it or not! He has refused to acknowledge his adultery as a sin and it is a public scandal being that he is Catholic. If he refuses to repent and seek forgiveness than he is turning his back on the faith he professes to believe! We can’t pick and choose what or what we don’t want to believe. Either we embrace our faith or we don’t.

    • Edie, I have to agree that a lot of information in this post is hollow, but I trust that it is because Br. Dan is passionate about this issue and has strong feelings about how he feels that Church should distribute communion, rather than an overt decision to be “false”.

      First of all, as I stated above, St. Francis instructed his Friars to use discretion when distributing Holy Eucharist. The Poverello did not feel that “that nothing could come between him and his participation in the liturgical celebration.” He realized a person’s soul needed to be in a state of grace–check out his writings.

      Br. Dan is also seems to be in error when he remarks:

      “no minister of Communion — ordinary or “extraordinary” — is in any
      justifiable position to refuse a member of the faithful who presents him or
      herself at the Celebration of the Eucharist to receive Holy Communion. Period.”

      This is in direct contradiction to Cannon Law, as stated by JPII,

      ” The judgment of one’s state of grace obviously belongs only to the person
      involved, since it is a question of examining one’s conscience. However, in
      cases of outward conduct which is seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary
      to the moral norm, the Church, in her pastoral concern for the good order of
      the community and out of respect for the sacrament, cannot fail to feel
      directly involved. The Code of Canon Law refers to the situation of a
      manifest lack of proper moral disposition when it states that those who
      obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to
      Eucharistic communion.”

      I would offer that Br. Dan may need to be more transparent about when he is speaking from his personal opinion, which he is certainly entitled to express, and when he is sharing Church teaching on a given subject. Not to parse words, but I did notice that Br. Dan talks about “abortion rights” being the reason that some politicians have been denied the Eucharist, when actually it is the exact opposite. The right to life is the reason.

  11. I am not a theological scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but I am a thoughtful and faithful enough Catholic that I can say with a ripe conviction that I can disagree with parts of Cannon law without turning my back on the Catholic Faith. I refuse to accept the idea that Cannon law IS the Catholic Faith. My Roman Catholicism is bigger than that. I do not agree that sexual relations outside marriage is adultry, and I disagree with the idea that that is turning my back on my faith.

  12. Dear Bro. Dan,

    It’s a bit hard for me to track your argument, but it seems to be this: “No minister of Communion — ordinary or extraordinary — is in any justifiable position to refuse a member of the faithful who presents him or herself at the Celebration of the Eucharist to receive Holy Communion. Period.”

    Okay, well, you’re free to hold that view, but please note that, if you do, your problem is not with me, it’s with Canon 915. Clearly, according to your interpretation, Canon 915 could NEVER be invoked. Period.

    I suppose you might want to complain to Rome that Canon 915 is on the books, but in the meantime, I can hardly be accused of misunderstanding it.

    For the rest, I’d appreciate it if you would dial down your attributions of “arrogance” to me and stop caricaturing of my position to include students living in dorms and religious living in community. Reasonable people know that is not my view, and your sarcastic assertions that it is, make you come across as, well, petty.

    Sincerely,
    Dr. Edward Peters

    • Well said, Dr. Peters! The caricature of Cannon 915 is shameful. A teacher at a Catholic College telling students that the cannon could be applied to religious life or students living in college dorms is deceitful at best.

      • Excuse me, Jared, but apparently I’ve missed where a teacher at a Catholic College is telling students such things? If the implication is that I am offering commentary in my courses on canon law, you are rather mistaken. But perhaps you are referring to something from your own experience — if so, you should specify and more clearly connect that experience to the conversation at hand.

      • Brother Dan,

        I sincerely apologize for making a presumption that was inaccurate in my above response. I misread your post and jumped to a false conclusion. I am always glad to admit being wrong and ready to admit error when I speak without having important facts in order. Mea culpa :)

    • I am not theologian, I am not a priest, I am just “one of the bodies in the pews.”

      If the Church teaches that it is immoral to live as a married couple, without the sacrament of marriage, then when a couple presents themselves at the Communion Rail/Steps are they not in sin, and is that not a mortal sin (to live as husband and wife without the sacrament)?

      The SCANDAL is that I am trying my best, my husband is trying his beat to raise our children IN THE CHURCH, and the goal to have them be practicing Catholics when grown. When two people “shacking up” can in all solemnity and public scrutiny receive the Most Holy and Sacred Eucharist, and our Shepherd SAYS NOTHING, not in actions and not in words, why bother?

      We are just another “christian” congregation passing out stale wafers.

      My children rebel and ask “what’s the big deal about what I do?”

      “If it’s such a big ‘gateway’ sin, why doesn’t anyone say something? It’s not a big deal, it’s like eating a burger on Good Friday, no one cares, it’s one of your silly made-up rules to ruin my life.”

