The Sacrament of Unity: lose a few, lose a few

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 07, 2004

The communion wars continue, and the news isn't good. In instructing his priests to deny the Eucharist to gay rights agitators, Cardinal George had written, "The policy of the U.S. Conference of Bishops is to not give Communion to those wearing the Rainbow Sash." USCCB spokesman David Early contradicted the Cardinal, insisting that the Conference had never adopted such a policy. Cardinal George was obliged to concede the point. He explained that the bishops, in 2001, denied communion to the Rainbow Sash Movement at a Mass at the National Shrine (held during the Conference meeting), and said he understood this denial to have national implications for guiding the bishops' response.

Now RSM convener Joe Murray has (predictably) requested an apology from George, and has (predictably) requested that George apologize to bishops Flynn, Mahony, and Clark, who welcomed the RSM at the altar. George's brother bishops (predictably) have not come to his defense-- at least publicly -- even to the modest extent of denying that he has anything to apologize for. Murray, having spotted the crack in the episcopal masonry, has inserted his wedge and will hammer until the breach allows him to pass.

It gets worse. On Saturday, the RSM posted the following press release:

The Rainbow Sash Movement has just been notified that Cardinal McCarrick of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC has agreed to host a "Listening Session" on the weekend of the National Council of Catholic Bishops meeting in November. According to Joe Murray, spokesperson for the Rainbow Sash Movement, "I have been in direct communication with the Cardinal's representative since January 2004," trying to develop this "Listening Session," and I am thankful to God for this opportunity.

At the this point we only have RSM's word for it, and November's still a way off, but objectively it doesn't look good, especially considering the track record of the principals involved.

The "Gay is OK" offensive, of course, is only one skirmish in the larger war. Pro-abortion politicians have also made significant inroads in past months. Tucson Bishop George Kicanas, reporting on his ad limina visit, gives this account of his meeting with the CDF:

Later today we met with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. We discussed ... Catholic politicians and how to respond to those who obstinately resist Catholic teaching. The Congregation indicated that their 2002 document did not suggest refusing Communion to such politicians. That was not its intent. The purpose of that document, on the participation of Catholics in political life, was meant to make clear that life issues are not sectarian concerns only for Catholics but flow out of the natural law and are the foundation of law for all societies.

OK, this doesn't explicitly say that it's wrong to withhold communion from pro-abort pols, but any way you slice it, it doesn't read like a rousing statement of support for Archbishop Burke. Stay tuned.

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  • Posted by: Fr. William - Jun. 08, 2004 3:12 PM ET USA

    Thanks, again, Diogenes. Indeed, let us defend the reverence that Jesus calls us to for His Most Holy Eucharist. Let us answer His call to us to give our life defending the Eucharist. Let us defend this Sacrament from those who would desecrate or risk desecrating the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, including some bishops and cardinals. Let us defend this Sacrament of Sacraments, Jesus Himself in His Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity, truly, really & substantially Jesus, Source & Summit of our life.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Jun. 07, 2004 11:45 PM ET USA

    It amazes me that CANON LAW gets "lost in the sauce." NOBODY, not even the Holy Father himself, I believe, can arbitrarily suspend Canon Law. If any person is clearly and militantly defiant with regard to serious Church teaching, and chooses to arrogantly approach the Sacrament they simply CANNOT receive Eucharist. If ANY bishop knowingly places himself outside of those parameters, for all practical purposes, he (that bishop) has contradicted his union with Rome.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 07, 2004 10:34 PM ET USA

    I'm actually glad that we are seeing bishops publicly at odds with each other. It sure beats the monolithic "everything's OK and we're just a bunch of nice guys who will give anyone but a traditionalist the shirt off our backs" posturing that went on for three decades prior to the Scandal. Now everybody gets to see them for who they are and choose accordingly. God will bring order from chaos--it just may take awhile.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 07, 2004 7:24 PM ET USA

    I dread the thought, but what if the Vatican goes along with the Bishops who seem to support the RSM? Where would we go? I could never be in agreement.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 07, 2004 4:20 PM ET USA

    I applaud all your comments, altar boy. Diogenes, what's the fuss? Archbishop Burke's involvement in the USCCB appears alternately selective and token, and he no longer consults it for guidance on his journey as a shepherd. He has huge support among the laity...

  • Posted by: - Jun. 07, 2004 10:50 AM ET USA

    The USCCB has no authority in this matter; administration of the sacraments is within the sole authority of each ordinary. And I’ll bet a 3-year indulgence that Burke doesn’t give one whit what McCarrick and his little group promulgates. On the other hand, the pro-abort/pro-homosexual crowd of US prelates (and they are legion) eagerly awaits a pronouncement from the USCCB so that they can hide behind it. Remember: The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of rotten bishops. God bless Abp Burke!

  • Posted by: - Jun. 07, 2004 10:07 AM ET USA

    Until Bishops start denying each other communion, this storm will not dissipate. Of course this would violate the "charism of unity" and probably ruin the 2 step of liturgical dancers.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 07, 2004 8:45 AM ET USA

    It wasn't just in 2001 that the bishops - USCCB - at their Mass at the National Shrine refused Communion to the rainbow-sash wearers, it was in 2002 and 2003, also, and it applied to anyone wearing signs of protest in defiance in Church teaching. Three years... why wouldn't Cardinal George think it was a policy of the USCCB as a group? Somebody at the 300-bishop meeting made the decision. I didn't see any bishops protesting the decision.