The apostolic visit of Pope Benedict XVI sparked off more debate about what bishops ought to do in the face of self-professed Catholic politicians who in a public manner act and speak contrary to the Church’s teachings and practices. Should they be permitted to receive Holy Communion? Clearly, in most circumstances, the answer is "no", and they should be so instructed.
This came to the fore when certain famously pro-abortion Catholic politicians received Holy Communion at Pope Benedict’s Masses in Washington D.C. and New York City. They received and subsequently the bishops of Washington and New York remained publicly silent, though they may have acted privately. The silence, however, drove Robert D. Novak to write a piece in the Washington Post taking Archbp. Wuerl and Card. Egan to task.
Subsequently, Card. Egan, the same day as Novak’s op-ed appeared, issued a very good press release.
The blogosphere was full of discussion of these controversial events, and WDTPRS also also involved.
However, one commenter raised the memory of how St. Ambrose of Milan (+397) "faced down", as it were, the Emperor Theodosius and denied him Holy Communion until he should do public penance.
So, we drill into the question of whether that famous scene is an apt parallel for today’s controversy about bishops and pro-abortion politicians. To help we we enlist an ancient biographer of St. Ambrose, Paulinus of Milan, as well as two modern book, Boniface Ramsey’s Ambrose, and JHWG Liebeschuetz’s Ambrose of Milan: Political Letters and Speeches.
Also, I have a question via my voicemail from a reader/listener about the color of cassocks worn by servers at Papal Masses.