a demurral

By Fr. Paul Mankowski, S.J. (articles ) | Jun 28, 2004

A recent Washington Post article juxtaposes contrasting views on the communion wars held by a prominent lay author and a high-profile Jesuit:

In a public debate in Washington yesterday, papal biographer George Weigel said the bishops had "moved the ball forward a little bit" with the declaration that politicians such as Kerry are cooperating in evil. But the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, editor of the Jesuit journal America, said that if the church insists that only people who are in full agreement with all of its teachings on abortion, contraception and other "life issues" are worthy of the Eucharist, "I'm afraid we're going to have nobody taking Communion."

Nobody taking Communion. As I parse it, Father Reese's statement amounts to a declaration that all Catholics of his acquaintance or awareness -- including, by implication, his brother Jesuits -- dissent in some manner from Church doctrine on human life and sexuality.

Last September the General Superior of the Jesuits reminded the Society that "the Jesuit who speaks or writes represents the Society and his confreres, even if he does not wish to do so." Father Reese does not speak for me on this matter. I am personally acquainted with seven Jesuits who (contra Reese) are "in full agreement with all of [the Church's] teachings on abortion, contraception and other life issues."

It seems to me that Reese exaggerates the global extent of Catholic dissent -- I have excellent reason to believe that at least two U.S. bishops accept Evangelium vitae full stop -- but I'm certain he's wrong about the Society of Jesus. Opinion is not unanimous.

UPDATE: Fr. Martin McDermott, S.J., currently working in Beirut, has written asking me to add him to the list of assenting Jesuits. I have heard rumors of a possible Ecuadoran as well.

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  • Posted by: Gertrude - Jun. 30, 2004 11:33 AM ET USA

    Thank you Fr. Mankowski and lowlycountrypriest for your beautiful witness to the Truth. Now we the laity must pray and fast, so that those bishops and priests who are lukewarm may have their eyes opened by One who is Truth.

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Jun. 29, 2004 11:04 AM ET USA

    Father Mankowski, You may add me to the list, as well, as an assenting lowly country priest in the mission-lands of Montana... in full agreement with all of the Church's Teachings on abortion, contraception and other life issues...and with all the Church's Teachings... in the spriit of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Francis Xavier... Ad maiorem Dei gloriam.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 29, 2004 12:58 AM ET USA

    Dear Lords and Fathers, Brothers and Sisters, it does not surprise this observer that so few would step up to defend the honor of the Blessed Sacrament! With decades of phony "modern eucharistic theology" behind them, many of these pastors (black, purple and red) no longer believe in the Real Presence as St. Thomas taught. Thus it is no great deal for them to abet the criminal sacrileges at the hands and tongues of Kerry, Pelosi, Kennedy, et al. Time for REAL renewal.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 28, 2004 11:04 PM ET USA

    conscience and sin-these are core issues. " I disagree with the church's teaching on abortion ie i have informed my conscience and have concluded the teaching is wrong and so I can directly support abortion because it's the "right thing to do in the circumstances",so I am free to receive communion because I have followed my conscience". whatever the issue: contraception, living together, homosexuality, intergenerational sex. it 's easy to find authorites to support me. what say you?

  • Posted by: - Jun. 28, 2004 4:14 PM ET USA

    "Taking Communion" Father Reese...? Anglicans 'take' communion, Catholics 'receive' Communion - preferably only when in the State of Grace and properly disposed (i.e. assenting to ALL Church teaching). Unless the Eucharist is now equated to an English solicitor 'taking silk' at Lincoln's Inn Fields in London...?

  • Posted by: - Jun. 28, 2004 3:06 PM ET USA

    It's going to be interesting to see how many loyal priests/bishops will voluntarily "out" themselves over this issue and risk being figuratively scalped by the rest of the American episcopacy? We'll see who'se serious about this perhaps as the word spreads. A statement such as Fr. McDermott, S.J. did will be the only acceptable way to know for sure. To claim that just because one wears a mitre or is ordained thus implying assent is worthless as we all know.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 28, 2004 12:54 PM ET USA

    The “communion war” isn’t about dissenters; it’s about the public actions of dissenters. If Kerry had kept his big mouth shut, and not tried to use his phony “devout” Catholicism as a political tool, there would’ve been no venue for the war to take place. But nooooooo! This arrogant little man threw down the gauntlet and Abp Burke (thank God) did his duty as a righteous defender of the Faith. The real scandal now is the many spineless bishops who refuse to act in accordance with Canon Law.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 28, 2004 10:07 AM ET USA

    It would be more honest for more people who did not agree with any of the Church's teachings to refrain from Holy Communion. And, in that honesty, maybe we would have fewer priests saying Mass. But, if Jesus could feed five thousbned with five loaves and two fish, he can do the same with fewer but more loyal priests. Why are people Catholic anyhow? We are not running a country club!