More Evangelium Vitae + More on Speaker Pelosi’s Holy Communions

JP II The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae) Chapter 3, Part 1

Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco wrote to his priests last week, to let them know that he was prohibiting Nancy Pelosi from receiving Holy Communion. The archbishop insisted that his priests comply. He noted that any priest who “administers a sacrament to those who are prohibited from receiving it” will be punished with a suspension.

Apparently, an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion in Washington, D.C. did not get the memo. Pelosi received Holy Communion on Sunday.

In his letter to the priests of his archdiocese, Cordileone claims that he has not imposed a penalty on Speaker Pelosi. Rather, he has merely “declared a fact.”

What fact?

That Pelosi “is obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin.”

According to the Code of Canon Law, canon # 915, if you obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, you “are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” Just like people who have been formally excommunicated.

Cordileone wrote, in his Notification to Speaker Pelosi, that “a Catholic legislator who supports procured abortion, after knowing the teaching of the Church, commits manifestly grave sin.” The archbishop apparently has concluded that it is a fact beyond dispute that Pelosi falls into this category.

Doesn’t Pelosi have the right to dispute this? Doesn’t everyone deserve due process of law?

On what basis has Cordileone determined that it is his prerogative to declare this fact, without a properly legal procedure? The Code of Canon Law does not itself indicate anywhere that a diocesan bishop has this particular prerogative.

To the contrary, Canon 915, which considers withholding Commuion from people, refers first to the excommunicated and the interdicted–who only become such after a proper legal process. Then the canon refers to “others” who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin. This last category, it would seem, would fall to all ministers of Holy Communion to identify, not just diocesan bishops.

Any minister of Communion might have to withhold the sacrament from someone in a given instance, because it would scandalize everyone present if the person received. But this would not represent a “diocesan policy” announced on the website and through media interviews (as Cordileone has done). Rather, such circumstances would obtain only in a particular parish or chapel, and only the people there would know the facts.

I imagine that, if she had a forum in which to defend herself before Archbishop Cordileone, Speaker Pelosi would make a distinction between support for procured abortion and support for the legality of procured abortion.

Abortion–at least in the early stages of pregnancy–remains legal in the US. As of now, there’s nothing any legislator can really do about that. The final Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs case might change the state of affairs. But even if the states become free to outlaw abortion, it remains a political impossibility, in the short run, that California would do so.

So what exactly is Speaker Pelosi supposed to do or say to resolve the situation that Archbishop Cordileone has created with his public Notifcation? If the archbishop had followed due process, then perhaps that means of satisfaction might have been clarified into something that Speaker Pelosi could actually do.

If Cordileone really cared primarily about saving Pelosi’s soul, as he says he does, then wouldn’t he have issued his Notification only after following a genuine legal process, with the right to self-defense afforded to the accused? And wouldn’t he issue his Notification in conjuction with the Archbishop of Washington, where Pelosi also attends Mass regularly?

Now, as I mentioned last time, I think Mrs. Pelosi should indeed fear the divine Judge. He will conduct a thoroughly fair inquiry. He wil present her with all the evidence that His all-knowing Mind perceives. That’s more than enough to terrify me, and I never voted in favor of using taxpayer money to pay abortionists.

But I, too, have had my practice of the Catholic faith thoroughly messed-up by the arbitrary decrees of a self-righteous autocrat who did not follow due process of law. So I relate to that part.

None of us mortals has the right to appoint ourselves prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner–all at the same time. Not even the almighty bishops.

The irony is: Archbishop Cordileone appears to be pursuing a public agenda here, with Nancy Pelosi as a kind of prop. The agenda in this case is, in fact, so good, so urgent–the Gospel of Life is so compelling and beautiful, all by itself–that it hardly needs an partisan political hack like Nancy Pelosi for a prop.

The Gospel of Life, Chap. 2, Pt. 3

Tackles the question of why abortion and euthanasia are not mentioned in the Bible. Also, the relationship of Thou Shalt Not Kill to the other commandments, and to the New Law.

[Click HERE for full podcast website.]

JP II The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae) Chapter 2, Part 3

Compendium of Posts for the End of Roe v. Wade

Roe v Wade court
The Roe v. Wade court

Two years ago tomorrow, Bishop Knestout issued a decree prohibiting me from preaching and celebrating the sacraments publicly.

He did this to punish me for blowing the whistle on the long-term cover-up of Theodore McCarrick’s crimes. Shortly before then, I had given a homily about the Gospel of Life, the end of Roe v. Wade, and the coronavirus.

