Report: Pro-gay UK Catholic MP ‘feels unable’ to receive Communion after bishop’s remarks
PORTSMOUTH, UK, April 1, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An openly gay Catholic MP who voted for same-sex “marriage” in Britain has said he "feels unable," in the words of The Telegraph, to receive Communion after his local bishop said that those who vote for legislation that is contrary to Church teaching on marriage and family make themselves unworthy to receive Holy Communion.
Conservative MP Conors Burns called Portsmouth Bishop Philip Egan’s remarks a “tragedy.”
“I have been a practising Catholic and communicant within the diocese of Portsmouth since I arrived at Southampton university in 1991 before anyone in Portsmouth Diocese had ever heard of Philip Egan,” Burns told The Telegraph.
He voted for the same-sex “marriage” legislation that came into effect last month, even though he had voiced prior reservations to redefining marriage.
“If the arrival of this bishop means that I can no longer be a practising Catholic within the diocese, that is a tragedy,” he told The Tablet last week.
Burns co-chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Britain’s relations with the Holy See and is considered to be one of the country’s most senior Roman Catholic MPs.
Despite his high ranking, Burns appears to have missed his bishop’s main message.
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Egan made it clear in a video interview last month with LifeSiteNews that denying Holy Communion — which Catholics believe to be the body of Jesus Christ —to Catholic politicians not believing and practicing the faith is not a punitive measure, but “always an act of mercy.”
It is done to “encourage someone to come back to seek communion with the Lord with the truth and say I’m sorry I got lost,” he said. It is done “with the hope and prayer that that person can be wooed back into full communion with the Church.”
Canon 915 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law states that those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”
However, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has responded to Egan’s remarks by assuring Catholic politicians that Canon 915 will not be enforced. The bishops’ head of parliamentary relations, Greg Pope, has written to Catholic MPs that Communion will not be denied to those who supported gay “marriage,” reported The Telegraph.
American Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the Vatican’s highest court, known as the Apostolic Signatura, has strongly advocated the use of canon 915 in the case of Catholic politicians who publicly support abortion and same-sex “marriage.”
In a recent interview published exclusively in English by LifeSiteNews, Burke said denying these politicians Communion is a “prime act of pastoral charity,” since it helps the person in question to “avoid sacrilege and safeguard[s] the other faithful from scandal.”
In justifying his vote for same-sex “marriage,” Burns has pointed to Pope Francis, despite the pope’s firm insistence on the need to uphold marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
“I think it is a great pity, indeed a tragedy, that this bishop appears not to have noticed that we have a new gentle shepherd preaching a Christ-like message of inclusivity, love, tolerance and forgiveness,” said Burns in an earlier interview with The Tablet. “I look to the guidance of the Holy Father Pope Francis.”
Burns is expected to raise the Communion issue with Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, reported The Telegraph.