  13. Very good response, Br. Dan. Dr. Peters oozes arrogance and it runs in the family as demonstrated by his son’s (Thomas Peters) blog: “American Papist: Not Your Average Catholic.” The title of the blog itself speaks volumes. Dr. Peters should really focus on his past defense of priests who abused minors and make amends for that.

    • I am not that it is not Christian to accuse others of “oozing arrogance” without proof. Moreover, you could read his son’s blog in two different ways. He simply says that he is not average. This could imply that he thinks that he is worse than average.

      Then you accuse him of defending abusive priests without evidence again.

  14. To those who persist in the Canon 915 conversation, I simply refer all to the excellent canonist John Heuls, OSM’s commentary on this matter in the definitive commentary of the Code edited by Coriden, Green and Heintschel (I should point out that Coriden was my Canon Law professor).

    Heuls concludes:

    “The minister cannot assume, for example, that the sin of public concubinage arising from divorce and remarriage is always grave in the internal forum. Any prudent doubt about either the gravity or the public nature of the sin should be resolved by the minister in favor of the person who approaches the sacrament.”

    Following what I have said above and in light of the Bishop’s prudential judgement, it seems Bp. Hubbard and I are exercising both charitable and just interpretation of Canon 915, acknowledging the existence of doubt and resolving the matter in favor of the person who approaches the sacrament. Period.

  15. I regret having been the occasion of “Joseph’s” descent into ad hominen attacks. The rest of us think the ISSUES here are important, and so we shoulder on despite the sniping. As for the title of my son Thom’s blog, personally, I think it’s clever, but I would ask that questions about it be directed to him. He is of age, let him answer for himself. John 9. :)

    Bro Dan, if people “persist” in discussing Canon 915 here, it is because: (1) you raised the issue at great length, (2) Canon 915 is THE canon in question, and (3) you obviously are willing to continue defending your interpretation, with which I, as your named antagonist, disagree. An old saw about “heat” and “kitchen” occurs to me, but I can’t quite recall it. Anyway…

    I am well aware of John Huels’ work. He holds what you claim for him. But in appealing to him as you do, you make a mistake common to amateurs who wade into areas more technical than they first realized, namely, that of taking a single author who agrees (or seems to agree) with their interpretation, and touting that interpretation as definitive. It’s a leap that professionals are slow to make. Based on their experience and wider knowledge.

    While I don’t think canonical truth is a counting game, let me put it this way: I see your CLSA New Comm citation, and I raise you an Exegetical, an Ancora, and Urbanianum.

    Sincerely,
    Dr. Edward Peters

    • Dr. Peters, thanks for your comment. I certainly hold your expertise in great esteem, you are correct that I do not hold a JCL or JCD, but having studied ‘some’ canon law at the graduate level, I don’t know that I would qualify as an amateur when put alongside the dozens of others who do indeed have, and exhibit, no understanding of the Code. That said, you attempt to lessen my argument by identifying the number (and n.b.: not the quality) of the source I cited and that is rather cheap, no? I don’t care to spar with you about can. 915, because I am convinced that there are (here we go with the number game, you started) as many canon lawyers out there that follow John Huel’s expert interpretation of can 915 as you offer to the contrary (or of some other variety).

      And lest you think that I am as far removed from your world as you seem to indicate, dust off your copy of ‘Institutiones Iuris Ecclesiae I’ (CUA Press, 2010) and turn to page 397 to see my name included among others in the tabula gratulatoria.

      This is all of little importance because, like you, I agree that the issues (and not personal jabs) are what should be discussed. I don’t think we get anywhere by discussing numbers of CLSA papers, Sudia Canonica or Jurist articles that go one way or another. The point is proven — there is no SINGULAR canonical interpretation that supports your view over and against others such as Huel, Coriden, Green or others. Canonically, my interpretation aligns with several renowned canonists.

      In any event, I will continue to hold my theological view as sketched — and certainly not complete or refined — above. I admit there is much more to do in order to make it presentable, but a blog is not the place for that. Perhaps I will have to consider publishing an academic article on this subject. Given that I have two books to finish and several conference papers to prepare in addition to my current teaching load, such an article will have to wait for now.

      To your point in your blog entry about this author (http://canonlawblog.blogspot.com/2011/03/is-cuomo-communion-case-about-conduct.html) My complaint, as you rightly point out, is not with you nor is it (contrary to your reading of my post) with the law as such. My complaint is with the assertion made by you and others that your interpretation (vs. Huels, others, myself, etc.) is correct and no other view can be.

      The code is not case law, as you know well, and its implementation does not follow the common law style of jurisprudence. It must be interpreted and can 915 is no exception. Like Christ at table with sinners, I’d rather err on the side of charity instead of the public scandal of turning a member of the faithful away.

