Friday, February 27, 2009

BRAVO to Bishop Martino

Scranton's Bishop Martino orders priests: no Communion for public sinners

Feb. 27, 2009 ( -

Bishop Joseph Martino-- who has emerged during the past year as the American bishop most determined to call pro-abortion politicians to account-- has now issued an order that in his Scranton, Pennsylvania diocese, "Those whose unworthiness to receive Holy Communion is known publicly to the Church must be refused Holy Communion in order to prevent sacrilege and to prevent the Catholic in question from committing further grave sin through unworthy reception."

Bishop Martino's directive was conveyed by the diocesan chancellor, James Earley, in an official notice dated February 26. The crucial concluding portion of notice reads:

Therefore, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, Bishop of Scranton, reminds all ministers of Holy Communion, ordinary and extraordinary, that:

1. To administer the Sacred Body and Blood of the Lord is a serious duty which they have received from the Church, and no one having accepted this responsibility has the right to ignore the Church’s law in this regard;

2. Those whose unworthiness to receive Holy Communion is known publicly to the Church must be refused Holy Communion in order to prevent sacrilege and to prevent the Catholic in question from committing further grave sin through unworthy reception.

The official notice does not mention any individual by name. However it is impossible to overlook the fact that on the same day, February 26, the Scranton diocese also posted an open letter from Bishop Martino of Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey, in which the bishop-- for the second time-- reminded the Catholic lawmaker of his moral obligation "to oppose abortion and other clear evils." [See CWN headline story on the bishop's letter.]

Earlier in the month, in a first rebuke to Senator Casey, Bishop Martino had warned that the senator's vote against an extension of the Mexico City policy-- which prohibited US taxpayer funding of abortion advocacy abroad-- was a violation of the legislator's moral obligation. “Your failure to reverse this vote will regrettably mean that you persist formally in cooperating with the evil brought about by this hideous and unnecessary policy,” the bishop wrote.

The February 26 notice from the Scranton diocese notes that the #915 of the Code of Canon Law instructs Eucharistic ministers not to administer the Blessed Sacrament to Catholics "who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin." [emphasis added] The official notice goes on to quote then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in his 2004 message to the bishops of the United States:

Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.

Thus Bishop Martino has clearly drawn the connection between public support for legal abortion and obstinate perserverance in grave sin, pointing toward the inevitable conclusion that a lawmaker who supports abortion must be barred from receiving the Eucharist.


Anne Marie Marinelli said...

Dear Father Trigilio,

This is quite interesting. But, how will this happen...with a verbal "no", a shake of the head, a blessing from the priest...
Have you ever seen this done?

We should all continue to pray that the Catholic church grows stronger and that those who have strayed return.

Please pray for a group of seminarians from Mount St. Mary's who are currently travelling to Rome & Assisi.

Love and Prayers,
Anne Marie Marinelli

Padre Giovanni Trigilio said...

I presume it means that the person who is publicly ineligible to receive Holy Communion is merely given a gesture, like the open palm of the hand of the Priest, Deacon, Bishop or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.

Diane M. Korzeniewski said...

What happens if someone whose "unworthiness is publicly known" defies the Bishop, presents himself or herself for Communion, and receives Our Lord from a priest who simply does not want to deny the Eucharist to the person?

I can see a politician parish "shopping" when entering Scranton.

radio45 said...

The Eucharist is not just a symbol. It is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Jesus has a body, yet it cannot move. Jesus has Blood but it no longer gives Him life but others. Likewise the Soul and Divinity of Jesus impart graces which help those who seek Him to live more like Him.

Jesus in the eucharist literally entrusts Himself to us. The priests, deacons and Eucharistic ministers are the hands, feet, mind and heart of Jesus. Let us not consider what we want, but what would Jesus have them do as His ambassadors.

In 1 Samuel 21 David, faced with battle, looking for sustenance for his men, gave them the Holy Bread reserved only for the priests of the Temple. David’s heart was not to the law but to feed his sheep, the men of his command. Jesus references this very passage in Matthew 12. He, too, was concerned with His sheep and their feeding more than the law. There is a time for all things under Heaven. Is the Eucharist a chastening tool rather than a Sacrament of sustenance? Would Jesus have us use His Body and Blood as a carpenter would use a lathe or jigsaw to chasten the wood and form it to his own liking? May it never be! In John chapter 5 as the apostles went to get food, Jesus approached a Samaritan woman at the well. He spoke to her. He asked her for a drink, and gave her the living water. Unceonerned with her worthiness Jesus saw a sheep that needed feeding and brought her food she did not know she needed! In
John 6, Jesus fed the five thousand. Which were one’s denied sustenance? Which one's received Jesus' open palm instead of food? Which of the five thousand was pronounced worthy of only an open palm? What would Jesus have us do with Him today? Outstretch an open palm?

What I mean is this. If we who are entrusted with the Eucharist choose to deny it, are we not complicit in the result. As Jesus rebuked the apostles for denying the children access to the Son of Man, will Jesus not rebuke the pastor, priest or bishop who, as the hands and feet, mind and heart of Christ, open their empty palms to very people seeking the sustenance to carry out the important task of leadership. Bishops have a duty to remember they carry a staff in procession and not a hammer. There is a reason.

Dan L. said...

I wait to see how this becomes actually the liberal side may have some influence...


What a GREAT example of being a fortress of our Faith, as this brave...too bad too have to call him brave, he is simply normal (but today, yes, brave), as you and I should know....Bishop that he is, sets the sights on the real truth.

Love ya,

--Dan L.

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

Dear Father,

Look at Bishop Martino's latest press release to Misericordia. I've got a link at the bottom of my blogpost. Things are heating up in scranton. What a marvelous job he did in that press release to catechize. It's sad to note, however, that one of his key points was truncated (diluted), by the secular press (I have the example toward the bottom of the blogpost).

Scranton's Bishop Martino Speaks Out on Misericordia University - Again!

BTW - looking forward to hearing you speak at Sts Cyril & Methodius for Holy Trinity Apostolate's 12th Annual Lenten Symposium on March 14th. Unfortunately, that parish just lost a very beloved priest, Fr. Val, who was a saintly man of 90+. Tears use to stream down his face during Consecration and he was always a tremendous witness to the Real Presence.

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