Cardinal Ratzinger Weighs in on Communion Debate

Catholic World News reports that the Cardinal has sent a private letter to all US Bishops saying that…

Catholics who are “living in grave sin” or who “reject the doctrine of the Church,” should abstain from the Eucharist.

Scanning the article I couldn’t find anything that specifically said Cardinal Ratzinger told them to deny Communion to anyone meeting those above conditions. Seems this only amounts to what we already should know… Grave sin? Repent, then receive.

Perhaps sending this as a private letter is meant to remind the Bishops of their duty. Since there is no copy of the letter available yet, though I am sure someone will leak it against good procedure, we can only guess at the contents beyond the reminder.

This Cardinal seems to be similar to Cardinal Arinze in that he has a very outspoken form of orthodoxy. He is generally vocal and faithful, so I would hope that he has laid out something… a suggestion, order, whatever… to the Bishops to handle this situation.

Personally, I would like to see the process go like this:

  1. Politician (or other public person) acts against Church teaching.
  2. Bishop reminds person of Church teaching and the appropriate way to behave.
  3. Person repents, confesses and lives out his/her faith.

Most likely it will go like this:

  1. Politician (or other public person) acts against Church teaching.
  2. Bishop reminds person of Church teaching and the appropriate way to behave.
  3. Person publicly rejects the private correction of the Bishop and causes more scandal.
  4. Bishop offers public correctiona and public reasoning for all to hear and benefit from.
  5. Person publicly tells the Bishop and others the he must follow his own conscience on these things and he cannot impose his or the Church’s morality on anyone else.
  6. Media fawns over the person as someone of credibility, integrity and faith, no matter how idiotic this seems.
  7. Bishop invokes Canon 915 that would allow the Eucharist to be denied to those who persist in public, grave sin.
  8. Person finds a priest or several to defy the Bishop and offer Communion to him/her.
  9. Media fawns over rebel priest and castigates “Vatican crackdown”.
  10. The Pew-Sitters get even more confused and the Faith is watered down even more in practice.

To me the next step after private correction, public correction and denial of Communion would be excommunication. Start with the person in the wrong that started this mess and move on to the priests that aid and abet them. I suppose you could/should have a process of private correction, public correction and suspension of priestly duties to parallel the lay process.

Seems this is an absolute necessity. We must safeguard the Eucharist and the souls of those that receive. This last is just as important in my opinion as the first.

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