CNA Staff, May 7, 2021 / 14:01 pm (CNA).
Dissenting Catholic politicians abuse and politicize the Eucharist when they receive the sacrament while promoting policies and actions contrary to the faith, such as legal abortion, according to theologian Father Thomas Weinandy.
Catholic politicians who reject Church teaching but then present themselves for Holy Communion “are using – and so abusing – the Eucharist for seemingly political purposes – to present themselves as ‘devout’ Catholics,” Fr. Weinandy, a Capuchin Franciscan, said in a May 1 essay for The Catholic Thing, “Politicizing the Eucharist”.
“What should most concern the Church is that such Catholic politicians do not simply hold many things that are in opposition to the Catholic faith, but they also actively attack, through the laws they propose and enact, the Catholic Church, the very church to which they claim devotion,” he said.
Fr. Weinandy is a member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission, a 30-member body which advises the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Holy See on doctrinal questions.
While some critics have said it politicizes the Eucharist when clergy suggest denying it to politicians who reject aspects of the faith, Fr. Weinandy countered that the politicians themselves are responsible.
“The politicizing of the Eucharist occurs in the act of the Catholic politician presenting himself or herself to receive Communion even though he or she is well aware that to do so is contrary to what the Church teaches,” he said. “Those who are objectively in the state of mortal sin, or who dissent from or promote contrary positions to the Church’s fundamental dogmatic or moral teaching are forbidden to receive the body and blood of Jesus, for they have made themselves unworthy to do so.”
“Some bishops argue that such Catholic politicians should not be refused Communion, for to do so would politicize the Eucharist. The refusal on the part of bishops or priests would indeed cause a political and media fuss, and prudence may suggest, in certain circumstances, that Communion should not be refused,” Fr. Weinandy added. “An argument could easily be made, however, that refusal should be made so as to avoid scandal and protect the integrity of the sacrament.”
The dispute has been long a question in Catholicism in America, where legal abortion often breaks along partisan lines. The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision mandated nationwide permissive abortion laws, leading to millions of unborn children legally killed.
Fr. Weinandy reflected on Catholics who present themselves as devout. Devout Catholics, he said, don’t need to identify themselves as such because “it is evident to all that they are.”
“Everyone knows that they believe and uphold, and even promote, all that the Church teaches. When they sin against God’s commandments as taught by the Church, they go to Confession, resolve to amend their lives, and so obtain sacramental absolution. Such Catholics are devout without needing to trumpet it,” he said.
In Fr. Weinandy’s view, when a dissenting Catholic politician declares him or herself as a devout Catholic, “one immediately perceives that something is awry.” They and their supporters emphasize this “because there is something about their behavior that is suspect.”
Fr. Weinandy said that defenders of such politicians say that receiving Communion is a sign of “devoutness” despite the contradictions between professed Catholicism and promoting abortion, same-sex relationships or other causes.
“Ironically, such Catholic politicians do the very thing that no truly devout Catholic would ever do,” he said. “The very ‘devout’ action they perform, that of receiving Holy Communion, is an enacted declaration that they lack authentic Catholic devotion.”
Fr. Weinandy added “no one is fooled by this charade, except maybe the self-deluded politician.”
“Faithful Catholics know that there is an irreconcilable disconnect between what is being held by such Catholic politicians and their receiving Communion. And they see that it’s the dissenting Catholic politician who is politicizing the Eucharist,” he said.
He suggested that politicians seek to benefit from being religious and also by “holding and promoting non-Catholic policies.”
“Of course, these stances are contradictory, but then politicians are not known for consistency,” said Fr. Weinandy.
He acknowledged that for a Catholic leader who promotes matters contrary to the Catholic faith, there may still be a deep and unerasable belief in Christ and the Catholic Church.
“Thus, one claims to be a devout Catholic and receives Communion in the hope that, somehow, someday, it will all work out. This comes dangerously close to a sentimental ‘Catholic’ superstition – which is the most charitable interpretation of why dissident Catholic politicians insist on receiving Holy Communion,” said Weinandy.
He encouraged Catholics to pray for the conversions of Catholic politicians and also for God’s protection of his Church.
Fr. Weinandy also summarized an exchange between Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver and Blase Cardinal Cupich of Chicago. Archbishop Aquila, writing in America Magazine last month, said that those who receive Holy Communion, including politicians, must adhere to Catholic doctrinal and moral teaching. Otherwise, they would go against St. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians that whoever eats and drinks unworthily will be “guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord” and bring “judgment upon himself.”
