Thank you, CWR readers! And a few points on Eucharistic incoherence

Bishop Robert W. McElroy insists “the Eucharist is being weaponized and deployed as a tool in political warfare.” But his arguments are simply smoke, mirrors, and rhetorical emptiness.

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Secondly, onto the festering “Communion wars” (or, perhaps better, “Eucharistic coherence conflicts”).

As most readers know, the debate among Catholics in the U.S. about pro-abortion Catholic politicians and reception of Holy Communion has been around for decades. But the election of Joe Biden—who is routinely painted as a devout Catholic by media members and progressive Catholics—has brought the issue to the front again, and this time it appears the growing tension will not be easily stuffed back into the “kick it down the road” bag. The question of “Who can receive Holy Communion?” is, like many matters of theology and discipline and practice, rather complicated. But the core is quite simple, as The Pillar states: “Since the early days of Christianity, Church leaders have taught that Catholics in situations of serious and ongoing external sin would not be admitted to Holy Communion. That determination has long been reflected in Church law.”

The Catechism explains:

To respond to this invitation we must prepare ourselves for so great and so holy a moment. St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.”  Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion. … Anyone who desires to receive Christ in Eucharistic communion must be in the state of grace. Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance. (CCC 1385, 1415)

The key phrase here, which is often ignored, is “in a state of grace”. That is, those who are not filled with the divine life of the Triune God and thus in communio with Him (see CCC 1997), are to refrain from speaking—acting—a lie by doing something (receiving the Body and Blood of Christ) that is contrary to their actual state (not being in communion with Christ or His Mystical Body). This basic theology is imperative because so much of the ink spilled on this topic is fixated on politics, social standing, optics, and values more consonant with secular society than with soteriological reality.

So, for instance, Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego recently wrote the following at America:

Because of this sacred nature and identity, the Eucharist must never be instrumentalized for a political end, no matter how important. But that is precisely what is being done in the effort to exclude Catholic political leaders who oppose the church’s teaching on abortion and civil law. The Eucharist is being weaponized and deployed as a tool in political warfare. This must not happen. The substantial damage that will take place within the eucharistic community as a result of this instrumentalization will be broad and deep.

By all means, let’s not plays politics with the Eucharist. But, also, let’s not deflect from the Eucharist by constantly playing the politics card. It appears—and I think this is a reasonable and fair reading—McElroy believes that any bishop who will not give Holy Communion to a pro-abortion politician is motivated first and foremost (if not entirely) by politics. This, I suggest, says more about McElroy and even the bishops at large than it does about the essential heart of the matter. Far too many bishops, as I noted back in January (in remarking directly on Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago), are “obsessed with [secular] power but is oddly uncomfortable with apostolic authority.” With that in mind, let’s follow McElroy’s argument, put forth in strong terms:

Notice that there is not, in fact, an argument made in McElroy’s emphatic paragraph above. There is simply assertion. McElroy says such-and-such is “being done”, but only that: says—not argues or proves. It’s even worse, however, because the actual point being made is this: bishops should refrain from their governance and administration of the sacraments when it comes to politics and politicians. Years ago, I noted—half jokingly—that the progressive two-step is: 1) tell Catholics that they are welcome to comment in the public square about matters that are not political, and 2) inform them that, alas, everything is political. Well, everything now is political—especially if you are more attuned, again, to secular power than you are to Eucharistic (and, more broadly, theological) coherence and authority.

McElroy asserts that any serious act by bishops to “exclude pro-choice Catholic political leaders from the Eucharist is the wrong step. It will bring tremendously destructive consequences…” Keeping in mind that abortion is the murder of innocents and that Gaudium et spes flatly states that “from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes” (par 51), McElroy’s “consequences” can be summarized as following:

(1) It will rupture “unity” and will be seen by “half the Catholics in the United States … as partisan in nature” and “will bring the terrible partisan divisions…”

(2) It over-emphasizes “discipline” by fixating on a “theology of worthiness” while ignoring the reality of communion with Christ and the mercy of God.

(3) To exclude Catholics “who continually rejects a significant teaching of the church” sets the bar too high, for it means “worthiness requires integral union with all of the major teachings of Catholic faith.”

Without writing the book required to fully respond to these claims, I’ll simply note:

(1) Unity and communion with Christ is ruptured by sin. Those who knowingly persist in grave sin are the ones destroying unity. To speak of “unity” with those who have severed themselves from communion with Christ is to overlook the lamentable rupture and to posit a false unity. Furthermore, again, this is first and foremost about following Christ and submitting to the clear teachings of His Church. Politics be damned. To even speak here of “terrible partisan divisions” is, frankly, both embarrassing and scandalous.

(2) This is dubious, perhaps even flatly false. The discipline involves flows directly from the truths about grace, communion, good and evil, and sin that every Catholic—especially “devout Catholics”—should know. This attempt by McElroy to paint traditional Church teaching on these matters (cf. 1 Cor. 11:27ff) as legalistic is, ironically, itself the epitome of Pharisaical parsing, the sort of antinomianism so handily dissected by St. John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor. (For a deeper dive into that important topic, see my November 2016 essay titled “The Four Cardinals and the Encyclical in the Room”.) God is merciful, of course, but Jesus didn’t begin his public ministry by saying, “Do the best you can! For the kingdom of God is at hand!” Repentance is “a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed” (CCC, 1431), and there is no substitute for it when it comes to have right relationship (that is, filled with grace) with God and the Church.

