Archd. of Washington D.C. responds, sort of, about Senators receiving Communion at papal Mass

In my most recent PODCAzT, about the reception of Holy Communion at papal Masses by pro-abortion politicians, I expressed pleasure at the statement issued by His Eminence Edward Card. Egan, Archbishop of New York that former Mayor Rudulph Giuliani had erred.

I raised the question of whether the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. would express anything officially about the reception of Communion by certain high profile pro-abortion Senators.

This story is from CNA, with my emphases.  It raises even more questions, actually:

New York, Washington speak on Communion for pro-abort politicians

Washington DC, Apr 29, 2008 / 11:41 am (CNA).- Robert Novak’s latest column on pro-abortion politicians receiving Communion during the Pope’s visit to the U.S., has caused both Cardinal Egan and the Archdiocese of Washington to speak about the situation.
 
In his Washington Post column on Monday, the recent convert from Judaism to Catholicism argued that allowing politicians who support abortion to receive the Eucharist during the Pope’s visit “reflected disobedience to Benedict by the archbishops of New York and Washington.”

According to Novak and other news sources, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and three senators — John Kerry, Edward Kennedy, and Christopher Dodd—received Communion at an outdoor Mass at Nationals Park in Washington. Rudy Giuliani, on the other hand, received Communion at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, according to Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York.

Zwilling added that the statement from Cardinal Egan was prompted by Robert Novak’s column [pretty clear, that] and by comments circulating about the elected officials who had received Communion. “The cardinal felt it was important to clarify what had been the understanding, and to address it publicly,” he said.

The Archdiocese of Washington also weighed in on the controversy, telling the New York Times that Archbishop Donald Wuerl had “consistently and persistently presented the Church’s clear teaching on the evil of abortion and the need for those in public office to recognize that the support of abortion is wrong.”

“How to respond to those in public office who support abortion legislation is open to various legitimate pastoral approaches, as the United States bishops affirmed in their June 2004 statement on Catholics in political life,” the statement said. “The decision concerning the refusal of Holy Communion to an individual can best be made by the bishop in the person’s home diocese [!] with whom he or she presumably is in conversation.”

When contacted for additional comment by CNA, Susan Gibbs, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Washington, said that she would not provide a statement. The reasons she gave for not providing a statement were that she doesn’t consider CNA worthy of a statement [!] and that she is "not interested" in providing one. 

 

Did you get that last part? 

Susan Gibbs, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Washington, does not consider Catholic News Agency "worthy" of a statement.

Also, the Archdiocese has effective said that it would leave the matter to the bishops of home dioceses of Senators Kerry, Pelosi and Dodd. 

This raises the canonical question of the role of the bishop when someone such as a Senator has some level of domicile in Washington or Arlington, etc., that is, in a another place where they obviously live a great deal of the year.  A canonist can help here.

Furthermore, it is reasonable that bishops exercise some pastoral role also toward anyone in a diocese, whether they have domicile or not, especially when he is a high profile person.  For example, will not a bishop sometimes refuse to allow a prominent person who holds errant views to speak at a Catholic institution? 

If that is the case, and it usually is, why would it also not be the case in the far more important act of public reception of Holy Communion?

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58 Responses to Archd. of Washington D.C. responds, sort of, about Senators receiving Communion at papal Mass

  1. Bryan Muench says:

    This, to me, demonstrates the major problem in the American church. As Americans, the national political standard of democracy and the people ‘making decisions for themselves’ has infested the Church. I think many bishops are actually offended that the ‘bishop of rome’ would presume to tell them what to do!

  2. I shudder when I think of the “passing the buck” or “stonewalling” in this article.

  3. Patrick says:

    According to Archbishop Burke, the person distributing Communion has a moral obligation to withhold Communion from anyone who persists in manifest grave sin (like supporting abortion). So, at least according to his well-written article on canon law and Communion, any bishop (or any priest, deacon, or layperson) not only CAN withhold Communion, they have an obligation to do so.

    I wish they would have seated all the pro-abortion politicians in one particular section and then “accidently” sent Archbishop Burke to distribute to that section. It would be perfect. All of them get denied, and their “home” bishops don’t have to claim responsibility.

  4. bryan says:

    This is what the typical response is, it seems.

    “We don’t want to rock the boat and embarass anyone…”

    A great teaching moment lost.

    But no doubt, many invites to the ‘right’ dinner parties and hobnobbing with the self-appointed powers that be

    We have to pray harder that our Bishops be given a spine, even more than pray for our politicians to have a change of heart.

    Sad. But, for all those who expected different…until the biological solution is fully exercised, don’t expect ANY changes. One can hope, but, be realistic. Hypocrisy by those in power has no limits whether clerical or political.

  5. TNCath says:

    The Archdiocese of Washington seems to be paraphrasing that hit song of The Platters: “When you’ve been exposed, you must realize, smoke and mirrors get in your eyes!”

    How is the USCCB’S “various legitimate pastoral approaches” on this issue consistent with what the Holy Father said in support of the Mexican bishops’ statement that politicians who support abortion should not receive Holy Communion?