For his part, Cardinal Cupich suggested that Archbishop Aquila’s essay violated Catholic sacramental principles like the idea that the sacraments are based on the power of God, and cannot be diminished by either the celebrant or recipient. Archbishop Aquila, citing authorities like St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, responded in Catholic World Report that the benefit of the sacrament of the Eucharist depends on the subjective disposition of the person receiving it.
Fr. Weinandy said Cardinal Cupich’s critique was “in no way relevant to what Archbishop Aquila wrote” but allowed Archbishop Aquila to clarify any ambiguity and “develop his point even more strongly.”
Fr. Weinandy previously served as executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Doctrine. He resigned his position as a consultant to the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine in 2017 after he published a letter to Pope Francis asking him to correct the “chronic fusion” of his pontificate, which Fr. Weinandy said “fosters within the faithful a growing unease.”
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix have both issued recent documents that discuss the importance of the worthy reception of Holy Communion.
Bishop McElroy of San Diego wrote an essay in America Magazine arguing that refusing Holy Communion to pro-abortion rights politicians is an act that politicizes the Eucharist.
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Fully considering that the Eucharist is the “body and blood, soul and divinity[!]” of our Lord Jesus Christ, to presume to receive the sacrament as part of a manifestly double-life, used to be noted, as an objective mortal sin of sacrilege.
The possible subjective excuse of “invincible ignorance” regarding the reality of each abortion seems a wilted fig leaf after so much biological evidence and informative discourse in decades past…
And, as for our personal future(s) (Biden our time!), a betrayed and absolute Mercy likely is not absolutely blind: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31).
“GOD IS LIFE!” Anyone who beleives in KILLING the UNBORN or the LIVING is in VIOLATIAON OF COMMANDMENT 5! If that peron beleives tjhere in no Wrong bieng don is guilty of committing MURDER, either Actively or in the will, they are the SAME! “As i think, therefore, I AM!”
It’s not surprising that America magazine would publish Bishop McElroy’s dissent to Catholic teaching. After all, James Martin, the editor of America, routinely and publicly disagrees with the teachings of the Church. I simply don’t understand why anyone at any level would want to belong to a Church with which they so fundamentally disagree. Doesn’t that cause some distress in terms of body and soul? A soul that seeks God with its whole being must be confused when the body in which it lives is denying its very existence by promoting the acceptance of immorality in the public square. That soul must cringe at the body’s insistence on feeding it the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ while denying Him in public. That’s an integration that’s gone awry — to disintegration. The soul hopes for something better in terms of uniting the two.
It is surprising that there are still Catholics who read America Magazine.
Devotion to Christ is not proved either by ritual, or a sacramental life. Rather it’s what we do in moral practice, in adherence to the commandments of the faith that proves the truth of our devotion. Pluralism in democratic polity has limits that cannot supersede Divine Law. We’ve reached that point in America with Roe and the legal protection of trans biological sexuality [transexuality] as a class. Both are contrary to Divine Law in a culture that holds to an unprincipled concept of liberty as the standard of freedom. That, which in fact is license to inflict deadly injustice on the innocent and to promote behavior that departs from nature, i.e. natural law. Either of which are justice issues not strictly partisan religious issues. Furthermore, as to Pres Biden and those who support these agendas, the law of God is written on our hearts, meaning we possess inherent prescient knowledge of [intrinsic] good and evil, the very basis of forming conscience and moral responsibility. Neither then can Biden or his adherents claim justification on the grounds of liberty and pluralism while holding to Catholicism. They are manifestly guilty of grave sin and convict themselves further by receiving the Holy Eucharist. As are prelates and presbyters who are complicit in their transgression. Vatican hierarchy specifically Pope Francis are seriously obligated as defenders of the faith to make this clear to resolve the current controversy.
Fr. Morello suggests that the Vatican and are Pope is obligated to make things clear….In his “Values in a Time of Upheaval” (New York: Crossroad, 2006), the former Pope Benedict already shows the real “path” calling for a new voice in the wilderness. He explains the widespread deadening of conscience in the West:
“I have been absolutely certain that there is something wrong with the theory of the justifying force of the subjective conscience . . . Hitler may have had none (guilt feelings); nor may Himmler or Stalin. Mafia bosses may have none, but it is more likely that they have merely suppressed their awareness of the skeletons in their closets.
