Confraternity Concurs on Communion Policy
10/8/2007 - 06:43 PST MARYSVILLE, PA, OCTOBER 8, 2007 - The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, a national association of 600 priests and deacons, publicly endorses the decision and rationale of Archbishop Raymond Burke (St. Louis, MO) to deny Holy Communion to politicians who obstinately and openly support abortion or euthanasia. We respectfully urge all his brother bishops to universally and decisively support this initiative at the upcoming annual Fall General Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in November.
We agree that a regretable situation exists where great scandal is given to the faithful by fellow Catholics holding or running for public office in government who also declare and give formal and/or material cooperation to grave evil. Abortion and euthanasia directly and intentionally target the innocent unborn or the terminally ill and seek to end their lives. These “are crimes which no human law can make ratified,” said Pope John Paul the Great in Evangelium Vitae, as quoted by Archbishop Burke in his recent article in Periodica De Re Canonica. The obligation to refuse Holy Communion to someone publicly unworthy or unable to receive is a most serious matter for it affects both the individual and the entire mystical body of Christ.
Canon 915 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law explicitly states that those “who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion.” Giving consent to an evil act is de facto formal cooperation in evil and is as much a mortal sin as the person who commits the physical act itself. Those who support abortion are as guilty of sin as those who have or perform abortions. Equally culpable are persons who may classify themselves as being ‘personally opposed to abortion’ but who also provide necessary assistance for the evil to occur. This is clearly understood as material cooperation in evil. Immediate or direct material cooperation in evil is always a mortal sin. Hence, individuals who refrain from giving formal cooperation are nonetheless still guilty of grave sin when they provide necessary material cooperation, such as the politician who votes for legislation enabling others to commit the evil of abortion or euthanasia. They are no different than the person who knowingly and willingly drives the woman to the abortion clinic or the nurse who directly assists the doctor performing the evil deed.
We furthermore applaud Archbishop Burke’s consistent stand to defend life, especially when the most innocent and defenseless are in jeopardy. We also commend him for equally applying the injunction against giving Communion to notorious abortion and euthanasia supporters regardless of their political party affiliation. Whether democrat, republican or indepent; whether a member of the executive, legislative or judicial branches; all public officials who publicly support, promote or give asistance to others to commit evil are cooperators in that evil. When he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, clearly stated in his 2004 letter to the USCCB (“Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion”) that “not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia.” Therefore, “there may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.” He also states in that same letter that the minister of Holy Comunion “must refuse to distribute it” to “a Catholic politician [who] consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws.”
It is an erroneous and specious argument to say that denying Holy Communion causes equal or more scandal to the faithful. Some Catholics may indeed consider it a judgmental act or one void of pastoral charity and compassion. Recall the parable in Matthew 22:2-14 where the man is physically removed from the banquet for not wearing a wedding garment. Some might consider it unfair treatment since he was not one of the originally invited guests who refused to come, rather, he was asked at the last minute. Yet the gospel shows there is no excuse. The man was ‘speechless’ since it is presumed everyone had a wedding garment and to show up, even unexpectedly, without wearing proper attire, was an insult to the host. Catholic politicians have no excuse, either. If they openly support abortion and/or euthanasia, even though they claim to be ‘personally opposed’, they are in fact publicly unworthy to receive Holy Communion due to their cooperation in evil. Greater scandal is given when bishops, priests, and deacons do not protect the sanctity and dignity of the Most Blessed Sacrament by allowing public persons notoriously known for their positions which directly violate the Divine and Moral Laws.
Contact: Confraternity of Catholic Clergy www.catholic-clergy.org/ PA, US Rev. John Trigilio - President, 717 - 957-2662