    Is this really a juridical issue? Doesn’t Catholic doctrine transcend diocesan boundaries? Does the worthiness to receive Holy Communion vary by diocese like the minimum age to get a driver’s license or marry without parental consent does by state? Why is it ok for Teddy Kennedy to support abortion and receive Holy Communion in Washington, but not a Mexican politician that does this same? Does this mean that if Teddy goes to New York and attempts to receive Communion, he may do so because he hasn’t been “in conversation” with Cardinal Egan and made an agreement with him? Please. I thought this was the ONE, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

  6. Andy says:

    Since when is doctrine a matter to be “understood?” There is no discussion here, it’s black and white. Pro-abort senators should be told, in no uncertain terms, by their Bishops that it is even graver to receive Communion, and that if they persist, then actions will follow.

    There should be no “Oh…. I.. had a dialogue with Rudy Giuliani, and he broke our trust…”. Nonononono.

    *Slaps on wrists* Bad bishops.

  7. BK says:

    For anyone who has not yet read Archbishop Burke’s article in the latest edition of the Canon Law journal, Periodica De Re Canonica:

    The Discipline Regarding the Denial of Holy Communion to Those Obstinately Persevering in Manifest Grave Sin by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, D.D., J.C.D.

    http://www.catholicculture.org/library/view.cfm?recnum=7796

  8. Lourdes says:

    In many ways Washington, D.C. is the “home” diocese of these politicians. Although they legally keep a base in their state, they spend much of their time in Washington. They keep homes in Washington. I don’t know why the archbishop is narrowly focusing on jursidiction. It’s not like these politicians only drop in to his diocese once in a while.

  9. RBrown says:

    Since when is doctrine a matter to be “understood?”
    Comment by Andy

    Always.

  10. Romulus says:

    Last week I was present at a Mass at which the Archbishop also was present. After Communion the celebrant made a few remarks and then invited a representative from the City Council to step forward (for the presentation of a polite citation from the council. It was a celebratory occasion). The council member was met at the communion rail by the Archbishop, where they exchanged a conventional cocktail-party air kiss. Hmm, thought I.

    Now I know why it struck me as not quite right. Archbishops and local politicians are constantly running into one another at receptions, fund-raisers, and other civic events. It’s understandable that they cultivate cordial relationships. But when cordiality becomes excessive, as we now see, it inhibits certain prelates from the faithful performance of their less agreeable duties.

    All this glad-handing familiarity is very much in the American tradition — and that is a problem. I wish bishops would understand that a bit of old world aloofness is not only proper to their dignity but would make easier the times when they must play the stern paternal role. I wish they would understand that this is not a call to pompous pride, but to holiness that holds at arm’s length the blandishments of this world.

  11. RBrown says:

    “How to respond to those in public office who support abortion legislation is open to various legitimate pastoral approaches, as the United States bishops affirmed in their June 2004 statement on Catholics in political life,” the statement said. “The decision concerning the refusal of Holy Communion to an individual can best be made by the bishop in the person’s home diocese [!] with whom he or she presumably is in conversation.”

    Does Abp Wuerl have jurisdiction in DC or not? If he does (and of course, he does), then whatever happens in his diocese is subject to that jurisdiction.

  12. RBrown says:

    BTW, Abp Wuerl’s appointment to DC happened when Cardinal Sodano was still Sec of State.

  13. Papabile says:

    As a congressional staffer, there are some practical problems regarding domicile/quasi-domicile. I would really love if a canonist could clarify them.

    1. MANY of the politicians maintain residences across the river in the Diocese of Arlington.

    2. MANY maintain residences in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC.

    3. The general practice of members is to spend three to four days a week in DC, and three to four days a week in their districts.
    The way this works is first votes will either be at 6:30 PM on a Monday or Tuesday, and they generally arrive in the afternoon before votes.
    They return home virtually every week to meet with constituents and attend functions.

    4. Since they evenly divide their time between two places, over an extended period of time, which would be a domicile, which a quasi domicile?

    5. One has to wonder how members consider Catholic teachings, when all the policy letters that come from the USCCB never try to make a distinction between the seriousness of their concerns.

  14. TNCath says:

    Papapile,

    It shouldn’t matter where they live, maintain a residence, or spend their weekends. If they support abortion, they should not be receiving Communion. Why is this such a difficult concept for the U.S. Bishops to accept?

  15. Andy says:

    Ah, RBrown, I mistyped… or conveyed my message poorly. I meant “understood” in the way of Card. Egan’s “understanding” with Rudy Giuliani. It was to be mocking the Cardinal’s word choice, because that implies some kind of friendly agreement, which should not be the case.

  16. Ken says:

    This has been a decades-old problem with the Archdiocese of Washington — somehow the archbishop never seems to have the authority to deal with a problem.

    Trinity College? The archbishop has no authority over religious sisters. Georgetown University? The archbishop has no authority of the Jesuits. Mind you, he is the one who technically invites any religious into his diocese.

    The same outlook seems to be the case for politicans, even though many indeed own homes in the Archdiocese of Washington and attend local parishes. Perhaps New York has provided a much-needed service and Archbishop Wuerl will step up to the plate to address these longstanding issues. The Church is not a democracy, but it is still important for him to hear from orthodox Catholics so he will never be able to say this outrage over pro-abortion and divorced communicants is news to him.