(3) We might call this the “Kasper bar”, after Cardinal Walter Kasper, who in 2014 opined that “heroism is not for the average Christian,” apparently unaware of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the history of the saints and martyrs. We are, in fact, called to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. Even more to the point, we should recognize that even while we very well might struggle with this or that sin (as I certainly do), we should never publicly uphold and promote such sin and then claim we are “devout Catholics”, as if holding temporal public office somehow magically excludes us from our eternal heavenly calling.

McElroy, on cue, then plays the racism card, which has become a favorite among many of the bishops (some of who only recently, it seems, learned that all white Americans are racist to the bone):

Proposals to exclude pro-choice Catholic political leaders from the Eucharist have focused on abortion, and at times euthanasia, as the imperative issues for which the bishops should adopt a national policy of eucharistic exclusion. …. But why hasn’t racism been included in the call for eucharistic sanctions against political leaders?  Racism was enumerated as a compelling intrinsic evil by St. John Paul II in “Veritatis Splendor” and by the Second Vatican Council.

He then states, “As to whether racism is a sin that threatens human life, anyone with doubts should talk with the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Trayvon Martin.” There has, so far, been no evidence offered or accepted in a court of law that the death of George Floyd was due to racism (federal charges will apparently try to prove so). Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”, was asked if Floyd’s death was the result of a “hate crime” and the prosecutor replied: “I wouldn’t call it that because hate crimes are crimes where there’s an explicit motive and of bias. We don’t have any evidence that Derek Chauvin factored in George Floyd’s race as he did what he did.” The point, irregardless, is that bringing up racism in such a way is a red herring.

Furthermore, McElroy waxes poetic against racism, but without addressing the obvious problem: there are no politicians promoting and supporting policies and laws that are racist. “It will be impossible to convince large numbers of Catholics in our nation,” McElroy writes, “that this omission does not spring from a desire to limit the impact of exclusion to Democratic public leaders and a desire to avoid detracting from the focus on abortion.” This is weak, whining, and deflective, and it’s easy to demonstrate: does anyone really believe that if any Catholic politician today advocated for policies and laws that were racist (and I mean actually racist, just as Biden, Pelosi, and Co. openly advocate for abortion) that they would not be—rightly!—torn limb to limb (politically, at the very least) by the bishops and all Catholics of good will? Yes, racism exists, without doubt. But speaking generally about racism while ignoring the specifics of abortion and Holy Communion is, again, another convenient distraction.

Two final points. First, as per progressive practice, McElroy selectively quotes from Cardinal Ratzinger’s 2002 “Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life”, conveniently overlooking the sentence: “… it must be noted also that a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.” And, by the way, we haven’t even broached the subject of Biden officiating at a 2016 “gay wedding”, which means, in his case, he has publicly supported (and in the case of the wedding, acted hands-on) actions that are in direct and obvious conflict with the Church’s teachings on two sacraments!

Secondly, McElroy asks (apparently rhetorically), “is the central identity of the invitation of Christ to the Eucharist a sign of personal worthiness or the graced call of the God of mercy?” Again, this is misdirection. The Eucharist can be described in many ways, but let’s begin with the fact that it is Jesus Christ Himself, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Abortion, euthanasia, and homosexuality are not the way, the truth, or the life; on the contrary, they are direct assaults of life at the beginning, life at the end, and life in-between. They are false versions love; moreover, they are idols, and the lead to destruction.

The Catechism says, “The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God’s action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit” (CCC 1325). Again, note the emphasis: communion, divine life, true unity, sanctification, and worship. How, exactly, does the public support of any grave evil have anything to do with such glorious gifts?


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About Carl E. Olson 1157 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His new book Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021), is published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications.

68 Comments

  1. I have been unable to find any information that the President’s wife received an annulment before they were married. Most of the information about the wedding was posted in the past couple of years.

  2. Kasper and McElroy and Cupich and the Pontiff Francis are post-Christian colonizers.

    The first, Kasper, long before he was made Bishop (during the papacy of Pope Paul VI) publicly declared his rejection of the Gospel miracle accounts, in his 1974 book, “Jesus the Christ.” In that book Kasper has urged two generations of young Catholic people (his book was and having been re-issued in 2011 is still used in “Catholic” colleges and seminaries) that they “probably don’t need to believe” in the “nature miracles” in the Gospels, and suggest some specific examples to reject: the Transfiguration, the raising of the widow’s son, the daughter of Jairus and Lazarus, the command of the storm at sea, and the bodily resurrection of Jesus (an idea which he calls “grotesque”).

    “His Excellency” McElroy is simply the by-product of a decadent Church establishment that on Sunday preaches the Gospel to parents and children in Church, and then in the college classroom on Monday teaches the same children to reject the Gospel.

    These men are false shepherds, “hirelings” of the spiritually dead post-Christian Church-as-theater cult.

    • And don’t forget Kasper’s prominent role in process theology, the notion that God is still in the process of learning how to be God.

    • Pope Francis is not, and never was, a false shepherd. In fact, he is a true shepherd who is affectionately called the Slum Pope by those who experienced his loving care for them.
      He upsets some of us by reminding us that our Christian life is more than just prayers – which are commendable – but in living the life of love. That’s tough. He is also terribly disliked because he is a Vatican II Pope.

      • Really, Mal? Please tell us how to understand his presence in pagan worship, better known as Pachamama? By no standard I’ve ever known can this be regarded as a the action of a pastoral of souls in any Catholic sense whatsoever.

