As the Bishops Meet in Baltimore

The annual Fall General Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops starts Monday and runs through Thursday this week in Baltimore. The bishops will discuss a draft document entitled The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church, which reminds us that “The Lord accompanies us in many ways, but none as profound as when we encounter him in the Eucharist. On our journey toward eternal life, Christ nourishes us with his very self.”

The draft states that “it is desirable to reflect on certain facets of the mystery that help address the concerns of the moment. At this particular moment for the Church in the United States, with its many challenges, we would like to reflect on Christ’s gift of himself in the Eucharist and our response to that gift.” (Emphases added.)

There are indeed many concerns and challenges, including a worrying loss of faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the steep decline in Mass attendance. But the concern that is most prominent “at this particular moment” is certainly the public rejection of Catholic teaching manifested by certain Catholic political figures, most notably President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who receive Holy Communion while publicly and forcefully defending the “right” to kill unborn children by abortion.

People want to know why pro-abortion Catholics feel comfortable receiving Holy Communion when they plainly reject the undisputed and absolutely clear teaching of the Church that abortion is a grave sin and a crime against innocent human life. Aren’t Catholics supposed to believe in the Church’s teaching that it is immoral to publicly promote and fund abortion? How can they consider themselves to be good Catholics when they obstinately refuse to profess the truth of the Faith about abortion?

People also want to know why is it that some bishops and priests, knowing full well that Biden and Pelosi are, without any possible doubt, aware of the teaching of the Church on abortion, nonetheless maintain that they should not be denied Holy Communion when they approach the altar at Mass. Isn’t it the duty of the shepherds to insure that public figures who reject God’s commandment “Thou shalt not kill” should not dare to come to receive Holy Communion, informing them that it will not be given to them for their own good and for the good of the whole community, which would be scandalized were unrelenting opposition to God’s law not an obstacle to receiving the sacraments?

The draft document treats both of these questions – one’s personal worthiness for receiving Holy Communion (canon 916) and the circumstances in which Holy Communion should be denied to those who publicly and “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin” (canon 915). But it does so in an incomplete way.

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