Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Monday, January 25, 2016

No Mass Today, Our Priests Are All In Jail

Do the Bishops have the power to stop abortion, or don't they? Often I have tried to express the answer to that question in a more sublime fashion but no more concrete a rejoinder can be offered than the following:
A friend of mine sent me the statement below which he said was posted yesterday as a comment on The Vortex. This, my friends, explains it all. How many bishops stand on the podium at the March for Life like politicians? One of the reasons we still have abortion is because our shepherds have never acted like they believe the baby is the same as the rest of us. If they did, they would have been leading the sit-ins to save the babies. And if they all ended up in jail; there would have been signs on the churches saying, "No Mass today, our priests are all in jail." How long do you think abortion would have lasted if every bishop had acted that way?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Deadly Landscape Of Abortion & Contraception In The West

Michael Voris is hammering away these days at some incredibly pertinent cultural icons in America. Be sure to check out all his recent videos. 
Contraception has a very dark history that many people are not aware of…during that time period there was a very big push among intellectuals and leaders to legalize contraception: twenties, nineteen thirties and contrary to what feminist would have us believe, that contraception was about freeing women, it had everything to do with population control and eugenics… 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Monday, January 18, 2016

Ontario Bishops Have Been Silent And Lacking In Leadership

That’s what Toronto Catholic blogger Lou Iacobelli contends in a very recent posting at Everyday for Life entitled The Laity Must Do Their Part But So Must The Shepherds. His article exposes the ongoing and very grave failings of Ontario’s Catholic Bishops that have resulted in the loss of “the soul of what Catholic schools are called to be.” His piece is deserving of a wider circulation and is reprinted with permission.

The Laity Must Do Their Part But So Must The Shepherds

by Lou Iacobelli

As reported by The Catholic Register, this week Cardinal Thomas Collins spoke at an event hosted by the Catholic teachers' union. He told those present that today we are living a culture that has reduced the person to an object. Toronto's archbishop stressed the importance of Catholic education in pushing back euthanasia and that faith must be counter cultural. Students need to be exposed to good writers like St. Thomas Aquinas, G. K. Chesterton and have knowledge of the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Students also need good Catholic teachers who are not afraid to live their faith and thus give an example to their pupils.

What Cardinal Collins said about Catholic education, student involvement in living their faith and teachers needing to provide Christian leadership are all true and good. But it's also true that shepherds have failed to lead. Pastors and shepherds have not strongly defended the faith. What can the laity do when the Catholic teachers' union defies Catholic teaching and the bishops do nothing? What can parents do when the government approves a radical sex curriculum that contradicts Catholic doctrine and the bishops instead of fully backing the faith make a point of defending the curriculum from criticism? What can Catholic teachers do when Catholic boards approve an "Equity Education" policy that is against the Catholic view of the person, human sexuality, family and marriage and the bishops refuse to speak up with once voice? So, Catholic leadership and responsibility run in both directions: the laity must do their part but so do the shepherds.

Take this recent example where Lynise Reedy, a teacher with the Toronto Catholic District School Board, takes 90 students from Dante Alighieri Academy to see Kinky Boots. The teachers felt that the show was perfect to teach her kids about issues such as diversity and acceptance. Her students agreed. The group even shared their enthusiasm for the show by posting a video on You Tube. We wonder if the parents signed permission forms to attend the performance and to post the student comments. Where's the Catholic leadership here at all levels? Parents should be asking a lot of questions. Here's the video:

My point is this: Had the bishops spoken out against the implementation of the Liberal's government Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy in "Catholic" schools, then there would have be a greater likelihood that 90 students would not have gone to see a performance that celebrates the life of a drag queen. Since the bishops have been silent and because of their lack of leadership the parishes have also been silent, we now have curriculum in "Catholic" schools that contradicts Catholic teaching.

I actually was a teacher at Dante Alighieri for five years. It saddens me to think that with so much to choose from in the arts to help inspire and enlighten students that this teacher sees the importance in taking them to watch Kinky Boots. The musical's gender bending "inclusive" ideology isn't Catholic, but that is not going to stop any teacher from going to these kinds of school excursions now that schools have approved Equity Education and Bill 13 is Ontario law.

What about taking students to see something with a redeeming and inspiring message like A Christmas Carol or Les MiserablesSound of MusicFiddler on the Roof, or something actually biblically-based like Godspell or Jesus Christ Superstar or Joseph and Technicolour Dream Coat. I suppose I'm asking for too much in this current climate of political correctness. However, in making compromises with the faith we have not lost funding for our "Catholic" schools, but we have lost the soul of what Catholic schools are called to be.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sister Helena Burns Presents Theology Of The Body

Yesterday I attended the second day session of this series taking place in Toronto. The presenter is Sister Helena Burns and in my opinion she is certainly a gifted and engaging communicator. You can get a little bit of background on Sister Helena and on the Theology of the Body here.

Sister Helena brings the teaching down to earth and takes considerable effort to lay the foundations for a proper understanding of Pope John Paul II's landmark teaching.
"It covers the history, background, worldview, and philosophy of Theology of the Body, concentrating on the big picture."
Sister Helena on Facebook.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Archbishop Prendergast Resign: Part 4 Why Torture Canon 915?

In the matter of the ongoing scandal involving “Catholic” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, I have insisted that Archbishop Prendergast step aside to make room for a worthy, obedient Bishop for Ottawa. At all costs the devil's stranglehold on Canada's "Catholic" Prime Ministers must be broken.

My detailed argument is made in digestible portions:

What follows is part 4 of my argument.
Yet another epistle denouncing the Archbishop of Canada’s capital city? Unfortunately, yes, as God is my witness (and my judge), I must say what needs to be said. I warn the reader that this is a lengthy posting: judge yourself accordingly but I will not be accused of a superficial critique in respect to deadly spiritual dangers taking root through the gross negligence of one who claims to represent Jesus Christ.

I make no pretense; this subject is not only an intense one for others but also for me, in addition to being laborious, and on occasion, quite draining.