        • His pastoral care in the slums of Argentina is well known but not acknowledged by his enemies.
          He made it clear that he did not worship the icon representing the motherness of earth to some people. We too respect symbols and gestures borrowed from pagans – such as wedding rings and genuflecting.

  3. Well written. So what can we do? One small thing we can do is to take a stand against abortion, and sign the declaration at declaration-for-life.org

  4. “irregardless” is not an actual word. The word is “regardless”. On the substantive point of racism of a Catholic politician being dealt with by his bishop, google “Leander Perez”. He was excommunicated for trying to prevent the Church’s desegregation of Catholic schools in Louisiana. Biden, et al., should be excommunicated for their open defiance of Catholic teaching just as Perez was.

    • I’ll won’t go to the rack for “irregardless” but, regardless, this is what the Merriam-Webster Dictionary has to say:

      Is irregardless a word?

      Yes. It may not be a word that you like, or a word that you would use in a term paper, but irregardless certainly is a word. It has been in use for well over 200 years, employed by a large number of people across a wide geographic range and with a consistent meaning. That is why we, and well-nigh every other dictionary of modern English, define this word. Remember that a definition is not an endorsement of a word’s use.

      As for racism, it’s absolutely the case that clear examples can be found going back decades. But this only highlights how much of a red herring is McElroy’s employment of the issue, as 2021 is quite different than, say, 1951.

    • Actually, in fact, ‘irregardless’ is a word. Check any dictionary. See https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/irregardless

      Finally, I refer you to Chapter 6 of Lewis Carroll’s ‘Through the Looking Glass’ for the meaning of Humpty Dumpty’s oft-quoted quote:

      “When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

      ’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

      ’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

  5. We read: “But his [McElroy’s] arguments are simply smoke, mirrors, and rhetorical emptiness.” Or, instead of this triad, and in step with Goodall’s anti-Trinitarian chimp commentary at the recent Vatican conference: we also have the triad of biped deities of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”

    Referring, of course, to the Japanese pictorial monkeys: Mizaru, who sees no evil, covering his eyes; Kikazaru, who hears no evil, covering his ears; and Iwazaru, who speaks no evil, covering his mouth. A mythology from non-Caucasian Asia!!!

    Thusly, by its vacuousness, the McElroy Deflection devolves from smoke, mirrors and emptiness into the gratuitous “racism” card.

    And, besides his triad, and besides the very similar triad from Japan, closer to home another (and politicized!) triad also comes to mind: McElroy, Cupich and Gregory.

  6. Anyone who promotes abortion and forces others to pay for it is not in communion with the Catholic Church. There is no argument. If one is guilty of a mortal sin (promoting abortion and forcing others to pay for it, for example) should go to Confession prior to receiving the Eucharist. Confession requires that one be sincerely sorry for the sin and promise not to commit it again before absolution can be granted and Eucharistic reception be valid. It really is pretty simple, and I don’t understand bishops making it so complicated.

    • Well stated. It’s really not complicated at all.

      “Bishops making it so complicated.” I don’t really understand that either, but that’s what they do. This is the thing – little by little they are running out of wiggle room – which they can’t get back – and they know it.

      Recommended reading – ‘Confronting the Language Empowering the Culture of Death’
      Studies in the Thought of John Paul II

      By William Brennan 2008 Sapientia Press of Ave Maria University

  7. This was a magnificent article. Mr. Olson presents both sides of the issue. I always remember in the bible “what you loose on earth, is loosed in heaven; what you bind on earth is bound in heaven”. Abortion is murder, plain and simple. Back in 1973, I honestly felt that the church was well meaning, but misguided on this issue. But one day after Mass, doctors from a local hospital had a presentation showing the baby’s activity in the mother’s womb. It made me clearly see that I was totally wrong, and the church was totally correct.

  8. First, let me acknowledge reason why CWR receives consistent support is its consistent open dialogue allowing virtually all views while remaining true and consistent in representing the Catholic faith. Next is the news from the Vatican of a letter in the form of a warning aimed at the ‘divisiveness’ of American bishops on the doctrinal matter of refusing Pres Biden the Holy Eucharist.
    “The head of the Vatican’s doctrine office is warning U.S. bishops to deliberate carefully and minimize divisions before proceeding with a possible plan to rebuke Roman Catholic politicians such as President Joe Biden for receiving Communion even though they support abortion rights. The strong words of caution came in a letter from Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, addressed to Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The USCCB will convene for a national meeting June 16, with plans to vote on drafting a document on the Communion issue” ( Associated Press Posted: May 10, 2021 / 07:20 PM). Cardinal Ladaria would not issue such a significant statement without the approval, more likely without its initiation by Pope Francis. What it says is what Fr Weinandy advised, to not consider what this pontiff says rather what he does. A ‘warning’ from the CDF prefect on a doctrinal issue, adversely affecting the coherence of practicing Catholicism and one’s words and actions political and otherwise – is an action. If the bishops comply with the Vatican we support a most egregious incoherence not simply in American politics, rather at the Vatican. It will reinforce the mistake among Catholics that abortion [as well as sexual depravity] is not so evil and that voting for it is acceptable. I admit deep outrage on this Vatican impropriety. It reveals the hand of furtive betrayal.

    • I read the long report on Cardinal Ladaria’s letter in The Pillar today and agree that Rome seems to be telling our bishops to take a long time to think about this and then moderate what they say. Sounds like Rome, most would agree. All else aside, a strong statement on this would probably be seen as (this is my speculation, not from The Pillar or CWR or anywhere else I’ve read) a rebuke against many bishops in Europe, where almost all politicians are far to the left on abortion and other social issues, as well as in countries with strong, violent governments apt to make reprisals against clergy that think about denying THEIR Catholic politicians communion for any reason. I know what I think is right, but I would not want to be a bishop for anything!

