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A Necessary Divisiveness

Joseph B. Sheppard

Recently, several Bishops of the post-Vatican II Church have warned their flocks not to receive the Holy Eucharist if they hold pro-abortion views and support politicians sustaining such views. In particular, we have the good examples of Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, Colorado and Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, Florida to admire in this regard. These Bishops are practicing true charity, with the salvation of all souls their primary concern.

Bishop Sheridan also has included in his recent pastoral letter (May 1, 2004) the support of euthanasia, so-called “same-sex marriage” and stem cell research using fetal tissue from aborted fetuses as reasons for not receiving the Sacrament of Communion.

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Bishop Wenski compared pro-abortion Catholics to Pilate, who tried to wash his hands of his guilt
Bishop Wenski points out the necessary triumph of Church over State in the glorious martyrdom of St. Thomas More. He also compares “pro-abortion Catholics” to Pontius Pilate when they state that they are personally opposed to abortion but do not wish to impose their beliefs on others. While “we cannot excuse his cowardice,” Bishop Wenski nonetheless points out that Pontius Pilate was not claiming to be Christian and demanding Communion. If Pilate had in fact done so, the Apostles would not have admitted him to the table until after he had repented and reconciled himself to God and the Church. (See Letter of Bishop Thomas Wenski, Coadjutor Bishop of Orlando )

It would seem that many other Bishops favor being cautious on the side of error when it comes to refusing “pro-abortion Catholics” the Body and Blood of Our Lord. Certainly, Cardinals Mahony and McCarrick fall into this camp. Such individuals favor “education over sanctions” and giving the “benefit of the doubt” to those favoring the slaughter of the innocent. Such “shepherds” avoid “divisiveness” among the people at any cost. Such sentiments are paraded as “charity,” but are in fact its opposite.

It is also interesting to point out that Bishops Sheridan and Wenski remind members of their Dioceses of the need for the Sacrament of Penance to make them worthy to receive Communion (if they have supported abortion, for instance). Meanwhile, Cardinal Mahoney allows “pro-abortion Catholics,” like former Gov. Gray Davis and current Gov. Arnold Schwarznegger, to receive Communion, and makes no mention of the need for Confession. One wonders when these politicians, and others, last went to Confession. What reason would a “pro-abortion” Catholic have for going to Confession? And yet how could someone with an unconfessed mortal sin receive Communion worthily?

His Excellency Bishop Sheridan has of course come under fire from the liberal press. In addition, he finds himself at odds with those who consider themselves part of his Diocese. It seems that some calling themselves Catholic feel they should be able to support views opposed to the Church’s teaching and still receive Communion. One such person, whom I will not dignify with a name, has written an “open letter” to Bishop Sheridan, referring to the Bishop’s pastoral letter with such predictable terms as “McCarthyism,” “narrow-mindedness,” and “divisiveness. ” Further, several in the area announced plans to withhold funds from the Diocese in an absurd ‘wealth equals truth’ campaign. It is encouraging to note that a diocesan spokesman rnoted that “the Church doesn’t exist because of money,” and that many have increased their contributions because of the Bishop’s letter (See “Catholics vote with wallets on bishop’s Communion ban” The Denver Post, May 19, 2004).

In one sense, the publicity over the so-called “pro-abortion Catholics” is good. The battle lines are becoming more clearly defined each day. The wolves in sheep’s clothing are being exposed, both within and without the Church. Whether the line is being drawn between the Bishops in the Church or the laity (those who favor the State over the Church and vice versa), a healthy divisiveness is being established for all to see. It is a divisiveness that has always existed, but it has often not been acknowledged, that between good and evil.

Posted May 28, 2004

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