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EXCLUSIVE: Bishop Bruskewitz will deny Kerry the Eucharist

4/7/2004 - 5:00 AM PST

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Bishop Bruskewitz will deny Kerry the Eucharist

by Barbara Kralis
Catholic Online Columnist

On April 6, 2004, Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz, D.D., S.T.D., of the Lincoln, Ne. diocese, stated through his office to this writer that his diocese would deny Holy Communion to any manifest, persistent, obstinate sinner.

Referring to canon 915, Bruskewitz said, "We agree completely with Archbishop Raymond Burke in the action he has taken and we would take the same action in the diocese of Lincoln with regard to manifest, persistent, obstinate sinners, including politicians, regardless of which diocese they are from."

Bishop Bruskewitz of Lincoln in May 15, 1996 issued a successful diocesan synodal law, still enforced today, which carries an automatic penalty of excommunication. Informing all Catholics in his diocese of the list of dissenting organizations whose activities are contrary to the Catholic Faith, Bruskewitz has literally 'cleaned house.' Until today, however, it was unknown if he would deny the Eucharist to any manifest, persistent, obstinate sinner.

Bruskewitz's Vicar General, Monsignor Timothy J. Thorburn, J.C.L., addressed my question of whether this applied to legislators from other dioceses who were manifestly pro abortion, saying it's best for ministers to err on the side of reverence of the Eucharist, "If I had denied Holy Communion to someone who is known to be manifest, persistent, and obstinate in his sin and he later demonstrates that he had, in fact, publicly denied his promotion of, say, abortion, I then would publicly apologize to him."

On January 8, 2004, Archbishop Raymond Burke, then bishop of La Crosse, promulgated a diocesan 'canonical notification' based on canon 915, saying, "No good bishops could stand by and let this happen. These public legislators are in grave sin." Burke said he would deny Kerry Communion because Kerry's conduct is seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm (EE n.37). Kerry's own Archbishop, Sean O'Malley, said he wouldn't go that far and would give Kerry the Eucharist.

All ministers of the Eucharist must deny Communion to pro abortion legislators as they are ecclesiastically bound to obey Church law, regardless of whether their bishop or pastor does or does not obey. In fact, canon 915 places the responsibility on the minister - 'ne admittantur' - who, in some canonists' opinion, could be punished themselves according to canon 1389 2, should he unlawfully administer the sacrament with the consequent danger of scandal.

Of the 195 U.S. diocesan bishops, all except two still refuse to say they would deny the Eucharist to manifest, persistent, obstinate sinners. In doing so, these bishops are disregarding the clearly defined canons of the Church.

The responsibility to issue canonical sanctions against Catholic politicians who support abortion rests with each individual bishop over his diocesan politicians. And, the Pope has the authority to issue a worldwide decree forbidding Holy Communion to manifest, obstinate, persistent sinners under canon 915 until they publicly repent (canon 915 is a sacramental law and applies only to the Eucharist and not to any other sacrament).

It is not within the authority of the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to do this as a conference. But they can and should issue, as a conference, important statements at their June 2004 meeting regarding this national scandal.

But, wait! The Bishops will not be holding their semiannual plenary meeting June 2004, a meeting which would normally be very important just months before one of the most crucial U.S. presidential elections in modern time. They, instead, will be having a 'closed retreat meeting' at a still undisclosed location, and the world's Catholic and secular press, and the usual visitors and observers will not be allowed in. Hmmm.

What will it finally take for most of us to stand up and say we're not going to accept this abuse any longer? Faithful Catholics shouldn't have to tolerate this Eucharistic scandal anymore. Why do we Catholics not stand and fight this disobedience, not only by politicians but by the bishops for their lack of discipline. What will it take for us to finally get 'mad?'

If you are scandalized by your state and federal 'Catholic' pro abortion legislators who arrogantly 'in your face' march up to the altar for sacrilegious Communions while using the media to publicly gain acceptance for such 'choices' as abortion, birth control, premarital sex, easy divorce, cohabitation, euthanasia, then I suggest we all follow the lead of Paddy Chayefsky's raging character Howard Beale who told his TV news viewers: "I want you to get up right now. Get up. Go to your windows, open your windows, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'm mad as hell and ...

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