Shooting Blanks

I’ve read that Rudy goes to Mass, but doesn’t approach the minister to receive Communion. So what is this rumbling all about? Not only is Giuliani the leading Republican candidate, but he’s untouchable. At least on this issue.


Asked if he would deny Communion to Giuliani if the former New York mayor approached him for the sacrament at the Cathedral Basilica, Burke said: “If the question is about a Catholic who is publicly espousing positions contrary to the moral law and I know that person knows it, yes I would.”

In an interview earlier this year, Burke said of Giuliani: “I can’t imagine that as a Catholic he doesn’t know that his stance on the protection of human life is wrong. If someone is publicly sinning, they should not approach to receive Holy Communion.”

Archbishop Burke is musing publicly again. But I think it reveals what the denial-of-Communion movement is all about. It’s not about admonishing sinners. It’s never saved a single unborn child.

It’s more about keeping up the morale of the supporters.

My suggestion is to write a check for Birthright. Or better yet, volunteer. You’ll feel better doing something positive rather than being part of a sacramental mob scene.

I have to confess my reticence about using a sacrament as a tool to adjust the inner politics and feelings of anti-abortion Catholics. Just plain misguided. Not to mention ineffective. It takes what should be an unambiguous public stance in favor of life and turns it into a catfight … using a sacrament as a hammer to nail people-we-don’t-like.

Reportedly, Rudy doesn’t go to the Communion line because of his irregular marriage situation, being divorced and remarried. His campaign people don’t even comment on his going to Communion or not. Don’t people clamoring their pots and thuribles know this? Maybe there’s no weapon left in the arsenal: can you deny somebody a parking space because of their public pro-choice views? I imagine somebody is itching to try.

Burke image credit: Huy Richard Mach/St Louis Post-Dispatch)

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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6 Responses to Shooting Blanks

  1. Marilyn says:

    Burke didn’t make a presumption of Guiliani’s “full knowledge” of the sin of men and women choosing abortion…but IF Guiliani disregards moral law and does so on behalf of others (voters) – wouldn’t that make him an accomplice in the abortions of his state and country? For the sake of his own soul the clergy would wish to make it known to him as soon as possible! It’s horrifying and hurtful to Catholics and other Christians that the business of politics is so quickly and readily justified…truly hurtful. How does pretending this public scandal isn’t taking place outside of Mass make a bishop or pastor more merciful to the personally ambitious when it’s time for communion?

  2. Todd says:

    Marilyn, I like your questions. I suppose you might be more optimistic than I; I’ve pretty much written off politicians as agents of moral change. I would no more go to a national politician with the expectation of making the world a better place than I would Britney Spears.

    Giuliani’s position on abortion might be likened to giving succor to the enemy, but as a mayor (the only elective office he’s held, I think) I don’t think he’s ever had a direct hand in influencing law or public policy in NYC. Or maybe he has: I really don’t know.

    The “scandal” of his being divorced and remarried has already disqualified him from approaching to receive Communion, so I don’t know why he’s being mentioned, even. The only thing I can figure is to make him an example for Republican politicians: a token to show that Burke, Chaput, et. al. weren’t just Republicans in episcopal clothing.

    And regarding the scandal of support for legal abortion, are we at the point where two generations of law has (or should have) hardened us to the political realities of the US? That said, it might be time for use to take Jesus’ advice to be wise in the ways of the world, and work more effectively on other fronts in limiting and preventing abortions. Archbishop Burke may be totally right theologically and morally. A man of his intelligence should be. But does he have the wisdom to speak so that other people will perceive his point and consider another view? Does he have the gift to persuade and make progress? If not, perhaps his silence is better for us. And we should look to other people, other methods to be more fruitful in the pro-life effort.

  3. Marilyn says:

    well, silent bishops seem so cowardly to me…it sounded like Archbp. Burke was trying to reply in general terms; hinting that a pastoral conversation would precede excommunication. But, as you’ve said – what’s all this talk doing to save babies? it hasn’t given me the courage and strength to stand outside a known abortion clinic and pray peacefully for the little ones inside!

  4. Todd says:

    Bishops do tread a knife’s edge, don’t they? We might not know when some bishops have been in contact with legislators in their area. I would hope some approach politicians outside of public announcements and press releases. I’m sure some do.

  5. Tony says:

    I think that part of the benefit of this is that the bishop makes the Church’s position unambiguously clear.

    I think it’s curious that those same people who advocate the killing of babies in the womb, treasure the eucharistic presence of our Lord enough for it to be a worthwhile “carrot” to effect behavioral change.

    Another point is refusing communion to those people who are in a state of grave sin helps keep that person from compounding their sin by receiving the Body of Christ unworthily. (Though some might argue that is not some bishop’s intent and is some sort of weasly dodge).

    I know that I would not want to be put in the position of being an EME expected to deny communion (possibly on camera) to a powerful politician.

  6. Pingback: The Eucharist as a Sign of Inclusion? « Catholic Sensibility

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