TORONTO, June 6, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Commenting on the controversial topic of reception of Communion by pro-abortion Catholic politicians, George Weigel told LifeSiteNews, that the heart of the issue is the integrity of the Sacraments, rather than concerns about turning the Communion rail into a political brawl.
In the interview with LifeSiteNews co-founder Steve Jalsevac, Weigel spoke of the New Evangelization, or “Evangelical Catholicism,” which he described as “the self-understanding of the Catholic Church that has emerged over a century-long process of Catholic reform culminating in the Second Vatican Council as authoritatively interpreted by John Paul II and Benedict XVI.”
“The Church has come to understand itself as a communion of disciples in mission, and certainly a central part of that mission is a defense of the dignity of the human person from conception until natural death,” he said.
During the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – who was to become Pope Benedict XVI – intervened into a debate among the U.S. bishops on the issue of Communion for pro-abortion Catholic politicians. The then-Cardinal said in his letter titled “Worthiness to receive Holy Communion,” that a Catholic politician who would vote for “permissive abortion and euthanasia laws” after being duly instructed and warned, “must” be denied Communion.
Expressing his views on the matter, Weigel said, “Those who deny that truth of the dignity of the human person are in a defective state of communion with the Catholic Church, and therefore it’s a matter of their own integrity not to present themselves for Holy Communion, which is a statement, publically, that ‘I am in full communion with the Catholic Church’.”
Citing ‘not wishing to use Communion as a weapon,’ or avoiding ‘politics at the altar rail’, several prominent US bishops have refused to deny Communion even to radically pro-abortion Catholic politicians such as Nancy Pelosi and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
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In Weigel’s opinion however, “This is not a question of turning the Communion rail, or the distribution of Holy Communion into a political brawl. It’s a question of the integrity of the individual, presenting himself or herself for Holy Communion if they are in a defective state of communion with the Church.”
But, for Weigel, it’s not only a question of the politician being true to himself. “It’s a question of the integrity of the Sacraments, and because the Sacraments are so central to the building up of a communion of disciples in mission, in evangelical Catholicism, then it really is the responsibility of local bishops to make sure that the integrity of the Sacraments is honored in their dioceses,” he said.
The issue may once again come to a head among the world’s bishops under Pope Francis.
In 2007 then-Cardinal Bergoglio presented the Aprecida document on behalf of the bishops of Latin America. In one section that has received a great deal of attention, the document made a very clear statement regarding the consequences of supporting abortion – disallowing holy communion for anyone who facilitates an abortion, including politicians.
The text states in paragraph 436 that “we should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence’, that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.”
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In March of this year, Pope Francis urged the bishops of Argentina to govern the Church with that same document.
See Part 1 Published yesterday:
VIDEO Exclusive: ‘Pope Francis is a genuine Christian radical,’ says George Weigel