      • Gail, it’s true being a bishop during this quandary of faith and reason isn’t a pleasantry, neither is it without great recompense for one’s moral courage against the odds. Recompense to be bestowed by Christ, and reward in the many presbyters as well as laity who will take it to heart to witness to Christ whatever may come. Olson touches on that in referencing Christ’s willingness to suffer the cross. Bishops more than presbyters are successors to the Apostles and carry in their ordination the yoke of defenders of the faith. There are many already outspoken, and what a wonderful reaction it would be if there were joined. What’s coming out of Rome on this is not dogma or some irrepressible magisterial command as you’re aware, rather an unacceptable wrong. Stand fast with us. We need the laity more than ever.

      • Please. The letter from Ladaria is intended to protect the Pope’s man in Washington. It is not more complicated than that. Biden and Francis play for the same team. As Francis intervened to suppress the bishops’ call for a thorough and honest investigation of the McCarrick scandal and to delay the USCCB statement that was mildly critical of Biden in January, it should surprise no one that he would do so again once he got wind of might happen at the June meeting.

    • In support of editor Olson, justice within a pluralistic society can never be in support of what is inherently evil, murder of the innocent in abortion and sexual depravity contrary to the laws of nature instituted by God. It would compare with support of the Nazi party in the murder of undesirables, and the genocide of Jews and Slavic people as if it were justified as pluralistic politics. Insofar as Pres Biden he not only supports the murder of some 60 million prenatal infants but has taken aggressive action to widely increase the killings. If as bishop McElroy and the Vatican seems to warn of a terrible backlash against us so be it. We’re called to be heroic if necessary contrary to Cardinal Kasper’s disbelief. Cardinal Ladaria’s letter to America’s bishops and its papal approval apparently marks a crossroads of faith in Christ or evil humanistic compromise with evil.

    • Fr. Morello. We miss your wisdom when you are silent.. and appreciate and are further educated and elucidated with your responses and comments when you contribute. Thank you. We are in your debt. Always learning.

      Mr. Olsen has again presented us with a well researched and timely article . He also is a treasure.

  9. Thanks for this very clear summary of the current situation. I have a feeling things are going to get worse before they get better (looking at Germany this week). Too many American Catholics have been brainwashed to think traditional teachings and morality are ‘mean’ and (ironically) un-Christian.

  10. Mr. Olson, you explain the matter perfectly. You win on facts and logic, but that probably won’t carry the day on this matter. Francis and company will do whatever is required stop any move to penalize or even embarrass Biden and the Democrats. Ending abortion is not a priority compared to abolishing borders or imposing climate change controls.

    • If enough Bishops don’t support the Archbishop from San Francisco and his letter rebuking P. Biden and if they continue to vacillate on any meaningful rebuke toward P.Biden in their USCCB June Meeting I think the laity should cancel them permanently and let them be aware we will not support them financially. WE need to speak with our pocketbooks!

  11. The Bishop insists “The Eucharist is being utilized and deployed as a tool in political warfare.”

    Absolutely true – by the left.

    • It’s called Projection……they think we , on the opposition side, work and maneuver as they do . That is their failing.
      Projection. Reveals their mindset and beliefs, and motivates their behavior. Low, manipulative, and deceitful. And what side, good or evil, do you think they are on when they use those tactics.?

  12. “The faithful man will sing the joys of victory!” – St. Josemaria Escriva

    For myself I wanted to say thanks for publishing our notes; and make a praise for your steady work, often luminous and uplifting, at CWR.

  13. There you go. The Vatican has spoken of the communion clash here in the U.S.. The church’s lead doctrinal official warned that the push to ban President Biden from receiving communion would be “misleading if [it] were to give the impression that abortion and euthanasia alone constitute the only grave matters of Catholic social teaching that demand the fullest level of accountability on the part of Catholics.”
    Dated Friday, 7 May, the message came in a letter from the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Spanish Cardinal Luis Ladaria SJ, to the USCCB President, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles. Whispers has obtained the three-page missive, which was shared with the body of bishops over the weekend at Ladaria’s behest. Those crying for Biden’s ban are like Protestants with their “Scripture Alone,” “Faith Alone,” and for these right wing conservative Catholics, “Abortion Alone!”

    • “The sacrament of confession is the key since, of all the sacraments, it is focused on our most serious problem, our sin. We tend to think our most serious problems are things related to our health or finances or worldly injustices we face. No, not even close. Jesus says it is more serious to sin than to lose our eye, our hand or foot (Matthew 5:29-30). Jesus looked at a quadriplegic lowered down before him and said, “My son, your sins are forgiven” (Matthew 9:5).
      Msgr. Charles Pope
      read article:
      https://www.ncregister.com/commentaries/turn-from-your-sins-and-return-to-the-lord-this-is-the-kairos-of-confession

      “Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world”
      “Behold the wood of the Cross on which hung the salvation of the world.”
      “Have mercy on me a poor sinner”

    • There’s more in the discussion than you allow. Hence, “single issue” admits no dialogue. It also gives off loaded mis-characterizations and from what I’ve seen can behave in a very heavy-handed manner. Worse, it is ideological, it does not defend life; it defends a concept and a device that can be called “pure talk” accurately; or, allows it to spread at will as can be seen in many places. And prioritizes it and sets no limits on it, can’t show a robust content and can’t define the dimensions of its integrity in practice. It’s only “flexible” when it trades lives off one against the other. Greater, you never show me -us- how you mean to be more careful.