  17. RBrown says:

    Papabile,

    I really don’t see how domicile/quasi-domicile is relevant here. If a pro-abort politico is used to receiving Communion in his home diocese, that doesn’t give him the right to receive in another diocese.

    It is the responsibility of the bishop to make it well known that such a practice will not exist in his diocese.

  18. Fr. Andrew says:

    Ed Peters, canon lawyer and blogger, has a nice explanation of Archbishop Burke’s important article on denying the Blessed Sacrament as the responsibility of individual ministers, ordinary and extraordinary.

  19. Patrick says:

    Where a politician lives is irrelevant. The decision (and obligation) rests with the individual who is distributing Communion, and of course it is the Bishop’s (where this Communion occurs) responsibility to make those who persist in grave public sin known to those who would distribute to them.

  20. magdalen says:

    If a pro-murder of abortion politician were to come to St. Louis or
    Colorado Springs or a few other places, they would NOT dare to present
    themselves to the bishop for Communion. They would know better. It does
    not matter what the ‘home diocese’ is for when in the jurisdiction of the
    local Ordinary, then his rules must be followed (assuming he has rules).

    This trying to pass the buck or claim a false prudent ‘pastoral’ excuse
    is nonsense and the cover up for the desire for human respect and a
    failure to preach the truth, in season and out.

    The Archbishop is free to blow kisses to whatever pol he wants, but he
    is NOT free to grant Holy Communion to those pro-abortionists who
    automatically distance themselves from the Church. They cooperate in
    scandal when they do this.

  21. Papabile says:

    I agree fundamentally with Ken. He’s right about the excuse that the Archbishop (past and present) have offered as to why nothing can be done.

    The issue of domicile/quasi-domicile is ABSOLUTELY relevant to the canonical options open to the Bishop. That’s what Father mentioned in his post.

    Yes, they shouldn’t be receiving communion, and I actually have confronted some of these politicians personally, as I know more than one.

    However, the issue of domicile/quasi-domicile IS relevant to the options available to the Bishop.

    I don’t accept any of their excuses for not denying communion however.

  22. M.Z. Forrest says:

    From a strictly legal standpoint, it would appear the Archbishop has the authority to exact penal penalities upon members of Congress. It would seem to qualify as a quasi-domicile. Denial of communion is strictly speaking not a penal action, or at least those denying communion like Archbishop Burke don’t see it as such. This does set up the odd situation where a person doesn’t have the right to appeal what amounts to a punitive action. That is all above my pay grade however.

    If you want more complications, Washington is not a primatial see. Much like how Archbishop should be consulted on any decision affected the whole province, any decision affecting the whole US should involve the primate. The U.S. does not have a primate. Some would argue that Baltimore is primatial, but it isn’t. Given this, I think it would be a pretty big violation of protocol for the Archbishop of Washinton to discipline someone who primarily resides in the Archdioceses of Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York.

    Finally, the expectation that communion will be denied for a specific person through out a diocese looks, smells, and tastes like an interdict. This would seem the more logical route to go, and then we wouldn’t have these questions.

  23. Beowulf says:

    Didn’t Wuerl once defend not doing anything by sayimg, “… but these people are my friends”. You can tell a man by the friends he keeps.
    If you permit an anti-life politician, who is actually barred from Holy Communion.

  24. Patrick says:

    Papabile,

    Please help me understand how domicile is relevant here. Perhaps I am missing something.

    For instance, even if Ted Kennedy’s bishop in Mass. says he can receive, and even if Arch Wuerhl says he can receive in DC, doesn’t the individual distributing Communion still have an obligation to withhold Communion given his public knowledge of the situation despite what any bishop has or has not declared?

  25. Papabile says:

    Again, I (like Father Z in his post) would like clarification as to what options the Archbishop has with respect to a politician who may retain a quasi-domicile or a domicile in DC/Arlington.

    I personally believe these have little, if any effect, with respect to denying communion. For instance, I would support any Priest denying communion to one of these politicians who supports the unspeakable crime of abortion.

    However, domicile and quasi-domicile DEFINITELY affects penal options available to the sitting Bishop/Archbishop.

  26. stgemma says:

    Well…Canon Law in Canon. 107 clearly states that the those in Domicile AND Quasi-Domicile acquire his or her pastor and ordinary from wherever that person is in a state of domicile and/or quasi-domicile.

    This being said, in Canon 102, Domicile is acquired by that residence within the territory of a certain parish or at least of a diocse, which either is joined with the intention of remaining there permanently unless called away or has been protracted for five complete years.

    Quasi-Domicile is acquired by residence within the territory of a certain parish or at least of a diocese, which either is joined with the intention of remaining there for at least three months unless called away or has in fact been protracted for three months.

    It is clear though, through Canon 107 part 3, that the pastor of the person is where the person is actually residing. Meaning, that if the person is currently residing in the quasi-domicile, than the pastor of that person is there. If the person is living in their OTHER quasi-domicile, than they are to be shepherded by that pastor. It is all a matter of intention, I believe, in this case. Either way, it is up to the ordinary of that person to apply sanction either by censure or expiatory penalty(see canons 1311-1339). This is naturally the case since the pastor is an extension of the Bishop to that parish.

