Ten questions regarding the denial of the EucharistBARBARA KRALIS
Several U.S. bishops have recently voiced their opposition and ersatz reasoning why no one should be denied the Eucharist according to Code of Canon Law n. 915. Those in the pews are perplexed. Which bishop is correct?Why
would some bishops teach that the laws are binding and other bishops teach that
they are not?1
Quizzically, people are asking ten questions:
“Why should the Church deny the Eucharist to hundreds of ‘Catholic’ pro abortion
The Catholic Church condemns abortion,2 euthanasia,3
sodomy,4 cloning,5 embryonic stem cell research,6
as well as other attacks against the sanctity of life and the family. It is the
obligation of the bishop to follow canon law. Canon Law n.915 mandates the denial
of Communion to all “manifest, obstinate, persistent sinners,” including but not
exclusive to politicians. 72) “If they deny politicians,
then shouldn’t they deny all public sinners?”
Canon 915 not only protects the Eucharist
from sacrilegious reception, but also prevents the faithful from sorrowful scandal.
important to understand what ‘manifest, obstinate, persistent’ means. Many wrongly
think it applies only to politicians. 8 This is not so.
Catholic is a ‘manifest’ sinner, that means he is ‘known,’ or ‘public.’
This must be differentiated from the Catholics who are in the state of ‘private’
grave sin, to whom their sin is known only to themselves and God. The private
grave sinner cannot be denied the Eucharist because their sin is unknown to the
bishop, to his priests, and his ministers of the Eucharist.
If a Catholic
is gravely ‘manifest’ and ‘obstinate’ in his sin, that means he
pigheadedly continues to ‘persist’ or ‘stand firm’ in grave sin that is ‘public’
in nature and causes scandal to others. This is quite different from those who
persist in ‘private’ sin.
‘Catholic’ pro-abortion politicians are certainly
manifest, obstinate and persistent sinners and they are thus subject to the provisions
Not only does this canonical discipline c.915 include the estimated 500 so-called
‘Catholic’ pro-abortion politicians in the U.S., but it also includes other manifest,
obstinate, persistent sinners such as homosexual couples approaching the Eucharist
arm-in-arm or with sodomite rainbow banners over their shoulders, those divorced
and ‘remarried’ without benefit of annulment10, directors of abortion
mills and Planned Parenthood, Mafia figures, drug lords, notorious criminals,
couples living openly in fornication or adultery (this is certainly not an exhaustive
list of manifest sinners).3) “What about
the couple or individual who lives in grave sin ‘privately’ and their Pastor is
made aware of their sin? Should their Pastor deny them the Eucharist?”
No. Not if most people do not know this. He cannot make their sin known to people.
The priest cannot make known the sins of others, if it is not already manifest.
It’s related to the seal of confession.11 If it becomes known by most
in the parish, then the priest might then be obliged to deny the Eucharist under
c.915 so as not to cause scandal.4) “Isn’t
there supposed to be a separation of Church and State?
The Founding Fathers of our nation believed in the promotion of religion,
as the text to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:5) “Can the Church tell
its members how to legislate and vote?”
shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free
The Fathers merely wanted to avoid a state church
or any other favoring of one Christian denomination over another. In other words,
the object was to avoid favoritism and compulsion, nothing more. 12
would be a sad day in America if only Catholics believed in protection of innocent
The Church is not asking Catholic legislators to impose her beliefs on
unwilling populace. Rather, the Church is calling upon her Catholic legislators
to defend human life, which is a basic responsibility of all civic institutions.146) “Isn’t
the Church turning the Eucharist into a weapon? No one should be denied the Eucharist.
Where is the freedom of conscience?”
Church is not trying to influence legislation but instead is protecting the dignity
of the Sacrament and addressing the grave scandal of Catholic legislators who
fail to defend innocent life.
Implying that the Church is trying to tell
its members how to vote is erroneous. It never directs its members to cast their
vote for any specific party or candidate. It is reiterating that abortion, euthanasia,
sodomy, cloning and embryonic stem cell research (this is not an exhaustive list)
are intrinsically evil in and of themselves; all other human rights pale in comparison
to the right of life of the unborn.
