darkness at noon

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 23, 2006

Doing what he does best, Bishop Gumbleton brings darkness, cheerfully, to disputed questions. From this week's NCR:

During this past week, as some of you may know, the Catholic bishops of the United States gathered for our semi-annual meeting. One of the topics on the agenda was a report from the committee on that very divisive question that arose almost two years ago during the election about denying Holy Communion to people, determining that some people are not worthy to come forward and accept the Body and Blood of Jesus. Thankfully, the report came to a moderate conclusion, and there is going to be a very real attempt that we won't be trying to exclude people from coming forward to receive the Eucharist.

Objectively, no one is "worthy" to receive the Eucharist. When the Catholic says Domine, non sum dignus before coming forward for Communion, he is stating a fact, not making a simpering protestation of false modesty: "For me? Oh, you shouldn't have...!" But the Presiders Generation see themselves as hostesses, and the Eucharist as a treat they of their own generosity extend to their dinner party guests. The fact that doctrinal communion might be a pre-condition of sacramental Communion is as remote from their imagination as a hostess who jerks the plate of appetizers away from a guest because he's a Methodist. Contra Gumbleton, John Kerry and company were not to be denied Communion because they led unworthier lives than their fellow Catholics (blood test for blood test politicians would out-score their celebrant clergy by a significant margin). The reason they were to be denied was stated with irreducible succinctness by Robby George and Gerry Bradley: "Any Catholic who exercises political power to expose a disfavored class of human beings to unjust killing sets himself against the very faith he claims to share." Capisce? We're not discussing whether repentant adultresses can attain some arbitrary level of worthiness. It's about a stance toward the future; it's about a will to effect injustice tomorrow. Back to the Bishop:

But if we listen closely to the Scriptures today and try to get a deep understanding of what the Holy Eucharist really is, we will understand, I think. The scriptures today reflect the idea that the Eucharist is most of all the living presence of Jesus. To think of the Eucharist as a kind of prize that you earn, that you make yourself worthy to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus -- that's a very wrong approach, a wrong understanding of the Eucharist. It leads us to the idea that we put Jesus in the tabernacle and we worship him and that's the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus.

Beautiful. One prong of what he terms a "very wrong approach" (Eucharist as good conduct prize) no orthodox Catholic holds, while the other prong (Eucharist as object of worship) every orthodox Catholic does. Tantum ergo Sacramentum, Your recently retired Beatitude, veneremur cernui. Yea or nay? Are you in or out? Perhaps if you made greater efforts to join the Communion yourself you'd be better able to understand how the sacrament effects what it signifies.

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  • Posted by: Fatimabeliever - Jun. 23, 2006 8:03 PM ET USA

    If Pope Benedict starts cleaning house in the USA, it would be a good idea if he had all these articles you write Di. Here's a big question: Who is really important to Bishop Gumbleton God and God's rights in creation or acting like your giving your okay to these supporters of abortion??

  • Posted by: - Jun. 23, 2006 5:32 PM ET USA

    To me, most disturbing is Gumbleton's sixth paragraph (Obviously we don’t come forward only when we’re perfect....). Read this paragraph again, and wonder where is the state of grace, the confession, the pennance? Am I to understand that an ardent abortion supporter is simply to come forward "as he is" to receive the sacrament? Is it sufficient for him to " 'try' to listen to God's word"? Question: Is there ANYONE that Gumbleton would deny communion to?

  • Posted by: - Jun. 23, 2006 4:49 PM ET USA

    A more deft skewering, a more deserving skeweree would be impossible to find. Kudos, Diogenes.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 23, 2006 3:21 PM ET USA

    Bishop Gumbleton is a dangerous man if he has scissors while running over his thoughts.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 23, 2006 3:05 PM ET USA

    A more perfect irony would have been to post this yesterday, June 22, the feast of St. John Fisher patron saint of faithful bishops. When we are discouraged by episcopal frolics, we can remember that every bishop, except Bishop John Fisher, in England apostasized with no hesitation. Our batting average is far higher here in the USA! Pray for Burke, Bruskewitz, Vasa, Myers and all our John Fishers!

  • Posted by: - Jun. 23, 2006 2:19 PM ET USA

    “When they (presbyters) sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, that the rest also may have fear.” (1 Tim 5: 20)

  • Posted by: - Jun. 23, 2006 2:13 PM ET USA

    Uncle Di: "blood test for blood test, politicians would out-score their celebrant clergy by a significant margin" :-) Patriot6908: "squid and oyster studies"! :-D Keep the hits coming, guys!

  • Posted by: depeccatoradvitam - Jun. 23, 2006 1:42 PM ET USA

    That's right, we are all just good ol' guys and gals hanging out in a one-ness of dignity with the Eucharist our bud. Not sure why I come praying if that were the case. We could just FedEx hosts to all our brethern since it is just a symbol of our "all worthy-ness". Maybe our gracious hosts could just confer it over the phone so we could sit back in the armchair and not dirty our knees humbling and groveling over our need to come up to the presence of our Lord. Lord, mine shall bend.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 23, 2006 1:07 PM ET USA

    Now I know why the Adrian Dominicans are practicing Labrynth exercises and worshipping Mother Earth.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 23, 2006 12:47 PM ET USA

    And, God help me, Uncle Di continues to provoke chortles ("Presiders Generation" and "hostesses") while making a serious point with an amazing degree of fluency. Bravo, mon Oncle. Glad you're on our side, or that I'm on your side.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 23, 2006 12:42 PM ET USA

    Ah, Bishop Gumbleton has a good heart but not much of a mind. His agitations for peace are laudable, even if he understands only dimly the theology supporting his aspirations. The language of the Gospels is simple enough, thankfully, for him not to do too much damage to the deposit of faith in that respect. As with too many priests of a certain age, however, his middling intellect and liberal impulses, combined with the cachet of his episcopacy, can do damage to Christ's lambs.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 23, 2006 11:19 AM ET USA

    The good bishop needs to do something worthy of his vast talents. One suggestion might be that his Excellency reverse the career track of the new Episcopalian prelate, and go back to the university--arch-progressive Carl Jung, after all, said that learning was a lifelong practice--and get additional degrees in squid and oyster studies. That would certainly bring him into full communion with Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. Or is he there now?

  • Posted by: - Jun. 23, 2006 11:08 AM ET USA

    Oh Lord, who will rid us of these troublesome bishops?

  • Posted by: - Jun. 23, 2006 10:09 AM ET USA

    Bishop Gumbleton has been sowing darkness and moral confusion a long time. He should have been disciplined by Rome a long time ago but then isn't that part of the crisis?