Pro-death politician refused Communion

You probably already read this story last May, but here it is again, to refresh your memory.

A reader, PR of Adelaide, alerted me to the following from Ille Curator News Service.

I have a few qualms about the details in this report, but here is the story with my emphases and comments.

Western Emperor Excommunicated by Bishop of Milan over Massacre: Fellow Bishops Denounce "Extreme and Unpastoral" Move  [Weasels.  There is always a distinction, a false distinction, made between those who judge according to distinctions and principles and being "pastoral".]

By Hilaria Niveus

(To read an account of this notorious incident, click)

MEDIOLANUM, May 20, 390 (Ille Curator) – The Catholic bishop of Mediolanum has been accused of "political grandstanding" by some bishops and representatives of other Christian denominations, after he expelled the Western Emperor, Theodosius, from his cathedral on Friday – apparently a response to the recent alleged killing of 7,000 in Thessalonica.  [Interesting turning of the tables.  Usually the reportage says that Ambrose and his party are the "some", that is, the "few right-wing loudmouths" who don’t have a "nuanced" position.]

Eunomius of Cyzicus, a leader in the Arian school of Christianity, [I don’t want to say… well.. "read: Jesuits", but…] and bishop Palladius of Ratiaria have distanced themselves from Archbishop Ambrose, saying he has engaged in an unnecessary public clash at the cathedral that was ill-befitting his position as a Church leader. [No "common ground" there.  Can’t we all just get along?]  Palladius said that refusing to allow the Emperor to enter except as a barefoot penitent was an "extreme and unpastoral" approach, that it had been "hasty" and was tantamount to "using the Holy Eucharist as a political weapon." [Besides, resorting to misleading characterizations based on facts is just plain mean.]

Bishop Palladius said, "If the emperor had come to my cathedral, I would have greeted him with compassion, not condemnation. I would consider it my duty to dialogue with him first before making any dramatic public confrontations.

"I feel it is our business as bishops to teach and I do not believe that the Holy Eucharist should be wielded as a political weapon."

The criticism comes after an extraordinary confrontation between Emperor Theodosius and the bishop of Mediolanum at the cathedral late last week.

Eyewitnesses reported that when the bishop saw the emperor approaching for services he physically blocked the entrance[Welll… I am not sure about that.  But this is the spin that the left is giving the story.  Let’s just move on.]

The emperor has been the subject of controversy recently across the Empire since the alleged massacre, sanctioned by the emperor, of 7000 in the Greek city of Thessalonica.  [Look.  Either those people were innocent or they weren’t.  If they committed crimes  they can be sent ad metalla, or ad ramos.  There are options.  But we must defened the right of the innocent to life.] A media release from the Imperial Administration said the action had been a response to the assassination of the military governor in the city and was simply "an effort to reduce the threat to travelers and to the public peace."

Local reports say that Bishop Ambrose told the emperor, at the very door of the cathedral [probably and exaggeration…], "You do not reflect, it seems, O Emperor, on the guilt you have incurred by that great massacre; but now that your fury is appeased, do you not perceive the enormity of your crime?"

Ambrose said that the emperor must "not be dazzled by the splendor of the purple" he wore, and that he should not dare to "lift up hands in prayer" that were "steeped in the blood of so unjust a massacre." [Yep…. unpastoral mainly because he refers to facts.  It is hard to dispute that when so many are killed there is a great deal of blood and bodies to dispose of.]

"Depart then, and do not by a second crime add to the guilt of the first."
A leading theologian told Ille Curator that the incident typifies the hard-line theology that was the result of the recent Ecumenical Council in Bithynia. "Nicea has really hampered the efforts of the Church to come to reasonable accommodations with the public sphere," Auxentius of Durostorum said.

"To churchmen like Bishop Ambrose, there can only be one way to be a Christian and anyone who attempts to investigate a different faith-journey, is simply condemned out of hand," he added. [Those "single-issue" Catholics are giving the Catholic "brand" a bad name.]

Archbishop Ambrose responded briefly to Ille Curator by messenger-runner this week, saying he has no intention of heeding the criticisms and will continue to refuse entry to the emperor, and key staff members, until he has publicly repented of his action.