“And the aborted [a fitting term!] guilt feelings . . . Everyone needs guilt feelings. The loss of the ability to see one’s guilt, the falling silent of conscience in so many areas [the layering of lies on top of lies!], is a more dangerous illness of the soul than guilt that is recognized as guilt.
“To identify conscience with a superficial state of conviction [self-proclaimed devoutness!] is to equate it with a certainty that merely seems rational, a certainty woven from self-righteousness, conformism, and intellectual laziness. Conscience is degraded to a mechanism that produces excuses for one’s conduct, although in reality conscience is meant to make the subject transparent to the divine, thereby revealing man’s authentic dignity and greatness.”
Every time a Priest makes statements like this – ONCE AGAIN Stating facts that are blatantly obvious now and have been so for decades – one, maybe just one – pro-choice ‘catholic’ says “Oh”, or “whoops”, or words to that effect. The pro-choice people know this, and they are terrified.
So Bishop McElroy’s audience diminishes little by little, as does that of Cardinal Cupich.
The foolishness of Chelsea Clinton speaking at the VATICAN diminishes from outrageous to just plain sad – and eventually silly.
More and more people look at Joe Biden and realize that he is really not much more than a sad little man whose mental powers, never that great, are diminishing, no matter what the msm says.
Meanwhile more and more people – Catholic and non-Catholic – listen to Catholic LEADERS like Archbishop Cordileone.
We’ll get through this.
We read articles, time & again, written by cardinals, bishops, priests, laity, etc. regarding the seriousness of politicians receiving the Holy Eucharist while supporting abortion, homosexual behavior, et al. All these words have no meaning if action is not taken.
Common sense tells us serious sin (sacrilege) is being committed by the pol. (Denying the sacrament and, even, excommunication.) Their actions are with full knowledge, knowing that they can receive Christ each week without retribution. Informed Catholics know this, while non-Catholics see us as hypocrites and weak in our faith.
Absolutely Terence. I can’t even think, let alone say what I know and think about daft Chelsea Clinton. Thankfully Americans are being blessed with great LEADERS. Archbishop Cordileone. Bishop Strickland. Carlo Maria Vigano (my most respected) and the brave Fr. James Altman. So many more too. God is blessing America.
Why can’t we cut through all this debate. It seems to me President Biden has excluded himself from the Catholic Church. A believing Catholic is one who has the incalculably great privilege of receiving the Eucharist. A non-Catholic does not. A Catholic is a Baptized person who believes and embraces all the infallible teachings of the Catholic Church in regard to Faith and morals. To withhold belief in its tenets or to act against them is to exclude oneself from the Church. On the one hand, in regard to a particular person, the Canon Law legalisms regarding inclusion or exclusion from the Church are merely crutches for human judgments in the matter, when and if required. On the other hand, if someone publicly rejects and acts against the doctrinal and moral judgements of the Church, they have excluded themselves and their choice should be acknowledged. In this respect, it seems to me, the Church has no right to overlook or minimize President Biden’s personal choices particularly in the matter of abortion. Regardless of what he may feel, to allow him to receive the Eucharist is surely and effectively to participate in his sin of disbelief. By repeatedly flaunting and effectuating his disbelief, he has publicly excluded himself. His choice should be respected even if he does not comprehend what he has done. Further scandal and harm to confused Catholics will certainly be the first and foremost result in an already waffling and scattering membership – just what the Devil wants.
God bless Fr Weinandy.
So few Bishops declare the Truths of the Faith and thus leave a yawning chasm above an abyss of hopelessness filled with the tragic lies and distortions as such as Fr James Martin and Pres Joe Biden. So many ‘Catholics’ in the last election voted for Abomination as their Bishops looked away (in shamefaced disgrace). Has the USCCB sold the Mystical Body Of Christ for 30 pieces of silver? $300-$400 million per year in Federal funds for ‘social’programs?
The article mentions Dissenting Catholic politicians.
There has got to be a more appropriate word to describe them.
May I suggest: “sinning politicians who are complicit in murder”.
“If you love me, keep my COMMANDMENTS!” John 14:15. Anyone who disagrees with ANY ONE OF HIS LAW deos not LOVES HIM! Thus, no one should listn to that person, reagardless what whose with OFFICE iwth t he CHRYCH MIGHT BE! “My sheep her my voice! I call them, they follow me!” John 10:27