Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Burke on denying communion

I haven't yet read it, but Archbishop Raymond Burke had an article in the most recent edition of Periodica de Re Canonica, published by his alma mater the Gregorian University, titled "The Discipline Regarding the Denial of HolyCommunion to Those Obstinately Persevering in Manifest Grave Sin." From my quick purview of the artice, available online in its entirety here, I notice he is defending himself against canonical arguments made by his brother bishops. He cites recent Church teaching, then moves through the Church fathers and theologians, then finally to Church law and liturgical discipline. He also touches on Eastern Church practices and even informal correspondence and statements by Pope Benedict. He's thorough!

In his conclusion the archbishop states:

I am deeply aware of the difficulty which is involved in applying the discipline of can. 915. I am not surprised by it and do not believe that anyone should be surprised. Surely, the discipline has never been easy to apply. But what is at stake for the Church demands the wisdom and courage of shepherds who will apply it.
The United States of America is a thoroughly secularized society which canonizes radical individualism and relativism, even before the natural moral law. The application, therefore, is more necessary than ever, lest the faithful, led astray by the strong cultural trends of relativism, be deceived concerning the supreme good of the Holy Eucharist and the gravity of supporting publicly the commission of intrinsically evil acts. Catholics in public office bear an especially heavy burden of responsibility to uphold the moral law in the exercise of their office which is exercised for the common good, especially the good of the innocent and defenseless. When they fail, they lead others, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, to be deceived regarding the evils of procured abortion and other attacks on innocent and defenseless human life, on the integrity of human procreation, and on the family.
As Pope John Paul II reminded us, referring to the teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, the Holy Eucharist contains the entire good of our salvation [91]. There is no responsibility of the Church's shepherds which is greater than that of teaching the truth about the Holy Eucharist, celebrating worthily the Holy Eucharist, and directing the flock in the worship and care of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Can. 915 of the Code of Canon Law and can. 712 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches articulate an essential element of the shepherds' responsibility, namely, the perennial discipline of the Church by which the minister of Holy Communion is to deny the Sacrament to those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin.

Go Archbishop Burke!

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