PHIL LAWLER’S TAKE:
…The bishops’ statement challenges all Catholics to recognize, with awe, the unfathomable gift that is the Eucharist, to realize that none of us is worthy to receive the Body of Jesus Christ, to recognize our sinfulness, and appeal for the mercy of our Eucharistic Lord. These are all good and necessary messages, especially necessary at a time when only a minority of active Catholics accept the Church’s fundamental doctrine on the reality of the Eucharist.
But while they rightly remind us all to examine our consciences before receiving Communion, in this document the bishops do not examine their own consciences, and ask themselves how well they are fulfilling their sacred duty to protect the Sacrament from sacrilege and scandal.
Not even the American bishops (a group of men with a strong tendency to be self-satisfied) could be content with this message. Surely the faithful, pro-life laity will not be satisfied. But ultimately it is not the laity to whom the bishops must answer. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco wrote in May: “I tremble that if I do not forthrightly challenge Catholics under my pastoral care who advocate for abortion, both they and I will have to answer to God for innocent blood.”
Maybe a few bishops, spurred by this statement, will resolve to have those long-overdue private conversations with Catholic politicians who are flouting the Church’s moral teachings. But what if the politicians ignore their entreaties, and continue to boast publicly about their rejection of God’s law? The bishop might advise the wayward politician not to receive Communion. But what if that advice, too, is spurned?
In such cases (and there are many), the Code of Canon Law (915) spells out the bishop’s duty:
Those who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy Communion.
The American bishops, with the clear approval of the Vatican, have declined to affirm what Church law prescribes. Some bishops are prepared to do their duty, but others are not, and the USCCB as a body remains silent. Through that silence, the USCCB statement issues an invitation to disobedience. It comforts the bishops who will not enforce Canon 915. It coddles the politicians who will not protect human life. It creates a temptation for all Catholics to stifle the cries of their own troubled consciences—a temptation to say: Non serviam.
The above comes from a Nov. 17 posting by Phil Lawler on Catholic Culture.org.
….The apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Christoph Pierre, likely did not realize it, but he did not do good service to the pro-life movement when in his address to the bishops he said that it was important for Catholics to grasp and do something about the social problems that lead women to seek abortions – as if that had not been the case in the past and wasn’t the case now. But that is precisely what those Catholics who have given time, treasure, and countless acts of compassion and love to the women who have come to crisis pregnancy centers in the half-century after Roe v. Wade do. As Kevin D. Williamson recently put it, “We know what is [happening with] the women going into [the] human slaughterhouses” of Planned Parenthood “clinics:” “They are terrified, they are poor, they are alone, they have been discarded, they have had an overwhelming new variable thrown into their lives, which did not include very much comfort or certainty to begin with…” Pro-life people working with women in crisis pregnancies have long known all that; they respond to those horrible circumstances as Christ would have responded; and they don’t require instruction as to the putative necessity of broadening their horizons.
Archbishop Pierre’s counsel to the bishops to value “unity” above virtually all else was also unhelpful. Unity understood as virtual unanimity means that the lowest common denominator determines the course of a bishops’ conference’s teaching. That was not how collegiality and synodality were lived at the great councils of the patristic era. That was not how St. Charles Borromeo implemented the reforms of the Council of Trent in Milan. And while Pope St. Paul VI took great care that the documents of the Second Vatican Council were adopted by the greatest possible consensus, he refused to sacrifice truth to a false concept of unity as unanimity on such sharply contested issues as episcopal collegiality or religious freedom.
And finally, it would be instructive to know just who Archbishop Pierre was thinking of when he cautioned those tempted “to treat the Eucharist as something to be offered to the privileged few….”. I cannot think of a single bishop or priest who suffers from that temptation, and I would be surprised if the archbishop can name one, either. So why reiterate the cartoon view of American Catholicism too often found in La Civiltà Cattolica and other Roman circles in recent years? No good purpose is served by underwriting fantasies of a U.S. Catholicism stewed in the juices of Donatist self-righteousness.
The pastoral crisis of an American Church in which prominent lay Catholics act publicly in defiance of moral truths that can be known by both reason and revelation, yet imagine themselves worthy to receive holy communion, will continue. The bishops have now re-affirmed their responsibility to address that crisis, and “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church” explains yet again the appropriate pastoral practices to be deployed to meet one important facet of the challenge of Eucharistic coherence. Lay Catholics should support the bishops in their efforts.
But lay Catholics must also get about our own work of fraternally correcting fellow-Catholics who facilitate the work of the “human slaughterhouses” to which Kevin Williamson refers – and must hold public officials accountable at the ballot box if they do not change their ways. It’s not the bishops who put President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, Senator Durbin, Representative DeLauro, and the rest of Planned Parenthood’s Amen Corner of Catholic Miscreants in office. It’s their fellow lay Catholics. And that must change.
The above comes from a Nov. 18 posting by George Weigel in Catholic World Report.