Consequences: logical and otherwise

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Aug 04, 2003

In a remarkably prompt and clear public statement-- issued even before his installation-- Boston's new Archbishop Sean O'Malley said that "pro-choice" Catholic politicians should not receive Holy Communion.

That's a very big first step, and I don't mean to criticize Archbishop Sean for taking it-- far from it. But when he goes on to say that he would not deny the Eucharist to an abortion supporter, I am confused.

Why shouldn't a pro-abortion Catholic receive the Eucharist? Because by receiving Communion while in a state of sin he is jeopardizing his own soul. And if that is the case-- if the bishop or priest is reasonably certain that is the case-- wouldn't it be an act of true charity to save him from his own dangerous intentions?

Take a completely different sort of case: A prudent bartender will not serve drinks to a man who is obviously intoxicated. Why not? Because he fears for the consequences-- both for the inebriated customer, who might harm himself and/or others, and for himself, since he could be held liable.

Shouldn't bishops and priests be worried, in much the same way, about the consequences of sacrilege?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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