      Peace,
      Br. Dan

  16. Okay, well, Frater, we’re just about at the pointlessly-repeating-ourselves stage here. And I don’t want to debate the canonical significance of one’s name appearing in the tabula gratulatoria of a festschrift. It was certainly kind of you to support the publication of that text.

    Your position is clearer now, I think: it amounts to rejecting any practical role for Canon 915 in the pastoral life of the Church. One is free to argue that position, of course, and, though I think the view you hold is defended by far fewer exegetes than you seem to think, making that case would be, as you suggest, to tax the confines of a blog unfairly. Perhaps another time.

    At some point, you might want to reflect on your readiness to ascribe deficient charity to those who of us think that Canon 915 is meant to be applied in the practical order, and, conversely, that those who decline to apply it according to its plain and traditional terms are doing so because they excel in love and prudence. I am quite unconvinced that either claim is certain.

    • Agreed. And, yes, I thought you’d get a kick out of my inclusion of the support of a canonical festschrift – I was making no significant point other than to illustrate that I am a bit more involved in staying abreast of contemporary research in the field of Canon Law than one might initially presume.

      I think you raise a point well worth reflecting on — namely, the practice of charity in cases such as this when two interpretations of an important canon (I never suggested nor believe we must do away with the Code), shaped by different ecclesiologies and pastoral approaches, differ. I believe that you are correct to posit best intentions on the part of those who act on an interpretation different from mine. Let us agree that equal charity should be displayed then on all sides. That way we might continue to have a canonical, theological and pastoral conversation that strengthens the Body of Christ.

      And in that spirit of charity, may we never lose sight of can 1752, which reminds us: “the salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church.”

  17. Dr. Peters,

    Your deafening arrogance aside, my concern is somewhat similar to Br. Dan’s in that I truly hope that my fellow Catholics do not share your belief that your word is binding, and thus nothing further. If people really want to know why vocations are down and young folks like myself are flocking to an often completely secular lifestyle, it’s because of these non-biblically based assertions of canon law.

    Regardless of what you may think, and no matter how much you think patronizing him will help your cause (amateur…HA! Are we talking about the same Jesus here?), Br. Dan is a shining example of the contemporary Catholic Christian; one that young people like my wife and I will look to on their path along their good journey.

    Peace in Christ,
    Brian

    • Brian,

      I am sure that it is not Christian to accuse others of deafening arrogance without proof. Morevoer, I must say that I do not take Dr. Peter’s word as binding. He has an argument that is binding and you have none. If you can actually make an argument for this and that argument proves to be sound, I will then adopt your argument. Until then I will wait for an argument to replace your accusation.

  18. Hello Brian. We don’t know each other, but your opening insult about my “deafening arrogance” suggests you are more prone to hear what you want to hear, as opposed to hearing what others actually said.

    It is, in any case, always a risk for professionals to debate complex matters with amateurs (I’m sorry there’s not another word for them) because our times are so quick to see the obvious discrepancies in qualifications as being exploited by the more qualified, who suffer belittlement for it. Okay, fine. I still think it worth trying to defend my views on certain topics, particularly when they are attacked. May I remind you, I did not start the exchange here, but I saw no reason to let certain claims being made here about me and my views go uncontested.

    Sincerely,
    Dr. Edward Peters

    • Marie Rehbein Says:

      I would just like to point out that the following alone conveys a tone of arrogance:

      “An old saw about ‘heat’ and ‘kitchen’ occurs to me, but I can’t quite recall it.”

      It’s very difficult to believe that someone does not have the where with all to remember that the saying goes “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”. Honestly, how else could you put heat and kitchen together?

      It really doesn’t require a disagreement over who gets to judge people who present themselves for communion in order to get a sense that someone is arrogant.

  19. Dr. Peters,

    In your defense, you’re probably right. I lost you after the “amateur” comment, everything after that was just noise. Your continued contention that a professional vs amateur dynamic exists seems like nothing less than a backhanded way of saying “I’m right, your wrong.” In my opinion, that’s exactly what alienates people from the Catholic church.

    We’re all sinners, my friend, no matter where we fall on any sort of spectrum. And if Br. Dan is an amateur…well, than I got cut from my gym class kickball team.

    Peace in Christ,
    Brian

    • Brian,

      You are an amateur. It is not an insult but a fact. If you were not an amateur you would have provided Dr. Peters with an argument rather than a mere assertion.

      We are not “all” sinners, at least in the manner that you seem to suggest. This is a basic Christian teaching. Those who are newly baptized are not sinners. They were sinners before baptism and may become sinners again, but at least for a short while they are not sinners.