      • We have yet to see how the “single issue” allegation will integrally affirm and support pro-life. When you leave this as a blank for pro-lifers, it does not distract them; rather, you get detained by mental occupations. I have said it so many times elsewhere already, this “mentalism” seriously hobbled Catholic action in the 20th Century. Didn’t somebody say “Move forward”? Pro-life is an on the ground contact engagement and part of my prayer has always been for the their spirit to rise up into the hierarchy and embolden their hearts. It’s Almighty God you owe praise for their generosity!

    • Sadly, Cardinal Ladaria’s note, from the information available, focuses the matter only politically. So now there are different ways to analyze and label that; but what I will say is that I think it is not the first time Ladaria 1. minimizes content that 2. leads to nowhere but at the same time 3. has the joy vacuumed out of it. Are you and I supposed to want to pray like that too?

      • Now that the such a letter is sent, it is unclear if the Holy See would affirm an archbishop who would move to excommunicate a politician for publicly advocating and legislating abortion. The foundation proposed by Benedict XVI is not cemented.

        Please be careful. Pro-life never intended congregationalism for bishops on the abortion issue; and pro-lifers definitely do not propose congregationalism among bishops through “dialoguing about abortion” with those who are perpetuating it!

    • Yes all of his other left wing idiocies are evil as well as his crimes against humanity through abortion, and no conservative has ever been as socially and politically myopic as those who insultingly reduce them to caricatures. But I doubt if his left wing idiocies are what you had in mind.

    • There is no Right Wing and Left Wing Catholicism …..Only Obedient to the Doctrine of Faith , Faithful., Ten Commandments, observing Catholics….stumbling, trying, confessing, …..practicing Catholics. With God’s grace…. if other “ Catholics” aren’t part of this effort … they’re not Catholic. Anyone labeling has an agenda..

  14. Bravo, Mr. Olson!

    Thank you for your clear and logical presentation of the left’s case for administering the Eucharist to heresiarchs.

    You’re right. The left — whether politicians, bishops, academics, or BLM/Antifa rioters — do not make arguments. They assume, characterize, impugn and distort.

    So their positions are invariably — defiantly, even — without foundation.

    And if you point out that fact, you instantly establish yourself as a racist, homophobe, xenophobe and blah blah blah.

    In this way, the left redefines reality on a case by case basis. They are not accountable to principles, standards, evidence, history or science.

    It’s not often that anyone calls them on their maddening lack of foundation and logic, demonstrating the glaring deficiencies step by step as you have done. I salute you.

    Congratulations! You have demonstrated the way to counter the intellectual virus that is leftism.

  15. Excellent article Mr. Olsen. I think some bishops and Catholic laity are too focused on outcomes instead of just stating and defending the teachings of the Faith by levying disciplines and punishments. It is good to remember the outcome is in Gods Hands not ours. Perhaps McElroy is too concerned about temporal outcomes, forgetting the eternal one of the last judgement of his soul. Perhaps for him and bishops like him the real problem is they are controlling personalities. Those kind of people cannot surrender to God and His ways completely, even to the point of martyrdom.

  16. Bishop McElroy is absolutely right about racism needing more attention, given the millions of black children who have been murdered by abortion, in neighborhoods deliberately targeted by Planned Parenthood for its clinics to cash in. I didn’t see mention of that fact in his article, but I’m sure he’ll issue a clarification, eh?

  17. Now with Cardinal Ladaria intervening in this American drama, I invite you to get out of the right wing conservative Catholic media bubble you are in and read this article.
    https://www.ncronline.org/news/politics/cardinal-ladaria-cautions-us-bishops-politicians-and-communion
    Note especially how he wants all Catholics involved to get away from the almost heretical Protestant-like “sola” (alone) as in “faith alone,” “scripture alone” and this Catholic version we are discussing here: “abortion alone.”

    • Funny how some people can actually convince themselves that following the Church’s clear and traditional teachings about the reception of Holy Communion is a sign of an “almost heretical Protestant-like ‘sola’.” Three basic points: 1) almost all, if not all, pro-abortion Catholic politicians are also pro “same-sex marriage” AND pro-gender ideology. So much for “sola”. 2) Taken to its logical conclusion, this sort of approach has to mean that supporting abortion or promoting homosexuality or advancing trans-stuff really isn’t sinful after all. Thanks for demonstrating the sort of incoherence addressed in my editorial. 3) If it’s wrong for “right-wing” (ie, orthodox) Catholics to point to one specific sin (it isn’t, but that’s not the point), then it is obviously hypocritical and contradictory for progressives to complain this singular focus. Not that progressives care that much for logic or coherence.

    • Your Cardinal Bernardin tapestry approach to the immediate life/death fact of abortion convinces no one, popefrancisthegreater.

    • To “Pope Francis the Greater”—
      An attentive reading of Cardinal Ladaria shows that he calls, clearly, for a two-phase approach to the double-speak Biden. The first is for the USCCB to decide as a group how Catholic they themselves are, across the board; and then second, to decide together on their precise approach to the Biden threat to the nation and to the Church in the United States, both—Biden whose fusionist (secularist/faithful) Catholicism is applauded by radical secularists, acquiesced-to by many invertebrate clerics, and shared by that half of the laity already assimilated into post-Christian culture.