    So, in conclusion, if the politician CHOOSES to remain in the residence of a diocese for more than 3 months, then his in a state of quasi-domicile and subject to that particular ordinary’s judgments.

    The land boundaries for the Archdiocese of Washington are the South and Eastern parts of Maryland, with the Archdiocese of Baltimore taking the remainder of Maryland. The Archdiocese of Arlington holds the northern part of Virginia.

    The key, obviously, is that the residence is maintained by the politician for more than 3 months, with the avowed intention of staying for more than 3 months, which they obviously would if they were politicians.

  27. TNCath says:

    Patrick and Papabile,

    Domicile notwithstanding, I think the issue here is WHY Ted Kennedy’s bishop in Massachusetts says he can receive and WHY Archbishop Wuerl says he can receive in DC. Why is objective immorality the object of the subjective decisions (or in this case, indecisions) of individual bishops?

  28. Papabile says:

    TNCath:

    LookI don’t disagree with what you are saying. But when Susan Gibbs says that Archbishop Wuerl is leaving this to their home dioceses, there are more than a few questions raised.

    1. Someone like Kennedy is MUCH more likely to have been in DC more than 6 months, and thus a majority of the past year. Now, what is his real domicile.

    2. What constitutes a domicile when they are never residing for any length of time in one diocese or another?

    3. If Wuerl simply shifting responsibility when he actually genuinely ratains it?

    Like it or not, our opinions don’t really matter. I would much prefer to hear from a canon lawyer on the effects of domicile/quasi-domicile when deciding discipline, penalties, precepts, etc. While their opinion might still not “matter”, they would be more familiar with Canon law than us.

    With all due respect, unless you have a JCD after your name, opinions about the canonical law matter about as much to me as a constituent who calls in citing Ron Paul as the end all of constitutional interpretation…… which is not very much.

  29. EJ says:

    Ken – with respect to your comments – that hasn’t always been the case in the archdiocese of washington. The tenure of James Cardinal Hickey wasn’t a “comfortable” one, to quote Cardinal McCarrick, for Georgetown U., Trinity College, Holy Trinity Parish, New Ways Ministries, the Jesuit Conference, Catholic University of America, the Reagan administration, the Gore Presidential Campaign, the late-Cardinal Bernardin and his Common Ground initiatives, the “seamless garment” approach of the USCCB, or for abusive priests of any kind, etc. etc… not at all. I will let anyone interested do the research on the examples I cited on their own. But I will say, as I have many times before, that this cardinal-archbishop’s personal shyness (much like Joseph Ratzinger’s) hid his rock-solid orthodoxy and determination to be an outstanding example of the stuff a bishop should be made of. I dare say his approach to this issue involving politicians would mirror Archbishop Burke’s, and theirs would mirror Cardinal O’Connor’s, if they were still alive. Hickey would address issues direcly to his flock, not through a spokesman (I don’t think he even had one- if he did need someone to speak for him, it would be an auxiliary bishop or his priest-chancellor). The comfort zone began and was significantly expanded by his successor, and ofcourse, now his successor’s successor. We remember better days here in DC. The Wuerl appointment especially was really a missed opportunity for the Vatican to appoint someone more solid.

  30. Papabile says:

    Au Contraire EJ!

    Whick H.E. Hickey was much better that H.E. Wuerl, he still, oftentimes shifted the blam.

    1. H.E. Hickey personally approved the Constitution of a Catholic University student group called the Organization for Lesbian and Gay Student Rights (OLGSR) and then refused to intervene when they actively organized events opposed to Church teaching.

    2. With respect to the position of the Archdiocese re: Curran and CUA, he took that position of of obediance and at the direction of the CDF. He did not want to, and initially fought this.

    3. H.E. Hickey eventually gave in to allowing the use of university facilities for a Pro-Choice Group at Georgetown, by refusing to appeal the court decision.

    4. H.E. Hickey initially was not opposed to the creation of Students for Choice at Catholic University…. At least this was indicated to the University President Father Byron by the Chancellor at the time.

    There were genuine problems during H.E. Hickey’s tenure also.

  31. TNCath says:

    Papabile,

    I’m not speaking as a canonist, but I don’t think I need a canonist’s credentials to be able to articulate the difference between right and wrong. That is something that is (or used to be) learned by the time one had reached the age of reason. What I am saying is that it is ridiculous that these “turf games” are being played by bishops who are reluctant to take a unified stand against something that is inconsistent with Church teachings. I do understand why you have raised the question.

    I am very aware of the fact that opinions do not matter. Neither, I fear, do Church teachings seem to matter when it is inconvenient, distasteful, or not fashionable for some bishops to enforce, especially on their “friends,” the politicians.

  32. RBrown says:

    The issue of domicile/quasi-domicile is ABSOLUTELY relevant to the canonical options open to the Bishop. That’s what Father mentioned in his post.

    Yes, they shouldn’t be receiving communion, and I actually have confronted some of these politicians personally, as I know more than one.

    However, the issue of domicile/quasi-domicile IS relevant to the options available to the Bishop.