      • I guess we’re splitting hairs here…”Me”. I’ll leave the canon-istic arguments to Br. Dan and Dr. Peters, as I cannot pretend to know 1% of what they know about the subject. My “argument”, if you will, was exactly that: a blatant admission of my inherent ignorance. Moreover, said ignorance is by no means uncommon when it comes to young people in the church. From a professional layman’s perspective, Canon law seems like the EPITOME of interpretation, in that very little stems from actual biblical direction from a literal sense. How can we approve the interpretation “here”, but not “there”? Furthermore, I’ve read Canon 915 at least 20 times now, and I can’t seem to figure out how Governor Cuomo’s living arrangements amount to a denial of communion, or where the lack of such a denial would amount to any sort of “sacrilegious” practice.

        We are ABSOLUTELY all sinners, at least in the Catholic Church. If we weren’t, someone was playing a cruel joke on me when I was young when we recited the Act of Contrition at each mass, and the nuns in Elementary school made us keep a list of our sins for penance each week. My understanding of baptism is that while it rid us of original sin, it didn’t make us impervious to sin for the rest of our lives. Then again, I am an amateur, so what do I know?

      • Brian,

        If you do not know 1% of what either Br. Dan or Dr. Peters knows then you should probably not be commenting on it.

        Again you have demonstrated that you cannot follow an argument. I never said that baptism made us impervious to sin. I simply said that the baptized is not a sinner until the baptized decides to sin. Baptized babies are an excellent example of this. The last time I checked it was impossible for one to sin without the use of intellect and will. This means that these babies are free from sins and are incapable of sin until some latter date that they may or may not live to.

      • I appreciate the advice, “Me”.

        I think our trouble here started with “…in the manner you seem to suggest.” I wasn’t necessarily referring to babies, more so those of us that were participating in the conversation. Nevertheless, we’re arguing over semantics here, which is a fruitless exercise. Although, I would love to hear your definition of intellect and will, specifically as it applies here.

  20. While the canonist makes a valid interpretation of a canon, the bishop makes a prudential judgment not to invoke it. The canonist is coming from a canonical point of view, the bishop from a pastoral point of view, and the friar from a spiritual point of view. While I appreciate the intricacy of the canonical position, I find the prudential judgment of the bishop more compelling in this instance. Likewise for me the wisdom of the friar trumps the knowledge of the canonist.

    • I humbly feel that dividing three “interpretations” into different catagories is creating a smokescreen. The Bishop wisely (in my opinion) exercised his pastoral interpretation of the canon for the spiritual well being of the faith. Dr. Peters and Brother Dan have brought a great discussion that will hopefully take us beyond what we want to hear, and draw us closer to the truth that we all seek. The dialogue here shows a necessary tension that is needed in the Church, which is exciting. I have learned a lot! This debate is engaging and thought provoking—at least Dr. Peter’s and Br. Dan’s contributions. Those who were too quick to dismiss either side of the conversation missed out on some very well spoken and thoughtful commentary.

      • Very well put, Jared. I too hope this dialog continues in venues across the Catholic world, by theologians much smarter than I. I blame my mother for my quick tongue :)

        Peace brother,
        Brian

  21. [...] a final note, I want to say that I appreciate Edward Peters’s joining the conversation here about his take on Canon 915 and the situation in Albany involving Bishop Hubbard and Governor Cuomo. [...]

  22. Chris VanHaight Says:

    At the risk of entering once again into this heated topic, it seems to me that an aspect of the debate is missing. One is correct in stating that no one, other than the person in question, can determine a person’s moral state vis-a-vis the internal forum, and if we were discussing a person receiving communion alone in the Church with no one else there except the priest we could have an interesting debate on personal worthiness and the Eucharist. But what this particular case involves is a person publicly known to be promoting policies in grave conflict with Church teaching receiving communion PUBLICLY. It seems to me (and I am no canonist) that Canon 915 is not so much about somehow correcting sinners but protecting the faithful from scandal, in this case thinking that abortion is no big deal because a politician is receiving communion publicly and thus he and his ideas must be in full communion with the Church. The internal forum argument ends when the issue at hand is no longer solely internal, as far as I can see.

  23. The Discipline Regarding the Denial of Holy
    Communion to Those Obstinately Persevering
    in Manifest Grave Sin
    R. L. BURKE
    the discipline must be applied in order to avoid serious scandal, for example, the erroneous acceptance of procured abortion against the constant teaching of the moral law. No matter how often a Bishop or priest repeats the teaching of the Church regarding procured abortion, if he stands by and does nothing to discipline a Catholic who publicly supports legislation permitting the gravest of injustices and, at the same time, presents himself to receive Holy Communion, then his teaching rings hollow. To remain silent is to permit serious confusion regarding a fundamental truth of the moral law. Confusion, of course, is one of the most insidious fruits of scandalous behavior.

    Confusion, indeed. Thank you, Dr. Peters!!!

  24. [...] that’s appropriate.”UPDATE: There’s some lively discussion on this topic over at the blog Dating God, where blog author Br. Dan declares “The Eucharist is not a weapon.”  In the comments, [...]

