Saturday, September 25, 2004


In an August 2004 survey of 1512 adults in the US (not all of them were Catholic), the Pew Research Center (see question #30) found that 72% of all Catholics surveyed reported that it is IMPROPER to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who support legal abortion (another interesting factoid is that when they look at all people surveyed, Catholics and non-Catholics, or as I like to refer to them, "potential Catholics just waiting to be evangelized", 62% felt it was improper to deny Communion to such Catholic politicians; seems that the non-Catholics are more willing to have the Church tow the line than Catholics -- SAD). Now this 72% is roughly the same percentage of Catholics (last poll I saw, a few years ago, also by Pew Research Center, had it at about 66%) who do not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. It seems that about two-thirds of all US Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, rather just seeing it as a symbol of Jesus or a sign of fellowship with Christ and other Christians. Obviously these latter two views are Protestant views of Communion, and certainly NOT Catholic.

Is it a coincidence that approximately the same number of US Catholics who only view Holy Communion as a symbol or sign and not the Real Presence of Jesus also do not believe that Catholic politicians who vote contrary to the Church's moral teaching on the most fundamental issue of human life should not be denied Communion? I think not! Sadly I see this as another, and probably most profound sign, of the failure of our bishops and priests to preach the truth in love about the most central issues of Catholic Faith. Recently, in his address to the bishops of the Provinces of Pennsylvannia and New Jersey, the Holy Father reminded them that theirs is the fullness of the ministerial priesthood, and that are given the ministries of Teaching, Sanctifying, and Governing the Church entrusted to them, and from them, their priests do the same in the local parish. Unfortunately there seems to have been massive failures in all three areas. For much of the 1970s and 80s, catechesis in this country has been a joke. All that was taught was a "feel good" Jesus who was just our friend. Not our Lord and Savior, not even a friend to which we had certain obligations towards. Rather it was a "doormate" Jesus who we could just do whatever we pleased, and He would just be OK with it. It was what the great Protestant theologian Deitrich Bonhoeffer (see, I do have some ecumenism in me) called the cheap grace of discipleship without discipline, without dogma. By and large our bishops have failed to discipline even their priests who abuse that which is the "source and summit" of our faith, the Mass, by just "doing it their own way." It seems too often our bishops are more concerned with public opinion and being good CEOs than with being shepherds. God's flock is being ravaged by the wolves of modernism and neo-paganism, and too many of the shepherds are shepherding only themselves (see the prophet Ezekiel, which we have been reading the past few weeks in the Office of Readings, with St. Augustine's On Pastors).

Now we see bishops feeling "uncomfortable" with denying Holy Communion to Catholic politicians who advocate for abortion, fetal stem cell research, cloning, homosexual marriage. Basically these politicians are apostates; they deny the Faith for their own personal gain, essentially spitting on the graves of the martyrs who gave up their lives for Christ. Our bishops who allow this public dissent are scandalizing the Catholic Faithful; just look at the numbers -- nearly 66% do not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Worse yet, the bishops have thrown this division right into their own ranks. Instead of presenting an united front, they have said that this very public issue is to be decided by each individual bishop for his own diocese. The Eucharist is the center of our lives as Catholics. Now there is division from diocese to diocese about what Holy Communion means. Totally disregarded is the Pope's encyclical on the Eucharist which says that a person receiving Communion must be in internal and external communion with the Church. At a time when there are already doubts about the moral credibility of the Catholic Church in the US, and our bishops, due to the sexual abuse scandal, it seems to me that we have just weakened our credibility even more.

At times the only thing that keeps me from getting completely discouraged is the promise of Christ, that despite our best efforts, even by the bishops of the Church, to destroy His Church, the gates of hell will not prevail.

Come Holy Spirit! St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, pray for us.

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