Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Even more on Excommunication and Politicians

In an interview with Time, a Honduran Bishop discussed the excommunication of pro-abortion politicians, in the next salvo of this debate. (From EWTN)
Cardinal Maradiaga was asked, “Do you agree with the Pope’s statement that pro-choice Catholic politicians merit excommunication?” The cardinal responded by saying: “It is canon law that everyone who works for abortion is excommunicated. It’s not something the Pope invented. If you favor abortion, you are outside the communion of the Church. And it was necessary to say that. There are people in Mexico saying I am Catholic and I support abortion rights. This is a contradiction in its very essence. As a teacher of the Church, the Pope has a responsibility of teaching when something happening is wrong.”

Later he was asked: “Do you agree with bishops who deny giving Holy Communion to these politicians?” The cardinal replied: “This is a different point. For who am I to deny Holy Communion to a person? I cannot. It’s in the tradition of moral theology that even if I know a person is living in grave sin, I cannot take a public action against him. It would be giving scandal to the person. Yes, he should not seek [communion], but I cannot deny it from him.”

Nevertheless, in statements to Carlos Polo, reproduced exclusively by the Catholic News Agency, Cardinal Maradiaga, who is in Aparecida participating in the V General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Council, said his comments to Time magazine should be reformulated “in light of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith teaches in its document, ‘Worthiness to Receive Communion’.”

“A politician who publicly supports abortion, he excommunicates himself. It’s not question of receiving Communion or not; he has already done serious harm to the communion of faith of the Church, to the communion of moral life, and therefore that person himself is doing an act that is inconsistent with what he says he believes,” the cardinal said.

“That is, we’re talking about a person who has become a broken-off branch of the tree of life of the Church, a dry branch that has lost its vital sap and is doing something that is a lie. One who is against life and who is clearly opposed to the message of the Lord Jesus, as is an abortion supporter, cannot be in Communion with Holy Mother Church,” he stated.

“Therefore, if one uses the desire to receive Communion as a justification, it is the worst manner of doing so, because one is doing an act that contradicts what one says he believes,” the cardinal said.

It looks to me like he was being corrected by his staffers, or the Vatican, or someone, based on canon law, which is very clear on the subject:
Can. 915 Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.
Here, the phrase "obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin" is the operative phrase. If their sin is grave (supporting abortion) and manifest (publicly, for instance, in a debate or a vote in congress), and they are obstinate (won't change their mind after warning them), they can, and indeed should be denied communion. This doesn't even touch on the formal excommunication either, which I feel should happen as well.

Yet, I don't think the Eucharist should be used as a political pawn. These politicians shouldn't seek the sacrament because they are not in a state of grace. If it comes to it, they should be denied communion. They also should be formally excommunicated, so there is no question. This should fall to the local bishops, and the National conferences should instruct them to act.


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