I have no personal animus against this Bishop or any other, nor do I have any personal relationship with him or any grievance outside that which is outlined in the several postings of this blog. On the contrary, my heart is full of good will and love especially in regard to Priests and Bishops. Theirs is a high and weighty calling that wins for them either great reward or awful judgment. My hope and daily prayer for all Priests and Bishops is that they may be found faithful to God in the discharge of their duties and thus enjoy the fullness of God’s favour and His eternal rewards.

Critics take note: My argument is comprehensive and includes at least four lengthy postings. Do not expect me to respond to flippant criticisms. However I welcome constructive comments.
Canon Law and the Mission of the Church
What, in fact, is meant by “Canon law” in the context of the Catholic Church? Here’s the intro to the Wikipedia entry:

The canon law of the Catholic Church is the system of laws and legal principles made and enforced by the hierarchical authorities of the Church to regulate its external organization and government and to order and direct the activities of Catholics toward the mission of the Church.

Keep in mind that the mission of the Church is intimately connected to her supreme goal, as detailed in the final norm of the Code, Canon 1752: "...having before one's eyes the salvation of souls, which is always the supreme law of the Church."

Take note then, dear reader, that the following point is most crucial for the discussion at hand: The Canon Law of the Catholic Church exists for only one reason, i.e. to order the actions of her members so as to best accomplish her divine purpose, which is the salvation of mankind. Any and all other considerations may be regarded as important but are to be viewed as secondary.

Any Catholic who disobeys, denies, obfuscates, misrepresents, ignores or otherwise demeans canon law, particularly in the sphere of his/her realm of God given authority, is therefore guilty—to some degree—of jeopardizing the very plan of God for mankind, and ought to be held fully accountable for the consequences of those actions.

Given the extreme weight and consequence of the office of a Catholic Bishop, a failure to respect and adhere to Canon Law by a Bishop must be viewed as seriously problematic, all the more so when that failure subjects an entire nation to the machinations of a political son of Satan. Many of my more recent postings have made exactly this case in regards to our newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Ottawa shepherd, Archbishop Terrance Prendergast, who himself has discussed in numerous interviews the implications of Canon 915 in connection with Justin Trudeau’s stated views on abortion.
The Substance of Canon 915

Now we may graduate to the original question: “What is meant by the term “Canon 915”? Canon 915 is actually quite a brief and straightforward law which states:

Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.

[I have referred numerous times over many years in my postings to Canon 915. Click here for a listing of relevant posts and here for relevant tweets.]

1. Categories Singled Out by Canon 915. Reading Canon 915 above, we see three categories of Catholics disciplined under this law:

a)      Those who have been “excommunicated.” The Church formally declares the individual out of communion and publicly imposes the censure. This is a rare event.

b)      Those who have been “interdicted.” Again, the Church formally censures an individual or group in public fashion and prohibits them from taking part in certain stated activities or rites. This also happens rarely.

c)       Those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin.” This is the category which is pertinent to the case of Justin Trudeau (confirmed also by Archbishop Prendergast in media interviews) since Trudeau is under no formal censure by the Church, having been neither excommunicated as in a) above nor interdicted as in b) above. Although no formal declarations by the Catholic Church have been made against him, there is near unanimity that he qualifies as a Catholic “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin.” More clarification related to this charge will be forthcoming in a section that follows.

      2. Action to be Taken. According to Canon 915, Catholics who fall into either of the above three categories “are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” Note that this is an unequivocal statement instructing the minister of Holy Communion not to admit the particular sinner in question to Holy Communion.  The statement bars from Holy Communion those Catholics judged unworthy under a) or b) or c) above; in other words this canon forthrightly commands the denial of Holy Communion. Naturally in an ideal setting the pastor and parishioner would have cultivated a relationship over time that would be conducive for a frank discussion of the requirements of one’s Catholic stance in the public arena. Such discussion ought to lead to a productive conclusion whereby the individual conforms his/her behaviour to objective standards of the Catholic faith but failing that outcome the individual would be subject to the discipline of the canon until such time as a conversion of heart and due repentance was demonstrated. It is important now to note the following:

a) The canon does not appeal to the sinner to judge himself/herself before receiving Holy Communion. Other canons, most notably Canon 916, do in fact encourage the Catholic to an examination of conscience. Canon 915 IS NOT to be confused with Canon 916.

b) Canon 915 applies irrespective of any protests or objections on the part of the disciplined party. As long as the identified, objective state (“obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin”) persists, Holy Communion must be denied.

c) Historically, with respect to this discipline, “the minister of Holy Communion was held, under pain of mortal sin, to deny the sacraments to the unworthy.”

What’s a Minister of Holy Communion to do?

To summarize our findings on Canon 915 up to this point, it ought to be clear that any Catholic who is judged as “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin” must be denied the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ by the Minister of Holy Communion. Naturally every Minister of Holy Communion in a diocese is a representative of the Bishop so in a perfectly ordered system the Bishop would have the information required to make such determination and then pass the instruction on down the line, first to priests and then to those who minister the Sacrament to the faithful. However it must be pointed out that whether the order comes to the Minister of Holy Communion through the Priest or Bishop or whether it comes directly to the Minister of Holy Communion via Canon 915, “those…obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” The Sacrament must be protected and the sinner must be admonished. That is the purpose and the history behind Canon 915.

To put a fine point on this, if a Minister of Holy Communion who is familiar with Canon 915 (and I certainly hope they all are), were to find our new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the communion line, it would be unsurprising—if not expected—to find that the minister denied him Holy Communion. Such action would be entirely in keeping with the spirit and letter of Canon 915. In fact, wouldn’t the local Bishop especially want all Ministers of Holy Communion in his diocese to understand the simplicity, yet urgency, of Canon 915 and to teach them accordingly, for the sake of protecting the Holy Eucharist as well as signalling care for the soul of the sinner? I would go one step further and suggest that a wise and obedient Bishop would instruct his Ministers that, in unusual, perhaps rare, circumstances, it is incumbent on them to withhold the sacrament from any Catholic who they know of a certainty fulfils the terms of Canon 915, whether or not the Minister of Holy Communion has received a heads up warning beforehand from the Priest or the Bishop.

