Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt - Diocese of Greensburg, PA

. . . An established pattern of voting in favor of abortion legislation and an established pattern of public rejection of a core teaching of the Church amount to being a person who is engaged in public cooperation with a grave moral evil. It means, furthermore, also having separated oneself in a fundamental way from the Catholic Church because one is no longer sharing the covenant of core beliefs and values which identify a person as Catholic.

Any public official who says, "I can vote for abortion and still be a Catholic in good standing," is being intellectually condescending to every Catholic by making himself or herself the sole judge of what "Catholic" means. For a public official or a person campaigning for public office to say, "I can be in favor of abortion and still be a good Catholic," is asking us to believe that his or her position is just as valid as the position of the Catholic Church, which is diametrically opposed to it. This must be viewed as intellectual sleight of hand! This is also demeaning to the intelligence of any informed Catholic. When such candidates or public officials renew publicly and in church, during the Easter season, their baptismal vows, by affirming that they "believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church …," then such a declaration, in the minds of very many, is bearing false witness to the Catholic faith. . . .

A public pattern of cooperation in a grave evil, which affects the lives of millions of people, and a public pattern of rejection of a core doctrinal holding of the Catholic Church, have a direct bearing on one's proper dispositions for receiving Holy Communion. A pattern of public cooperation in grave evil inevitably calls into extreme question one's worthiness to receive Holy Communion. To do so nonetheless, as Saint Paul says, profanes the Body and Blood of Christ (1 Cor. 11:27). A pattern of public rejection of a core doctrinal holding of the Catholic Church separates one in a fundamental way from the communion of faith which is the Catholic Church. What sense then does receiving the effective sign of that oneness in a communion of faith, which is the Eucharist, have in such a situation? None, because it is a contradiction in terms. The Eucharist is aptly called Holy Communion because, of its nature, it reflects a communion or unity of belief on the part of those receiving it. Here the words of the second-century martyr Saint Justin are appropriate: "No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ." The reception of the Eucharist by those who enable grave evil and publicly support it is offensive to every committed Catholic in the Church because such individuals have proven that they have repudiated what we are because of what they do. To receive Holy Communion under these circumstances is not only offensive to committed Catholics, but it is also offensive to pro-life Catholic public officials who often risk their public careers to fight for the pro-life cause. It is also offensive to those Catholic public officials who voluntarily refrain from receiving the Eucharist because of their recognition of their compromised status. . . .

Source: Pastoral Letter given by The Most Reverend Lawrence E. Brandt, JCD, PhD
Bishop of Greensburg
Given at the Chancery, August 10, 2004.