Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Discussion of Worthy Reception of Holy Communion in Detroit

In yesterday's Detroit Free Press, a local religion reporter, Niraj Warikoo did a story on some things Archbishop Vigneron said about people who reject Catholic teaching, and receive holy Communion.  In a nutshell, they shouldn't present themselves.  The issue at hand, of course, is are hot-button issues: Support for "gay marriage" and support for abortion.

Just to be clear, Archbishop Vigneron, and the professor cited, Ed Peters, are not providing an opinion. They are explaining Catholic teaching and canon law. Both have their roots in Sacred Scripture, the Magisterium, and sacred Tradition.

For the past few decades priests and bishops have been quite silent about many catechetical matters, not just these.  While some Catholics may be shocked in a negative way that a Catholic archbishop would instruct the Catholic faithful in Catholic teaching, other Catholics are shocked just to hear and see it done because of it's absence.

If a math teacher fails to teach students that 2 x 3 = 6 and every student grows up believing the answer is whatever they make it, it does not change the objective reality that 2 x 3 = 6.

Archbishop Vigneron...

Here are some snippets from the article:

A Detroit professor and legal adviser to the Vatican says Catholics who promote gay marriage should not try to receive holy Communion, a key part of Catholic identity.

And the archbishop of Detroit, Allen Vigneron, told the Free Press Sunday that Catholics who receive Communion while advocating gay marriage would "logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury."

The comments of Vigneron and Edward Peters, who teaches Catholic canon law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, are part of a polarizing discussion about gay marriage that echoes debate over whether politicians who advocate abortion rights should receive Communion.


Last month, Vigneron said at a news conference that maintaining views that oppose abortion and support traditional marriage are important for Catholics.

"Were we to abandon them, we would be like physicians who didn't tell their patients that certain forms of behavior are not really in their best interest," said Vigneron, who oversees 1.3 million Catholics in southeastern Michigan.

Asked by the Free Press about Catholics who publicly advocate for gay marriage and receive Communion, Vigneron said Sunday: "For a Catholic to receive holy Communion and still deny the revelation Christ entrusted to the church is to try to say two contradictory things at once: 'I believe the church offers the saving truth of Jesus, and I reject what the church teaches.' In effect, they would contradict themselves. This sort of behavior would result in publicly renouncing one's integrity and logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury."

Vigneron said the church wants to help Catholics "avoid this personal disaster."

What personal disaster?

The "Four Last Things" (which do not include taxes), were not rendered to the Smithsonian with Vatican II.  What are they?  1) Death 2) Judgment; and 3) Heaven or 4) Hell

Every one of us will go through the first two and will end up in one of the last two places.  The Catholic Church is here to help us to get into Heaven and to avoid Hell, not to reinforce us in whatever makes us comfortable regardless of whether it pleases God or not.

Jesus said the road would be narrow, not broad; difficult, not easy. (Mt 7:13-15)*

"Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy,  that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.  "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Scripture warns us not receive the Body and Blood of Christ unworthily (1 Corinthians 11:2-29).
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.

Who decides what makes us worthy: Everyone for himself? Does that even make sense?  There is no personal interpretation of Scripture (2 Peter 1:20). And, he gave to Peter the keys to bind and loose here on earth (Mt 16:19)

Ed Peters...

Back to the article, it also quotes a blogpost by Peters (I have inserted a live link for your convenience).

In a post on his blog last week, Peters said that Catholic teachings make it clear that marriage is between one man and one woman. And so, "Catholics who promote 'same-sex marriage' act contrary to" Catholic law "and should not approach for holy Communion," he wrote. "They also risk having holy Communion withheld from them ... being rebuked and/or being sanctioned."
Peters didn't specify a Catholic politician or public figure in his post. But he told the Free Press that a person's "public efforts to change society's definition of marriage ... amount to committing objectively wrong actions."

The article also quotes Fr. Thomas Reese of the "Woodstock Theological Center" who raises the usual canard (numbers mean everything to those who want to pretend Church teaching is something other than what it is, but just keep in mind that Our Lord was crucified via poll):

Most American bishops do not favor denying either politicians or voters Communion because of their positions on controversial issues” and Peters’ views are “in a minority among American canon lawyers.“

The press loves Fr. Reese because he will soft-shoe around Catholic teaching every chance he gets and they get to present "another view" as if all have equal weight, including those that are erroneous or out of harmony with clear teachings.  As an aside, the Woodstock Theological Center, has gone out of style with faithful Catholics. and it's funds are drying up as financial backers age  is closing because there aren't enough Jesuits to staff it.

Ed Peters responded to this, and a few other things here: A couple notes on today’s DFP article on holy Communion and gay activists, esp in re Fr. Reese

"The archdiocese 'dialed back' it's position"  Not!

This morning I saw the headline: Detroit archdiocese dials back no Communion for same-sex marriage supporters 

The title has since been changed: "No Communion for gay marriage supporters? Archdiocese tries to reframe comments"

I clicked the link to see what was said.  How the blogger at CNN ever thought anything was dialed back is beyond my understanding.  If anything, the Archdiocese of Detroit public relations officer, Joe Kohn, doubled-down by adding clarity for those who didn't understand.

On Monday, the archdiocese looked to step back and add context to the statement. 
“The archbishop's focal point here is not ‘gay marriage’; it is a Catholic’s reception of Holy Communion,” Joe Kohn, the archdiocese spokesman, wrote in an e-mail to CNN. “If a Catholic publicly opposes the church on a serious matter of the church’s teaching, any serious matter - for example, whether it be a rejection of the divinity of Christ, racist beliefs, support for abortion or support for redefining marriage - that would contradict the public affirmation they would make of the church's beliefs by receiving Communion.”Kohn continued: “As the archbishop states, the pastors of the church are ready to assist Catholics to help them understand and avoid this conflict.”

Nothing's dialed back there, at all. It was wishful thinking.

Today, I'm seeing a number of articles quoting people who don't know if they want to be Catholic anymore because of what Archbishop Vigneron and Ed Peters said.

I'm guessing that if the Archbishop had been talking about stealing, people wouldn't be throwing a nutty.  But, some don't want to know what the Church teaches. Recall how some villagers responded after Jesus cast out some demons and those demons entered a herd of swine and ran off the cliff?  Upon seeing him coming to their town they got uneasy:

"...behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood." (Mt 8:34)
They. Did. Not. Want. To. Know. Or. To. Change. .... Jesus in their midst made them uncomfortable and they would have to give up sinful lifestyles that made them feel good.

Father Z fisked that piece at the CNN blog. 

And, Ed Peters had a go around with it after he saw it: CNN sees what I see, but reads it exactly the opposite. Who’d'a’thunk’it?


Pray for priests, especially our bishops!  For every kind letter they receive thanking them for speaking the truth with charity, they probably get hundreds of letters filled with venom.  1 Peter 4:14 comes to mind: "If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you."

While no bishop should need praise to just do his job, they are human. Letting them know you appreciate their willingness to defend truth with charity, along with your prayers, can hold them up.  Even Moses needed his arms held up at one point.  (Exodus 17:12)

Pray for all the faithful that they ask how they can please God, not how the Church can please them.

*Scripture quotes taken from RSV-Catholic Edition online

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
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