The other day, pro-abortion, “practicing Catholic”, democrat Vice President Joe Biden performed a same-sex civil “marriage”.
In effect, Biden gave the digitus infamis to the Catholic Church.
Canonist Ed Peters has observations about this scandalous flipping of the proverbial bird. HERE
Some canonical thoughts VP Biden’s recent deed
[After discussion of why excommunication doesn’t apply in this case….]
But if canonical criminal law as found in Book Six of the Code is not (at least not immediately) useful against Biden’s affront to Christ’s and the Church’s teaching on marriage, canonical sacramental law as found in Book Four of the Code, especially Canon 915 therein, could be useful against Biden’s scandal. Canon 915, recall, directs ministers of holy Communion to withhold that most August sacrament from those who “obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin”. [What Biden did is gravely sinful and it is manifest and he obstinately perseveres in supporting “gay” (I hate the twisting of that word) “marriage” (and it isn’t marriage in any true sense of the term. For some of Biden’s history on this issue HERE.]
Let’s be clear: Canon 915 is a sacramental disciplinary norm. As such, Canon 915 is not a response to canonically criminal behavior but rather it looks primarily to address the classical scandal (CCC 2284-2287) given by one’s on-going, public, objectively evil conduct. [That describes Biden’s public behavior.] Now, standing alone, a single, albeit grave, affront to Church teaching (such as voluntarily assisting at one “same-sex wedding”) would not suffice to trigger Canon 915 (which looks for, among other things, perseverance in evil conduct), but it would certainly qualify as an especially egregious manifestation of one’s general contempt for Church teaching, a contempt that might have been demonstrated in other behaviors such as, say, on-going political support for “same-sex marriage”, and, for that matter, for legalized abortion, and so on. [See the link, above.]
Now, setting aside a very few 915 cases that could be decided on the spot (see my discussion of Canons 230/915, here), before being visited with the consequences of Canon 915, a Catholic should be formally confronted by the competent ecclesiastical authority about why holy Communion is going to be henceforth withheld and the steps required for readmission to the Sacrament explained. [That would be the Archbishop of Washington DC, where Biden lives. It could also possibly be the Bishop of Wilmington, since Biden is from Delaware.] I am not aware, however, of any Catholic official with canonical-pastoral authority over Biden who has ever made such contact with him. Still, whatever pastoral failing that past lack of formal contact might represent, it does not preclude their discussing his situation with him now.
And Joseph Biden, I would say, stands in obvious need of such outreach.
Can. 915. Now.