Let us consider one possible example of such a scenario. Suppose you are a Minister of Holy Communion in your parish. You are perhaps one of those few Catholics who know a fellow Catholic who has been officially excommunicated by the Catholic Church; let us say this excommunicated Catholic that you know is a longstanding and outspoken member of the Army of Mary in Quebec, a group excommunicated in 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI. This Catholic is visiting in your area and shows up at Mass and joins the communion line, coming your way to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. Your pastor has said nothing to you, neither has your Bishop but your Catholic spidey-sense is tingling and you know of a certainty Canon 915 is on the line. What do you do? Do you hold up the communion line while you run and make an emergency call to your Bishop? Hardly. You do that which is appropriate and that which is commanded: You deny Holy Communion under Canon 915.  

Now that wasn’t so difficult was it?  Likewise, if you are a Minister of Holy Communion and just after Mass has started the new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives unexpectedly, along with his entourage, to share in the celebration of Mass. At the appointed time the PM joins the communion line and once again your Catholic spidey-sense tingles. Many, many Catholics you know have been scandalized by Trudeau’s public and longstanding position on “a woman’s right to choose” death for her baby, and you know that not only has Trudeau claimed to be a “pro-choice” Catholic but he also supports sodomy, gender ideology and same-sex “marriage.” You also know that he stubbornly ramped up his rhetoric soon after becoming leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, defying the conscience rights of his own MP’s and demanding they all tow the party line on supporting abortion, and then persisted in the policy even after public rebuke by powerful prelates of the Church, some even questioning his Catholic bonafides.  How can you allow this devilish imposter to now share in the Cup of Christ? How can you hand over, like Pontius Pilate, your Lord Jesus Christ to His enemies? It would be sacrilege. It would send all the wrong signals not only to others, but to Trudeau himself. His soul would receive no rebuke and he would persist yet longer in his evil errors. What do you do? Do you hold up the communion line while you run and make an emergency call to your Bishop? Hardly. You do that which is appropriate and that which is commanded: You deny Holy Communion under Canon 915.
Obstinately Persevering In Manifest Grave Sin
The above scenario leads us to answer a crucial question: What precisely does it mean to judge a Catholic as “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin”? From an historical point of view, Canon 915, instituted in 1983, replaced the previous 1917 Code of Canon Law #855:

All those publicly unworthy are to be barred from the Eucharist, such as excommunicates, those interdicted, and those manifestly infamous, unless their penitence and emendation are shown and they have satisfied beforehand the public scandal [they caused].

We are dealing then with “publicly unworthy” individuals, Catholics who are known in the public realm and who, in some sense, are considered “unworthy” and who have not, up to that point, repented and “satisfied” the scandal they have caused. According to the dictionary, obstinate means “stubbornly adhering to an attitude, opinion, or course of action.” To persevere is “to persist in or remain constant to a purpose or idea’. Manifest means “clearly apparent to the sight or understanding; obvious”.

“Grave sin” is a modern expression of the older term “mortal sin,” which signifies serious matter requiring confession for forgiveness, as opposed to venial or minor sin.

A picture is emerging and now coming into focus: A Catholic easily recognized as a public figure and as one who stubbornly persists in what the Church calls serious sin(s) must be barred from Holy Communion.
How do Popes, Cardinals and Canon Law Experts Regard Canon 915?
What of the claim that many laws in the Church are commonly overlooked or disregarded in the context of our modern times? Church leaders, it is said, often have to make judgments of their own in complex circumstances of human affairs and politics and they do their best to take into account many factors. It is even said that Bishops have full latitude in such matters within their own diocesan limits and the proof is that the Vatican rarely, if ever, corrects them.

The simple answer to such arguments is that a Bishop promises obedience to Christ and to His Vicar on earth, the Pope. In fact, the Bishop is the embodiment of Christ in his diocese and he knows that Christ has given over all authority to His Church. Faithfulness to Christ is faithfulness to His Church. The Bishop is a servant to Christ and to His Church and the Church is the repository of the teachings and laws of Christ. The Bishop is not his own, he has been bought with a price and his duty is to follow, whether that be in respect of Sacred Scripture or the Tradition of the Church or her laws. Again, the supreme mission of the Church is the salvation of souls and every resource Christ offers to His Pastors to accomplish that mission flows from His Church. To disobey, disregard or ignore any element of that divine assistance would be a mark of infidelity to Christ.

The Bishop is primarily accountable to Christ and to God, not to the Pope or the Vatican, although he promises faithful obedience to the Successor of Peter. Yet he is answerable to Christ for his ministry. Examine now what the highest authorities of Christ’s Church and canon law experts have said about Canon 915, either directly or indirectly by insisting on the denial of Holy Communion.

I.            Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (subsequently Pope Benedict XVI): From his 2004 document entitled “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles” to the United States Bishops
5. Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist. 
6. When "these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible," and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, "the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it" (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Declaration "Holy Communion and Divorced, Civilly Remarried Catholics" [2002], nos. 3-4). This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.

II.            Pope St. John Paul II in his 2003 Encyclical Letter "Ecclesia de Eucharistia"

37. The judgment of one's state of grace obviously belongs only to the person involved, since it is a question of examining one's conscience. However, in cases of outward conduct which is seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm, the Church, in her pastoral concern for the good order of the community and out of respect for the sacrament, cannot fail to feel directly involved. The Code of Canon Law refers to this situation of a manifest lack of proper moral disposition when it states that those who “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin” are not to be admitted to Eucharistic communion.
III.            His Eminence, Raymond Cardinal Burke, Vatican Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
A.      In an interview in April 2014 with Catholic Voice, Ireland

