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'Cardinal Ratzinger said, 'The minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it.' He did not say 'could,' or 'may,' but that he 'must.'

7/9/2004 - 8:00 AM PST

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By Barbara Kralis

© Catholic Online

Is it possible that after so much scandal and hurt in the Catholic Church, Bishop Wilton Gregory and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick would withhold and distort an important memo written by the head of the Vatican’s second most important dicastery of the Roman Curia?[1]

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, wrote the memo in English expressly for the USCCB’s use as a guideline of the Church’s teachings to be used at their ‘closed door’ plenary Conference in Denver, June 14-19, 2004.

Recently, Catholic World News[2] revealed that the Italian weekly newspaper L’Espresso [3] had exclusively published the confidential Vatican memorandum.

It is important to understand the letter was sent to Cardinal McCarrick and Bishop Gregory.  As chair of the USCCB’s ‘Task Force’ committee, McCarrick would be giving the Bishops’ his recommendations regarding pro-abortion ‘Catholic’ politicians.

It would appear that Cardinal Ratzinger wanted the Bishops’ Conference to issue a firm statement, sooner rather than later.  In contrast, ‘Task Force’ committee member Bishop Joseph Galante indicated it was “unlikely that the principles would be developed prior to the November 2004 elections.”[4]

Cardinal Ratzinger, in his memorandum entitled “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion – General Principles,” said without ambiguity:

“The minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it”[5] when warning and counsel given to the manifest sinner “have not had their effect.”

Why then did Cardinal McCarrick and Bishop Gregory mislead the faithful to believe that Cardinal Ratzinger was urging caution against denying the Eucharist?[6]

Learning of the ‘leaked’ memo, McCarrick said it ‘may represent an incomplete and partial leak…it may not accurately reflect the full message I received.”  He added that at Ratzinger’s request he would not release what he had sent him.[7]

Would Cardinal Ratzinger really insist that the memo supporting Church teachings be kept hidden?

Let us look at what we know Cardinal Ratzinger’s memo, “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion – General Principles” did say:

Paragraph #1 - Cardinal Ratzinger cited the Vatican Instruction ‘Redemptionis Sacramentum’ n.81, 83:

“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.”

Paragraph #2 - Cardinal Ratzinger teaches here the grave and clear obligation for Christians to oppose judicial decisions or civil laws that authorize or promote abortion or euthanasia.[8]

Paragraph #3 - Cardinal Ratzinger gives the U.S. bishops clear directives that no other human rights or moral issues have the same serious moral weight as abortion and euthanasia.

Please note that #3 readily refutes those many U.S. bishops who have publicly said they would not deny the Eucharist to pro-abortion legislators because then they would have to deny also those persons who favored war, the death penalty.  Ratzinger explained the church does not condemn war and the death penalty, but does condemn abortion and euthanasia.

Ratzinger’s statement #3 also refuted those bishops, including the ‘Task Force’s’ head, Pensacola-Tallahassee, FL Bishop John Ricard, who questioned the requirement to withhold the Eucharist from anybody.  Bishop Ricard reasoned (incorrectly) that the Bishops would have to consider as grave manifest, obstinate, persistent sinners those politicians who defy church policy “on the role of marriage and family, on the rights of parents to choose the best education for their children, the priority for the poor, and welcome for immigrants.”[9]

Paragraph #4 – The Cardinal teaches that the priest may find an individual’s judgment about his own worthiness to receive the Eucharist to be in grave error and the priest must deny him Holy Communion, according to c.915.

Paragraph #5 – Here is the Church’s teaching regarding the pastor’s obligation to warn the manifest sinner of his grave ...

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