The current controversy over fake Catholic politicians receiving Communion is only the most recent skirmish in a nearly 20-year-old war. Church Militant's Kristine Christlieb flips the switch on the time machine and takes us back to a much earlier battle.
On Monday, Jan. 26, 2004, La Crosse bishop Raymond Burke was installed archbishop of St. Louis. Two days later, then–presidential candidate John Kerry was in the Gateway City; he'd been in nearby Iowa, where he'd won the Democrat presidential caucuses.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch took the opportunity to ask the new archbishop if he would allow the pro-abortion Democrat candidate to receive Communion.
Burke told the newspaper he "might give Massachusetts senator John Kerry a blessing, but not Communion."
It was the shot heard 'round the Church.
Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick: "Whether the sanction of denying the Eucharist ... that's a very important question, and I have not gotten to the stage where I am comfortable about denying the Eucharist."
McCarrick's opinion was important. He was leading the USCCB task force on the matter. And leading the USCCB? Then-Belleville, Illinois bishop Wilton Gregory.
The bishops were scheduled to take a vote on the question of denying the Eucharist to impenitent politicians at their June meeting.
Prior to the meeting, then-cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote a memo to McCarrick, making clear that canon 915's language meant mandatory denial of Holy Communion.
But when briefing the bishops, McCarrick deliberately mischaracterized the memo, claiming it offered the opposite guidance.
Days after the meeting, an Italian magazine published the memo, and the deception was revealed.
McCarrick's and Gregory's plot against their brother bishops had the desired effect. The bishops voted and decided to leave the decision to the individual bishop's discretion.
Wilton Gregory is falling into the corrupt pattern established by earlier bishops in the archdiocese of Washington: McCarrick, who is now laicized and facing criminal charges and Donald Wuerl, who had to resign in disgrace.