The Canon libs hate the most?

During the March for Life I saw this sign:

Interesting question.  The question might push the envelope a little, but there may be not nothing to it.

Canon 915… that canon which is so feared and hated by libs, such as the New catholic Red Guards.

One year ago today, I posted something from Ed Peters about can. 915.

As follows:



The distinguished, commonsensical canonist Ed Peters has a blistering bit today at his blog In the Light of the Law. Let’s see what he has to say, with my usual emphases and comments. I’ll cut in to the meat. You should also read his intro over there:

Three ways to not deal with Canon 915


Canon 915, however, as has been explained many times, forbids the distribution of holy Communion to those who “obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin” and, because ecclesiastical tradition is unanimous that divorced-and-remarried Catholics figure among those who “obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin” (CCC 2384), this law poses a major problem for the ‘pro-Amoris’ wing. To deal with that problem, three approaches to Canon 915 have, I think, emerged.

# 1. Ignore Canon 915. This is the approach followed in Amoris laetitia itself and by, say, the Buenos Aires plan. Passing over Canon 915 in silence offers two advantages: first, the Communion-admission debate can be steered almost exclusively toward prolix discussions of personal conscience (about which there is always one more thing to say); second, bishops and pastors who, faithful to the Catholic sacramental order, affirm that holy Communion must be withheld in these cases, can do so without directly running afoul of any clear assertion in Amoris. But see # 3 below.

# 2. Belittle Canon 915. This approach marks most essays by amateurs and appears variously as a patronizing tsk-tsking of any benighted enough to think that law has something to do with life, or nigh-on clueless comments about the canon, and occasionally old-fashioned ridicule of canon law. Belittling Canon 915 taps into the antinomianism now running through the Church and it appeals both to writers unequipped to discuss competently the complex matters at hand and to readers unequipped to recognize that emotion is being substituted for reason. [A good example of this approach is found in a loopy piece at Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter) by that unflagging promoter of the ordination of women Phyllis Zagano: “A few canon lawyers are waiving their law books, sputtering like motorboats, about all that. The naysayers are especially fond of Canon 915 — their ever-popular canon that denies Eucharist to people who “obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin.””]

0_350x350_Front_Color-White# 3. Violate Canon 915.This is the approach recently approved by the bishops of Malta in stating that holy Communion cannot be withheld in these cases but, as noted here, their action does not run directly afoul of Amoris for the simple reason that Amoris said nothing about Canon 915. Precisely in that both # 1 and # 3 can be sustained by appeals to Amoris leads me to agree with the Four Cardinals that, on this point anyway, the ambiguity in Amoris is irresolvable and thus the document urgently requires official clarification.

That all three approaches to Canon 915 are unacceptable seems self-evident to me but I cannot reinvent my arguments for so holding every time a new name wades into this fray. I trust my writings thus far can be located by those who wish to be better informed.


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  1. Peter Ignotus says:

    That, or the Roman Canon.

    [There is that.]

  2. rdb says:

    I sometimes wonder if Pope Francis has ever considered revoking or rewriting Can. 915. I have never read a liberal interpretation of Amoris arguing for that, but it would make their position stronger. Of course they would still have the words of St. Paul and Divine law against them, but they wouldn’t have those “sputtering canon lawyers” after them.

  3. erick says:

    “…their law… their… canon…”. Interesting perspective on someone else’s law.

    [Good catch!]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  4. arga says:

    Did Zagano really write “waiving their law books”? Pretty cute.

  5. tamranthor says:

    The position they espouse here is essentially that of a snotty teenager, “You’re not the boss of me!!”

    They would do well to consider that those who oppose them are not dolts, nor idiots, nor (dare I say it?) deplorables.

    But then, they might have to listen to reason, so probably not.

  6. bobbird says:

    To answer the picket-sign question … denying HC to proabortion politicians is NOT an attempt to end legal abortion. It is to SAVE THE SOUL of the offender … and to signal others who might be tempted to follow them … and to instruct the faithful of the gravity of the issue.

    Whatever other residual benefits might derive from the denial is immaterial.

  7. Uxixu says:

    Holy Communion is just the most obvious. The whole point of ecclesiastical discipline and Excommunication is to to spur repentance by denying ALL Sacraments… and not giving priests the ability to absolve them, but reserving them at least to the Diocesan Ordinary, if not the Holy Father himself.

    Many would dig in their heels… When they can’t baptize their children or get their marriage witnessed by the Church… or even go to Confession or get Extreme Unction… that last especially would be of grave concern to anyone even nominally Catholic… they would then face a real Moment of Truth… turn into a schismatic or heretic and try and obtain illicit Sacraments… apostasy… or repent.

  8. DeGaulle says:

    Their nightmarish dream of imposing their will, thus rendering the Church herself apostate, won’t work either.

  9. JonPatrick says:

    I think a large part of the problem is that the Church today is essentially Universalist. No one goes to Hell, except maybe Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, etc. This shows in the various “canonizations” that one experiences at Catholic funerals today where we are assured that dear Uncle Fred is now looking down at us from heaven, even if he hardly ever went to Mass and had a few affairs but was basically a Good Person. If one no longer needs to repent (and even if you did confession is “by appointment only” at your local parish good luck with that) and therefore the sacraments aren’t really even necessary anymore then why does it matter if we allow the divorced and remarried, or that nice gay couple that run the antique shop, or the local Lutherans to communion?

  10. Mike says:

    . . . denying HC to proabortion politicians is NOT an attempt to end legal abortion. It is to SAVE THE SOUL of the offender . . .

    Saving souls is the point of our Faith, isn’t it? That message has been grotesquely twisted for the better part of a century by Western SJW bishops with little pushback from the (remaining) pewsitters. As brazen nominalism and other heterodoxies are spewed forth at increasing volume from the heart of the Vatican, it’s time to face up to our chronic deficits in personal sanctity and in stewardship of Catholic identity and to take corrective action.

    On the group level, a good start in these USA would be to face the fact that episcopal defiance of Canon 915 eviscerates the March for Life. A nationwide March for Catholic Witness on the USCCB and the chanceries might have more salutary effect by jolting some putative shepherds into actually doing their jobs.

  11. Imrahil says:

    Dear Uxixu,

    baptize their children

    I am unaware that sins of the parents exclude their children from the Sacraments.

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