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Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick: More Concerned with 'Comfort' than Christ?

7/11/2004 - 5:30 AM PST

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By Michael J. Gaynor

Jesus said: "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Luke 9:23).

The path of Jesus is not always a “comfortable” one.

For decades, Roman Catholic priests in the United States have knowingly given Holy Communion to unrepentant, publicly known, nominally Catholic, pro-abortion politicians, out of misguided compassion, excessive political correctness, fear of losing the Church's tax exemption and/or contributions from pro-abortion people, personal preference or ignorance.

In doing so, they have disregarded, if not deliberately disobeyed, unambiguous canon law.

On April 23, 2004, Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, explained at a press conference in Rome that unrepentant pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians should be denied Communion. Cardinal Arinze put it succinctly: "If they should not receive, then they should not be given." He was followeding the mandate of Canon 915, which specifies that "[t]hose...who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."

Nevertheless, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the most prominent Catholic clergyman in the United States and chairman of the task force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, then declared that Cardinal Arinze had not really said what he said and he (Cardinal McCarrick) had “not gotten to the stage where [he’s] comfortable in denying the Eucharist.”

There have been about 45,000,000 million abortions in the United States since Roe v. Wade was decided more than thirty years ago. That’s approaching eight times the number of Jews slaughtered during the Holocaust.

How many more unborn babies must die before Cardinal McCarrick achieves comfort?

In 1995 then Archbishop of Newark McCarrick appeared comfortable with the concept of obeying canon law. He issued a soundly reasoned, elegantly written pastoral letter on penance. The kind of letter than indicated a promotion to Cardinal was in order.

Cardinal McCarrick rightly wrote in that letter: "We know that anyone who is aware of having committed a grave sin may not receive Holy Communion, even if he or she experiences deep contrition, without having first received absolution in the Sacrament of Penance. This is true unless the person has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession, a situation which does not apply in the area of the Archdiocese of Newark. (Emphasis added.)

Significantly, Cardinal McCarrick faithfully noted in his letter that abortion is a "grave" sin and a "crime against innocent life." He asserted, too generously, that "[w]e all recognize that it is a grave evil to take an innocent human life" and astutely observed that "[w]e tend to find excuses."

Sadly, Cardinal McCarrick has found an excuse for the sin of disregarding Canon 915 and knowingly giving Communion to pro-abortion nominally Catholic politicans: personal uncomfortableness.

The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, left no room for each bishop to adopt his own policy on giving and refusing Communion in Ecclesia de Eucharistia:

“[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.)

This was reiterated in Cardinal Ratzinger’s recent confidential memorandum to Cardinal McCarrick and Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on the “General Principles” with respect to “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion.”

In that memorandum, delivered as guidance for the meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops last month, Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 1981, 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 ...

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