Question: It is clear from Canon 915 that abortion is a mortal sin and a collaboration with evil, can those who claim to be Catholic vote for it and remain full members of the Church? Also what is the role of the local bishop with regard to this matter?
Answer: With regard to Canon 915, it states that those who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin should not be admitted to receive Holy Communion. There can be no question that the practice of abortion is among the gravest of manifest sins and therefore once a Catholic politician has been admonished that he should not come forward to receive Holy Communion, as long as he continues to support legislation which fosters abortion or other intrinsic evils, then he should be refused Holy Communion. In my own experience, when I have informed Catholic politicians who were supporting anti-life or anti-family legislation not to approach to receive Holy Communion, they have understood and have followed the discipline of the Church as it is set forth in Canon 915.
Depending on the situation, the Diocesan Bishop may be involved directly in admonishing the politician, but it is also within the pastoral care of the parish priest to admonish anyone in his congregation who is persisting obstinately in manifest grave sin not to approach to receive Holy Communion. The local Bishop should teach clearly in the matter and also encourage his priests to make sure that the Church’s discipline is observed, in order to avoid the grave sin of sacrilege on the part of the Catholic politician who approaches to receive Holy Communion when he is persisting obstinately in grave moral evil, and to prevent the scandal which is caused when such individuals receive Holy Communion, because their reception of Holy Communion gives the impression that the Church’s teaching on the intrinsic evil of abortion is not firm.
B.      From a detailed abstract on “The Discipline Regarding the Denial of Holy Communion to Those Obstinately Persevering in Manifest Grave Sin” prepared for The Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome for its periodical PERIODICA DE RE CANONICA vol. 96 2007. This document traces “the history of the legislation articulated in can. 915, in order to understand the Church's constant practice and the mind of Pope John Paul II, the legislator of the 1983 Code of Canon Law” and is an outstanding resource for the subject.
Quote is taken from “Conclusions” section of document:

“The United States of America is a thoroughly secularized society which canonizes radical individualism and relativism, even before the natural moral law. The application, therefore, is more necessary than ever, lest the faithful, led astray by the strong cultural trends of relativism, be deceived concerning the supreme good of the Holy Eucharist and the gravity of supporting publicly the commission of intrinsically evil acts. Catholics in public office bear an especially heavy burden of responsibility to uphold the moral law in the exercise of their office which is exercised for the common good, especially the good of the innocent and defenseless. When they fail, they lead others, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, to be deceived regarding the evils of procured abortion and other attacks on innocent and defenseless human life, on the integrity of human procreation, and on the family.

“As Pope John Paul II reminded us, referring to the teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, the Holy Eucharist contains the entire good of our salvation [91]. There is no responsibility of the Church's shepherds which is greater than that of teaching the truth about the Holy Eucharist, celebrating worthily the Holy Eucharist, and directing the flock in the worship and care of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Can. 915 of the Code of Canon Law and can. 712 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches articulate an essential element of the shepherds' responsibility, namely, the perennial discipline of the Church by which the minister of Holy Communion is to deny the Sacrament to those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin.”
IV.            Cardinal Robert Sarah is Prefect of one of the highest Vatican offices, The Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. He was appointed by Pope Francis on 23 November 2014. Quoting from the Cardinal’s book “God or Nothing”, journalist Sandro Magister records the following as one question among many posed to the Cardinal.
Question: According to one critic whose fidelity to the priesthood I admire, thousands of priests do not hesitate to give communion to all. 
Answer: In the first place we note the absence of doctrinal authority in this myriad of sacred ministers, who in other ways are certainly respectable. Moreover, no matter how authentic this “statistic” may be, this position mixes up, among persons living in a notorious and habitual state of sin (for example, adultery and permanent infidelity to one’s spouse, frequent and grave fraud in business): a) a believer who finally repents with the firm intention to avoid falling in the future, receives holy absolution and as a result may receive the holy Eucharist, and b) the believer who does not want to stop committing acts of grave objective guilt in the future, contradicting the Word of God and the covenant signified precisely by the Eucharist. This latter case excludes the “firm intention” defined by the Council of Trent as necessary to be forgiven by God. We should specify that this firm intention does not consist in knowing that one will not sin again, but in making the deliberate decision to employ the means suitable for avoiding the sin. Without a firm intention (and apart from a total and non-culpable ignorance), such a Christian would remain in a state of mortal sin and would commit a grave sin by receiving communion. 
In the hypothesis that his state is publicly known, the ministers of the Church for their part have no right to give him communion. If they do so, their sin will be more grave before the Lord. It would be unequivocally a premeditated complicity and profanation of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus.
V.            Canon Lawyer Edward Peters is a world renown, very highly respected canon as well as civil lawyer and was appointed in 2010 a Referendary of the Apostolic Signatura by Pope Benedict XVI. His comprehensive research and experience on canon law is documented online and his extensive work on Canon 915 is available here. The following statements are found in a recent commentary he made (December 12, 2015) regarding statements made by Chicago Archbishop Blaise Cupich.
Canon 915, however, in contrast with Canon 916, directs ministers of holy Communion to withhold the Sacrament, not from “sinners” per se (as if ministers could read souls!), but rather, from those who “obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin”. Now there is zero doubt but that, in Catholic tradition, attempting marriage following a civil divorce and/or entering a “same-sex marriage” is to undertake the kind of gravely wrong public action that triggers ministerial obligations under Canon 915. Thus, when Cupich (and he is not alone in talking this way) says “It’s not up to any minister who is distributing the Eucharist to make a decision about a person’s worthiness or lack of worthiness” he misses the point: a minister is not assessing personal “worthiness” when withholding holy Communion from one’s whose conduct is described in Canon 915, but rather, is acting in accord with an age-old sacramental discipline designed to protect both the Sacrament from the risk of possible sacrilege and the faith community from the harm of classical scandal caused by someone’s public contrarian conduct.

Update: Although unrelated to Dr. Edward Peters, a more recent commentary by an American Bishop on the modernist appeal to conscience can be found here as well as an additional interview of great significance with a Cardinal and a Bishop.

