Saturday, March 28, 2009

Canon 915 Is Not Optional

It would be good if someone would explain to Abps. and Bps. Wuerl, O'Malley, Dolan, Niederauer, Malooly, et al., that they have no authority to set a "policy" in their various dioceses with respect to Canon 915. It makes no more sense for Abp. Wuerl to be conferring with Abp. Naumann about this matter than for Wuerl to be pondering whether he has a "policy" that one or other of the Commandments is to be obeyed or disobeyed in his diocese. (Bp. Martino's recent statement was, notably, not a declaration of a policy decision but a reminder to his priests regarding their obligations as ministers of Communion.)

According to the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts ( ) the obligation to discern situations of manifest grave sin, and the obligation to obey Canon 915, belong to the pastor, and the bishop plays no role qua bishop. The bishop is involved only qua minister of Communion. The obligation expressed in the Canon flows directly from "divine law," not from any initiative of any ecclesiastical authority.

According to the same document, the obligation to obey Canon 915 is not contingent on there having been consultations with the party who is in the situation of manifest grave sin. So much for taking 40 years to "counsel" with Pelosi, Kerry, Dodd, Kennedy, etc.

Aside from reluctance to confront abortion as a "social sin" involving powerful people as well as a "personal sin" committed by anonymous women, I suspect that many bishops cannot see the real principles involved because Canon 915 is mentally "fused" with "marriage," even though the Canon itself never mentions any particular species of "grave sin." The mental de-linking of Canon 915 with "marriage law" is what Abp. Burke has called the "discovery" of Canon 915.
Sebelius to be barred from Communion in Washington?
Kathleen Sebelius, the Kansas governor who has been chosen by President Barack Obama to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, may be instructed to refrain from receiving Communion in the nation's capital, the Washington Times reports. Sebelius, a Catholic who has been a staunch supporter of legal abortion, was told by Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City that she should not present herself for Communion. The Times reports that Archbishop Wuerl has conferred with Archbishop Naumann and would "act in accordance with the admonition from Kansas City." It was not clear whether Archbishop Wuerl would instruct his priests to refuse to administer Communion to Sebelius if she challenges the policy.

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