(CNSNews.com) - Archbishop Charles Chaput, the retired archbishop of Philadelphia, published an article in First Things in December saying that President-elect Joe Biden “should not receive communion."
“When bishops publicly announce their willingness to give Communion to Mr. Biden, without clearly teaching the gravity of his facilitating the evil of abortion (and his approval of same-sex relationships), they do a serious disservice to their brother bishops and their people,” wrote Archbishop Chaput.
“The reason is obvious,” he said. “By his actions during the course of his public life, Mr. Biden has demonstrated that he is not in full communion with the Catholic Church.”
“Mr. Biden has said that he will continue to advance those same policies as president, and thus should not receive Holy Communion,” said Archbishop Chaput. “His stated intention requires a strong and consistent response from Church leaders and faithful.”
Chaput indicated in his article “that publicly denying Communion to public officials is not always wise or the best pastoral course.”
“I believed then, and believe now, that publicly denying Communion to public officials is not always wise or the best pastoral course,” wrote Archbishop Chaput.
“Doing so in a loud and forceful manner may cause more harm than good by inviting the official to bask in the media glow of victimhood,” he said. “What I opposed in 2004, however, was any seeming indifference to the issue, any hint in a national bishops’ statement or policy that would give bishops permission to turn their heads away from the gravity of a very serious issue. At the time, fortunately, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith resolved any confusion about correct practice in these matters with its July 2004 memorandum to then-Cardinal McCarrick, Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles.
“It includes the following passage:
5. Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.
6. When “these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible,” and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, “the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it” (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Declaration “Holy Communion and Divorced, Civilly Remarried Catholics” , nos. 3-4). This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.
“Public figures who identify as “Catholic” give scandal to the faithful when receiving Communion by creating the impression that the moral laws of the Church are optional,” said Archbishop Chaput. “And bishops give similar scandal by not speaking up publicly about the issue and danger of sacrilege.
“Thus,” he said, “it’s also worth revisiting the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the evil—and the grave damage—of scandal:
2284. Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor's tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.
2286. Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion. Therefore, they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice, or to “social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible.” This is also true of business leaders who make rules encouraging fraud, teachers who provoke their children to anger, or manipulators of public opinion who turn it away from moral values.