  25. Look what I’ve been missing due to personal issues and not being on the blog much.

    What makes me so sad is that we even have to discuss this. Tragic. Thank you Br. Dan for bringing light instead of just heat… if we are talking about kitchen remarks that is. Seriously. Does Ed Peters have the time for all of this? I’ve watched the esteemed Dr. Peters spend a bit too much time on the blogs, if you ask me.

  26. Many priests, in the face of giving the Eucharist to my wife and her lover, both of whom are unrepentant adulterers in
    openly public and permanent concubinage, made the prudent, pastoral judgement to commit sacrilege and to desecrate our valid, sacramental marriage thus mocking, using the Blessed Sacrament as a bludgeoning tool against
    another sacrament. All involved knew our marriage to have been denied nullity at the Roman Rota!

    A bishop, upon my first request to intervene and to stop this mockery, did nothing. Then, when I told him I would take my complaint to the Papal Signatura, even attempting to seek canonical redress if necessary, the public communion was stopped.

    So much for pastoral judgment by a bishop.

  27. Marriage is a PUBLIC sacrament. Its violation is PUBLIC.

    When pastoral judgment cooperates in the violation of a marriage it is a PUBLIC issue.

  28. Thank you brothers for all this insight. I can understand the pastoral commitment of the bishop to the individual and I don’t think he’s telling Cuomo just to “play it cool.” I would hope that the bishop acting as a loving father would also “lay down the law.”

    Can someone comment on the practice of indulgences/public penance? (I’m speaking in light of Appendix II of my Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Baronius Press)

    God bless you all!

  29. I WOULD BOT WANT TO STAND IN THE SHOES OF THOSE WHO TAKE COMMUNION WHILE LIVING IN MORTAL SIN WHEN THE DAY COMES THEY’LL FACE THEIR JUDGE, ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?

  30. naturgesetz Says:

    It seems to me that Dr. Peters’ mistake was in going public with his personal opinion about how Bishop Hubbard should be exercising his office. There was no good to be accomplished by his action that could not have been better accomplished by his communicating privately with the bishop — which would have allowed for an extended discussion, and maybe even persuasion. But there has apparently been no persuasion based on the public rebuke by Dr. Peters. What has happened, however, is that respect for Bishop Hubbard has been diminished and disunity fostered in the ranks of the faithful. In his own way, it seems to me, Dr. Peters has wounded the Church. No good purpose is served by bringing a bishop into public contempt over a debatable point of canon law.

    • You must really dislike this blog, given your statements above. Brother Dan often disagrees with Church hierarchy and is frequently “going public with his personal opinion”. Since you seem to disagree with publicly questioning bishops, you must be very disappointed in Brother Dan. Unless, of course, you only are outraged when bishops with whom YOU agree are being questioned?

      • I’m not sure that is an accurate or fair depiction of this blog.

      • As Br. Dan says below, “do see raising challenging questions of the larger church community, the state and the whole human family part of what it means to live as a prophetic people, following in the footprints of Christ according to St. Francis. At times that challenge may very well be unwelcomed, but it remains an important duty no less. Again, I am grateful for the continued conversation here at http://www.DatingGod.org on a number of relevant and timely topics.” It seems Dr. Peters feels the same way, no?

      • naturgesetz Says:

        Actually, Jared, I have no opinion on this blog apart from this post, since that is all I have seen of it. I followed a link from “The Deacon’s Bench.” Any claim that I must think something I didn’t say because of what I said on a different topic is putting words in my mouth, and I reject the attempt to do so.

        And rereading the newspaper quotes in the original post, I see that Dr. Peters is not quoted as saying anything about Bishop Hubbard, just about Andrew Cuomo. So my comment actually doesn’t correspond to what was in the paper, and unless Dr. Peters explicitly criticized Bishop Hubbard publicly for his handling of the matter, I must retract the comment.

        If you think I agree with Bishop Hubbard, you should note that I expressed neither agreement nor disagreement with him.

  31. Deacon Tom Says:

    Practically everyone here is missing the elephant in the middle of the room so to speak. While it is of course necessary to focus upon the bishop and the communicant standing before him, is it not also necessary to consider all of the other faithful seated in the pews? As we all know, a majority of practicing Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. How many more who believe, but who are struggling with their belief is unknown. Don’t we therefore need to also be concerned about the integrity of the Sacrament itself? Don’t we need to be concerned about the scandal that may be caused to the practicing Catholics in the pews when communion is given to one who is in a state of PUBLIC, MANIFEST, sin? Does it perhaps lessen or destroy their belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist? Perhaps not as risky with Cuomo’s cohabiting outside of marriage situation, but particularly with publicly avowed pro-abortion politicians this may very well be a real concern.

