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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - A pair of U.S. prelates are warning that Joe Biden should be denied Holy Communion.
On Saturday, Abp. Samuel Aquila of Denver tweeted his support for Abp. Charles Chaput, former head of the archdiocese of Philadelphia, who called last week for the former vice president to be barred from receiving the Eucharist.
"Archbishop Chaput speaks the truth for the salvation of souls," Aquila declared. "The scandal & confusion are real & when we don't treat the Eucharist with love & reverence our faith is weakened in the real presence."
Archbishop Chaput speaks the truth for the salvation of souls. The scandal & confusion are real & when we don’t treat the Eucharist with love & reverence our faith is weakened in the real presence. +sja https://t.co/q1ZriUTb6A— Archbishop Aquila (@ArchbishopDen) December 5, 2020
In a First Things article published Dec. 4, Abp. Chaput reminded readers that the issue of Holy Communion for politicians who are not in communion with Catholic teaching has been settled.
Chaput recalled that during the 2004 presidential campaign, a controversy erupted that pitted Republican president George W. Bush against his Democratic contender, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts:
As a Catholic, Kerry held certain policy views that conflicted with the moral beliefs of his Church. This led to internal tensions among U.S. bishops about how to handle the matter of Holy Communion for Catholic public officials who publicly and persistently diverge from Catholic teaching on issues like abortion. At the time, Washington's then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, along with Pittsburgh's Bp. Donald Wuerl, had very different views from my own regarding how to proceed.
"At the time, fortunately, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith resolved any confusion about correct practice in these matters with its July 2004 memorandum to then-Cardinal McCarrick, "Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles."
Quoting the document, Abp. Chaput reiterated why anyone self-identified Catholic who publicly supports abortion and euthanasia cannot receive the Eucharist:
5. Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person's formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church's teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.
6. When "these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible," and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, "the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it" (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Declaration "Holy Communion and Divorced, Civilly Remarried Catholics" , nos. 3-4). This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgment on the person's subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person's public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.
"The implications for the present moment are clear," Abp Chaput continued. "Public figures who identify as 'Catholic' give scandal to the faithful when receiving Communion by creating the impression that the moral laws of the Church are optional. And bishops give similar scandal by not speaking up publicly about the issue and danger of sacrilege."
Chaput's rebuke comes in the wake of Washington cardinal Wilton Gregory's recent pronouncement that he will not deny Biden the Eucharist.
In a Nov. 24 interview from the Vatican, Gregory noted that Biden has for years attended Mass weekly without being denied Holy Communion.
"The kind of relationship that I hope we will have is a conversational relationship where we can discover areas where we can cooperate that reflect the social teachings of the Church, knowing full well that there are some areas where we won't agree," he elaborated.
"I hope it's a real dialogue, because I think that's the mantra of Pope Francis — that we should be a Church in dialogue, even with those with whom we have some serious disagreements."
In his article, Chaput chastised fellow prelates — like Gregory — who allow sacrilege for the sake of political expediency:
Those bishops who publicly indicate in advance that they will undertake their own dialogue with ... Joseph Biden and allow him Communion effectively undermine the work of the task force established at the November bishops' conference meeting to deal precisely with this and related issues. This gives scandal to their brother bishops and priests and to the many Catholics who struggle to stay faithful to Church teaching. It does damage to the bishops' conference, to the meaning of collegiality and to the fruitfulness of the conference's advocacy work with the incoming administration.
Archbishop Chaput explained how and why kowtowing to Biden on the Eucharist is such a grievous error:
When bishops publicly announce their willingness to give Communion to Mr. Biden, without clearly teaching the gravity of his facilitating the evil of abortion (and his approval of same-sex relationships), they do a serious disservice to their brother bishops and their people. The reason is obvious. By his actions during the course of his public life, Mr. Biden has demonstrated that he is not in full communion with the Catholic Church ... many of his actions and words have also supported or smoothed the way for grave moral evils in our public life that have resulted in the destruction of millions of innocent lives. Mr. Biden has said that he will continue to advance those same policies as president, and thus should not receive Holy Communion. His stated intention requires a strong and consistent response from Church leaders and faithful.
Up to now, few bishops have spoken out against the sacrilege of pro-abortion, pro-LGBT "Catholic" politicians receiving the Eucharist.
Speaking at the USCCB spring assembly in 2019, Bp. Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas tried to rally his brother bishops to take action against errant Catholic politicians who sacrilegiously take Communion.
"Too many of our Catholic politicians are not leading with faithful citizenship. I think we as shepherds have to challenge that in all the ways that we need to," he explained.
"I would ask us all the question of how we can call our politicians that claim to be Catholic, that want to be part of the Catholic community, to faithful citizenship," Bp. Strickland added, "because until we bring them into the truth and living it with all the challenges that we face, I think many of the faithful don't really see a consistent message."
In an interview following the same meeting, Springfield, Illinois' Bp. Thomas Paprocki told the National Catholic Register that in various states across the country, "we see politicians who call themselves Catholic that are very much contrary to the Catholic Church."
"They are not only acting contrary to the Church, but they're saying the Church is wrong; they're saying the Church is wrong about abortion; the Church is wrong about euthanasia; the Church is wrong about marriage and family life," he warned.
"We bishops have to say no. We bishops are the ones who are the guardians of the faith, not the politicians," Paprocki clarified. "The politicians are not going to tell us to change our 2,000-year-old teachings that have been handed on to us from Jesus Christ; and so the successors of the Apostles have to protect the deposit of the Faith."
Bishop Paprocki made headlines in 2019 by actually putting his words into practice, barring Catholic politicians who voted for a radical abortion bill from receiving the Eucharist in the diocese of Springfield.
In a diocesan press release he declared:
The Eucharist is the most sacred aspect of our Catholic faith. As sacred Scripture warns, "Whoever eats unworthily of the bread and drinks from the Lord's cup makes himself guilty of profaning the body and of the blood of the Lord." To support legislation that treats babies in the womb like property, allowing for their destruction for any reason at any time, is evil. It's my hope and prayer these lawmakers reconcile themselves to the Church so they can receive Communion.
In his article, Abp. Chaput reinforced the grave duty bishops have to enforce Church teaching in this area:
This is not a "political" matter, and those who would describe it as such are either ignorant or willfully confusing the issue. This is a matter of bishops' unique responsibility before the Lord for the integrity of the sacraments. Moreover, there is also the pressing matter of pastoral concern for a man's salvation. At minimum, every bishop has the duty of privately discussing these vital moral issues and the destructive effect of receiving Communion unworthily with public figures who act contrary to Church teaching. Reception of Communion is not a right but a gift and privilege; and on the subject of "rights," the believing community has a priority right to the integrity of its belief and practice.
"In the year ahead, a great many people will be watching our nation's Catholic leadership," Chaput warned. "They will be led, for good or for ill, by the witness of America's bishops.