    Comment by Papabile

    1. Fr Z didn’t say that domicile (andquasi-domicile) was relevant–he raised the question of its relevance.

    2. Domicile and quasi-domicile are very relevant in matters of excommunication, but we are not really speaking here of excommunicated persons.

    3. If Abp Wuerl wants Catholic polticians to follow the practice in their home dioceses, then he is obligated to know which pro-abortion Catholic politicians are from dioceses that prohibit them from taking Communion–and see that while in DC they don’t.

    4. I am reminded that Abp Wuerl is author of a book on the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

  33. JML says:

    My first reaction was like that of the Redskin offense: PUNT!

    However a sin in DC is a sin in Rome, Boston, San Francisco, Jerusalem or anywhere else those of us who hold to the Catholic faith. It is not, to coin a phrase, “relative”.

    I would like to see the ADW make the Episcopal Spine Alert blog, but somehow I doubt it.

  34. Ken says:

    With respect to the late Cardinal Hickey, let’s not forget the near silence when a Jesuit priest, with a perfect abortion record, served in the U.S. House of Representatives. What a prime opportunity to use the bully pulpit. After all, Robert Drinan, S.J., congressman and Judiciary Committee legend, spent most of his time in Washington, D.C., not Mass. (the commonwealth, but take that abbreviation as you will.)

  35. Ken says:

    (For those who don’t know, Drinan stuck around, mostly Georgetown, after retiring from Congress.)

  36. RBrown says:

    Not to defend Abp Wuerl, but I think this is an issue that should have been handled by the US bishops by first issuing a document stating that pro abort politicos should not receive Communion. Of course, Cardinal McKarrick’s convenient amnesia about the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger didn’t help the matter.

    I can only wonder whether Cardinal McKarrick was anticipating that the next pope would come from the Sodano wing, and that JRatzinger would retire to Germany.

  37. Joe says:

    When the Jews were in exile the Law was no less relevant.
    Centuries later we have bishops hiding behind jurisdiction.

    Bishop Wuerl closed tons of ethnic parishes in Pittsburgh then
    gets sent to the Archdiocese of Multiculturalism and showcases
    a “Pentecostal” liturgy, where ten or so languages were used.
    Pro-choice politicians receive communion and the faithful become
    more scandalized. Last time I checked the Curia worked on behalf
    of Peter and all the faithful.

    Yes, I am delighted with Cardinal McCarrick’s successor, now
    my bishop after moving to the area.

  38. Aaron Sanders says:

    As for the McKarrick “nuancing” of Cdl. Ratzinger’s letter, I don’t remember it as amnesia but as clear falsification of the contents. Cdl. Ratzinger was nice enough to say that the bishops’ eventual statement “substantially corresponded” to his letter, but anyone with eyes to read can see that the letter agreed with Abp. Burke – pro-abortion politicians *must* be denied the Eucharist.

    So what “options” does Abp. Wuerl have with regard to politicians within his territory?
    1) He can order that they be denied the Eucharist.
    2) He can publicly and firmly order that they be denied the Eucharist.

    Those who point out that this is not a penal sanction are absolutely correct, which, of course, also takes the question of jurisdiction off the table. Fr. Z mentioned that bishops ought to take a pastoral role toward _anyone_ in their diocese, but I don’t think that quite arrives at the intent of the canons (as explained by Abp. Burke) on this point. The real issue here is not pastoral care of the individual politician (although denying them the Eucharist is, indeed, a medicinal sort of action – one that would be primarily medicinal if accomplished through a penal sanction); rather, the issue is that a bishop ought to take a pastoral role toward *everyone* in his diocese: the canon is meant to avoid scandal concerning the Catholic teaching on abortion, its gravity, and the fact that those in grave sin cannot approach the Eucharist. Since it is about scandal, we do not have to judge the politicians’ subjective culpability. The canon uses both “manifest” and “persistent” in order to indicate a situation in which there will be reasonable assumptions made about the politicians’ status, such that while the assumptions may be incorrect, there is a real danger that someone seeing this person receive will get the wrong doctrinal message. Manifest and persistent grave sin requires manifest renunciation of that sin so that scandal will be avoided.

    Just to tie up loose ends of jurisdiction, though:
    1) Since in this case withholding communion is not a penalty, a bishop does not need for the politician to be his subject.

    2) This is a matter of universal law which brooks of no exception (if the politician is manifestly and persistently pro-abortion, he must be denied Holy Communion), so the fact that travelers are not bound by any particular law is moot.

    3) Can 107 indicates the proper pastor of one whose domicile or quasi-domicile is “only diocesan.” That refers to a residence that is within the territory of a diocese but not of a parish (not all parts of every diocese are covered by parish territories). It is only there to give someone a proper pastor – which they otherwise would not have – and notably does not, in distinction to the previous two pieces of the canon, concern itself with one’s proper ordinary.

    4) Domicile and quasi-domicile can be maintained without actually residing in them, i.e. they don’t disappear while one is not residing in the home. So politicians do not lose quasi-domicile in D.C. or Arlington when they are back in their home states. They have both a domicile (presumably in the home state) and a quasi-domicile all year long. When I took my intro to canon law, the instructor (only a J.C.L. working on his J.C.D., if that matters to anyone) explained that such a situation actually gives an individual *two* proper ordinaries and pastors.

