Wednesday, July 14, 2021

President Biden, Holy Communion, and the Catholic Civil War

 From TFP:

On June 18, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) voted 168 to 55 to draft a document outlining conditions for the proper reception of Holy Communion for Catholics. The Doctrine Committee of the Bishops Conference will write and submit it for approval at the bishops’ November gathering.

Although his name was not mentioned anywhere, the vote was clearly a response to President Biden. Indeed, some form of confrontation was inevitable. The country has never had a president who makes his Catholicism such a big part of his identity. The president not only mentions his faith often but attends Mass and receives Holy Communion. At the same time, he publicly and obstinately rejects Catholic moral teaching on procured abortion, homosexual “marriage” and transgenderism.

The bishops’ vote was widely reported around the world. Most of the coverage tried to portray it as a political confrontation. The bishops, some said, were trying to “weaponize” the Eucharist to score cheap political points against President Biden and the Democrats. (Read more.)


From First Things:

What is the pope’s “job,” so to speak? Vatican II, following Vatican I, teaches that he is the “permanent and visible source and foundation of unity of faith and communion” (Lumen gentium, No. 18). It is Peter’s profession of Jesus as the “Christ, the son of the living God” that spurs the Lord to make him the rock of the Church. The pope is charged above all with keeping the Church united in faith.  

The papal ministry, moreover, is literally conservative. Vatican I, often regarded as ultramontanist by many of its supporters and detractors alike, sharply circumscribes papal teaching authority: “For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles.” The pope, accordingly, is not an absolute monarch who can do as he pleases or a Mormon president who can receive new revelation that may even reverse previous teaching; he is strictly bound by obedience to the apostolic faith that he has received.

But isn’t such a conception of the papacy stifling and negative, dooming the Church to stasis? Didn’t Pope St. John XXIII memorably say, in his opening address at Vatican II, that “at the present time, the spouse of Christ prefers to use the medicine of mercy rather than the weapons of severity”? And didn’t Vatican II adopt a rhetorical style—there’s that word again—of consensus, invitation, and encouragement? Didn’t it eschew, quite unlike preceding ecumenical councils, anathemas and condemnations?

Pope John was right to say that the Church “meets today's needs by explaining the validity of her doctrine more fully rather than by condemning.” More questionable is his claim that “new-born errors often vanish as quickly as a mist dispelled by the sun....Not that there are no false doctrines, opinions, or dangers to be avoided and dispersed; but all these things so openly conflict with the right norms of honesty and have borne such lethal fruits that today people by themselves seem to begin to condemn them.” 

The history of recent centuries shows, though, that errors often don’t simply “vanish.” They can be persistent and destructive. They must sometimes be unearthed, resisted, and countered. The LGBT movement is triumphant among Western cultural, economic, educational, media, and political elites. We are losing our sense of what it means to be human, to be created as male and female. It is likewise dangerous to envision God as, in Fr. Donald Haggerty’s words, “an avuncular figure instead of a true father, winking a blind eye at the misfortune of grave transgressions.” (Read more.)


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