Why Torture Canon 915?
Now that we have a solid understanding of how the Church views Canon 915, let’s examine statements of Ottawa Archbishop since 2008 on denying Holy Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians, most notably Justin Trudeau. The Archbishop’s words will be highlighted in red and my comments, if any, will follow his. I believe this exercise will readily show that the Archbishop is in reality torturing the plain reading of Canon 915. Bear in mind that Archbishop Prendergast is a highly educated Jesuit, having earned a Doctorate degree in Theology, a degree which is basically equivalent to a Ph.D. His specialty is theology, which is defined as “the systematic and rational study of concepts of God and of the nature of religious ideas.” Of all people he shouldn’t haven’t any trouble grasping the meaning, significance and application of one straightforward canon law. Let the reader be the judge of whether the Archbishop appears coherent—let alone obedient—on this matter and whether he has lived up to his words to date.

1.       February 29, 2008 LifeSiteNews by Hilary White (no reference made to Justin Trudeau or any other particular politician): Pro-Abortion Catholic Politicians Should not “Publicly” Receive Holy Communion: Ottawa Archbishop

Relevant quotes and commentary:

Prendergast said he would have to put the best possible interpretation on what the politician was doing and "engage in dialogue" with him. "As I get to know the politicians I will speak to them on these issues and hopefully we’ll be able to make progress".

So Archbishop Prendergast would engage in dialogue with the politician(s) and, over time, hope to make progress. However, as we have seen, nowhere in the Church’s thinking about Canon 915 does it support such a subjective, ambiguous approach. Once a politician has caused public scandal by his persistent advocacy for abortion, the objective situation of grave sin has been established and the serious scandal must be quickly redressed; the politician is to be admonished to refrain from Holy Communion until he publicly conforms his conscience to Church teaching; should he present himself for Holy Communion before such a turnabout, he is to be refused the Sacrament.

 Seeming to echo the approach of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in his 2006 address to the Canadian bishops on the issue, Prendergast continued, that if the attempts to teach fail he would say, "Given your stubbornness on this particular issue, you should not publicly receive the Eucharist until you’ve changed your mind."

This begs the question: In the case of Justin Trudeau, has the Archbishop already informed him that he should not present himself? The gravity of the scandal would demand that Canadians be informed immediately of such instruction, lest souls be furthered damaged and lost through Trudeau’s evil behaviour regarding the advocacy of abortion. However, it can only be surmised from all 2014/2015 statements made about Trudeau that the Archbishop has not taken such action as he indicated in 2008 he would. Of course his previous ambiguous comment would leave lots of room for him to say that he’s in the midst of “dialogue” with Trudeau and still hoping for progress.

"The bishop is not a policeman," he said. "He is a father in Christ, a Shepherd of his flock."

Here, by this statement, the Archbishop reinforces his ambiguous position. Of course, standing on its own merits, this statement is quite true but in the context given, we find no relevance whatever to the spirit or the law of Canon 915. In fact it deflects from the mind of the Church on such a grave, urgent matter as scandal, the damage to the common good and the danger to a politician’s soul. Keep in mind that Trudeau’s position on abortion has been public knowledge for a great many years. This interview took place in 2008 and I blogged just a week or so later that the Archbishop has not only left himself lots of wiggle room but he has really muddied the waters.

Furthermore, think of the false dilemma advanced by the Archbishop. Why would he frame it as a choice between being a policeman or a shepherd, as though the Church has no right (or duty!) to judge and discipline her members out of love (not spite)? The Archbishop does a great disservice to Holy Mother Church in discrediting her just role in this regard.

Incidentally, the Archbishop’s ambiguity and deflection on this grave public scandal not only prolongs it and causes it to fester but also introduces an entirely new scandal: that of the betrayal felt by knowledgeable and well informed Catholics when their Shepherd fails to uphold the Faith in a plain matter of public breakdown of morals. Some can be seriously wounded and even give up on the Church.

2.       March 8, 2008 Ottawa Citizen (a very insightful report exposing very problematic behaviour!): No communion for pro-choice politicians, archbishop says    Subtitled: Ottawa's Catholic archbishop says he will refuse communion to any politician who "obstinately" supports access to abortion, but only if he or she cannot be persuaded to stand down.

Relevant quotes:

"I think if a bishop is going to involve Canon 915, he has to know (the politicians), and speak with them or have the priest speak with them. Ultimata that come down from on high don't help anybody.

More wiggle room, did you notice? But at the same time it’s breathtaking in its contempt for authority. The Archbishop is insinuating that on a subject so grievous as a Catholic politician’s public advocacy for the killing of innocent unborn children that a carefully crafted, age old Church position designed to protect human life, prevent scandal and save the souls of politicians can’t really be expected to do much. Can you imagine Jesus or the Apostles uttering such a maxim? Is that what the Ten Commandments are? Is that what the commands of Christ represent: an ultimatum that comes “down from on high” that “doesn't help anybody”? In other words, we really can’t expect politicians (or other Catholics) to be informed about—let alone take to heart—weighty Church laws until we pull them aside (might take months or years), give them a good talking to (depending on the cleric’s style), and tell them this is really serious stuff. This statement really says so much about the leadership of the Canadian Catholic Church in our day. Furthermore, couldn’t this be taken as a slur against papal “ultimata” that are imposed on the Bishops (like maybe Humanae Vitae)? Should the Pope have to pull Bishops aside and sit down with them to convince them of the seriousness of Church law and order? (Maybe that’s what Canadian Bishops are still waiting for!) The Archbishop really seems to be saying that Canon 915 (and all church laws like it) is an ultimatum that has little practical value unless the Bishop or priest actually knows the politician and sets up a “dialogue.”

"As a Jesuit principle, I have to put the best possible interpretation on my neighbour's proposition, then speak to him about it, and only then draw the line and say, 'Look, given your stubbornness on this position, I think you should not publicly receive communion until you change your mind'.

Of course we should be quick to give everyone the benefit of the doubt in the early stages but likewise we should be quick to seek clarification so that good order and discipline might be kept. Consider these are the Archbishop’s words in 2008. Has he actually followed this line of thinking with Trudeau? Obviously not or we would not still be talking about this in 2015. The Archbishop also waffles on the action demanded by Canon 915: it’s not a case of saying to the politician “I don’t think you should receive Holy Communion”. Instead Canon 915 is crystal clear, the Minister must say: “If you present for Holy Communion, you will be denied.” It must be noted here as well that the Archbishop said, “I think you should not publicly receive communion” but, whether intentional or not, this is a misleading statement: the politician is not to receive Holy Communion in any setting, public or private! After all, would it be right for Trudeau to receive Holy Communion at a private Mass said by his priest or by the Archbishop?