Bishop Knestout’s decree prohibiting my giving sermons remains in effect, and I obey it.

As Providence would have it, though, I actually gave a good number of sermons about the end of Roe v. Wade, prior to May 5, 2020.

I share the links with you, dear reader, with some quoted passages. Perhaps you will find the texts helpful now.

1. July 4, 2018: 45-Year Dream Come True.

That Independence-Day Sunday, I anticipated the event that appears to be imminent now, the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

Couple quotes:

…Now, suddenly, in the summer of 2018, we find ourselves at a point in our history when we can reasonably hope that this will change. With a new justice, the Supreme Court likely will abandon its claim to govern the country when it comes to abortion…

We Catholics are pro-life. As Pope St. John Paul II explained to us, we simply cannot accept the idea of elective abortion. Accepting it would mean betraying the most central realities of our Christian faith.

That said, we also love, and sympathize with, all mothers who find themselves in situations which might tempt them to seek abortions. The culture of death, the throwaway culture—it poisons many minds, with its hopeless, dark fear of the future. We Catholic Americans fight the culture of death in our country not with anger and judgment, but with love.

Roe v. Wade accorded a “right” to abortion that does not exist. The irony is: this actually short-changed pregnant women of the rights they do, in fact, possess.

Every pregnant woman has the right to love and support, without being judged. Every pregnant woman has the right to the best healthcare available for her and her baby. Every pregnant woman deserves our friendship, our advocacy, our help.

…We know that plenty of people fear what will happen when an abortion case reaches the Supreme Court with a pro-life majority and the whole legal situation changes.

Let’s sympathize with that fear. Let’s acknowledge that something has to fill the vacuum that Roe v. Wade will no longer fill. Something has to occupy the psychological space that the abortion industry has occupied in these last, lawless 45 years.

us_supreme_courtLet’s pledge ourselves: We American Catholics will fill that space with our Christian love. When the tropical storm that is Roe v. Wade finally blows out to sea, away from these shores, and the sun comes back out again: We will stand there with acceptance, support, and tender loving care for every pregnant woman.

2. May 17, 2019: Pro-Life Turning Point

We can hardly hope that the Supreme Court would ever turn Roe v. Wade completely on its head and make abortion illegal in all fifty states. Rather, it seems like we’re headed towards: red-state/blue-state regional variations in abortion law.

Which means, of course, that here in purple Virginia we will have the pro-life fight of a lifetime on our hands…

Do we want to ‘impose our religion’ on others? Well, did the slavery abolitionists of two centuries ago intend to ‘impose their religion?’ Plenty of people said that they did, including US President and native Virginian John Tyler…

Maybe some people call themselves ‘pro-life’ out of sexism or prudishness. If so, that doesn’t mean that innocent and defenseless unborn children should face death with no legal protection, just because some of their advocates have imperfect motives.

No one thinks that the slaves in the South should have stayed slaves because some northern abolitionists were hypocrites, or because Abraham Lincoln himself had confused, and not altogether humane, ideas about blacks.

Why are we pro-life? Do we have a ‘religious conviction’ that life begins at conception? Actually, we have airtight scientific evidence that it does.

Whatever happens in the statehouses and courts, we have a clear mission. Serenely to love every human being. We do that out of religious conviction. That’s our way of ‘imposing’ our religion—loving our neighbors selflessly, unconditionally, and generously.

3. June 22, 2018: The Place Where Abortion is Illegal.

This is actually not a sermon but an analysis of a magazine article about “accompanying” pregnant women. Quotes:

…Kaveny gets it wonderfully right here. The problem of procured abortion is not, ultimately, a metaphysical matter. We have to focus solely on the simple moral question. Can it be right to choose to have an abortion?

…To countenance the idea that abortion could be the right thing to do–that would involve a failure of charity towards both baby and mother. Just like refusing to sympathize with the burdens faced by the mother would involve a failure of charity towards both of them…

Fleetwood Mac RumoursI have argued for most of my life that we do not need faith in order to know that abortion is wrong, since sonograms clearly show us that is is.

But, on the other hand, it is faith that protects us from the hubris that justifies abortion, based on uncertain predictions about the future. Every line of thinking that leads to the idea that abortion could be the right thing to do–all of them start with fear of the future. From that fear of the future comes the compulsive attempt to control it, through violence.

4. January 22, 2018 (45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade): Whose Future Is It?

In this sermon, I tried to address pro-choice thinking and offer a solution. Plus: An essay responding to Stevie Nick’s reflections on her 1979 abortion.