      The alternative to this two-phased approach is to replicate the schismatic distraction now under way in the composite “synodal path” in Germania. Ladaria’s advice makes good strategic sense in terms of bettering the situation without inadvertently worsening it by backing into the German-style morass, and even by witlessly anointing a White House martyr.

      Saul Alinsky smiles from the grave. As for our Pope Francis (the-not-so-great), his inconsistent and strategic blunder with bellwether Germania has been to dally weakly with Marx/Batzing & Co., probably thinking that they would respond constructively to kind and fatherly tolerance. Instead, a stitch in time saves nine. But now, the same predictable outcome as in China (some say as misled by McCarrick and Parolin), and historically as in 1938 Munich.

      It’s time now for some commentators, at least, to get their head out of the morass.

  18. Dear pope Francis the lesser, Cdl. Ladarius caution is that the bishops be united as much as possible when they deal with Biden, also known as “old heretic Joe” people like you are becoming desperate in your attempts to obscure the evil of abortion. Isn’t going to work.

  19. “The point, irregardless, is that bringing up racism in such a way is a red herring.”

    “Regardless” or “irrespective”, my friend. And the word you were looking for was “nevertheless”anyway.

    –Snidely McPeevish, self appointed grammarian to the stars.

    On a serious note, if the Bishops are afraid of denying him Communion over abortion, let them at least have the courage to deny it to him over the public scandal of presiding over a simulacrum of a marriage attempted by two persons of the same sex. There’s no hiding behind the Cuomo “personally opposed” dodge on that one!

    • On a serious note, if the Bishops are afraid of denying him Communion over abortion, let them at least have the courage to deny it to him over the public scandal of presiding over a simulacrum of a marriage attempted by two persons of the same sex. There’s no hiding behind the Cuomo “personally opposed” dodge on that one!

      Nailed it. 100% in agreement.

  20. At one time Pope Francis said that abortion is “not a religious issue”. We do not know if he still holds to this nor do we know if it applies to all the items in the Council of Jerusalem. He hasn’t elaborated so we must guess what it meant. It appears to be consistent with other comments like “hot button” and “ideological” and “rigidity”. I think it is wrong to position pro-life as “religious reactionism” and/or as infantile or an infantile interface -because it is not. He is searching for “a new dialogue” / “renewal of dialogue” but he mustn’t do this by debasing authentic people as misguided and driven to their own glory, who are blocks to grace and incapable of rational involvement. Take a moment and recollect how many times in the past, since before Roe v. Wade, people have tried to undermine anything pro-life by various kinds of shifting, at the intellectual level and in the political arena. Pro-life is already highly developed and must continue to spread; it doesn’t need a “restart”.

  21. The story of Susanna in the Bible is a watershed moment because of its so many striking features. The “holy spirit of a boy”, the firmness of the truth, affirmation within a pagan world and among paganized Jews, the spirit and letter of the law, light shining in darkness, craven made futile, the meaning of inquiry, the vindication of Susanna unjustly accused and condemned, the sacredness of a day.

    See Daniel 13, 44-62.

    ‘ “I WILL HAVE NO PART IN THIS DEATH! ….. Return for they have testified falsely! ….. Have you grown evil with age! ….. The innocent and the just you shall not put to death!” ‘

    O yes, perhaps the most important lesson – or, warning – for our time:

    ‘ “The Angel of the Lord has split you in two!” ….. Thus was innocent blood spared that day. ‘

    Year after year pro-death Catholics come to Church and hear this and continue to peddle abortion and contraception without and within. This is not a religious issue?

  22. It is excellent that the Catholic Church has bishops that stand up for the sanctity of life from the moment of conception, as that is clearly when the Bible considers life began. But the Catholic Church Pontiffs have not always agreed, despite claimed infallibility.

    In circa 217 A.D., Callistus became bishop of Rome. The Roman Catholic saint Hippolytus reported:

    Callistus…a man cunning in wickedness, and subtle where deceit was concerned, (and) who was impelled by restless ambition to mount the episcopal throne…Whence women, reputed believers, began to resort to drugs for producing sterility, and to gird themselves round, so to expel what was being conceived on account of their not wishing to have a child either by a slave or by any paltry fellow, for the sake of their family and excessive wealth. Behold, into how great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by inculcating adultery and murder at the same time! And withal, after such audacious acts, they, lost to all shame, attempt to call themselves a Catholic Church! And some, under the supposition that they will attain prosperity, concur with them. (Hippolytus. Refutation of All Heresies, Book IX, Chapter VII)

    Notice that Callistus allowed (or at least permitted) abortion and adultery.

    Note what The Catholic Encyclopedia has admitted about Callistus:

    Callistus…permitted noble ladies to marry low persons and slaves, which by the Roman law was forbidden; he had thus given occasion for infanticide. (Chapman , Pope Callistus I)

    Yet, the following is the official position of the Roman Catholic Church on abortion and was approved by the late Pope John Paul II and the current Pope Benedict XVI (when Benedict XVI was still known as Cardinal Ratzinger):

    Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to moral law (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2271. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 606).

    However, they seem to be ignoring the Roman Bishop Callistus (as well as later Popes and others) who did allow abortion.

    Furthermore notice what one Protestant scholar wrote about other Roman Catholic Popes:

    Most Catholics are not aware that the infallible Church and popes have changed their minds several times on this topic–unthinkable from today’s perspective.