Since his arrival nine months ago, Archbishop Prendergast said he has not met many politicians, but that "when I do get to know them, I will discuss it." Ottawa South Liberal MP David McGuinty is a Catholic and a brother of Ontario's premier, who is also Catholic. Both are pro-choice, as are many Canadian politicians. He said the archbishop hasn't been in contact with him, but if he does call, he'd be delighted to sit down and discuss the issue.

This news report was dated March 2008. It is now 2015. As I explained previously in my discussion of timeline with respect to Justin Trudeau, the Archbishop has had lots of time to get to know and educate the Catholic politicians in Ottawa, “many” of whom are pro-choice (!!!) according to the news writer. And truly they are due to the fecklessness of Canada’s Bishops who not only fail to discipline them but who entirely fail to educate (catechize) them firstly as to their duties and moral obligations as Catholics and secondly as to their weighty responsibilities as champions and advocates of the common good. So few Catholic politicians have even the barest understanding of the concept of common good that it would be no exaggeration to tag as a “rare breed” indeed any of them that could correctly define the term. It would be a great service if some news reporter would contact MP David McGuinty and other Catholic MP’s to inquire as to whether Archbishop Prendergast has been busy since 2008 meeting with these renegade politicians. May I ask why LifeSiteNews hasn’t done so as an important component of their news reporting on the Trudeau-Prendergast affair?

Mr. McGuinty said he comes from a long line of Catholic politicians who have been able to be pro-choice while remaining true to their religion.

"I long ago reconciled my public duties and responsibilities with my faith. I, like many politicians, keep those things separate," he said. "I don't just represent Roman Catholics. I don't just represent people of any faith for that matter." The archbishop doesn't buy the view of many elected officials who believe they must represent their constituents' point of view, not their own.

Note well Mr. McGuinty’s comments. He believes he can self-identify as “pro-choice” and still stay true to his religion. Somehow he’s got the notion that he can compartmentalize his faith and keep it separate from politics, like his brother Dalton McGuinty. Now where would he and so many of his fellow Catholic politicians get such a troubling view of their participation in politics? Here’s a suggested clue: Who are the teachers and mentors of all the Catholic faithful in Canada? Are they not the Bishops, the ones who over the lifetime of these politicians—most of whom have been Catholics since their cradle days—have formed their consciences and their thinking? Isn’t it about time for them to take responsibility for the monsters they have created?  

"At the end of the line, I would have to say, 'Don't pretend you're in community with the Catholic Church, because that's what communion is, a coming together.' I think somebody has to come out and say that."

So the Archbishop thinks someone should come out and say that! Well, it would certainly be about time for Catholic Bishops to do just that and more! After all, there is NO recorded instance of a dissenting, pro-abortion Catholic politician of any stature in Canada EVER being denied Holy Communion! So the fact is that the “end of the line” was reached long ago and the Archbishop ought to be affirming the instruction from Canon 915 and telling these politicians that if they do not publicly retract their positions on abortion that they will be denied Holy Communion, but still he falls short of the instruction and uses word games to make it appear he is in favour of being tough on these wayward politicians. Why now get into a game of semantics on what the word “communion” means? Why not simply focus on Canon 915 and go ahead and put it into practice? Clearly the reason is that the Archbishop is only puffing his chest and when push comes to shove he will fold like an accordion when he faces these politicos. History proves my point completely.

In 2001, Calgary Bishop Frederick Henry chastised former prime minister Jean Chrétien and opposition leader Joe Clark for their pro-choice stand. Last year, Pope Benedict XVI said recalcitrant leaders ought to be excommunicated.

Again, a Canadian Bishop chastises a politician but no politician is denied Holy Communion. Does anybody see a pattern developing here? The Calgary Bishop was speaking of politicians who did not reside in his diocese but what of the Bishops who were actually responsible for the souls of these politicians? Why did they not act in accordance with Canon 915? It was an act of disobedience not to do so: “Those…persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” The newspaper noted that Pope Benedict gave Bishops a strong go-ahead to discipline the renegade Catholics, but still nothing is done. Remember that Pope Benedict had specifically instructed the American Bishops in 2004 that "the Minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it (Eucharist)" when the conditions of Canon 915 have been met. Why has Archbishop Prendergast failed to carry through on such an urgent matter? Is the Catholic faith different in Canada?

3.       March 14, 2008 LifeSiteNews by John Henry Westen: Exclusive Interview: Ottawa Archbishop Explains Why Pro-Abortion Politicians are Denied Communion

This is yet another interview with the Archbishop in March of 2008 following the controversial comments he made two weeks previous. Still more confusion about Canon 915 is fostered by the Archbishop’s remarks in this interview.

"What is at issue is whether a politician who does not himself or herself participate in an abortion but supports ‘a woman’s right to choose’ (or however else shows support for abortion) is guilty of grave sin and then obstinately persists in this state of grave sin."

No, clearly, that is not the issue. The Archbishop continually chooses to shift the focus to avoid expressing plainly the issue. The issue is, as I noted above:  A Catholic easily recognized as a public figure and as one who stubbornly persists in what the Church calls serious sin(s) must be barred from Holy Communion. Attention Archbishop Prendergast: this entire conversation has centred on politicians who publicly support the killing of unborn children and who persist in their advocacy despite being corrected. There can be no question or issue about whether such a politician is guilty of grave sin. The Archbishop himself makes that plain in other parts of his interview. That is also the basic teaching of the Catechism and can be reiterated by a child. Likewise the politician who persists in that position without public retraction risks the censure of Canon 915, which is the denial of Holy Communion. Why not speak plainly Archbishop? Why confuse the matter by raising the question of whether the politician is actually guilty as charged? Why not simply focus on that politician who meets the conditions of Canon 915 and avoid other complicating questions?

