Thursday, September 27, 2012
Another Archbishop Speaks Up
On Tuesday Newark Archbishop John J. Myers released a pastoral letter calling on Catholics, especially Catholic politicians, who do not accept the teaching of the Church on marriage, to “in all honesty and humility refrain from receiving Holy Communion.” The Archbishop said that “to continue to receive Holy Communion while so dissenting would be objectively dishonest.”
Woo hoo! Another archbishop speaking and teaching the truth, and publishing a 16-page pastoral letter to boot! Not only that, he notes that his letter is meant to help the faithful form their consciences. I just like that kind of language!
If this kind of thing keeps up, we might end up with an actual, real “renewal” of the faith, or even a “new evangelization”! We might end up with a “year of faith” where the truths of the faith are actually taught and talked about and (dare I hope?!) put into practice!
Dr. Ed Peters at In the Light of the Law provides a short canonical commentary focusing on one paragraph of Archbishop Myers’ pastoral letter. He says that “Myers is also a lawyer and, even in a pastoral statement, he writes with the care (though without most of the technical trappings) that one expects from a good canonist.” Dr. Peters also notes that the letter is “aimed more at conversion than compliance”, and that
…Myers has issued, in effect, a pastoral admonishment to observe Canon 916 of the Code of Canon Law. Canon 916 directs would-be recipients of holy Communion who are not in interior communion with the Church to refrain from receiving holy Communion…
Often we hear about Canon 915 with regard to refusing Holy Communion to “Catholic” politicians who are at odds with Church teaching. Peters says that Canon 915 applies to ministers, not recipients of Communion; Archbishop Myers is “reminding Catholics that responsibility for worthy participation in the holy Communion begins with individual Catholics”.
Hopefully, people will read Myers’ letter with the same degree of care with which he wrote it and will recognize the spiritual seriousness of dissenting from Church teaching on the nature of marriage, leading them in turn to avoid actions that would make them ineligible for holy Communion.
Now that we have some bishops speaking up and teaching the Truths of the Church, we just need the somewhat-less-than-faithful to pay attention. That, I think, will take some time. I’ve talked to enough “liberal” and “progressive” Catholics to know that many of them have no desire to come to conversion. They have misconceptions about what it means to “follow one’s conscience” and seem not to even know what “forming” it might entail.
But at least we are all beginning to hear some things that will contribute to our salvation.