    From the fifth century onward, Aristotle’s view that the embryo goes through stages from vegetable to animal to spiritual was accepted. Only in the final stage was it human. Thus Gregory VI (1045-6) said, “He is not a murderer who brings about abortion before the soul is in the body.” Gregory XIII (1572-85) said it was not homicide to kill an embryo of less than 40 days since it wasn’t yet human. His successor, Sixtus V, who rewrote the Bible, disagreed. His Bull of 1588 made all abortions, for any reason, homicide and cause for excommunication. His successor, Gregory XIV, reversed that decree. In 1621 the Vatican issued another pastoral directive permitting abortion up to 40 days (Hunt D. A Women Rides the BeastHarvest House Publishers, Eugene (OR), 1994, pp. 519-520).

    Quite similarly notice what one former Roman Catholic priest wrote:

    Most Catholics assume that the soul is infused at conception…For fourteen hundred years until the late nineteenth century, all Catholics, including the popes, took it for granted that the soul is not infused at conception…

    From the fifth century, the church accepted without question, the primitive embryology of Aristotle. The embryo began as a non-human speck that was progressively animated.

    In the fifteenth century, moralists began to ask whether it was not possible in certain circumstances to get rid of the foetus without fault…Some went further. They said it was permissable to save a mother’s life even after the foetus was humanized…

    Gregory XIII (1572-85) said it was not homicide to kill an embryo of less than forty days since it was not human…His successor, the tempestuous Sixtus V, who rewrote the Bible, disagreed entirely. In his Bull Effraenatum of 1588, he said all abortions for whatever reason were homicide and were penalized by excommunication reserved to the Holy See. Immediately after Sixtus died, Gregory XIV realized that, in the current state of theological opinion, Sixtus’ view was too severe. In an almost unique decision, he said Sixtus’ censures were to be treated as if he had never issued them (De Rosa, Peter. Vicars of Christ. Poolbeg Press, Dublin, 2000, p.p 374-375).

    • The Catholic Encyclopedia explains clearly the controversies surrounding Callistus. It wasn’t that he allowed or permitted abortion and adultery. Rather:

      The orthodoxy of Callistus is challenged by both Hippolytus and Tertullian on the ground that in a famous edict he granted Communion after due penance to those who had committed adultery and fornication.

      Here is a helpful summary of what the early Church taught about abortion.

      Dave Hunt’s book A Woman Rides the Beast is a sorry, nasty, and error-filled work of anti-Catholic polemics, full of the usual Fundamentalist biases and nonsense. I’ve read it and it many others like it. Hunt should not be taken seriously when it comes to the Catholic Faith–or nearly anything else, in fact.

      For a scholarly and helpful examination of actual facts, see the 1967 academic article, “Abortion and the Catholic Church: A Summary History”, by John T. Noonan, Jr.

  23. Excommunication would not mean reconciliation becomes impossible. There might be some embarrassment in it which Cardinal Gregory would have to carry for President Biden.

  24. McElroy’s statement “It will rupture and will be seen by half the Catholics in the United States as partisan in nature …. and will bring the terrible partisan divisions ….”

    Message to McElroy – It already HAS – we passed that point LONG ago.

  25. Dislike for Pope Francis and now dislike for President Biden. All these bishops and archbishops calling for the denial of communion on President Biden have a pattern and history of hostility and disloyalty to Pope Francis. They are of the extremist right wing conservative cohort in the USCCB. When Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the disgraced former papal nuncio to the United States, released an unprecedented and soon discredited letter in 2018 alleging Pope Francis’ complicity in covering up for former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s history of abuse, San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone came to Viganò’s defense. Despite Viganò’s shocking call for Pope Francis’ resignation, Cordileone was joined by a number of U.S. bishops who bolstered the testimony of the former nuncio. Among them, Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted and Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, all of whom issued personal statements or gave interviews echoing Cordileone’s praise of Viganò as a man of faith and integrity. Today, those same bishops are also driving the controversial efforts aimed at pressing the U.S. bishops’ conference to draft a document that will have far sweeping effects to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who support pro-choice legislation. Instead of being praised as heroes these bishops should be called out for their episcopal gangsterism.

    • “Dislike…”, “extremist right wing conservative cohort,” “controversial” and “gangsterism”: your attempt to play the objective, non-ideological reason is an epic fail. Further, your attempt to tie all calls to Eucharistic coherence to Abp Vigano is not only transparently pathetic, it is far more ideological and political than anything Cordileone, Naumann, etc., have said or done. Further, the use of emotive language is another check against your utterly crude attempt to smear the reasonable, faithful work of good bishops, none of whom as ever expressed any dislike for Pope Francis or Joe Biden. Finally, linking the Pope and President together is a curious thing, for while the two men certainly share some common ground, Francis has likened abortion to “hiring a hit man”. And since Biden is clearly 100% for abortion, both ideologically and politically, it’s reasonable to think Francis has a low view of this key aspect of Biden’s personal and political platform.

    • Robert Sheen,
      “All these bishops and archbishops calling for the denial of communion on President Biden have a pattern and history of hostility and disloyalty to Pope Francis.”

      All these bishops and archbishops have a pattern and history of defending the sacred teachings of the Catholic faith. All these bishops and archbishops have a pattern and history of care for the salvation of the souls of their Catholic charges. I really have to commend them for being true shepherds.

    • ” those same bishops are also driving the controversial efforts aimed at pressing the U.S. bishops’ conference to draft a document that will have far sweeping effects to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who support pro-choice legislation. Instead of being praised as heroes these bishops should be called out for their episcopal gangsterism.”

