Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Canonist Ed Peters on Canons 915 & 916, and Abp's Burke & Wuerl

I just received a Canon Law update from Ed Peters, JD, JCD on Canons 915 and 916, and how two camps of bishops are looking at these, led by Archbishop Burke on one side and Archbishop Wuerl on the other. I have maintained two things:

    1) There is one Holy Spirit influencing the consciences of both men. In the end, what is important is what God wants and it's up to our bishops to discern that completely, through prayer and dialogue. We need to pray for them to properly discern and we will know it is done when there is unity.

    2) I choose to believe that inaction on Canon 915 by most bishops not acting on it, has everything to do with a fundamental problem with understanding, not with any kind of moral or virtuous lapse. This is a christian way to look at such disagreements.
I still think the men need to celebrate Mass together one day, then go lock themselves into a nice room with a coffee, Jameson, scotch, cigars and any other legitimate thing that might help them through some robust dialogue.

Ed's analysis is very charitably done and sheds light on something interesting. He looks at Canons 915 and Canon 916 together and suggests this is where differences abound.

I'll start you out here, then follow the link to Ed's blog - In Light of the Law - to read the rest of the post:

Abps. Wuerl (c. 916) & Burke (cc. 915-916) on admission to Communion I often tell my students, the answer to a canonical question is seldom found in a single canon.

Two prominent American prelates, Abp. Donald Wuerl of Washington DC and Abp. Raymond Burke of the Apostolic Signatura, are the lead figures in a significant disagreement over admitting certain pro-abortion Catholic politicians to holy Communion. Wuerl basically believes that, under Canon 916, Catholics, including pro-abortion politicians, should determine their own eligibility for reception of Communion. Burke argues that, beyond Canon 916, Canon 915 requires ministers of holy Communion to withhold the Eucharist from some pro-abortion politicians if they don't refrain from approaching on their own. Both sides can't be right, and I suspect that the more compelling case is made by reading the two canons together instead of reading one to the exclusion of the other.

Some preliminary thoughts toward sorting this out.

First, awareness of Church history helps contemporary Catholics sleep at night. This is not the first time that upright bishops have differed over important points of pastoral practice; for that matter, strong episcopal conflicts over (unsettled) matters of doctrine are not unknown in the Church. So, let's be confident in Holy Spirit's power to lead the Church through this issue as He has led us through others. Second, one must avoid "personalizing" the debate.

Both archbishops are distinguished thinkers and both have many decades of loyal service to the Church behind them, including some services rendered under very difficult circumstances. In short, each is an attractive figure. But, while it's tempting to rally behind one or the other, personalities are not what's at issue here.

Continue reading the analysis by Dr. Ed Peters

Te Deum Laudamus! Home

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!