At Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter) Michael Sean Winters (aka Madame Defarge aka the Wile E. Coyote of the catholic Left – coined by Robby George, I think), who in the past regularly wished physical and financial harm on those with whom he disagrees, took exception to comments made at a conference Villanova University Law School: “Taking Measure of the ‘Biden Effect’: American Catholics and the President”. Inevitably, the issue of Biden and Holy Communion came up.
Wile E. took exception and leapt upon his newest ACME contraption to launch his explanation of canon law, in particular can. 915, which requires that Communion be withheld from Catholic who persist in manifest grave sin. Canonist Ed Peters explains can. 915 HERE. But never mind what someone like Ed Peters says. Like everyone on that side of the increasingly yawning chasm, Winters requires that you not believe the plain text of the canon, just as you must, at their command, admit that up is down and black is white and that 2+2=catfish.
Finally, Fr. Gerald Murray, a regular on “The World Over with Raymond Arroyo,” reiterated his stance that Biden should be denied Communion, as he affirmed immediately before the election. Murray consistently holds that the law of the church is as clear as day. I note in passing that Murray’s own bishop, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, indicated during the campaign that he would not deny Biden Communion based on his political stances. Is Murray now the archbishop of New York?
Still, the question must be faced: Is the canon law of the church open to a variety of interpretations on this point? Canon 915 states: “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” What is ambiguous about that?
The problem — and it is a frightening one — is that these three speakers do not seem to understand what canon law is. The canon law of the Catholic Church is modeled on Roman law. In the United States — and most Anglophone countries — we grow up in a common law tradition. If you confuse the one with the other, you get this doctrinaire, and Jansenistic, understanding of the Catholic faith. It is not like confusing an apple with an orange. It is like confusing an apple with an orangutan.
Wile E. goes on to build his ACME contraption by citing several other characters in his world, including his old pastor, explaining that “the laws of the church are the stars to guide you”,
He cites Nicholas Cafardi: “Canon law is aspirational… It is a law which sets goals to be achieved, but admits of privileges (private laws) and dispensations along the way. American civil law is not aspirational; it is normative. It sets standards that are in general invariable.”
M. Cathleen Kaveny: “Those norms need to be prudently applied in each case, taking account of the overall purpose of the law and key principles that run throughout, as well as specific facts and circumstances. It runs in the opposite direction from the Anglo-American common law tradition, which builds up to general principles from definitive results rendered in each case.”
And even Fr. Lou Cameli writing at Jesuit-run Amerika. You will recall how Cameli, in an attempt to make Amoris laetitiae not mean what it clearly meant regarding Communion for the divorced and remarried (which is manifest grave sin in nearly all circumstances), shamelessly bowdlerized the famous Gaudet Mater Ecclesiae address at the opening of Vatican II. HERE What, of Cameli’s astonishing work, does Wile E. cite? A justification Communion for couples in a sodomitical “marriage”. As Cameli says, “Are two people in a same-sex marriage or union in an objectively sinful situation? Not necessarily.” And, after all, what is scandalous these days? Let’s be fair.
Winters/Wile E. also plays his old “JANSENISM!” card, a common tactic for him. HERE
Thus, Wile E. has totally demolished his opponents with his brilliant ACME contraption. His conclusion is that can. 915, indeed all the Canon Law that he doesn’t like, doesn’t need to be followed, in fact, shouldn’t be because, after all, Canon Law follows the Roman Law tradition, not Common Law, and it is therefore nuanced to the point of non-compliance. After all… JANSENISM!
Ridiculous. Winter’s entire piece is a feeble attempt to justify his own position, not any sort of coherent application of Canon Law.
Winters seems to know that Canon Law admits of personal privileges, dispensations, pastoral exceptions and the like. Well and good. Dispensations need to be requested. People are not dispensed because they want to be. Perhaps Mr. Biden would like to apply for a dispensation from Archbp. Gregory. I can see it now:
“I admit that I willingly and completely support the right of a mother and her doctor to murder an innocent child. I actively work against the Church’s teaching on the inestimable value of human life from the moment of conception to natural death, but – C’mon man! – I still want to get ‘that host thing’ from Father on Sunday. Oh, and I officiated at the pretend wedding of two dudes. Bite me.”
Winters cited his pastor, whom I am sure was or is a charming guy. One imagines him taking a pull on his meerschaum pipe, blowing a smoke ring to linger in the rarified air of the rectory parlor. “You see, Wile E., the laws of the church are the stars to guide you, not a stop sign that requires you to come to a complete stop.” Those present smile wryly with little Ivy League wannabe chuckles and knowing nods.
Fine. Let’s say canons are stars.
Canon 915 is about – as can. 1752 reminds us that all the canons are about – the salvation of souls.
How, exactly please, is Mr. Biden’s soul saved by allowing him to continue to think that his depraved, public, and unambiguous support for the slaughter of innocent children is merely a harmless policy preference?
When Mr. Biden faces the Judgement Seat of the God who created him and who cannot be deceived, and faces those slaughtered children, and says, “But the bishops and the priests of Your Church said there was nothing wrong with what I did!” God may, perhaps, have mercy on him. However, I think it far more likely that God would know that Mr. Biden had received ample warning during his earthly life about the evil positions he openly , persistently embraced and strove to advance for years.
And WOE! to those bishops and priests who allowed him to think his actions were moral.
If Canon Law is akin to the stars that guide you, then should be followed towards salvation, towards Christ, towards moral choices.
If the stars are, on the contrary, guiding you to depraved indifference to human life and basic morality, you might just be looking at the star charts upside down.
We must pray for these confused people, whose souls are in grave peril. We do not desire the eternal damnation of any person, no matter how depraved. We desire their conversion. Mighty conversions do take place, often through the intercessory prayer of others at a contributing factor. Think of what an incredible moment it would be to have a sudden and complete reversal of “policy” from these people, along with an open and public statement of regret for the harm done.