      For pointing out that people who are participating in mortal sin by supporting butchering babies have no business receiving Holy Communion? Why do you hate those people so, that you want them to add the sin of sacrilege to the one they’ve already committed?

      Incidentally, it isn’t “pro-choice,” it’s “pro-abortion.”

      • Leslie: With your concern for semantics, you should be aware that the understanding and practice of the majority of “pro-life” advocates is actually limited to being “pro-birth” only. They don’t care about other life issues like death penalty, gun safety, police brutality, racism, climate change, among many other issues about forces that deal premature death to people.

        • “…the death penalty, gun safety, police brutality, racism, climate change…”

          are absolutely trivial in comparison with butchering babies.

          The death penalty is not innately evil.

          “Gun safety” is something that should be taught to anyone who owns a gun and to children who are near them. The NRA has a program, featuring Eddie the Eagle, for teaching gun safety to children. But there is nothing immoral about owning and using guns.

          “Police brutality” happens, sadly. In 2019 about a thousand people were killed by police. In many instances the people who were killed were in the process of attempting to kill others. In the same year about 889,000 innocent babies were aborted.

          “Racism” seems to be quite flexibly defined these days – “I don’t like you and therefore you’re racist” shows up a lot. In any event, the percentage of aborted babies who are black is shockingly high. Abortion is a greater threat to blacks than racism is.

          “Climate change” is nonsense. Try reading, say, “Apocalypse Never,” instead of buying into the shrieking hysteria of the media. I am old enough to remember being terrified by my teachers because of the coming global cooling that was going to leave us living in a deadly ice age.

          You are pro-abortion, obviously. How sad.

          • You’re wrong. I’m very very anti-abortion. I’m a genuine and full pro-life Catholic standing up against all death dealing forces that threaten all life from womb to tomb. Your trivializing of all the other life issues is a classic example that show that many Catholics who call themselves pro-life are actually not pro-life but pro-birth. As to your semantics, sadly to be accurate you’re not “pro-life” but “pro-birth” only.

    • Mr. Robert Sheen. Your first four lines assert something without providing evidence. Speaking in generalizations without benefit of specifics may make you feel good, but is not enlightening.

    • Robert Sheen
      “Dislike for Pope Francis and now dislike for President Biden.”

      First of all, there is a distinction between liking and loving. I don’t like the mannerisms of either the Pontiff or those of Mr. Biden.

      I’m old enough to remember Mr. Biden on the TV hearings of confirmation of Dr. Bork. He was most rude and scandalous in his behavior, which behavior has been shown since to reside in his very bone marrow. I do have a problem with his behavior and I pray for the salvation of his soul. The present Pontiff displays similar behavior to select groups of people and I also pray for him daily—-and on top of that, I too am a sinner in need of conversion and prayers—I’m pretty sure my behavior is not always favorable to some.

      I will not swallow hook, line and sinker everything someone says just because they are my political or clerical favorite.

  26. I like and anticipate with joyful hope the bishops teaching “Eucharistic coherence” and deny communion to politicians who scandalously publicly oppose Catholic teaching. It must be “applied coherently” too. The way the discourse is going now gives the impression that only politicians who favor abortions are considered public sinners who need repentance before receiving communion. Otherwise, they be denied this sacrament. To be coherent, this teaching if ever proclaimed must be applied not only to politicians but to all Catholics. And the public sins considered for this communion ban must include not only abortion but also same-sex marriage, not caring for and helping the poor and immigrants, white supremacist racism, climate change denialism (against Laudato Si), parroting Trump’s Big Lie about the 2020 election (against the 8th commandment) as the most notable ones.

      • Let me take your reasoning, though without knowing your motive for bringing it up, I can say your argument trivializes the injustice inflicted by white supremacist racism which has been institutionalized and systematized (remember: it’s one of America’s original sins) and prevents right discourse in the light of our Catholic faith and look for action in helping properly address this.

    • Not helping immigrants does not rank up there with the murder which is abortion.Not even close. Further, the difference is that POLITICIANS have media coverage and therefore every inaccuracy or lie dropping out of their mouths fall into millions of ears. In the case of pro abortion politicians who advocate abortion up until the day of birth, ( and some, beyond), the public scandal and damage they do is incalculable. If by contrast, you keep $20 for yourself when you could have well given it to the poor, nobody will know except you and God. You wont be influencing millions of others to fall into your sin because you dont get any media coverage. Get it? Especially when the politician’s pro-abortion stand is directly opposite to what the church mandates, yet they persist in pandering to deluded Catholic voters by calling themselves “devout Catholics”, which could not be further from the truth. By the way, I have never in my life met a white supremacist, which is funny since the left claims there are so many of them they endanger our nation. By contrast I think the danger comes from leftists who espouse a fake narrative of American history while fostering divisive racial perspectives. It comes from the phony CRT, and a culture of victimization which can apparently only be remedied by forcing those innocent of any crime to pay for it as if they had committed the crime. This is all aided by a brainwashed media class who chant the leftist narratives without ceasing, especially the untrue ones, and weak kneed corporate class members who faint and capitulate at any accusation , no matter how untrue, of “racism”. Finally, unless you are proposing we have neighbors and family members inform on each other, as did the Soviets, Nazis and others of their ilk, I dont know how you would propose to unearth the “sins” of the average Joe ( like supporting TRUMP???????) If indeed you equate being a Trump supporter as a “sin” at all, let alone one comparable to abortion comparable to abortion ( cutting up a baby into pieces in the womb), it would seem as though you are grossly misinformed in general.

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