5. December 25, 2016: Christmas, Pro-Life Feastday.

Don’t accuse me of bringing politics into Christmas Eve. Our Catholic adherence to the Gospel of Life runs much deeper than any political affiliations we have. But, of course, being pro-life has political implications. We rejoice in the victories won this past Election Day by candidates with a pro-life message.

nativityThese victories mean that we have to pray all the harder and remain all the more vigilant for opportunities to participate in building up the culture of life. May the year to come see us living out in practice, day in and day out, the spiritual worship that we take part in at Christmas, beside the holy manger of the newborn Son of God…

We find ourselves next to the newborn babe in the manger, we clearly perceive that violence has no place here, in this sublime mystery of conception, pregnancy, and birth. As the prophet Isaiah put it, declaring the Gospel of Life: “Every boot that tramped in battle, every cloak rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for flames, because the Prince of Peace has a vast dominion, which is forever peaceful.” The cruel violence of abortion is completely foreign to the peace of God’s kingdom. Visiting Bethlehem spiritually cements this truth into our minds.

6. March 30, 2016: Some Pro-Life Clarity?

This is an essay, not a sermon. It’s about appropriate criminal penalties for abortion.

7. January 28, 2013: My Marching Apologia

…The babies themselves are in the hands of God. But the persons who are morally responsible for their deaths find themselves in an untenable state. The Pro-Life Movement holds that we find ourselves in this untenable state as a nation.

With tears, we lament this collective darkness of soul. We insist that purification and enlightenment can and must be a legitimate object of political activism. We reject the abortion-tolerating status quo as foreign to human decency…

8. August 15, 2008 (the day this blog started): Logic and Voting Pro-Life

Lucca

Outside the ancient Tuscan city of Lucca, you can visit the tomb of St. Gemma Calgani, d. 1903.

Inside the 16th century walls… the basilica holding the tomb of Lucca’s founding bishop, an Irishman, Saint Frediano. Also a stunning medieval baptismal font.

This basilica also holds the tomb of sweet St. Zita.

The cathedral (duomo) of Lucca reminds me of Notre Dame.

The cathedral is consecrated to the memory of St. Martin of Tours.

St. Regolo rests here.

And they have a Christ-the-King crucifix that they say bears the likeness of the Holy Face veil, which would make it the most accurate sculpture of the Lord’s face.

Saints on the Arno

St. John Chrysostom died 1614 years ago tomorrow. They have a relic of his earthly remains in the Duomo in Florence.

Many saints rest here, in whole or in part, in Florence.

St. Barnabas…

Pope St. Mark (with other martyrs)…

St. Cesonio, martyr…

And hundreds more.

They keep many of the relics in museums, and present the reliquaries as works of art. With the relics in them. Seems disrespectful to me.

But I stopped and prayed anyway, and it didn’t seem totally out of place. Most of the museums of Florence are attached to churches and once were monasteries.

Don’t visit the centro historico of Florence to pray without a few Euros in your pocket; it is not a town where you can just step into a church and pray for free.

…In Pisa, in addition to the patron Saint Raniero, the Duomo holds Blessed Guido della Gherardesca.

The church of St. Martin holds St. Bona di Pisa.

And the town memorializes Blessed Guiseppe Toniolo with his own little piazza.

The Oil of the Wise Virgins

William_Blake_-_The_Parable_of_the_Wise_and_Foolish_Virgins

Today at Holy Mass, we read the Parable of the Ten Virgins. They await the bridegroom’s arrival, deep into the night. Then, behold, he comes! But only five of the young ladies have an extra flask of oil, to keep their torches burning.

Here’s a little compendium of links to the homilies I have given about the parable, over the years.

The Ten Virgins at Super Bowl XXII (2020)

The Wise Virgins’ Oil (2018)

The Wise Virgins’ Parable (2017)

The Mass is the Oil (2017) I remember giving this one in the basement social hall at St. Francis, while the workers were laying the new hardwood floor in the church above us.

Where is Time Headed (2012)

In Here, Lord? (2011)

Hamlet + Ten Virgins (2011)

If the necessary oil represents a completed manuscript of Ordained by a Predator, sent to a potential publisher, then yours truly is good. Thank you for praying. 🙂 It’s all in the Lord’s hands now.

 

 

Hoyas Going to the Finals + Completion of Psychological Analogy

Can’t remember the last time the Georgetown Hoyas went to the Big East tournament Finals. And it has come just in time for Coach Ewing’s fourth anniversary at the helm.

Patrick Ewing new Hoyas coach

McCarrick reigned over Seton Hall for almost two decades. They offered him an apartment there, for his retirement. Makes our semi-final victory over the Pirates all the sweeter.

