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St. Matthew asked, "What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his soul."

Marc A. Balestrieri, a canon lawyer and an assistant judge of an ecclesiastical court in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, thinks that such a man is not profited.

John Kerry, baptized Catholic, former altar boy, United States Senator from Massachusetts, presumptive Democrat Presidential candidate, poster boy of Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-choice America (formerly the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League) and second husband of a perhaps billionaire widow, wants to find out.

On June 14, 2004, Balestrieri boldly exercised his right to file with the Boston

Archdiocese a sworn document described as "a Denunciation for the Public Ecclesiastical Crime of Heresy, Diabolical Scandal Leading to Heresy, Immediate Formal Cooperation in Heresy, Abjection of the Sacred Species, Diabolical Scandal Leading to Murder, and Grave Harm to Public Morals and Contempt for the Faith and Ecclesiastical Authority" and "a Criminal Complaint for Reparation of Harm" resulting from the crimes listed.

The person Balestrieri denounced is Kerry.

The basis for the denunciation is Kerry's "deliberate, manifest, and pertinacious adherence to the proposition that one has a right to choose abortive murder."

The main charge is an ecclesiastical crime, heresy, that is, "the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith...."

The relief demanded is a declaration of excommunication and the imposition of

additional penalties and punishments against Kerry, including barring Kerry from receiving Holy Communion or any other sacrament until Kerry publicly repudiates his heretical support for abortion or, in Balestrieri's words, "the Right-to-Murder heresy."

Balestrieri alleged that he personally had been gravely injured by Kerry's "continuous attack on an disturbance of the pacific possession and unity of [his Roman Catholic] faith, a...right to all Catholics," and invited "all other individuals who have been gravely scandalized, offended, angered or aggrieved as a direct result of [Kerry's] actions or omissions" to join his suit.

Balestrieri noted Kerry's support for abortion in his first speech in the United States Senate more than nineteen years ago and Kerry's perfect pro-abortion voting record, including opposition to banning even partial birth abortion.

In addition, Balestrieri vigorously objected to Kerry's public receipt of Holy Communion several times this year and asserted as fact "an urgent need for the elination of Scandal whereby a life-threatening heresy attacking a Dogma of Divine and Catholic Faith is growing substantially within the Church."

Last summer Archbishop O'Malley of Boston gave the faithful hope that the subordination of religious principal to lesser considerations that permitted the horrific clergy sex abuse scandal was over, at least in the Boston archdiocese.

He declared that pro-abortion nominally Catholic politicians "should not be receiving Communion and should refrain from doing so."

But, the Archbishop dashed that hope by disregarding Canon 915's clear mandate, as explained in detail by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and declaring that the policy in his archdiocese is not to deny Communion and instead to leave it to the individual to decide, as though each bishop may disobey canon law that might be problematic to enforce.

Therefore, it is possible, if not likely, that Archbishop O'Malley will choose to reject Balestrieri's denunciation.

But, Balestrieri will be entitled to appeal to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, of which Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is the prefect, and that forum is virtually certain to be receptive to any such appeal.

This is evidenced by Cardinal Ratzinger's recent confidential memorandum to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the rebellious United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on the "General Principles" with respect to "Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion."

In that memorandum, Cardinal Ratzinger stated succinctly, emphatically and unambiguously as follows:

"1. Presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion should be a conscious decision, based on a reasoned judgement regarding one's worthiness to do so, according to the Church's objective criteria, asking such questions as: "Am I in full communion with the Catholic Church? Am I guilty of grave sin? Have I incurred a penalty (e.g. excommunication, interdict) that forbids me to receive Holy Communion? Have I prepared myself by fasting for at least an hour?" The practice of indiscriminately presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion, merely as a consequence of being present at Mass, is an abuse that must be corrected (cf. Instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum," nos. 81, 83).

"2. The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorise or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a "grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. [...] In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to 'take part in a propoganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it'" (no. 73). Christians have a "grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God's law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. [...] This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it" (no. 74).

"3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

"4. Apart from an individuals's judgement about his worthiness to present himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone, such as in cases of a declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin (cf. can. 915).

"5. Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person's formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church's teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.

