Leadership Symposium

Cutting Edge Theology

Canon Law

Cutting Edge Problems in Theology: 
 Vatican II Call to Holiness and Political Leaders
Problem:  "Several American bishops have said they will deny communion to Roman Catholic politicians and others who disagree with church teaching on issues such as abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia, and gay marriage.  (It's always interesting to me that the death penalty doesn't come up on that list, as if the so-called seamless garment has a fraying hem)," notes Cathleen Falsani in the Chicago Sun Times, 18 June 2004.
Very Serious:  "The quality of their outrage is different from anything I've heard before, even during the darkest days of the most recent clergy abuse scandal.  'They're using communion as a weapon,' the angry, frustrated voices of the Roman Catholic faithful, and not so faithful, have been telling me with increasing fervor in recent weeks." Ibid.
Against Denial of Communion Due to Pluralistic Society:  "See, I'm not Catholic.  Most people are not Catholic.  An so I have difficulty understanding how the church comes off trying to rewrite the laws of the nation, which isn't Catholic either.  My complaint at its essence is:  Compelling the faithful to behave is fine, compelling me is not fine... (Is this) a desire to gloss over problems that can be seen running through the church's response to the endless sex abuse scandal, its intimidation of politicians, its denial of the sacraments to those who publically disagree with its teachings?" notes Neil Steinberg in the Chicago Sun Times, 18 June 2004.
Against Denial of Communion Due to Petitio Principii (Begging the Question):  "Even Cardinals have bad days; Homosexual Catholics, along with other Catholics, have the right to the sacraments, and the church has an obligation to provide them," notes Eugene Cullen Kennedy in the Chicago Tribune, 13 June 2004.  Kennedy is professor emeritus of psychology at Loyola University in Chicago.
Against Denial of Communion Due to Ad Hominem (Attack the Person):  "I wonder whether there is a bishop or cardinal or pastor or deacon or minister anywhere in the past three or so years who publically (at Mass) or even privately admonished his clerical associates and congregants prior to communion, 'Would any individual contemplating pedophilia please refrain from distributing or recieving the Eucharist," notes Sam Marotta (Plainfield) in the Chicago Tribune, 18 June 2004.
Against Denial of Communion Due to (Humor and ) Reconciliation:  "I am a lay minister in the Catholic Church.  In spite of their scandalous behavior and mean-spirited pronouncements, when in a spirit of reconciliation they approach the altar, I intend to serve Communion to bishops and cardinals," notes Bill Lecce (Schaumburg) in the Chicago Tribune, 18 June 2004.  Elsewhere, "At the end of the day, some would argue, none of us is worthy of the grace that the communion sacrament is supposed to represent... Not even bishops," notes Cathleeen Falsani in the Chicago Sun Times, 18 June 2004.
Favors Denial of Communion Due to Doctrinal Unity:  "The Rainbow Sash Movement's own web site makes it clear that the purpose of the rainbow sash is to highlight the wearer's dissent from the Catholic Church's teaching that homosexual activity is intrinsically disordered and morally wrong.  Since Communion is the sacrament of unity, how can anyone go to Communion while stressing his or her disagreement with the church on a fundamental moral issue," notes George E. Dempsey in the Chicago Tribune, 18 June 2004.
Favors Denial of Communion Due to Canon Law:  "...Canon 843 requires Catholics to be 'properly disposed' in order to receive the sacraments.  And Canon 915 provides that those obstinately persisting 'in grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion'," notes Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, Thomas J. Paprocki in the Chicago Tribune, 18 June 2004.
Makes a Distinction Due to Theological Tension:  On the one hand, "It's a point of tremendous anguish... Most priests, their preference would be not to refuse anyone... Politicizing (communion) is odious."  On the other hand, Father Donald Senior, president of Chicago's Catholic Theological Union, distinguishes between the "Great Church" of saints and sinners, and the "Confessing Church" of saints.  "So far the Great Church has won out, Father Senior said, but ther are plenty of people in the hierarchy, including more than a few American bishops, who believe the Confessing Church is the real church, and the only one they should be serving... at the communion rail or anywhere else," notes Cathleen Falsani in the Chicago Sun Times, 18 June 2004.
Second Vatican Council:  "Christ's redemptive work... also involves renewal of the temporal order" (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 5).  The destination of all things in the temporal order is Christ (Ibid., 7).  This does not deprive the temporal order of its independence (Ibid., 7).  The Holy Spirit distributes "special graces among the faithful of every rank" (Lumen Gentium, 12).  Some graces are more personal (gratia gratum faciens), others are charismatic (gratia gratis datae). See John Haughey, "Connecting Vatican II's Call to Holiness," in CTSA Proceedings 55 (2000): 5. 
Link Knowledge and Life:  "With this criterion (charism) in mind, think of our contemporaries who have borne fresh witness to the Gospel... Joseph Bernardin, Jean Vanier, Helen Prejean, Gustavo Gutierrez, Dorothy Day, Tom Gumbleton, Henri Nouwen, Oscar Romero, Thomas Merton, Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, Don Samuel Ruiz, Aung San Suu Kyi (of Burma)... in all cases it was and is their lives that edifies so many even more so," Ibid., 16.
Particularity of Charism:  "Each of us contributes more to the common good when we dare to undertake a journey into our own particularity... than when we attempt to homogenize all differences (from one another) or (try to) root out all particularity and call in publicness," notes David Tracy, "Defending the Public Character of Theology," in The Christian Century 98 (April 1981): 355.
Vatican Caution:  "The Vatican's doctrinal congregation wants to meet soon with a U,S. bishop's task force to help clarify controversial questions over church teachings and Catholic politicians... the Vatican felt that 'a concerted and nuanced approach is needed' on the question of Communion and dissenting politicians," in the Chicago New World, 20 June - 3 July 2004.

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