Friday 3 May 2013

In which Catholicus Nua tries to restrain his annoyance at Cardinal Sean Brady and how the ghost of Paddy Hannon haunts the episcopal conference

Shortly after the bishops issue a strongly worded statement attacking the draft abortion legislation (expect to hear RTE, Irish Times and government parties insisting on "Protection of Maternal Life" legislation) Cardinal Brady is asked by a journalist:

"Have the bishops discussed whether politicians who advocate support for the legislation should be barred from communion, as has happened in some US dioceses?"

What answer should he have given?

Well there's short and truthful - "No, we didn't discuss that"

There's longer and useful - "No, we didn't discuss that.  The legislation is in a draft form and we want to ensure that people are aware of the full moral implications of what is involved before they consider voting.  We want people to realise that this represents a distinct movement from necessary medical practice to the deliberate killing of an innocent unborn child....."  And so on.

Instead what did Cardinal Brady say:

"There would be a great reluctance to politicise the Eucharist....I say that they (politicians) have an obligation to oppose the laws that are attacking something so fundamental as the right to life and they would have to follow their own conscience."

Here endeth the Church's contribution to the debate.  Follow your own conscience (understood as do what you like), there will be no repurcussions for you as a Catholic politician and we will ignore Canon Law as we did on child abuse for many years.

Canon 915 makes crystal clear that a Catholic politician who votes for abortion must be refused communion and the onus is on the person distributing communion to refuse.  It's got noting to do with politics - it's everything to do with integrity of the sacraments.

Contrast the statement by Cardinal Burke courtesy of EWTN:
Cardinal Raymond Burke says that local Catholic politicians who support the procedure should be refused Holy Communion in hopes of inspiring their conversion.
“There can be no question that the practice of abortion is among the gravest of manifest sins,”Cardinal Burke told the Irish newspaper Catholic Voice in an interview published Feb. 1.

Once “a Catholic politician has been admonished that he should not come forward to receive Holy Communion,” the cardinal added, “as long as he continues to support legislation which fosters abortion or other intrinsic evils, then he should be refused Holy Communion.”

The American cardinal heads the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest legal tribunal that rules on canon law.

Cardinal Burke said that the local bishop and parish priests must ensure that Holy Communion is properly received to avoid “the grave sin of sacrilege” from those like Catholic politicians who receive Communion in spite of “grave moral evil.” The bishops and clergy must also prevent the “scandal” caused by this kind of reception because it “gives the impression that the Church’s teaching on the intrinsic evil of abortion is not firm."
  He also addressed the issue in academic detail back in 2007 - worth a careful read here.


  1. No wonder catholicsm is dying if not even bishops will take the hard line.

    1. It's not the hard line; it's the necessary, true and loving action. If Bishops and priests do not act, they imperil the soul of the person who receives the Blessed Sacrament whilst denying communion with God and His Church in the most profound and blatant way, they imperil their own souls and the souls of those who would be lead into serious sin by such a terrible and public mockery of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

  2. Very disappointing to hear Cardinal Brady say what he did. It is up to us as Catholics to have greater faith in our prayer and also in the True Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. One can go to a Polish Church and see the crowds at Holy Mass and yet not all receive Holy Communion. They know the value of the Sacrament but it seems the Irish do not. We are not taught from the pulpit about how to receive Jesus in Holy Communion and that one should only receive in a state of grace. We can see at funerals and at every Sunday Mass almost everyone receives Holy Communion. We need to pray for our Priests, our Hierarchy and not just give in to this apathetic attitude which damages the Church. We can start by having Catechesis groups in our parishes, giving good example in our reverence and respect at Holy Mass and staying afterwards to give thanksgiving to the Lord. Today in my Parish we have Adoration in a small room. I went in to find the Blessed Sacrament exposed with nobody there. I stayed two and a quarter hours and nobody came. Until we get the Liturgy right and return to a greater respect for the Sacrament of the Eucharist, we can forget about renewal in our Church. Renewal begins right at the centre of our faith and that centre is Christ and He is with us in the Holy Eucharist. If we don't appreciate that gift, it will be taken from us eventually. The dwindling numbers of vocations are a result of the complete lack of reverence in the Liturgy and lack of faith in the True Presence of Christ. I pray for renewal in our Church for courage and strength to speak the truth in Love and for a greater love for Jesus Christ our God present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

    1. Well said!

    2. Anne, in most Irish Catholic churches, schools, everything that is said and done, not done, and the way things are said and done points people away from the Faith and the morals attendant upon it and reason. It is a painful experience to have to witness the irreverence of many priests and Bishops for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, ad-libbing and doing much that is illicit. It has killed the Faith in many more than anything else. We pray hard for these priests and offer reparation for their imposing themselves on the eternal universal Holy Mass. Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi. The return of the traditional Mass will resolve the worst of the liturgical abuses.

  3. Hi I to was shockef by the words of cardinal Brady. But lets be honest if my local td or senator comes forward to me for holy communion and I refuse them.will my pp or fellow parish members support me openly in public when the media comming hounding. I doubt it I really feel they would take the " dgi" attitude.

  4. Lynda, I cannot agree with your statement that "everything that is said and done in most Irish Catholic churches and schools points people away from the faith" nor that the solution is return of Mass in the Extraordinary Form (which I presume is what you mean by "traditional Mass". I think there are many reasons for problems with the faith but we need to keep perspective on both the source and the cure.

    Brian - it will be difficult, but responsibility for implementing Canon 915 lies with the individual minister or extraordinary minister of holy communion. A bishop has no authority, have some have done, to announce that 915 won't apply in his diocese ("we won't politicize the Eucharist"). A bishop who does that is like a politician claiming to be "personally opposed". The bishop is "personally opposed to sinners receiving the Eucharist but won't do anything to prevent it.

    Anne, you are right of course that prayer comes first - but those of us living in the world need to act. For example, if we find the blessed sacrament exposed with no one there we should draw that to the attention of the parish priest.