Bishop Vasa - a shepherd for our time
Bishop Vasa will deny Senator Kerry the Eucharist. He is no stranger to controversy nor does he shy away from defending Church teachings.By Barbara Kralis
©Catholic Online 2004
A faithful and courageous prelate, Bishop Robert Francis Vasa, M.Div., J.C.L., Bishop of Baker, Oregon, kindly granted Catholic Online and this writer a recent interview.
During this conversation, Bishop Vasa (pronounced Va'.sha) helped reinforce Church teachings regarding the scandal of the sacrilegious reception of Holy Communion by persons who obstinately persist in their manifest grave sin.
In answer to the question, 'If the pro-abortion 'Catholic' Senator John Kerry came up to you for Holy Communion, would you deny him,' Bishop Vasa quickly replied:
"Absolutely. I would agree, certainly, with Archbishop Burke and Bishop Bruskewitz in their own actions in this matter. I literally could not give Holy Communion to a professed and actively committed pro-choice politician."
It is well known that the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, recently wrote an instructive memorandum.
It was addressed to Cardinal McCarrick, chairman of the USCCB 'Task Force,' and to Bishop Wilton Gregory, President of the USCCB.
The Vatican memo was written 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.
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" when warning and counsel given to the manifest sinner "have not had their effect."
McCarrick, chair of the 'Task Force' committee, apparently withheld the memorandum from the USCCB, and even perhaps from the 'Task Force' committee.
Were all of the bishops informed of Cardinal Ratzinger's clear supportive directive citing why the bishops must deny manifest, obstinate, persistent persons in grave sin?
Bishop Vasa replied that the June memorandum from Cardinal Ratzinger was not given to the Conference of Bishops in Denver.
"As I recall, Cardinal McCarrick made reference to some letter, but I did not see a copy of the letter at the meeting. I don't know if the committee writing the 'Statement,' entitled "Catholics in Political Life," was given a copy of the letter."
Bishop Vasa was not sure when the memorandum was delivered to Cardinal McCarrick and Bishop Gregory.
It is well known that Cardinal McCarrick presented to the Conference his 'Interim Report', which instead warned against denying anyone the Eucharist.
"Our consultations with moral theologians and canonists warned us that such steps could raise serious questions about Catholic teaching and the application of canon law," McCarrick said in a presentation delivered at a closed bishops' meeting June 15 and made public June 23.
"Vatican officials offered...principles and advised caution and pastoral prudence in the use of sanctions," McCarrick advised the bishops.
McCarrick said his "Task Force does not advocate the denial of Communion from Catholic Politicians or Catholic voters." 
He said that dialogue and teachings must be used instead "in the public square, in hearts and minds, in our pulpits and public advocacy, in our consciences and communities."
Why would McCarrick give information to the USCCB directly in opposition to what Cardinal Ratzinger's memorandum actually recommended?
Upon further discussion with Bishop Vasa regarding the wording of the USCCB's Denver 'Statement,' this writer asked for a clarification.
Do the U.S. bishops now teach that it is correct for one Bishop to deny John Kerry the Eucharist while another Bishop, perhaps in a diocese just 10 miles away, mandates his 'ministers of Holy Communion' to give Kerry the Eucharist?
"I answer to the Holy See, I don't answer to the USCCB," replied Bishop Vasa.
"The June memorandum of Cardinal Ratzinger should have a greater impact on the decision of individual bishops in their own dioceses than the 'Statement' of the USCCB, which seems to give broader latitude to the judgment of the bishops."
In response to further correspondence to Cardinal Ratzinger, McCarrick received a letter dated July 9 from Cd. Ratzinger, saying:
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