Two priests debate at WSJ on communion for pro-abortion politicians | National Catholic Register

Father Brian Graebe and Father James Martin face off in the pages of America’s largest newspaper.

There is growing dissonance in the Catholic Church. To understand where we are, I recommend Ralph Martin’s book A Church in Crisis: Ways Forward. It’s a “You Are Here” marker on the map of Catholicism today, providing insight into how we got here and directions for navigating into the future.

An example of the disagreements within our Church are two competing Catholic voices published recently in the opinion page of The Wall Street Journal. July 22 letter from Father Brian Graebe, titled “The Catholic Church has a duty to correct the powerful on abortion”, replied to Fr James Martin’s comment “Abortion and the Grumpy Mob.”

Father Martin began by asking, “Should a Catholic politician who supports abortion rights receive Communion? He claimed that the issue of communion for Joe Biden was settled by Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the Archbishop of Washington, who said he would not deny him communion.

At the same time, he noted that Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco declared that President Nancy Pelosi would be barred from receiving Communion in her archdiocese for her actions on abortion, which the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops calls the “preeminent moral question of our time”. Father Martin wrote:

The archbishop wrote that a Catholic legislator who supports “induced abortion” is committing “a manifestly grave sin which is a cause of the gravest scandal to others.” The universal law of the Church, Bishop Cordileone emphasized in his statement, provides that such persons “must not be admitted to Holy Communion (Code of Canon Law, can. 915).”

He argues that since we are all unworthy to receive Communion, no one should be deprived of it. He quoted Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego – recently appointed cardinal – against the “militarization” of the Eucharist. McElroy said failure to follow Catholic teaching in its fullness “cannot be the measure of Eucharistic dignity in a church of sinners and questioners, who face intense pressures and complexities in their lives. daily”.

Fr. Martin said Bishop McElroy asked, “Why just target abortion?” and used the example of former Attorney General William Barr’s support for the death penalty, which the Catechism of the Catholic Church declares “inadmissible”. According to Bishop McElroy, “the Eucharist should never be instrumentalized for political purposes, however important that may be.”

Fr. Martin then pitted Pope Francis against the US bishops because the pope said there were other life issues besides abortion, pointing to poverty, human trafficking and other issues. He also noted that Pope Francis has never refused communion to anyone, preferring to defer to the conscience of the person and their pastor. Father Martin asserted that the best solution is the example of Jesus in the Gospels: simply calling people to repentance.

Father Graebe, pastor of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral Basilica in New York, saw things differently in his comment:

The abhorrence of abortion – the intentional killing of the most vulnerable and defenseless among us – has prompted the bishops of this country to identify it as the preeminent moral issue of our time. The Catholic Church identifies abortion as inherently wrong, which means that it is always inherently wrong; no circumstances could ever justify it.

Mixing abortion with other forms of unjust human suffering diminishes its unique evil through false equivalences, according to Graebe:

The Church has always taught that the state has the inherent right to apply the death penalty. How and when is a matter of debate. The last three popes have sought to limit its application, and Pope Francis has declared it “inadmissible”. … But that’s not the same as saying it’s inherently wrong. To say that would contradict the apostolic faith of the Church. Another often-cited problem is poverty. Nobody of good will wants people to stay poor, but the best way to alleviate poverty is a matter of prudential judgment.

“Church leaders have a responsibility to correct those who use the powers of their public offices to promote, facilitate and expand access to the unique evil of abortion,” he said.

He called the denial of communion a “last resort, reserved for the most flagrant violations of justice”, but said: “Allowing the murder of unborn children far exceeds that threshold”.

Ironically, Father Graebe said that it is Father Martin who promotes the militarization of the Eucharist:

Each reception of Communion wounds the soul of this public officer and deepens his alienation from God. Withholding communion from someone in case of manifest, public and grave sin is not an act of wickedness, but an act of love and mercy. Sometimes the drugs have to sting before they can heal. When the Church sees souls compromising their salvation by sacrilegious communions, she would be guilty of not intervening.

It is true, as Father Martin said, that there are other sinners who go up for Holy Communion. But how does that justify a pastor offering no resistance? To receive Communion in a state of mortal sin is sacrilege regardless of the type of mortal sin. A mafia don who hires hitmen or an unfaithful spouse displaying adultery should also be told not to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. The ferocity of Pelosi and Biden’s public promotion of abortion deserves public retribution.

This subject is not a matter of politeness. This is a travesty of killing unborn babies, and this is about salvation. Don’t our Catholic shepherds also have a responsibility to keep Jesus in the Eucharist as best they can so as not to encourage sacrilege?

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