    I could understand certain folks thinking, “Well if the bishop permits his priests, deacons and EMsHC to give communion to a person who publicly states that he/she is in favor of one human being’s “right” to end the life of a human being created by God who is developing in her very womb, then that can’t possibly really be the Body of Christ! Who would permit such a sacrilege? Who would assist that person in sinning further by helping them to unworthily receive communion while in a publicly admitted state of mortal sin thereby causing further harm to their soul and adversely affecting their salvation?”

    Francis Cardinal Arinze noted that he is often asked if a politician who votes for abortion should receive Holy Communion.

    He said his reply was, “Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?”

    “Get the children for first communion and say to them, somebody votes for the killing of unborn babies, and says, I voted for that, I will vote for that every time and these babies are killed, not one or two, but in millions, and that person says I am a practicing Catholic, should that person receive communion next Sunday?

    “The children for first communion will answer that at the drop of a hat. You don’t need a cardinal to answer that.”

    • naturgesetz Says:

      Deacon Tom, you should note that Cardinal Arinze puts the question as to whether the person in question should receive Communion, not whether his or her diocesan bishop should forbid him or her to receive Communion.

      • Deacon Tom Says:

        naturgesetz – Technically you of course are correct, but is it really a stretch to arrive at that conclusion. If it’s so obvious to a second grader that such a person should not receive, shouldn’t that person’s bishop help him/her to avoid further sin and “drinking condemnation on himself?” Isn’t that what a true shepherd does, protect his flock from harm?

        In case you’re still not convinced, this quote should make it abundantly clear to you: “Asked whether Catholic politicians who are unambiguously pro-abortion should take communion, a sacrament which Catholics believe is the body and blood of Christ, he said: ‘Objectively, the answer is clear. The person is not fit’ to do so.

        ‘If they should not receive, then they should not be given,’ added Cardinal Arinze, suggesting that bishops and priests should take the more extreme step of denying communion.

      • naturgesetz Says:

        Again, Deacon Tom, there are nuances in the quote that we should be attentive to.

        First the example says “_unambiguously_ pro abortion.” So we have to consider whether the politician’s position on abortion is unambiguous. Someone, for example, who says he believes abortion is wrong but also believes that the Constitution forbids him to impose his faith-based moral standards on those who do not share his faith may not be unambiguously pro-abortion (which does not mean he is right, only that he is not flat-out saying that there is nothing wrong with abortion). Then there is the case of someone who votes to make partial birth abortion illegal, or to prevent government funding of abortion, but will not support a Human Life Amendment. His support of abortion is limited, as is his opposition to it.

        Then there is the Cardinal’s own word “objectively.” He clearly recognizes that _subjectively_ the person may be entitled to receive. For example, he may not realize that his official actions have been wrong. Or he may not realize their gravity. So the wording of the question as well as the way the Cardinal worded his response indicate that there can be instances when a politician who takes actions that end up allowing some abortions to take place — such as voting a certain way on proposed legislation — may not have excluded himself in good conscience from receiving Communion.

      • Deacon Tom Says:

        Many politicians make it very clear that there is no question about their complete opposition to the Church’s teaching that abortion is intrinsically evil in every single case. They speak with their public votes, their public speeches, their public writings, their public debates, and their public interviews. They are proud of their support of a woman’s “right” to violate the Church’s teaching and vow to do everything in their power to make sure that “right” is not taken away. They empower and enable such women to engage in the evil of abortion. They are in a state of unrepentant, MANIFEST sin. Their repentance, if any, must be equally public. If it is not, Cardinal Arinze, Cardinal Burke, and many others teach us that Canon 915 must be enforced.

        If you still disagree, please tell me, when CAN Canon 915 EVER be enforced?

      • Deacon Tom Says:

        naturgesetz – Admittedly, this document is quite deep, but if you simply scroll down to the conclusions, you will see the opinion of the Vatican’s equivalent of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on this issue: http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/holycom/denial.htm.You are free to decide for yourself, but I choose to follow one such as him who has studied the issue extensively and has great knowledge and pastoral sensibility. Br. Dan isn’t going to agree with this at all since Cardinal Burke in essence addresses everyone of Br. Dan’s points and explains them away quite well. So you must choose, Br. Dan or Cardinal Burke. Bishops have disagreed on this issue, so Br. Dan is free to also.

      • naturgesetz Says:

        Deacon Tom — There is too much in the article by Cardinal Burke to respond to everything. But here’s a couple of points I’d make.

        One is that the denial of Communion is to be made after admonition. The minister (ordinary or extraordinary) is in no position to know whether such admonition has taken place unless the pastor who has made the admonition informs the minister, whether publicly or privately.

        Canon 915 speaks not merely of manifest sin but manifest _grave_ sin. Unlike performing or procuring an abortion, which involves immediate material cooperation in the evil, voting for or against a law is quite remote from the actual evil. This is not to say that it is morally licit, just that it is of a very different degree of cooperation in the evil. This could effect the gravity of the matter.