"The emperor is a man," Ambrose said, "and like all men, he is subject to the will and judgement of God and the Church for his actions. And in ‘Milan’, I am the Church.[What an outdated ecclesiology!  The idea that the bishop himself is the embodiment of the local Church.  That would have liturgical implications.  What an idea.  Har!]

To the accusation that he had used the Holy Eucharist as a "political weapon" and was engaging in secular politics, he responded, "The Church is interested in the salvation of souls, including that of Theodosius. To claim that because he is Emperor he may act against the will of God and of common justice, is to deny the very authority upon which his crown rests."

Since the confrontation, the Emperor has reduced his public appearances and is said to be considering his position.

The action by Bishop Ambrose came as a shock to the Emperor’s staff, since the leader of the Western Empire is widely known as a "hardliner" on theological issues. On February 27, 380, Theodosius declared "Nicene Trinitarianism" as the standard of Christian theology throughout the Empire and "Catholic Christianity" the only legitimate imperial religion.

A spokesman for the administration said, "We were just attending the Mass in the local church as usual. This confrontation with the bishop has hurt the emperor deeply, I know. [Feelings count.] The emperor is a deeply committed Christian, [I think he did his CCD with Nancy Pelosi.] and does not believe that the bishop acted rightly in attempting to use his position as a Church leader to dictate public policy. The Emperor hopes that a more constructive dialogue can be entered in the near future."

"This kind of condemnatory action, and the unwillingness of the so-called ‘orthodox’ faction to enter into constructive dialogue," Auxentius of Durostorum said, "was the reason for the failure of the council." He said the incident indicates the kind of problems that can be created by "too great a dependence upon so-called ‘creeds’ and rigid formularies in the faith."

"It is a shame that the Emperor did not choose to attend services with his local Arian community, since we believe that the paramount choice in Christianity must always be forgiveness and openness to the individual Christian’s lived experience."  [At the expense even of really important teachings.]

Auxentius confirmed to Ille Curator that the Arian school was in communication with the Emperor’s staff to attempt to find a solution to the crisis.

Tip of the biretta to PR of Adelaide

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. btdn says:

    If it was unpastoral then, it is even worse now, because we Moderns know better!

  2. James Locke says:

    wow, this was so amazing!

  3. Oleksander says:

    God, good thing there are bishops like Ambrose out there – the rest of these backless bishops make me so mad at times I want to just join the Arians…..

  4. Hey, wasn’t the official statement of the USCCB on this issue what Ambrose didn’t do? Indeed, if I remember correctly, they said that they were worried about the usage of Communion as a political weapon (I think I have the link right here.)


    Now, I think that they better step it up like Spain did just this past week. Or else, we’re going to have cowardly bishops who won’t follow Ambrose’s example! (Please God, help them know that tact doesn’t necessarily mean that we shouldn’t follow Your law!)

  5. Melody says:

    This is awesome. Hilarious and such a true depiction of the distortion of religious topics by the media.

  6. kmnewman says:

    You wrong Theodosius though, because so far as I understand, he did his penance very properly, and changed his ways…

  7. Gosh, the more things change the more they stay the same…
    Wouldn’t it be wonderful (to quote Eliza Doolittle) if some of these “intellectuals” would, like ya’ know, uhm, akchually know, like, ya’ know, what they’re, like, talk’n about?? I mean, is it, like rilley that HAAARD??… I mean, I’m just like, ya’ know, askin’???

  8. Robert of Rome says:

    Kudos to PR of Adelaide. Patristics the way it should be done.

  9. irishgirl says:

    Bravo, Adelaide! Sounds like something we hear all the time from our so-called ‘catholic’ politicians!

    Man, I wish we had Bishops like Ambrose….he called ‘a spade a spade’ and made no bones about it.

  10. germangreek says:

    The bishop of Mediolanum does not belong to the “so-called ‘orthodox’ faction” of the Church. Proper reporting would refer to it as “the conservative faction” (or wing).

    kmnewman makes an interesting point, though. Those who object to “politicizing” the Eucharist actually never think pastorally but only politically. The purpose of the Church’s discipline is to bring about repentance and conversion, for the salvation of souls. This worked in the case of Emperor Theodosius; may it also be effective for some of our modern Theodosii.

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