If a bishop would apply can. 915 to someone who hires a hitman, then how not to politicians who actively promote the killing of innocent children?

My good friend Fr. Gerald Murray, a fine canonist, has a forthright offering today at The Catholic Thing.


When confronted by Speaker Pelosi and President Biden’s obstinate and scandalous public rejection of the Church’s teaching on the inherent immorality of abortion, the aim of the Church’s pastors must be the putting to an end of such scandal by convincing the offending parties to repent and recant.

Any word or deed, any silence or passivity of the Church’s shepherds likely to create the impression that Pelosi and Biden’s support for abortion is not really a serious offense against God’s law, and therefore does not render them ineligible to receive Holy Communion, is in fact a grave scandal that leads to great harm to the pastoral mission of the Church.

Read the whole thing there, but here is one more taste…

On the matter of killing unborn children, Pope Francis on the one hand forcefully condemns it, and on the other hand criticizes bishops who take steps to end public support for such killing by Catholic political leaders such as Pelosi and Biden. This puzzling dissonance frustrates bishops and others who see no good reason to avoid enforcing canon law in a matter of such gravity.

If Francis and the rest of these bishops won’t follow or apply the Church’s laws, why should we worry about the Church’s laws?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in 1983 CIC can. 915, Emanations from Penumbras and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Lurker 59 says:

    The falleness of man’s nature means that man is inclined to not follow laws (human, moral, ecclesial, divine,) unless they are enforced. It is also mortally dangerous to attempt to follow laws when the sovereign isn’t enforcing them.

    For those playing at home, here is how to easily destabilize a society. 1.) Be the lawgiver 2.) talk a lot about general moral principles in a nebulous way that upholds “tradition” 3.) Don’t actually enforce those moral principles one way or another (better yet, do both) 4) Undermine those who seek to enforce moral specifics. 5.) Create human laws that place those inclined to follow laws into untenable positions of either infracting the human law or undergoing moral injury. 6.) watch it all burn as you A.) reinforce the tendency of those disinclined to act according to justice B.) punish those inclined to act according to justice and teach them that it is better to break the law (if they learn to break your law they can be inclined to break the moral law). C.) completely undermine your own authority as a lawgiver ensuring that those who come after you won’t be listed to by both the disinclined and inclined.

  2. Grant M says:

    I keep thinking of the climactic scene of The Godfather, in which Michael Corleone makes the baptismal vows on behalf of his goddaughter (Do you renounce Satan? I do renounce him), at the very same moment as his hitmen gun down his enemies across the city.

    Everyone viewing that scene, Catholic or no, gasps at the appalling dissonance between Michael’s participation in a religious rite and his brutal actions. And an insincere vow is nothing compared to a bad communion.

    (Come to think of it, when I first saw the movie as a teenager, that baptismal scene conveyed its numinous power to me, a happy 70’s pagan, through the use of a feature common in 1940’s Catholic liturgy, but largely absent thirty years later. Can you guess what it was?)

  3. Senor Quixana says:

    I am an American Catholic (Catholic is the noun, American is only an adjective here) though perhaps too American on this. While I am sensitive to the insult Biden and Pelosi show to the Eucharist and to all of us when they effectively approach communion with folded hands and then raise their middle fingers at Christ and us when they receive the host, I am also wary of using the Eucharist as a stick or as a reward. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no wall of separation between church and state, but it is not good for our religion or our politics to be too entangled.

    Do we want to effectively force these people from the church? Clearly, in some sense they undermine us, yet it is equally clear that the Church and the Eucharist are important to them. Simply the fact that they show up every week tells us that they are somehow trying to work out their salvation like the rest of us and they would lose nothing politically if they just stopped coming. It can easily be suggested that they value their political positions more than their faith, but if that is true we need to ask how much of an impact denying communion will have. We all suspect that it will have no effect whatsoever. What then is the compulsion to do something that will not bring about the desired result?

    The notion of scandal here is a bit of a red herring. I do not see anybody changing their mind about abortion or the Church regardless of what we do. It would give a certain self-righteous satisfaction to some of us (myself included, God have mercy) but that seems a fairly strong argument against it if that is the only effect (even because of that effect.)

    Perhaps we should consider a radical solution, though one I suspect will not be popular among those for whom this is actually an issue they think about. We could repeal Canon 915. Withholding the sacraments for those who commit ecclesiastical crimes where that is prescribed and those excommunicated is still an option, but the option is then off the table for these instances where it is a discretionary pastoral decision.

  4. Cornelius says:

    “If Francis and the rest of these bishops won’t follow or apply the Church’s laws, why should we worry about the Church’s laws?”

    Laws are for thee but not for me. We’re experiencing lawlessness in which only power (at the service of deconstructing the Church) counts.

  5. maternalView says:

    Perhaps instead of looking at denying
    Holy Communion as a punishment (for those who abhor consequences as is fashionable these days) it would be a more positive approach to consider denial as a way to protect & preserve the beauty and integrity of Holy Communion.

    When one believes that something is of value one usually takes great pains to see that it is respected and “kept nice”. Or consider one doesn’t give a gift to someone who won’t appreciate it.

    It seems to me any effort to sincerely try to work out one’s salvation requires a heavy dose of humility. I’m not seeing it. Looks more like defiance to me in the particular cases being considered.

  6. IaninEngland says:

    @ Senor Quixana
    With respect, I think you have forgotten the main point of Holy Communion. What we receive is the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. We must receive It worthily. We must be in a state of grace. If not, we commit a most dreadful sin, “for he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.” (I Cor. 11:29), i.e. will be found guilty of the murder of the Son of God.
    Yes, there is scandal attached. Yes receiving Communion unworthily says to people “it’s just a piece of bread”, but the major, unperceived risk is to one’s own soul. By denying people Holy Communion, Holy Church is trying to stop people putting themselves at grave risk of eternal damnation.
    If there is any other effect, maybe it is simply that people will understand that the Church takes Jesus’s words seriously: “This is My Body…”

  7. millercr2 says:

    The holocaust of abortion is hidden from society. The most innocent are slaughtered with no advocate and no voice at the sacrificial abortion table.

    If bishops heard each and every silent scream, every 2 seconds as tiny humans are slaughtered worldwide, the deafening, non-stop dumb beat will finally instill in their mind: this truly is the most dire and prominent issue of our time. They would take action. I pray they somehow realize this. It is up to us, the laity, to convey this message to the bishops.

    The Church is the only stalwart force of the world capable of stopping this. The clergy must lead.

  8. mbabc123 says:

    To use another analogy… let’s say a ‘Catholic’ politician supports, promotes, funds and seeks to enshrine in federal law the killing of Catholic clerics. Maybe they initially only supported killing deacons but after lots of dialogue, they now support killing priests, bishops, cardinals and even popes (hello Canon 1370 §1). Would any of the clerics who would give Biden, Pelosi, etc, Holy Communion, give this politician Communion? One would think not. So why do they think that their lives are more valuable than that of an unborn child created in God’s image and likeness? Clericalism?

Comments are closed.