"6. When "these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible," and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, "the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it" (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Declaration "Holy Communion and Divorced, Civilly Remarried Catholics" [2002], nos. 3-4). This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgement on the person's subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person's public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin."

Canon 915 excludes from Holy Communion "[t]hose...who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin." Lest there be confusion, Canon 915 specifies not that those persons shall not present themselves for Holy Communion, but that they "are not to be admitted to Holy Communion." (Emphasis added)

That puts the onus on the dispensers of Holy Communion to refuse the unfit who nevertheless present themselves for Holy Communion when their unfitness is "manifest."

The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, emphasized that Canon 915 obligates those who dispense Holy Communion not to do so blindly:

"[I]n cases of outward conduct which is seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm, the Church, in her pastoral concern for the good order of the community and out of respect for the sacrament, cannot fail to feel directly involved. The Code of Canon Law refers to this situation of a manifest lack of proper moral disposition when it states that those who "obstinately persist in manifest grave sin" are not to be admitted to Eucharistic communion." (Emphasis added.)

The Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts previously had issued an interpretation of Canon 915 in agreement with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. It stated in unambiguous terms:

"Naturally, pastoral prudence would strongly suggest the avoidance of instances of public denial of Holy Communion. Pastors must strive to explain to the concerned faithful the true ecclesial sense of the norm, in such a way that they would be able to understand it or at least respect it. In those situations, however, in which these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible, the minister of Communion must refuse to distribute it to those who are publicly unworthy. They are to do this with extreme charity, and are to look for the opportune moment to explain the reasons that required the refusal. They must, however, do this with firmness, conscious of the value that such signs of strength have for the good of the Church and of souls." (Emphasis added.)

Responsibility for implementing Canon 915 was delegated to priests (not bishops):

"The discernment of cases in which the faithful who find themselves in the described condition are to be excluded from Eucharistic Communion is the responsibility of the Priest who is responsible for the community. They are to give precise instructions to the deacon or to any extraordinary minister regarding the mode of acting in concrete situations."

And compliance with Canon 915 is mandatory, not discretionary.

"....the obligation of reiterating this impossibility of admission to the Eucharist is required for genuine pastoral care and for an authentic concern for the well-being of these faithful and of the whole Church, being that it indicates the conditions necessary for the fullness of that conversion to which all are always invited by the Lord...."

The declaration specified the way Canon 915 must be interpreted and its three required conditions as follows:

"The phrase 'and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin' is clear and must be understood in a manner that does not distort its sense so as to render the norm inapplicable. The three required conditions are:

a) grave sin, understood objectively, being that the minister of Communion would not be able to judge from subjective imputability;

b) obstinate persistence, which means the existence of an objective situation of sin that endures in time and which the will of the individual member of the faithful does not bring to an end, no other requirements (attitude of defiance, prior warning, etc.) being necessary to establish the fundamental gravity of the situation in the Church.

c) the manifest character of the situation of grave habitual sin."

In addition, Canon 912 states: "Any baptized person who is not prohibited by law can and must be admitted to Holy Communion."

To be sure, there may be cases in which the grave sin has not endured in time to the point of obstinacy or been manifest and therefore a person who truly should not present himself or herself for Holy Communion may nevertheless receive it.

But, canon law imposes the duty not to admit manifest, persistent grave sinners to Holy Communion on the distributors of Holy Communion.

Kerry is supporting even partial-birth abortion, calling abortion a woman's right instead of a wrong and vowing to keep abortion legal. At the dinner hosted by NARAL Pro-Choice America (formerly, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League) to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, Kerry proudly and passionately proclaimed, "We are not going to turn back the clock. There is no overturning of Roe v. Wade. There is no packing of courts with judges who will be hostile to choice."

Of course, Kerry shamelessly wants to have it both ways: to be NARAL's champion AND a practicing Catholic presenting himself to receive Communion, as though he is in a state of grace and in full communion with the Church and therefore fit to receive.

But Kerry must choose. Divine law will not bend to his will.

_____________________________

Michael J. Gaynor
95 Darrow Lane
Greenlawn, New York 11740-2803
631) 757-9452 (tel)
631) 754-3437 (fax)
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Catholic Online
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Keywords

Politics, Kerry, Election, Eucharist

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