Archbishop Aquila: Catholic Democrats should take  responsibility, not weaponize the Eucharist

CNA Staff   By CNA Staff

Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver.

Denver, Colo., Jul 3, 2021 / 09:01 am (CNA).

Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver in his Friday column called out the 60 Catholic Democrats who penned a letter defending their pro abortion position to stop “weaponizing the Eucharist.”

“Those of us who have followed the news in the last week or so know that the press has declared that the U.S. Bishops are planning to ban President Biden from Communion, allegedly ignoring the Vatican’s guidance,” Archbishop Aquila wrote in his July 2 column, “Enter the narrow gate to receive the Eucharist”.

He explained that “after hours of discussion, the bishops voted 174 to 55 to draft a document that addresses both this issue and the broader question of what places any person in a state of not being able to receive Communion. The document, which will be drafted and then discussed regionally in the coming months, will strive to make the Church’s teachings on the Eucharist and worthily receiving the Lord more widely known.”

Reacting to the 60 Catholic lawmakers who released a letter justifying their support for legalized abortion, the Archbishop of Denver said, “instead of accepting their own responsibility to understand and follow Church teaching, these politicians are the ones who are ‘weaponizing the Eucharist’ by insisting that they remain in good standing despite publicly committing grave sins and continuing to receive Communion.”

“One cannot say one believes something, do the complete opposite and then credibly say that they are in communion with a Church that believes what they did is evil,” he added.

In his column Archbishop Aquila revelead that many US bishops, including himself, have been privately dialoguing with Catholic politicians on abortion and other issues for years, urging them to refrain from Communion if they won’t change their immoral political positions.

“Unfortunately, many – but not all – of these public figures have chosen political expediency over the Gospel. They value their political party and their power more than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They do not serve as a leaven of the Gospel in society, but rather build a culture of death. They cite the importance of following their consciences but fail to explain how their conscience is a properly formed conscience,” he said.

After recalling that the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches explicitly that “anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance”, Aquila explained that he has “two motivations in speaking out on this subject: first, to protect and faithfully hand on the teachings Christ has given us, and second, to warn those who are endangering their souls by receiving Communion in a state of grave sin, whatever that grave sin is.”

“The people who I hear from the most about these issues,” the Archbishop of Denver wrote, “feel betrayed by the Catholic lawmakers and other public figures who claim that they are Catholic but then vote and act against the faith. What do these people have to say to the young children, moms and dads and grandparents who are fighting for the lives of the unborn by praying outside of abortion clinics or caring for young moms in need before and after they’ve had their baby?”

“Every Catholic, regardless of their prominence, must choose who they will follow – Jesus Christ and his Church, or the false gods of power, influence and the world’s acclaim. May we all respond to this choice as Jesus did when Satan tempted him, ‘The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve’.”

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  1. It is the medical industry that is “weaponized” (as in abortions and euthanasia), NOT the Church which witnesses absolutely to the transcendent dignity of each person, without exception–and therefore also has something to say about Eucharistic coherence.

    But, as for the couple dozen bishops who, at best, find it inopportune to act at this moment like successors of the apostles—it’s not that they no longer believe in absolutes. Rather, their belief that a more discerning access to the Eucharist “weaponizes” the sacramental Real Presence…THIS belief is hackneyed and “absolute” nonsense.

  2. Archbishop Aquila says, “One cannot say one believes something, do the complete opposite and then credibly say that they are in communion with a Church that believes what they did is evil”. True. Although this moment requires that the bishops themselves act forcefully, wording what is required in the Eucharistic statement, and implementing it. Hierarchy cannot criticize and not follow up with refusal of the Eucharist as they as they did in 2004 regarding CDF prefect Ratzinger’s Instruction [as it was titled] on worthy reception that stated politicians who promote abortion are not worthy. Many of us were unaware that at the time bishops became aware of Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter of Instruction forwarded to then Cardinal McCarrick, who redacted out the significant portions that sanctioned abortion proponents from receiving the Eucharist. That redaction nevertheless became known by the bishops, the complete Instruction was published in the Italian media, and the McCarrick redaction, his lies to the USCCB was addressed by Richard Neuhaus First Things October 2004. Word spreads. McCarrick attempted to defend his chicanery to the bishops and they complied. Now they must not only write on it as they did back in 04, they must act on it. And, to borrow Neuhaus’ words mandate specific pastoral approaches, including the denial of Communion to the obdurate. If they don’t, who will?

  3. The archbishop’s mention of “dialoguing” with Catholic politicians about support for abortion “for years” reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation. This approach would be appropriate if the issue were a private sin and involved a person’s subjective frame of mind, which could lesson culpability. The principal responsibility for determining eligibility to receive Communion in such cases falls on the communicant, as Canon 916 states. But with political support of abortion, the key issue is one of public scandal, and in this case the bishop has an obligation, according to Canon 915, not to “dialogue” while the scandal continues (for years!), but to deny those politicians admission to Holy Communion. Of course, once the danger of scandal has been removed, dialogue should proceed for the sake of their souls.

    The failure of bishops to follow through on Canon 915 is itself a terrible scandal, thus permitting ongoing public sacrilege.

  4. I don’t see the archbishop making the case that the 60 Democrats who signed off on the letter are “weaponizing” anything. It’s ironic that someone like the archbishop who wants to preclude civil leaders from the Eucharist for their views on civil political matters should work so hard to deflect his own, true weaponizing.

    • It’s ironic that someone like the archbishop who wants to preclude civil leaders from the Eucharist for their views on civil political matters should work so hard to deflect his own, true weaponizing.

      Correction: It’s in keeping with his mandate as an ordained Bishop that he correctly warns civil leaders who claim to be Catholic from receiving the Eucharist in a sacrilegious manner due to their prudential views; which are in direct opposition with the teaching of the Church, on the destruction of innocent life in the womb. Aquila is right to remind them that their eternal salvation is at risk if they do not amend their lives. Failing to do so is complicit in their and Biden’s public, unabashed sin.

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