    The bottom line is that our bishops have no basis for refusing to execute the canon denying these politicians Communion. By failing to do so, they are helping to scandalize all of the faithful not only in their own dioceses but throughout the whole country.

  39. D.S. says:

    CHS ascendit in coelum – alleluia!

    Hello RBrown,

    I posted You an answer for what You were perhaps long time longing for – sorry, I did not want to be impolite, but the comm-box in March was closed as I wanted to answer.

    So now see the thread of 28. April “NLM: Interesting video of Mass in venarcular” – I just now posted it there , because here it would be out of topic / off topic, but there it is not – so therefore I hope Rev. F. will not delete it ;-)

    Greetings from Germany
    D.S.

  40. Jane says:

    What does “domicile,” “quasi-domicile”, etc., have to do with an act of sacrilege? How does a person’s legal address change or dilute the fact that a scandal has been perpetrated against the Most Blessed of Sacraments? Martyrs died for much less of a cause than was witnessed in the American stadiums.

    It is the bishop’s main responsibility to safeguard the deposit of Faith. That deposit of Faith does not vary from New York to D.C. to Rome.

    Spinal transplants are needed and if the shepherd doesn’t grow a spine, then pray for a transplant of shepherd.

    No wonder St. John Chrysostom said the floors of hell are paved with the skulls of bishops.

  41. Papabile says:

    Aaron Sanders:

    I agree with everything you practically said. My concern about domicile is not restricted to the issue of the denial of communion, but 1) other penal precepts and 2) the issue of what effectively is the domicile of a politician. Heck, more than half never return to their home districts. Some are in certain places more than others. Some may not be in their home district often enough to maintain a domicile there. It really is a larger canonical issue, particularly when H.E. Wuerl PASSES THE BUCK.

  42. M.Z. Forrest says:

    Mr. Sanders,

    It would seem if it is reserved to the pastor then it would be penal. Since 915 is reserved to the minister, it would seem that the minister could be affected by local legislation, like an explicit order to refuse politicians. However and I’m unsure of this point, it would seem that local legislation could not be particular to a person. For example Bishop X says politician Y is not to be offered communion in his diocese, that would seem to be a penal. If it is restrictly merely against those with attribute Z, then it would seem the minister could find contrary to Z. How do we go about respecting the Canonical rights of the politicians here, since under the penal process they do have rights?

  43. M.Z. Forrest says:

    Mr. Sanders,

    It would seem if it is reserved to the pastor then it would be penal. Since 915 is reserved to the minister, it would seem that the minister could be affected by local legislation, like an explicit order to refuse politicians. However and I\’m unsure of this point, it would seem that local legislation could not be particular to a person. For example Bishop X says politician Y is not to be offered communion in his diocese, that would seem to be a penal. If it is restrictly merely against those with attribute Z, then it would seem the minister could find contrary to Z. How do we go about respecting the Canonical rights of the politicians here, since under the penal process they do have rights?

  44. Jane says:

    What do the empty legalisms of “domicile,” “quasi-domicile”, etc., have to do with an act of sacrilege? How does a person’s legal address change or dilute the fact that a scandal has been perpetrated against the Most Blessed of Sacraments? Martyrs died for much less of a cause than was witnessed in Washington. What need is there of a canonist? Mortal sin is mortal sin, plain and simple.

    It is the bishop’s main responsibility to safeguard the deposit of Faith. That deposit of Faith does not vary from New York to D.C. to Rome.

    Spinal transplants are needed and if the shepherd doesn’t grow a spine, then pray for a transplant of shepherd.

    No wonder St. John Chrysostom wrote that the floors of hell were paved with the skulls of bishops.

  45. Papabile says:

    Domicile and quasi-domicile are not empty legalisms. They are definitions in the Code of Canon Law promulgated by the Vicar of Christ. They are important legal definitions that are there to ensure justice can be obtained.

    It was a dramatic failure of the American Bishops that they ignored Canon Law for decades with respect to w whole range of issues.

    In this case, H.E. Wuerl is trying to PASS THE BUCK on whether politicians receive communion. He is explicitly saying that their “home” diocese should deal with this.

    Well, WHAT IS THEIR HOME DIOCESE? In the case of many, it is likely the Archdiocese of DC. Many may not have a domicile at all and simply have multiple quasi-domiciles.

    With respect to other penal precepts, this is important, and St. Charles Borromeo would have thought it important too.

  46. Aaron Sanders says:

    Papabile,
    It is my understanding that so long as these politicians maintain their homes in their home states, even if they don’t inhabit them during most or all of a given year, that this could plausibly be construed as at least a quasi-domicile. And quasi-domicile is all that is needed for a bishop to have ordinary jurisdiction. Thus, I’m not sure we really need to worry about which home is the domicile and which is the quasi-domicile, because if my instructor is correct it would not reduce an ordinary’s authority one whit.

    M.Z. Forrest,
    I can’t tell you how we protect politicians’ rights in a strict canonical sense (perhaps re-reading Abp. Burke would turn something up), but I do know for sure that since this is not a penalty there is no penal process to be respected. I would say that on a purely practical level, we ought to do the following:

    1) Sin must be manifest but also *persistent* to warrant denial of the Eucharist. I think this is commonly held to mean the politician must have first been rebuked and given a chance to amend his behavior. Accordingly, there should be a manifest means of establishing, preferably through communiques from the relevant bishops, that we have reached the point of persistent sin.