        When can Canon 915 be enforced? When the bishop decides that an individual is obstinately persisting in manifest grave sin.

        As an aside, I’ve noted that a lot of people comment on the issue of scandal, as if someone who is aware of the Church’s clear teaching on abortion is going to think that abortion is licit because Nacny Pelosi receives Communion. The canon does not state the reason for its prohibition, but in context it seems to have to do with the individual, not other members of the faithful.

        My basic point is that it is not for the faithful, or even other clergy, to publicly cast aspersions on the worthiness of their bishops because those bishops have not decided to refuse Communion to particular members of the faithful. We need to respect the bishops as the representatives of Christ in their churches. When “conservative” Catholics choose to badmouth the bishops in public, it only diminishes their posiiton in the eyes of those who we think should be listening to the Magisterium. It tells our fellow Catholics that we are in a position to decide when the bishops are right and when they are wrong.

      • Deacon Tom Says:

        naturgesetz – One last response to your final paragraph of your most recent comment. If a bishop is doing his job and is applying Canon 915 as explained by Cardinal Burke and as I mentioned in my last post, then I agree wholeheartedly with you that no one should be publicly criticizing the bishop. If on the other hand the bishop is doing nothing and has made no attempt to get the individual to refrain from their obstinate manifest grave sin and to no longer refrain from receiving until they do so, then the faithful have every right to insist that the bishop be the shepherd he has been ordained to be. Bishops who choose to put blinders on like nothing is happening fail to meet their duties as outlined by Cardinal Burke of “safeguarding of the objective and supreme sanctity of the Holy Eucharist and with caring for the faithful who would sin gravely against the Body and Blood of Christ, and for the faithful who would be led into error by such sinful reception of Holy Communion.” I would tend to think that Cardinal Burke knows and understands the intricacies of this issue much, much better than you and I. Peace be with you my friend in Christ Jesus!

      • naturgesetz Says:

        Deacon Tom — I think that in general it is better, if members of the faithful think that their bishop is not applying Canon 915 appropriately, they should communicate their concerns privately. It seems to me that public criticism, petition drives, and other pressure tactics treat the Church as if it were a political organization and misrepresent the relationship between the bishop and the faithful of the local Church.

        It is true that the faithful have the right, and sometimes the duty, to make their needs and desires known to their bishops, but there should always be charity and respect for both the office of the bishop and the man who holds the office so that the unity of the Church is not weakened or wounded. The faithful must always be united with their bishop in the bond of charity as they are with Christ.

      • Deacon Tom Says:

        Amen! I suppose however that many of the faithful become rather impatient with bishops who remain “obstinate” in their unwillingness to do anything whatsoever in response to repeated private attempts to get them to act that they then resort to the public forum. I have two friends who drive me crazy since whenever any issue comes up in the Church, their first knee-jerk reaction is, “blame the bishops,” “blame the USCCB,” and even “blame the Pope!” And these men consider themselves to be strong, faithful Catholics! Ugh!

    • Deacon Tom Says:

      naturgesetz – I believe that this dialogue is honing us in on areas of agreement. My final point is this. The Canon is triggered only after the person in a state of manifest grave sin is also obstinate about it. As Cardinal Burke clearly indicates, this means that an attempt has been made to counsel the individual privately and a request was made for them not to receive until they have recanted from their state of manifest grave sin, but the person has refused and said that they will be receiving anyway. At that point, wouldn’t you agree that the minister with knowledge of this would be cooperating in assisting the person to commit even further sin by giving them communion while knowing that they are in a state of obstinate manifest grave sin? Would not the minister be answerable for that before Christ?

      I of course am in no way suggesting that Canon 915 be applied routinely at every Mass, but only when the circumstances are very clear cut and actually known by the minister.

      • naturgesetz Says:

        I think I agree. I’d add that the “minister with knowledge” would have to have been informed by the one who had made the request. In effect, that would imply that the bishop or possibly pastor who had counseled the individual had told the minister that the individual was not to be administered Communion pursuant to the canon. Presumably the bishop or pastor would have done the individual the courtesy of informing him/her that ministers will not be permitted to administer the sacrament to him/her.

        This is of course something that only happens on a case by case basis, unless a bishop pronounces some sort of generic excommunication.

        But yes, in the circumstances you mention, the minister seems to be obligated by Canon 915 to withhold Communion from the individual.

  32. @ Jared, while that may be your take, I suggest that you might be projecting into the posts what you wish to see. Take the first example you linked. I close the post with this paragraph:

    “While I don’t have the answer, I respect and stand in solidarity with Fr. Ruff, yet cannot emphasize enough my conviction that we must nevertheless press onward and do our best, work our hardest and pray ever-more-fervently in our implementation of this new missal.”