The decision to take "medicinal" remedies, says the Archbishop, is not taken lightly, and is simply an attempt at direct intervention with the politicians.  "Perhaps politicians embrace the support of a woman’s right to choose unthinkingly, following party policy; this is where the church with the help of its pastors and through fellow believers needs to come to the assistance of those who serve the public good," he said.      

Why does the Archbishop continue to employ so casually the deadly euphemism “a woman’s right to choose” when each and every time a woman makes such a choice, a child dies? This is at a minimum a very poor choice of words and plays directly into the hands of the devil’s social engineers. Furthermore, what an awful and tragic state of affairs it is when a Catholic politician could “choose unthinkingly” to support legislation that permits the killing of an innocent human being. In using this language the Archbishop is playing down any serious expectation we might have not only of “Catholic” politicians but of any of his flock. He might as well say anything goes for the Catholic until he/she gets hauled into the Bishop’s office! Could it be that this style of careless speech betrays the Archbishop’s uncritical and very low standards for the people of God?  

"It may take time to work with political figures before one can conclude that they are obstinately persisting in manifest grave sin and that, therefore, denial of communion or of encouraging them not to present themselves for communion is reached as the medicinal remedy to draw them back to the way of Christ, Our Lord, the Way, the Truth and the Life."

Here again, why does the Archbishop avoid the plain meaning of Canon 915? As was pointed out earlier, the Canon clearly applies to an objective reality where a Catholic who is easily recognized as a public figure and as one who stubbornly persists in what the Church calls serious sin(s) must be barred from Holy Communion. The objective reality is either present or it is not. Either the politician has created public scandal or he has not. A conversation with the politician will not determine whether this objective condition has been met; the fact of the public scandal determines it! I fear the Archbishop dangerously rejects, to some degree, the crucial Catholic teaching on objective truth, guaranteeing he will fall victim to what Pope Benedict XVI termed the dictatorship of relativism.

So, no, it does not require, as the Archbishop suggested, “time to work with them” to conclude they are obstinately persisting in manifest grave sin. If the grave sin is manifest (clear, established in the thinking of the public) and they have been warned, then the conditions for Canon 915 have been met and it is justifiable to deny Holy Communion. This is not rocket science, Archbishop Prendergast! Fine, work with them all you like after they have been warned not to present themselves for Holy Communion, but don’t use the pretext of a dialogue to obfuscate the clear instruction of the Canon! In the meanwhile, should they present for Holy Communion, they MUST be denied, as the Canon forthrightly says. The Archbishop timidly says that the renegade politician should be “encouraged not to present themselves for communion.” I ask the reader, Is that what Canon 915 says? No. The guilty party must be denied Holy Communion once he/she has been advised of the objective reality of his/her sin and yet will not/does not publicly recant.

One other consideration in addressing seriously such grave violations of Church teaching is scandal.  "If one were to allow Catholic political (or other public) figures to freely espouse abortion without drawing to their attention that this is a grave evil," explained Archbishop Prendergast, "other believers might be tended to accept this, not knowing any better and be led on the wrong path: that is what ‘scandal’ is.  One must do everything possible to prevent others from falling away from the path of Christ - i.e. from being scandalized."

Note well: the Archbishop has just told us that he is well aware of the gravity of scandal. The scandal caused by “Catholic” Justin Trudeau and his advocacy of grave sins that carry enormous societal consequences is simply flagrant and wicked—and has grown steadily under the watch of Canada’s Bishops since 2001 and under Archbishop Prendergast’s watch since 2013. The Archbishop says that “one must do everything possible (my emphasis) to prevent others from falling away from the path of Christ - i.e. from being scandalized." Everything—it would seem—except employ the very prescription of the Church, i.e. Canon 915, for just such egregious offenses. God help you, where is your conscience Archbishop Prendergast?

4.       May 19, 2014, Catholic Register by Deborah Gyapong: Catholics in public life must adhere to Catholic teachings, says Prendergast NOTE: This article contains a serious error in that it confuses Canon 915 with 916. Amazingly, and almost two years later, the correction has not yet been noted by the editor of the journal. Differences in these two Canons have been highlighted in the beginning section of this posting. Here is the offending paragraph:

“Catholics are warned against taking the sacrament of Holy Communion unworthily, both in Scripture and in Canon Law section 915 which says: “Anyone aware of having committed a grave sin is obliged to refrain from receiving Communion without first obtaining absolution in the sacrament of Reconciliation.”

The archbishop said he would not go so far as to advise Trudeau to no longer receive communion without meeting with him beforehand. He thinks that after Trudeau’s public statements a meeting would be “a good idea.”

Note the date of this article—2014. Six years have passed since the three interviews we’ve already examined above. As of the date of Gyapong’s interview Archbishop Prendergast has been leading the Ottawa archdiocese since 2007, a period of seven years. Despite Trudeau’s scandalous statements and actions since 2001, as previously recorded, the Archbishop infers that he has yet to meet with Justin Trudeau to discuss his renegade positions or to redress the scandal or to try to save his soul. Didn’t he say back in 2008 that he was going to start meeting with all these politicians who needed “medicinal” help? There is also nothing on record to indicate that any of his priests have made any similar efforts. The scandal grows by the year and cries out for redress, Catholics have been staging protests and rallies calling for action for several years, multiple articles have been written by Catholic media and bloggers warning of the possible consequences, yet still the Archbishop has not so much as met with the politician in question, arguably Public Enemy #1 in terms of scandal generating public Catholics. 

Despite all of the Archbishop’s rhetoric from 2008, it required a crisis to get him talking tough again! In fact it took an explosion in the national media; a consequence of Justin Trudeau’s ramped up abortion advocacy which insisted all his party members must vote pro-death, regardless of personal conscience. “Imagine,” many were thinking, “he’s not even the Prime Minister yet and already he presumes to rob others of basic freedoms!” Indeed, many were imagining a national, cultural storm brewing, all thanks to a very rebellious “Catholic” running for the highest political office in the land. But as regards the Church’s remedy—Canon 915—for just such a scandal, exacerbated by this latest evil twist, the Archbishop still dallied! That in itself is jaw-dropping and nothing short of a dereliction of duty. 