    2) If a politician’s own ordinary(/-ies) refuses to do his duty, then other bishops whose territory might be visited ought to admonish the politican, at least in writing, that if he does not amend his ways he will be denied the Eucharist upon visiting the territory. This, upon reaching the point of persistence, ought also to be published.

    3) Since it would be unwieldly for every bishop to have to pick up the slack for recalcitrant ones, a public statement from one bishop should be enough for all other ministers to go by (because we thereby have publicly established persistence).

    4) In the absence of a public declaration from a bishop, ministers ought to assume the politician has not yet been given a chance to amend his ways (but hopefully we could trust the 4 or 5 bishops with spines to take care of this for us); with said declaration, they ought to fulfill their duty to withhold communion.

    Like I said, these are not based on canonical norms, they are just guidelines I thought up right now that I think might be workable for a nation plagued by negligent bishops.

  47. Romulus says:

    “When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time.”

    So it’s not the first time a moral coward has hidden behind questions of domicile to funk the question of doing right by the Body of Christ.

  48. Trey says:

    Didn’t Pontius Pilate try this one???

  49. Jeanne Hunter says:

    Father Z.

    I got a quick email off to Susan Gibbs and received the following answer:

    Options
    RE: why??
    From: Gibbs, Susan (Gibbss@adw.org)
    Sent: Thu 5/01/08 5:00 PM
    To: Jeanne Hunter ()

    I would be happy to. Catholic News Agency seems to regularly publishes information – many times incorrect information – taken from other sources and without giving attribution or checking the facts. It does very little original reporting, from what we can determine. Two recent examples involve misinformation about our cathedral and the Holy Father’s visit and an erroneous press release about our Catholic schools that CNA posted as a factual news article.

    On another occasion, during the prep for the papal visit, I got a call from a real news outlet about something on the CNA site. I checked – it actually was a false rumor reported in a blog that CNA simply reprinted under its own name.

    This is not consistent with journalistic ethics and is unfortunate.

    I have asked the website to provide information on how it determines what to post as news and how it verifies information. Once they do that, we can move forward, but they have not yet responded.

    Thank you for asking.

    Susan Gibbs

    Director of Communications

    Archdiocese of Washington

    ——————————————————————————–

    From: Jeanne Hunter [mailto:braesofthecarse@hotmail.com]
    Sent: Thursday, May 01, 2008 4:54 PM
    To: Gibbs, Susan
    Subject: why?

    Dear S. Gibbs,

    I have read that you wouldn’t give Catholic News Agency a statement in regard to Holy Communion being given to pro-death politicians at the recent Mass in Washington D.C. celebrated by Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, because you thought them (the agency) unworthy of a statement. Is this true and could you please explain to me your position.

    I remain sincerely in Christ,
    Jeanne Hunter
    New York

  50. “The decision concerning the refusal of Holy Communion to an individual can best be made by the bishop in the person’s home diocese with whom he or she presumably is in conversation.”

    So, let me get this straight. Now priests of the Washington parishes have to write to the each politician’s home diocese to discover what the bishop’s policy is regarding the politician’s receiving Holy Communion?
    I can just see it. A priest pulling out a list: “OK, Pelosi, you can come forward. Kerry, you have to stay in your pew.” Talk about arbitrary anarchy. Why even have a bishop in Washington?

    I’ve got a better idea. Priests should follow the Pope on this one. He has universal jurisdiction, right? Roma locuta causa finita!

  51. Jane says:

    Papabile,

    Do we really need Canonists versed in the nuances of Church Law to parse the situation at hand? I don’t think so. All that’s needed is common sense and a well-informed conscience.

    In determining the seriousness of a sacrilege, where the sinner lives or where he commits the sin is irrelevant.

    Cardinal Arinze was questioned about the problem of “Catholic” pro-abortion politicians who present themselves for Communion. He answered, “Do you really need a Cardinal to answer that?” He went on to say that children preparing for First Communion could answer that at the drop of a hat. (Source CNA)

    So…if a child who has reached the age of reason knows the answer to that question…do we really need a Canonist to tell us the same thing?

  52. Papabile says:

    Jane:

    you are missing my point. We ALL KNOW it’s a sacrilege. We ALL KNOW they should be refused Communion.

    When the Archbishop of DC is trying to avoid responsibility by saying their home diocesan Bishop should take care of this, I would like to see him held accountable. For, IN FACT, I am quite sure that for at least 40% of the politicians here in DC spend more time in Arlingfton Diocese or Washington Archdiocese than their own home dioceses.

    I would guess they are domiciled here, but because of their weekly travel, they may only have quasi-domiciles.

    This issue here is not Communion as far as I am concerned, but the wider implications of what penal precepts are available.

  53. Trey says:

    FYI – From CNA:

    “We are in discussions with Ms. Gibbs and this helps give us a better understanding of her objections.