    Supporting the new implementation of the new missal. I suppose I remain unconvinced of your accusation. Nevertheless, thanks for your ongoing support and comments here! I do appreciate it, but I just ask that you be more prudent in your accusations. Thanks.

    PS – I should add that I do see raising challenging questions of the larger church community, the state and the whole human family part of what it means to live as a prophetic people, following in the footprints of Christ according to St. Francis. At times that challenge may very well be unwelcomed, but it remains an important duty no less. Again, I am grateful for the continued conversation here at http://www.DatingGod.org on a number of relevant and timely topics.

    • Accusations? I just do not understand. I am not accusing you of doing any wrong. On another point, I also notice that you skillfully omitted the last line you wrote in the blog on the missal: “When Rome gives you lemons…” Forgive my imprudence for taking that remark as a challenge. I also must have mistaken your words, “These sorts of decisions should not be the right of an oligarchical and limited body, but should come — at least in some way — from the whole Body of Christ.”
      Brother Dan, I support your views on the three posts that I cited above and I visit this blog because of the thoughtful way you expressed your opinion on those issues—-as well as a variety of other topics. You have said that your vocation is to challenge and support: http://datinggod.org/2011/03/04/a-vocation-lived-to-challenge-and-support/
      I respect your challenging of the Church in the exact same way that I respect Dr. Peter’s doing the same thing. That is what makes this blog exciting and brings life to my faith in an intellectual way.

      • Ok, I think I follow now. Perhaps I misunderstood your comment above (far too common on blogs, huh?) thanks for the explanation. Peace!

  33. [...] commented post: “The Eucharist is Not a Weapon: Part I” with 71 Comments (Feb 25, 2011) The favorite part of writing this blog has been the [...]

  34. [...] who have been waiting for the second installment of the “The Eucharist is not a Weapon” post from earlier this year can rest easy now that another Eucharist-related conflict has necessitated this particular post. [...]

  35. Bad Logic leads to bad Philosophy which leads to bad Theology

    The Eucharist is a word the ancients used to describe reality, a both/and reality.

    Through Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection this Greek word which in English translates to Thanksgiving has been elevated to a mysterious oneness with the real person of Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, both fully God and fully man.

    We must be careful when stating a premise like “The Eucharist is not a Weapon.” “Dating God” is another easily misunderstood modern construct.

    The Catholic way of pondering reality makes one first consider the argument that the Eucharist is both a weapon and not a weapon. It might also be true that if the Eucharist is a weapon that it is both a Weapon of Mass Construction and a Weapon of Mass Destruction.

    There is ample proof that the battle is raging for the heart and soul of mankind and that the Body of Christ is central to this life- death struggle. Going deeper to the source, the Holy Eucharist is the center (and summit) of the Body of Christ and the Heavenly End for all saved—viaticum is a foretaste of full integration in Paradise.

    Now if military understanding is applied to mortal combat of a spiritual and temporal nature, it is certain that the twin concepts: center of mass, and key terrain are pivotal to ultimate success. It has been stated throughout history that whichever military force holds the high ground at the end of the day is usually the victor (discounting protracted siege warfare). I remember the Principles of War and the acronym MOSSMOUSE. The first M stands for Mass. Can anyone forget playing “King of the Hill?”
    In this sense, the Holy Eucharist is both the high ground and the Weapon of Mass Construction (building up of the Body of Christ).

    But what are we to say about vanquishing the enemy. Does not the devil cower when the Holy Eucharist is lifted up and venerated by the masses? Does he hate the True Light of the Fifth Mystery of Light, the Light that dispels the darkness? Is the best defense a good offense?

    In this sense, the Holy Eucharist might be viewed as a Weapon of Mass Destruction, radiated Truth in charity (principle of offense) and directed at evil in this world. The sacramental grace of the Holy Eucharist is all powerful. It is the ultimate Weapon of Light, to be used against the former Angel of Light.
    Just remember the scene of the Crucifixion: A bone jarring earthquake, a sanctuary curtain torn in the two, a blotted out sun (darkness covering the earth). This is absolute warfare on the world stage and it witnesses the Body of Christ thoroughly destroyed.

    Talk about the ultimate sign of contradiction…

    Dying You destroyed our death, rising You restored our life…

    The Holy Eucharist contains all this and so much more.

  36. Catholic teaching says that Hell is not punishment by God but created by people who refuse to be with God. They die estranged and keep it up forever.

    It is clear that even if cohabiting is a grave sin, that very few if anybody who commits it would be intending to sin gravely. Hardly anybody really intends to reject God forever by their sin. We know that by experience. We cannot hate God 100%.

    Plus if it is a sin, God holds that it is between you and your partner. God knows to mind his own business.

    In short, nobody has the right to judge a cohabiting person as unfit for communion. Mortal sin needs to be seen for the rarity it is.

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