Yet, take note, this report indicates the Archbishop was still very far from getting serious about the denial of Holy Communion which is called for by Canon 915! We know this because, says the report, he wouldn’t even go “so far” as a cautious warning to “advise Trudeau to no longer receive communion,” a step unquestionably preliminary to denial of the Eucharist and one quite reasonably to be expected from a shepherd given the circumstances. After all, the Archbishop had issued, according to Gyapong, “a statement May 16 on moral issues and communion with the Catholic Church in response to Trudeau’s statements,” in which he meant to leave no doubt that Trudeau was “not in communion with the Church’s values and teaching” and that “One may not dissent from these core teachings on life issues and be considered a Catholic in good standing.”

Why then would the Archbishop not, at a minimum, advise Trudeau to hold off on Holy Communion until he had met with him personally, in order that scandal be curbed, the Eucharist be saved from possible profanation and Trudeau’s soul be protected from greater condemnation?

Why indeed, unless the Archbishop never had any such intention to obey Canon 915? After Trudeau’s latest outrage over a forced “pro-choice” party vote there can be no reasonable doubt that any rational, mature Catholic would assess Trudeau as a public sinner causing grave damage to the faith, so why would not a highly educated Jesuit, a Doctor of Theology, a Professor and a prelate of the Catholic Church?

“We always have to presume the best of people unless we know for sure the interior state of their lives,” the archbishop said. “Someone might be in a state of sin when they come to Holy Communion, but I don’t know that.

In the context of a public figure scandalizing the faithful I note that the Archbishop has not quoted any official source for his statements here, neither from Sacred Scripture nor the Tradition of the Church. Over and over again, the Archbishop refuses to zero in on the substance of Canon 915. There seems to be no end to the excuses raised to avoid the unpleasant reality of dealing with sin. Not only that but in the process he denies and obfuscates the wise counsel of the Church in providing effective means of redress. Let’s ask a question or two of the Archbishop in regard to his comments: How might a Minister of Holy Communion know of a certainty of the interior state of a public official? Can any person know for certain whether another is in a state of (serious) sin? Will a dialogue settle the matter definitively?

Of course not. There can never be certainty in such a matter, except in the mind of God. With man there can be, at best, an assumption. If an assumption by a Priest or Bishop is sufficient to settle the matter of worthiness to receive Holy Communion, today we may be worthy, tomorrow we may not. Fortunately Holy Mother Church does not deal with souls in terms of subjective realities but rather in terms of objective relationship with God and with sin. Rather than the chaotic, spiritually dangerous approach set forth by the Archbishop, Canon 915 takes aim directly at the objective situation of sin posed by a public official. As recorded earlier in this post, Cardinal Ratzinger—later Pope Benedict XVI—observed:  Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.

Archbishop Prendergast, how difficult can it be? A Catholic easily recognized as a public figure and as one who stubbornly persists in what the Church calls serious sin(s) must be barred from Holy Communion.

“If there are persistent signs of a resistance to hold the Church’s teachings, there would seem to be an incompatibility between what the Church understands and what the person is professing,” he said. “But no one from the beginning presumes to judge a person’s conscience.”

Ah, the conscience argument again: Justin Trudeau rescued once more. Read the Canon again, Archbishop Prendergast. Earlier in this posting Dr. Edward Peters et al examined the conscience argument in relation to Canon 915; please refer to that section. It’s altogether rich that the Archbishop says “But no one from the beginning…” implying that we mustn’t immediately judge Mr. Trudeau, as though he appeared on the scene overnight and nobody has the slightest bit of evidence by which to judge him. The truth is that Justin Trudeau has been causing grave scandal in Canada’s public sphere for about twelve years, as I have pointed out elsewhere in this posting.

Time To Call It What It Is
Truly, this kind of literary examination becomes dreary and depressing after a while. Yes, I could go on and on about this historic scandal and dissect every statement made by the Archbishop but in the end the evidence will continue to shout out one compelling conclusion: wittingly or unwittingly Archbishop Prendergast is aiding and abetting an enemy of Christ to ascend into the highest ranks of political power and expose our nation to the appetites of demons.

The Archbishop is a highly trained thinker—an intellectual—but unfortunately it appears that dissimulation, confusion, and misrepresentation of Catholic teaching rules his thinking when it comes to the medicinal remedy encapsulated in Canon 915, to the spiritual deprivation of an entire nation of peoples.
Prayer for the Conversion or Downfall of Archbishop Terrence Prendergast

Dear St. Joseph, Terror of Demons and Protector of Holy Church, Chaste Guardian of Our Lord and His Mother, hear my urgent prayer and swiftly intercede with our Saviour, whom as a loving father you defended so diligently, that He will pour abundant graces upon His chosen shepherd, Terrence Prendergast, Archbishop of Ottawa, Canada so that he will embrace fully his duties towards all the faithful under his care, in accord with the laws and precepts of Holy Mother Church, and, because of the gravity of their public positions, particularly towards all wayward Catholic politicians in Canada’s capital city, starting with our newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Should the Archbishop persist in a callous disregard of Church law which demonstrates contempt for God and man and which  ultimately condemns countless souls to Hell, dear St. Joseph similarly intercede that through sickness, adversities, or other divine judgements all his ministrations will promptly fail and come to their just end in order that an example of God’s displeasure be manifest unto all God’s faithful and that a worthy Bishop may take his place and restore order and discipline amongst all Catholic souls in Ottawa, the most symbolic see in our great nation. Assist me further, dear St. Joseph, in interceding that in the case of such a calamitous outcome, the Archbishop himself may, in the end, find repentance with the Lord.  Amen. ***

***The preceding prayer was modelled somewhat after a similar prayer published by another blogger, particularly in its opening paragraph. I won't link to it for obvious reasons but I do want to acknowledge some degree of credit. Google the first couple lines and I'm sure you'll find it.