    It seems that the press release she is referring to was published by Catholic World News, (see: http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=55402) and as a press release by Reuters (see: http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS185808+14-Dec-2007+PRN20071214) but never by Catholic News Agency.

    As for her other allegations, I have no idea what she is referring to,
    but will check into them.”

  54. Michael says:

    “Catholic News Agency seems to regularly publishes information – many times incorrect information – taken from other sources and without giving attribution or checking the facts. It does very little original reporting, from what we can determine. Two recent examples involve misinformation about our cathedral and the Holy Father’s visit and an erroneous press release about our Catholic schools that CNA posted as a factual news article”

    If accurate, there is not much to argue with Susan Gibbs’ position. It seems reasonable an well though out. The terrible irony stikes me, though.

    Does it bother anyone that the Archdiocese of Washington seems to be more protective of news releases than it is of the Blessed Sacrament? Is it not odd that the Director of Communications for the Archdiocese can make a reasonable judgement based on publicly available information but the Archbiship himself cannot?

  55. Fr. Joseph says:

    Domicile is utterly irrelevant in this situation. Abp. Burke has shown that it is the duty of a bishop in whose diocese the Eucharist is being received sacrilegiously to stop the sacrilege and the scandal.

    Canon 915 is not a penal canon. There is no “decision” to be made in this matter by Wuerl or any other bishop–except the decision to obey or defy Canon Law. Wuerl continues to choose to defy Canon Law.

    Wuerl cites the USCCB statement of 2004. That statement was produced in a meeting of the bishops to whom Card. McCarrick LIED about Ratzinger’s position, and from whom McCarrick CONCEALED the existence of Ratzinger’s letter–a letter that Ratzinger intended all the bishops to see.

    Wuerl is passing the buck, and citing a USCCB document which is now irrelevant, because it was the fruit of McCarrick’s FRAUD.

    Wuerl is evading the issue, and fooling…whom? Only the uninformed. He appears to be satisfied if he can “fool some of the people all of the time.” Which, as far as I know, is not the job of a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church.

    Since the obligation to obey Canon 915 is a GRAVE obligation (demonstrated conclusively by Abp. Burke), then evading that obligation is, by definition, a grave sin of omission. Which means that the bishops who are evading that obligation are themselves, objectively, in a situation of obstinate, manifest, grave sin.

    The faithful cannot themselves deny the Eucharist to these bishops, but the faithful CAN decline to participate in the Eucharist with these bishops. I am not talking about disrupting the liturgy. I am talking about being absent from those bishops’ liturgies.

    It would be entirely appropriate if Wuerl were to look out at the congregation at the next Red Mass, and see ONLY pro-abortion politicians in the pews. Those are the people with whom Wuerl maintains he is in communion. Pro-life Catholics should take Wuerl at his word, and let him have a congregation which is unanimously in communion with him.

  56. Papabile says:

    Here’s Wuerl’s article on this issue in this week’s Catholic Standard…

    http://www.cathstan.org/main.asp?SectionID=14&SubSectionID=79&ArticleID=1684&TM=74621.99

  57. Papabile says:

    Here’s the relevant outtake from the article:

    “A decision regarding the refusal of Holy Communion to an individual is one that should be made only after clear efforts to persuade and convince the person that their actions are wrong and bear moral consequences. Presumably this is done in the home diocese where the bishops and priests, the pastors of souls, engage the members of their flock in this type of discussion. In the case of public figures who serve in Washington as representatives of other parts of the nation, this dialogue and any decisions would take place within their home diocese.”

    Now, 1) I don’t accept Wuerl’s reasoning, and 2)this isn’t canonically required.

    However, my point goes to the issue of what IS their home diocese In at least 40-60% of the Members of Congress, I would guess it would either be Arlington, or Washington, DC.

  58. Joe W. says:

    Archbishop Wuerl was well-known in the Curia long before he was named to be Archbishop of Washington. Pope John Paul II named him as co-adjutor of the Archdiocese of Seattle to calm down Archbishop Hunthausen, who, by the accounts I have read, was a left-wing lunatic.

    Bishop Wuerl was named Bishop of Pittsburgh subsequently, and returned to his hometown. Yes, it’s true Bishopp Wuerl closed many parishes, most of them ethnic in origin. Most of these parishes did not have the financial means to continue operating and there weren’t enough priests to staff them (in Pittsburgh, there still aren’t enough priests – and the Diocese of Pittsburgh has a higher number of Catholics than the Washington Archdiocese – almost 800,000 as compared to about 560,000 in Washington).

    Bishop Wuerl was very tough on priests accused of abuse, far tougher than almost any other American bishop.

    What Bishop Wuerl refused to do in Pittsburgh is what he is refusing to do in DC – tell pro-abortion politicians they may not receive Communion. John FARC Kerry’s wife is John Heinz’ widow who still owns a large home here. Kerry has received Communion here.

    Western Pennsylvania is overwhemlingly Democrat, but almost no Democrat openly supports abortion here (they do it quietly). Even Clinton and Obama never made mention of it in any political that I saw.

    Pope John Paul II wanted to keep Wuerl in Pittsburgh. I have met Wuerl and consider him to be a warm and pleasant person – but, perhaps, not cut out to be in charge in DC if he won’t confront the pro-abort pols.