Life Site News ran a full transcript of their interview with Boston’s Cardinal O’Mally on the question of denying communion to pro abort politicians who claim to be Catholic. The following is the transcript as appears on the LSN site.
WASHINGTON, DC, February 18, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The full transcript of LSN's January 2010 conversation with Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley on denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians is as follows:
LSN: “A number of Catholics are concerned about Catholics who are pro-abortion and in politics. Some have said the bishops have to deny them communion. But in your estimation, what is exactly is the appropriate pastoral response? How should Catholics understand this?”
O’Malley: “Well I think that the only way that that solution should be invoked is if there were a large catechesis or if it was universal for the whole Church. You can’t have people doing things in one parish and another, you would only divide the Church hopelessly.”
[Although turning away at an aide's urging to leave the Basilica, the Cardinal returned to clarify that he was concerned about how to deal with pro-abortion Catholic politicians from the very beginning. O’Malley said he asked that question when John Paul II solicited input from bishops for the pro-life encyclical Evangelium Vitae.]
O’Malley: “... I wrote to him [John Paul II] and asked him to please give us very clear direction on how to deal with politicians who will be pro-abortion and will be Catholic. We have not had the kind of clear response that we need.”
LSN: “Do you think something coming forth in Canon Law - would that be helpful?”
O’Malley: “That would be helpful if they did it. But if it is not done – to make it look like it’s an individual bishop sparring with the people of particular parties is only going to divide the Church in a very terrible way. Then you’ll have some priest who will obey and others who won’t, other divisions of the Church, more scandal, and undermining the authority of the bishops.”
LSN: “So you think it needs a directive from the Pope or be made clear in Canon Law?”
O’Malley: “It’s the only way it is really going to work - this isn’t the only country that has this problem.”
Then we have a statement from Archbishop Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura that states very clearly, Cannon 915, which is the Churches instructions on safeguarding the administration of communion to those in public grave sin. This interview was done by Randall Terry last year while this group was in Rome Partial tramscript of the interview will be posted, with a site linking the full interview below:
Mr. Terry: For the umpteenth time, I and the others are asking, under Canon 915 what should or should not be done?
Archbishop Burke: The Canon is completely clear, it is not subject in my judgment to any other interpretations. When someone is publicly and obstinately in grave sin we may not administer Holy Communion to the person. And that, basically, for two reasons: number one, to prevent the person himself or herself from committing a sacrilege, and secondly, to protect the sanctity of the Holy Eucharist. In other words, to approach, to receive our Lord in Holy Communion, when one insists on remaining in grave sin, is such a violation of the sanctity of the Holy Eucharist, so that Communion must not be given to people who are publicly, obstinately, in grave sin.
Mr. Terry: And so does that apply to politicians of any party that are saying: "Yes, it’s okay to abort children" –to kill children?
Archbishop Burke: Yes, for someone who in any way contributes in an active way to the murder of innocent defenseless infants in the womb—children in the womb—from the very inception of human life, this is the greatest of sins. And such a person, until he or she has reformed his or her life, should not approach to receive Holy Communion.
Mr. Terry: And if they do approach, the person who is administering Holy Communion should say, “No.”?
Archbishop Burke: Right. In fact, the Canon puts the burden upon the minister of Holy Communion whether it’s the ordinary minister which would be a bishop, a priest, a deacon—or an extraordinary minister—it doesn’t make any difference. It says they’re not to be admitted to receive Holy Communion. Normally speaking, in my experience, when I have spoken with, for instance, Catholic politicians who have insisted on supporting pro-abortion legislation and told them they should not approach any more to receive Holy Communion, in my experience they don’t. Now, where Bishops have not applied the Canon, often times it’s said that this will cause some kind of disorder at the time of distribution of Holy Communion. That’s not verified. It’s not using Holy Communion to make a statement at all, it’s simply respecting this most sacred gift we have - namely, the Body and Blood of Christ—which can only be received when one has repented of his sins. And I would also make the point—and I believe that it is true that on the contrary - those public figures—Catholics—who are consistently promoting pro-abortion legislation and policies—use reception of Holy Communion to try to justify what they are doing; in other words, to present themselves as devout Catholics, when in fact they are sinning against the most fundamental teaching of the moral law. [Thou shall not murder.]
So here it is, two different versions of the same story, told by two high level prelates in the church and both are Americans and both have been exposed to the ‘pulse’ of what it is that Americans want and expect. One wants to argue that reception of Communion is an issue between the communicant and God, while the other believes there are external factors that should keep one from receiving if in grevious sin.
The catechism I grew up with, coupled with teachings from some of the professors loyal to the magisterial teachings, made it abundantly clear that a Catholic in mortal sin (grave sin now a days) cannot receive communion until they confess their sins and change their ways. There were no exceptions made, and it was incumbent upon the individual, that he also cease and desist in the sinful behaviors. Yes, it is up to the individual to obey the teachings of the church, but the church must first teach what is its doctrine of the faith, then enforce the doctrine. Unfortunately, the church is currently doing neither, and thus, appears to be contradictory and confused in its message.
When examining cannon 915, coupled with traditional church teachings, there really is no confusion on this issue. To receive the body and blood of Christ in the state of mortal sin, is another mortal sin, and a loving church would do well by not allowing one of the faithful to continue in further harming themselves spiritually, as well as adding to already scandalous behaviors. Contrary to many of the Bishops statements that denial of communion is a political and divisive move, it is actually an act of love towards those who are in grave error and need a gentle, but firm hand to guide them back to a state of Grace.