The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on Friday concluded its third day of meetings about the eligibility of abortion-supporting politicians to receive the Holy Eucharist. The Catholic Church teaches that it is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ presented to the faithful under the forms of bread and wine. The U.S. bishops voted 168-55 (six abstained) in favor of drafting “a formal statement on the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.”
That same day, Catholic Democrats in Congress released a two-page, oddly titled “Statement of Principles,” which “solemnly urge[s]” the bishops “to not move forward and deny this most holy of all sacraments, the source and the summit of the whole work of the gospel over one issue.” Representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), chimed in separately, daring the Church to “deny me Communion.”
So what’s really going on? The USCCB decided to write and, in a few months, to publish a statement that may or may not endorse the denial of the Eucharist to select politicians under certain circumstances. The implementation of this proposed policy ultimately would be subject to the discretion of each individual bishop because the USCCB possesses no formal authority in such matters.
Yet, lo and behold, supporters of baby butchering are begging these bishops not to impose any real consequences on them for that ghoulish, immoral stance.
They should be ignored.
The Catholic Democrats believe, and say so in the first paragraph of their statement, that “government has a moral purpose.” One has to wonder what “moral purpose” the signers think government embodies when used to actively aid in the destruction of innocent human life in the womb. No government that denies to the most vulnerable and innocent among us the right to life—the most basic right of all, and the right upon which all other rest—is just.
After a couple of paragraphs of throat clearing about helping the least fortunate, we finally get what resembles an argument:
In all these issues, we seek the Church’s guidance and assistance but believe also in the primacy of conscience. In recognizing the Church’s role in providing moral leadership, we acknowledge and accept the tension that comes with being in disagreement with the Church in some areas. We recognize that no political party is perfectly in accord with all aspects of Church doctrine. This fact speaks to the secular nature of American democracy, not the devotion of our democratically elected leaders. Yet we believe we can speak to the fundamental issues that unite us as Catholics and lend our voices to changing the political debate—a debate that often fails to reflect and encompass the depth and complexity of these issues.
It has always been thus; the last refuge of the unrepentant sinner is “conscience”—I will not serve and obey because I know best! But what the signatories fail to recognize is that within the Catholic moral universe, a well-formed conscience is one that assents to all of the Church’s teachings (to the degree proper to each “level” of authoritativeness). Thus, it is simply impossible to dissent from the Church on certain matters—abortion being one of them—and still be a Catholic in good standing. It would be like the existence of a square circle: impossible and nonsensical.
Then the obfuscation machine kicks into high gear. The statement quotes Pope Francis’ encyclical Evangelii Gaudium: “The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.” This statement is both beautiful and true. But to deny the Eucharist to politicians who are the vanguard in rendering rhetorical and legislative support to the slaughter of the unborn is not to withhold, cruelly, “powerful medicine and nourishment” to sinners. Rather, it is recognizing that those who obstinately and publicly persist in supporting a mortal sin have made their choice to cut themselves off from the Body of Christ and that this has consequences.
They quote Pope Francis again: “Frequently, we [the clergy] act as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators. But the Church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.” Again, this is completely true; all who enter the Church humbly, to follow God in and through His Church, are welcome.
But, as is their wont, the Democrats twist these words to suit their own political purposes. St. Paul is clear: “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body [i.e., he who is in a state of mortal sin], eats and drinks judgment on himself.” Thus, to withhold the Eucharist from these politicians while they refuse to repent of their murderous position is, in reality, an act of great mercy, for it is to save them from themselves, to give them more time to recognize the gravity of their sin and turn back to God, without adding sacrilege and blasphemy atop their existing guilt.
Finally, they whine about “the weaponization of the Eucharist”:
No elected officials have been threatened with being denied the Eucharist as they support and have supported policies contrary to the Church teachings, including supporting the death penalty, separating migrant children from their parents, denying asylum to those seeking safety in the United States, limiting assistance for the hungry and food insecure, and denying rights and dignity to immigrants.
But none of those positions is even remotely on par with “the articles of faith of the Creed, the various Christological dogmas and Marian dogmas,” which, because they are “divinely revealed,” are to be “definitively held” by all the faithful; flowing from those is “the doctrine on the grave immorality of direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being.”
These Democrats maintain that “[t]o pursue a blanket denial of the Holy Eucharist to certain elected officials would indeed grieve the Holy Spirit and deny the evolution of that individual, a Christian person who is never perfect, but living in the struggle to get there.”
Of course, God’s grace is perfectly sufficient, and He can move anyone’s heart whenever He wants to, according to his Providence. But the Church has a role to play in that process. People can and should evolve even though actions have consequences.
Denying the Eucharist to these lawmakers is an act of charity, done for their own good, and the bishops shouldn’t hesitate to take this action.