It is true that c.912 does say, “Any baptized person who is not forbidden by law
may and must be admitted to Holy Communion.” However, c.912 commentary further
explains: “unless the existence of some impediment is evidence in the external
forum of c.915.”157)
“Why not deny Communion to politicians and laity who support the death penalty
and the Iraq war?”
Canon 915 states: “Those upon whom the penalty
of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately
persist in manifest grave sin are forbidden by law from receiving Holy Communion.”
is dishonest to use c.912 to justify permitting grave manifest, obstinate, persistent
sinners to the Eucharist. It is a mockery of the faith and belies ones identity
as a Catholic believer.
True freedom is not doing what you want to do, but
doing what you ought to do.16The Church teaches, “Man has the right
to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions.”17
is not the same as your opinions or feelings. Conscience is the voice of truth
within you and your opinions and feelings must reflect your well-informed conscience.18
well-informed conscience is one that is totally in accord with the church’s magisterial
teachings. If one is well informed (catechized), their conscience will be correctly
informed. This transcends any choice for political party or candidate.
pope or ecumenical council has ever said that Catholics who hold public office
are excused from living by the teachings of the Church.19
like all people of goodwill, are called upon under grave obligation of conscience
not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation,
are contrary to God's law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit
to cooperate formally in evil. Such cooperation occurs when an action, either
by its very nature or by the form it takes in a concrete situation, can be defined
as a direct participation in an act against innocent human life or a sharing in
the immoral intention of the person committing it. This cooperation can never
be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing
to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it. Each individual in fact
has moral responsibility for the acts, which he personally performs; no one can
be exempted from the responsibility, and on the basis of it, everyone will be
judged by God Himself.”20
The Church has never taught, and does not teach now, that the death penalty
and war are evil in all instances. But, the church has always clearly condemned
abortion, sodomy, euthanasia, cloning, and embryonic stem cell research in all
“All I hear is the ‘right to life.’ What about the right to employment, the right
to water, the right to food and clothing, the right to protection of the environment?”
The Church teaches that it is the right and responsibility of the
legitimate temporal authority to defend and preserve the common good and citizens
against the aggressor, even if it has to resort to the death penalty if no other
means of defense is sufficient.21
Without the right to life, no other rights are possible.9)
“When ‘gays’ and ‘lesbians’ march up to the altar arm and arm for Communion, should
they be denied?”
As men and women
of good will we strive to achieve true justice for all people and to preserve
their rights as human beings. There is, however, one right that is “inalienable”,
and that is the right to life. This is the first right. This is the right that
grounds all other human rights. This is the issue that trumps all other issues.
Here is this from the Didache circa A.D. 80:23
shall not kill by abortion the fruit of the womb and you shall not murder the
infant already born.”
The Catholic Church’s social teachings are vast and
complete. However, faithful Catholics may legitimately disagree on different
points of view and on how to implement these social teachings.24 One
can never disagree on the teachings regarding the right to life of the unborn,
the disabled, and the elderly.25
915 states that if they are gravely manifest, obstinate, and persistent in their
sins, then they must be denied. The Church condemns the sin of sodomy.26
“What is Canon Law 915 I hear so much about?”
Sodomites who approach the Eucharist wearing ‘Rainbow
sashes’ or are living known lives of perversion are certainly manifest, obstinate
and persistent in their grave sin.27
Legal recognition of same-sex
unions actually does homosexual persons a disfavor by encouraging them to persist
in what is an objectively immoral arrangement.
There are absolutely no grounds
for considering same-sex unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous
to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts
go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts “close the sexual act to the
gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity.
Under no circumstances can they be approved.” 28
You may remember that the canon lawyer, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke,
D.D., J.C.L., on January 8, 2004, promulgated a ‘canonical notification’ in his
diocese of La Crosse based on Canon Law 915. In other words, he imposed sacramental
disciplines or regulations concerning the unworthy reception of the Holy Eucharist.Endnotes:
915 is a sacramental law, not a penal law, and applies only to the Sacrament
of the Eucharist, not other Sacraments. It is not an excommunication or interdict.
Law is the Church’s Sacred Discipline and is binding on all Catholics, not just
politicians, who reject Church law.
