If Joe Biden plans to visit Pensacola, Florida anytime soon, he knows that the bishop there questions his fitness to receive Communion. But in his own home diocese of Wilmington the vice-president-elect has no such problem; Bishop Malooly doesn't "want to alienate people." The difference can be explained thus:
- Senator Biden's support for legal abortion is well known in Florida, but remains a secret in Delaware, so that his reception of the Eucharist does not constitute a scandal there? Nope. The voters in Delaware aren't stupide. They know.
- Public support for abortion is seriously wrong in Florida, but not in Delaware, because... No, that argument is going nowhere. If it's seriously wrong anywhere, it's seriously wrong everywhere.
- A bishop in Florida is worried that Biden is jeopardizing his immortal soul, but the senator's own bishop isn't interested in that question. Let's hope that's not right.
OK, I give up. You tell me the difference.
And if you can do that, move on to problem #2. In today's Boston Globe, Cardinal Sean O'Malley is questioned about whether pro-abortion politicians should receive Communion, and delivers the following answer:
The church's teaching on worthiness for Communion and proper disposition is in the Catholic catechism, and it's no secret, and I support that. There is perhaps a teaching where we have not done as good a job of late as we used to. . . . Today, I think we need to reinforce that teaching a lot. And once that teaching is better understood, then, I think, it will be obvious as to who should be coming to Communion and who shouldn't. But until there's a decision of the church to formally excommunicate people, I don't think we're going to be denying Communion to the people. However, whatever the church's decision is, we will certainly enforce.
For extra credit, answer the following questions:
- The Church's teaching is "no secret." What is it, and where can it be found in the cardinal's answer?
- If "it's no secret," why is there a need to "reinforce that teaching" and make it better understood?
- When will that reinforcement begin? When will it be obvious who should come to Communion and who shouldn't? Who will make it obvious?
- If the Church decides formally to excommunicate people, who will make that decision for the Boston archdiocese?
- Who is the Archbishop of Boston?
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