Jay Anderson writes a solid open letter to Bishop Malooly on his decision not to advise Vice President-elect Biden against receiving in Communion
and mentions the good things the bishop has said in the past.
Bishop W. Francis Malooly, the newly-appointed bishop of Sen. Biden’s Wilmington diocese, said according to an AP report that he had agreed to discuss Catholic teaching with Biden, but shied away from advising the senator to refrain from receiving Holy Communion.
"I won’t politicize the Eucharist," Malooly said. "I don’t want to alienate people. I want to change their hearts and minds."
Yes we have heard that one before. As I have written in the past many bishops really dislike the idea that their actions will be seen via a political lens. I can understand this to an extent. Nobody wants to do what is right and have people interpret it as an act of political partisanship. Though the key is that you have to do what is right even when it can be wrongly interpreted and of course their are ways to try to mitigate unintentionally misunderstanding.
The problem about not wanting to politicize the Eucharist is that it is sadly already been politicized. When a pro-abortion politician receives Communion he is making a statement that he believes he is still in communion with the Church regardless of what the Church teaches. Pro-abortion politician receiving the Eucharist can certainly be making a political statement by this act. They are in effect saying "Hey I vote pro-abortion and receive Communion and nobody thinks this is serious enough to act including my bishop."
Receiving Communion when you support an intrinsic evil is objectively gravely sinful. This is an act of sacrilege. Our number one priority for pro-abortion politicians is that they do not further harm themselves by committing sacrilege and that they repent and be brought back to be truly in communion. Our love for them means that we don’t want them to commit a sin by receiving Communion when they have not yet repented from supporting an intrinsic evil. Receiving Communion unworthily is not like breaking some rule, it is receiving Jesus when you do not receive what Jesus teaches through his Church. It is an act of mercy to rebuke someone in a charitable manner. To ignore their sin is not merciful in any way. Receiving Communion unworthily is spiritually dangerous as St. Paul pointed out in I Corinthians 11:27-30.
What in troubling in Bishop Malooly case (if the report is true) is that this is not about denying Sen. Biden Communion, but about not even advising him to refrain from receiving. This is to totally ignore the steps in Matthew 18:15 that start with rebuking the sinner and then escalate. For example Bishop Naumann had discussions with Governor Sebelius and ended up telling her to not present herself for Communion which subsequently she has not done. The Bishop has a concern about not alienating and of course wants to change hearts and minds. But no hearts and minds get changed when you standby and do nothing about it. All acts of ecclesial discipline have a medicinal application which is to help lead towards repentance. "You just keep on doing what you are doing" is not exactly an effective method to change hearts or minds.
Now the persons soul is the number one priority in this issues, but many bishops also seem to forget about the scandal of this and the message it sends. For pro-abortion Catholics when they see that pro-abortion Catholic politicians are ignored it only confirms them in their own opinion about abortion. This can’t be the worst crime of our time if it is met with such a wimpy reply. Formal cooperation with evil must not be all that bad if the answer is to ignore it. Those that are pro-life are scandalized when a pro-abortion politician receives Communion. The media delights in taking pictures of pro-aborts receiving Communion since even they do that this is not right or at least realize it is in opposition to the Church. While scandal is of secondary importance, it is still important. Action is a teacher and so is inaction.
God graced me by not having the heavy load of being a bishop and I can totally understand why so many saints were unwilling to take on the weight of episcopal office since they truly understood what being a shepherd who is responsible for his sheep means. Though like many in St. Blogs I am an Armchair Bishop in that I pontificate on what I think bishops should do. As an armchair bishop this is what I would imagine I would do if one of my sheep was a pro-abortion politician. First off all the steps assume prayer involved at every level and follow the steps of Matthew 18:15.
- Meet with the person to teach the truth and to express the seriousness of the pro-life issues. No doubt one meeting would not bring about the necessary repentance and it might take several.
- If the meetings get nowhere, than to inform the person not to receive Communion until such a time as he has repented.
- If he still obstinately receive Communion than to order that Communion be withheld from him and an act of mercy.
- Excommunication is certainly something else that should be considered when a person obstinately continues to vote for abortion and to publicly advocate it. Archbishop Joseph Rummel of New Orleans excommunicated three men who resisted segregation. These three men later did repent of their sin. As evil as racism is in modern times it has nowhere the death toll of abortion. Supporting abortion does not result in an automatic excommunication, but there is nothing stopping a bishop from excommunicating someone if he sees it as a prudential. Church history is filled with stories of those who were excommunicated who lated died within the graces of the Church. Yeah the media would raise a firestorm over it, but so what? Better that the media raises a firestorm than for someone to die not being in a state of grace and finding what a real firestorm is. Blessed are those who are persecuted by the media for teaching the truth.
Archbishop Burke was pretty much a model when it comes to this. Bishop Martino of Scranton judging by what he said at the USCCB meeting seems to think along these lines also and certainly seemed frustrated on the conference’s tepid response to this.
I would like nothing better than to see Sen. Biden, Rep. Pelosi, Mayor Giuliani, Gov. Ridge, etc, repent and to be in full communion with the Church. This is not a political issue, but a mandated act of loving our neighbor. The Good Samaritan acted when others passed by and I pray that more bishops act and that we in turn pray for our bishops..