Are You Listening Bishops of England & Wales?

Pro-life leaders announce the declaration May 3rd. From right: Virginia Coda Nunziante, Marcia per la Vida; Colleen Bayer, Family Life International New Zealand, John-Henry Westen, LifeSiteNews.com; Joseph Meaney, Human Life International.
Yesterday Lifesitenews carried the story from the first annual Rome Life Forum in Vatican City that fifty-two pro-life leaders from sixteen nations called on the bishops of the Catholic Church to deny Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians in a spirit of love and mercy.

The leaders signed a declaration noting that it is out of concern, and indeed love, for those same politicians that the pro-life leaders ask for this wake-up call to invite pro-abortion politicians back to authentic faith.

This is important in the context of the recent too & fro within the Bishop's Conference here in the UK. The excellent Bishop of Portsmouth, The Rt. Rvd. Philip Egan, clearly stated the position of the Magisterium regarding this issue in an interview with Lifesite News on March 13th 2014 thus:
“When people are not in communion with the Catholic Church on such a central thing as the value of life of the unborn child and also in terms of the teachings of the church on marriage and family life – they are voting in favor of same-sex marriage – then they shouldn’t be receiving Holy Communion,” 
Bishop Egan explained that rather than a punitive measure, the denial of Holy Communion is “always an act of mercy.” It is done, he said, “with the hope and prayer that that person can be wooed back into full communion with the Church.”

“Nobody is forced to be Catholic. We’re called by Christ and He’s chosen us, it’s a free choice. We live under the word of God. It’s not my truth, its God’s truth,” he said.

“One would hope that in that case it would encourage someone to come back to seek communion with the Lord with the truth and say I’m sorry I got lost.”

The difficulties faced by Catholics and other Christians in an increasingly secular and intolerant Britain are keenly felt. Bishop Egan has been outspoken in his defence of life and family, writing to the Prime Minister and speaking eloquently on the issues. He has himself experienced backlash both in terms of “unpleasant correspondence” and even a confrontation at the Cathedral. Irrespective of these difficulties however, the duty to witness to the truth in love is not an option despite the persecutions that may come. Christians, he says, “are bound to come into conflict” with the secularised culture.

We must not go looking for a fight, “but we will, being Christian, have to suffer, and have to go to the cross,” he said. “This is one of the ways, particularly as a priest or a bishop, in which that cross is going to come out, because you have to witness to the truth.”

From the martyrs at the time of the Reformation, he said, “we can take consolation and solace.” In addition he said, “A relationship with Christ is essential where we are truly united in the heart of Christ. … With prudence, wisdom, praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we support each other in that and in our suffering.”

Full report here. Or you can watch the interview for yourself:





However on April 2nd, The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales assured Catholic Members of Parliament that there are “no plans” to refuse them Holy Communion after they voted to support the “gay marriage” legislation that came into effect the day before.

Greg Pope, head of parliamentary relations at the conference and a former Labour Party MP, wrote to MPs assuring them that comments by the bishop of Portsmouth on the Church’s Code of Canon Law forbidding Communion to “manifest grave sinners,” would not be applied to them.

I and many others were completely aghast at this submission to relativism, but there you had it: complete capitulation to the secular agenda on probably the most important issue we face as Catholics today: abortion.

As courageous as ever, Bishop Egan refused to back down and stated:
“My basic point was a simple one: that those who do not believe in and/or do not practice the main doctrines of our Catholic faith should not go forward to receive Holy Communion in a Catholic Church. They are not in communion with the Catholic Church. Politicians have many complex decisions to take, but surely, if they are disciples of Christ, they should have the freedom to follow their conscience, despite pressures from party whips and powerful campaign groups?
Those who do not accept the Catholic Church’s principle teachings on the value of life – as expressed in her teaching on abortion, on marriage and family life, on euthanasia, on eugenics and on assisted suicide – the main tenets of Christian anthropology – are rejecting Christ’s vision for the human person, whom he redeemed on the Cross. Abortion, euthanasia, eugenics, assisted suicide gravely degrade and undermine respect for the dignity and value of human life.”
This recent declaration from The Rome Life Forum demonstrates that Bishop Egan is right and the Catholic Bishop's Conference of England and Wales should, frankly, be ashamed of its failure to stand behind him, Canon Law, and the Church.

The Forum, made up of leaders of 36 pro-life groups from all over the world called on the world’s bishops to honour Canon 915 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law. The canon states that those who are obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion. This is a Pastor's duty; to shepherd and guard his flock! Of course the Church has taught, from its earliest days that abortion is the gravest of sins:
2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. "A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,"77 "by the very commission of the offense,"78 and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law.79 The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.
Church teaching on this grave matter, therefore, is very unambiguous and needs little explaining. Of course, Holy Communion is not a weapon to be employed against naughty Catholics, but we simply must have the utmost respect for the real presence in the blessed sacrament, which St. Paul teaches us, and the Penny Catechism (#273) opines:
It is a great sin to receive Holy Communion in mortal sin; 'for he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself'. Cor. 11:29
If we assert a metaphysical dimension to our lives which continues after death, how can we fail to take this seriously? To send the message to the faithful that such a grave matter is unimportant is, surely, extremely problematic?

The declaration also recalls the words of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in his intervention with the bishops of the United States, called "Worthiness to receive Holy Communion." Cardinal Ratzinger wrote that a Catholic politician who votes for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws "must" be denied Communion after being duly instructed and warned.

I ask what message the Bishop's Conference think this capitulation sends to faithful Catholics willing to follow Bishop Egan and pick up their Cross and follow Christ? The Second Vatican Council called for the laity to inspire our religious leaders to holiness. In a situation such as this, has that call ever seemed more requisite or prophetic?


Comments

  1. I am confused, nothing new in that. Pro-abortion politicians cannot be true to their faith if they claim to be Catholic; however I do see a difference in being pro-abortion and supporting gay marriage, personally I think that both are wrong; but abortion is evil.

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