There are, however, other legislative
powers that the Pope and diocesan Bishops possess which gives them the right to
enact laws for their dioceses, including penal laws which impose lataæ sententiæ
(‘automatically without sentence’) penalties (c.1311, c.1315, c.1318, c.1369,
c.1398). Here we discuss only c.915.
When the diocesan bishops ignore enforcing
Canon Law, they are giving license to all manifest sinners to commit Eucharistic
sacrilege and cause grave scandal to the faithful.29
Catechism of Catholic Church, §1755.
- Pope John Paul II, Evangelium
- Pope John Paul II, Evangelium vitae, §73.
for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals To Give Legal
Recognition To Unions Between Homosexual Persons, n.10.
for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its
Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation, Ch.1, §6.
- Pontifical Council
for the Family, Charter of the Rights of the Family, n.43.
John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, §37.
- Pope Pius XI, Casti
Connubii, §67; Pope John Paul II, Evangelium vitae, §72-73.
John Paul II, Evangelium vitae,’ §73.
- According to Chuck Wilson,
St. Joseph Foundation, the Apostolic Constitution Familiaris consortio
(1981), the Letter Annus internationalis familiæ (1994), Ecclesia de
Eucharistia (2003) and Redemptionis sacramentum (2004), include for
the most part those in irregular marriage situations.
- Summa Theologica,
Pt.III, Q.80, Art 6.
- Cf. Catholic World Report, 1/04, “The Mantra
of the Wall of Separation” by Marion Edwyn Harrison, Esq., Pres. 'Free Congress
Research and Education Foundation.'
- Archbishop Raymond Burke interview,
EWTN, 1/16/04, with Raymond Arroyo
- Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith, ‘Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics
in Political Life,’ n. 4; Pope JP II, Evangelium vitae, §73.
of Canon Law Annotated, University of Navarre, Wilson & Lafleur Limitée, Montreal,
- Pope John Paul II, Evangelium vitae, §18-20.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, §1782.
- Gaudium et spes,
n.16; An Introduction to Moral Theology, Dr. Wm. E. May, pp.58.
Bishops, 1998, Living the Gospel of Life, n.31-34.
- Cf. Romans
2:6; 14:12; Pope John Paul II, Evangelium vitae §74.
- Pope John
Paul II, Evangelium vitae, §27, 56; The Catholic Dossier, 9/98,
“Opposition to the Death Penalty,” Dr. Ralph McInerny;
- Bishop Michael
J. Sheridan, Colorado Springs, 5/1/04 Pastoral Letter, “duties of Catholic Politicians
- The epistle of Barnabas, the Didache, A.D.
80; The Companion to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, §2271, n.1,
- Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, ‘Doctrinal Note on some questions
regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life,’ n.6; Pope John Paul
II, Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici, §59, Pope Paul VI Apostolicam
- Pope John Paul II, Evangelium vitae, §73.
- The Catechism of the Catholic Church, §2357-2359.
Catholic Medical Assoc., ‘Letter to the Catholic Bishops;’ and ‘Homosexuality
and Hope;’ Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, ‘Persona humana n.8; Summa
Theologica, Vol II, Pt.I-II, Q.94, Art.1-6; Vol IV, Pt.II-II, Q.154, Art.
12; Augustine, Confess. iii, 8;
- Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith, Considerations regarding Proposals to be Given Legal Recognition to
Unions Between Homosexual Persons, §4; Catechism of the Catholic Church,
- Congregation for Divine Worship, Redemptionis Sacramentum,
Kralis. "Ten questions regarding the denial of the Eucharist." Catholic Online
This article reprinted with permission from Barbara Kralis.
Barbara Kralis, the article's author, writes for various
Christian and conservative publications. She is a regular columnist at RenewAmerica.us.
Online (Catholic.org), Life
Wanderer newspaper, New Oxford Review Magazine, Washington
MichNews, Intellectual Conservative, Phil
Brennan’s WOW, ChronWatch
and others. Her first journalism position was with Boston Herald Traveler, l964.
Barbara published and edited Semper Fidelis Catholic print newsletter.
She and her husband, Mitch, live in the great State of Texas, and co-direct the
Jesus Through Mary Catholic Foundation. She can be reached at: Avemaria@earthlink.net
© 2004 Catholic Online