The tears in my eyes take me back to February, 1981, when the best high-school basketball player in the country announced to a room full of Boston reporters that he would go to Georgetown the following fall. (He was super-nervous and had his parents and coach standing next to him.)

My humble little northwest-Washington corner of the world became the center of basketball greatness. In the years Ewing played at Georgetown, the Hoyas always went to the Big East Finals, not to mention the NCAA Final Four.

It is practically impossible for young people now to imagine how vicious the racism was that young Patrick Ewing had to face at away games. Opposing-team fans regularly held up signs that read: “Pat Ewing–the missing link!”

Ewing bore it all patiently and quietly. He answered with blocked shots, dunks, and wins.

In chapter 19, of Book IV of the SCG, St. Thomas completes the “psychological analogy” for the Holy Trinity and explains how we can understand the “spiration” of the Holy Spirit.

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 19

Keeping the Feasts in 2021

liturgical-cycle

This Sunday we commemorate the Lord Jesus going into the water of the Jordan River for baptism. I think many of us miss blessing ourselves with Holy Water when we enter and exit the church. The little stoups remain empty, to prevent spreading any germs. Understandable. But we miss it. [Spanish]

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord ends Epiphanytide. In the parishes here in Rocky Mount and Martinsville, we had the Epiphany custom of solemnly announcing the important dates of the liturgical year to come.

On the 17th day of February will fall Ash Wednesday… On the 4th day of April, you will celebrate Easter day… On the 16th day of May will be the Ascension… On the 23rd day of May, the feast of Pentecost. On the 6th day of June, the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. On the 28th day of November, the First Sunday of the Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Last year, on Epiphany Sunday 2020, we had the solemn announcement of the dates. Little did we know what lay in store. This time last year, we had no idea what a wild ride the liturgical year of 2020 would become.

I mentioned early last year that I hope one day to climb the tallest mountain in the continental U.S., Mount Whitney. If you paid close attention to my little videos last May and June, you saw a poster of Mount Whitney that I had on my wall behind me. Good Lord willing, I will make the ascent this coming August.

Mt Whitney sunrise
Mount Whitney at sunrise

Last February I traveled out to the Sierra Nevadas to size Mount Whitney up, so to speak–to get a feel for what I would need to do, to get to the top. While I was out in that area, I also visited the Grand Canyon.

As I gazed out over the Grand Canyon on February 20, 2020, a group of rafters 5,000 feet below me had just set out for a month-long trip through the bottom of the canyon, along the Colorado River. There’s no cellphone service down there, so those rafters had no contact with the world outside the canyon for a whole month. That was the idea—to get away, to get “off-grid.”

The rest of us spent that month learning about the virus that had started in Wuhan, China. We looked on in disbelief as the whole nation of Italy shut down. Then our own United States shut down. The rafters emerged from the Grand Canyon, and back into contact with the world, on the very day that the bishops here in the U.S. shut down public Masses until further notice, in the middle of last March. I think we can imagine how stunning it must have been for them. They left a normal world, and returned to… well… highly abnormal.

Anyway, for the second half of Lent last year, and for most of the Easter season, we only had Mass via facebook live. We had Palm Sunday and Holy Week via smart phone, with contactless drive-thru palm pickup. Then the parishes here partially re-opened on Ascension day. In the meantime, I had gotten removed as pastor and suspended from ministry.

When we start the year by doing the solemn announcement of the dates of the big feast days, I think it gives us a sense of steadiness, stability. We start the year by remembering that Christ’s Church will make Her way through the annual cycle again, respecting the rhythm of the seasons as we always do. Hopefully we will grow a little closer to God this year. Steady progress toward heaven. That’s how gardens grow. Maybe it seems boring on the surface. But ultimately, it’s very beautiful.

This past liturgical year involved just about everything except steadiness and stability. The disturbances in parish life have wounded us all. We should not underestimate how deeply they have wounded us. Trauma in your spiritual life is the worst kind of trauma, and takes the longest to heal. We need to go easy on ourselves.

And we need to try to hold onto whatever liturgical steadiness we can get our hands on. Marking our calendars for the big holy days of 2021—to do that, after the year we have had—it takes on a whole new significance, I think. The life of Jesus Christ’s grace will continue. We will carry on. This past year saw a painful number of business closures, and an even-more-painful number of human deaths. But not Christianity. 2020 did not kill our faith.

The trauma during the holy days of 2020 has made keeping the holy days in 2021 more urgent. And it will make keeping them more sweet. God remains with us. Jesus Christ, our Savior.