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By Diogenes (articles ) | Jul 03, 2004

Suppose you were an eighth-grade English teacher. You've assigned your students the task of summarizing a letter by a famous author. Here's the full text of the author's letter. And here's your student's summary:

In recent days, I have once again been in contact with Cardinal Ratzinger both by letter and telephone calls. He has offered some observations for our work which he specifically asked not be published, but which I wish to share with you. The first is a recognition that it is up to us as bishops in the United States to discern and act on our responsibilities as teachers, pastors and leaders in our nation. He expresses his respect for the role of our conference and the bishops in the United States in carrying out these responsibilities.

Having said this, Cardinal Ratzinger speaks about WHAT constitutes “manifest grave sin” and “obstinate persistence” in public life, stating that consistently campaigning for and voting for permissive laws on abortion and euthanasia could meet these criteria.

Cardinal Ratzinger outlines HOW a bishop might deal with these matters, including a series of precautionary measures involving a process of meeting, instruction and warning. This process involves meeting with the person and providing instruction on Catholic moral teaching. Cardinal Ratzinger suggests informing such persons that if they reject Catholic moral teaching in their public actions, they should not present themselves for Holy Communion until their situation has ended. Using the precedent of our teaching and practice in the case of a person in an invalid marriage, the Cardinal recognizes that there are circumstances in which Holy Communion may be denied. He also indicates that in these cases a warning must be provided before the Eucharist can be denied.

I would emphasize that Cardinal Ratzinger clearly leaves to us as teachers, pastors and leaders WHETHER to pursue this path. The Holy See has repeatedly expressed its confidence in our roles as bishops and pastors. The question for us is not simply whether denial of Communion is possible, but whether it is pastorally wise and prudent. It is not surprising that difficult and differing circumstances on these matters can lead to different practices. Every bishop is acting in accord with his own understanding of his duties and the law.

It is important to note that Cardinal Ratzinger makes a clear distinction between public officials and voters, explaining that a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil only if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion. However, when a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted if there are proportionate reasons.

Therefore, based on the traditional practice of the Church and our consultation with members of our conference, other episcopal conferences, distinguished canonists and theologians, our Task Force does not advocate the denial of Communion for Catholic politicians or Catholic voters in these circumstances.

What grade would you give your student?

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Show 8 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Jul. 04, 2004 2:44 PM ET USA

    The "student" and the majority of our bishops get solid F's! McCarrick and his gang will have have a great deal of explaining to do when they meet God! Their creative writing skills will not be of much use to them at that time.

  • Posted by: Cantor Rich - Jul. 04, 2004 12:45 PM ET USA

    McCarrick is not fit to wear the miter, nor are his liberal companions in the USCCB. They should resign, in order that the Holy Father name worthier men to their dioceses, not politicians, not prevaricators, but real shepherds of Our Lord's flock.

  • Posted by: shrink - Jul. 04, 2004 6:13 AM ET USA

    In the interests of affirmative action, if the student is McKerry, it's an A+, however, if the student is McCarrick, the grade's an F.

  • Posted by: 30 year priest - Jul. 04, 2004 1:01 AM ET USA

    Maybe it's not technically a schism, but it sure looks like a very close relative to me.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 03, 2004 6:19 PM ET USA

    The grade depends, of course, on the class and purpose of the paper. If this is a creative writing course, I would give the student an "A." If this is a history class, the student would receive an "F." Did all the bishops who voted for the majority opinion in Denver receive the Ratzinger letter, or did they depend upon Card McCarrick's bogus interpretation? How long before God separates these goats from the sheep?

  • Posted by: - Jul. 03, 2004 3:48 PM ET USA

    Pope John Paul II should make one final trip to the US and fire every Bishop who does not agree with Rathzinger position to deny the Eucharist to pro-choice Catholic Politicians

  • Posted by: - Jul. 03, 2004 3:34 PM ET USA

    A+ -- for striving to please everyone -- except the One who matters.

  • Posted by: Eusebuis1 - Jul. 03, 2004 12:14 PM ET USA

    Either the "student" believed that telling a such a fabrication would be overlooked by God as merely being politically correct in dealing with such an important matter or more likely the student hadn't received proper education on the teaching of Christ and his Church. Hopefully, it was only one or two students and not the "student body" and principal.

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