Monday, February 19, 2018

Contra the Bishops: A Canadian Defends the Holy Eucharist

PM Justin Trudeau, with wife Sophie and Quebec Premier P. Couillard
at the Mass commemorating Montreal's 375th birthday

How is it possible to foster respect for human life when disrespect for God Himself, through the Body and Blood of Christ, is not only tolerated but modeled at every Mass?   Blood on their Hands

On May 17, 2017, at a commemorative high Mass in Notre Dame Basilica in the midst of gala celebrations for the 375th anniversary of the founding of Montreal, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a self-identified Catholic, shared in the Eucharistic celebration, stepping forward to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. He was served Holy Communion by none other than the Archbishop of Montréal, Christian Lépine, a Bishop who later justified his action by characterizing it as a “gesture of hope.”

Before delving more deeply into the substance of my claims against Archbishop Lépine—as well as against every other present-day Canadian Catholic Bishop—it is necessary to review some elementary Catholic teaching on the subject of “Holy Communion,” more commonly known in Catholic parlance as “Holy Mass” or “the Holy Eucharist” [but also referred to as “the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ,” “the Holy Sacrifice,” “the Lord’s Supper”].

The biblical account makes clear: God alone is holy, man is not. Man, in fact, is unholy, a sinner. Again, history makes clear: Never approach God on your own terms. The terrible truth is that ignoring or forgetting, even accidentally, the law of God respecting His presence, is a fatal mistake. Witness the account of Uzzah in the Old Testament, struck dead for trying to steady the ark of the Lord.
“The anger of the LORD burned against Uzza, so He struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark; and he died there before God.” 1 Chronicles 13:10
The instruction of God’s Word is incontestable: Sinners are unclean and God’s command is “but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY." 1 Peter 1:15-16.  The divine rule then is “be holy yourselves also in all your behavior.” But exactly what does this rule comprise? How do we know for sure?

For a Catholic this is not a difficult question. We trust to the wisdom of the One True Church of Christ to interpret and counsel us in this regard. The Church has authoritatively spoken on the matter of holy behaviour and drawing nigh unto the Lord: We are invited to approach God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son in the Holy Eucharist.  
CCC1384 The Lord addresses an invitation to us, urging us to receive him in the sacrament of the Eucharist: "Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you."
We don’t get to make our own rules.
CCC1385 To respond to this invitation we must prepare ourselves for so great and so holy a moment. St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience: "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself [I Cor. 11:27-29] ." Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion.
Again, for the Catholic, it is the Church who speaks for Christ in this world, and in our time. To follow Christ is to humbly follow in the Church for whom He died and to conform our attitudes, beliefs and behaviour accordingly. Of course we are free to choose to believe otherwise, and align our behaviour according to some other system or standard. But, in that case, when we resist the Church and her teaching, we do not have the option of insisting on the name Catholic.

The Church further explains the nature of the Encounter:
CCC1413 By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1640; 1651).
Let us be clear: This is no Protestant notion of Holy Communion. This is Christ Himself who comes to meet us under cover of bread and wine. It is not some symbol, simple or profound, glorious or mysterious, of Christ, but rather Christ Himself. It is not merely a ceremony of remembrance of Christ; rather it is the remembered Christ truly present. It is Christ Himself, with us, and worthy of the worship of God, yet present mysteriously in the bread and wine.

What then are the rules of this engagement? How must we conduct ourselves in the Very Presence of Christ the King of the Universe? For the good of our souls there must be no mistakes or misunderstandings!

The Church sounds out clear instruction and warning:
CCC1415 Anyone who desires to receive Christ in Eucharistic communion must be in the state of grace. Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, wife Sophie and Quebec Premier Couillard meet with Archbishop Lepine before Mass

Very well then, at an appropriate time before Mass, we must look inward, taking stock of our condition. This is what is referred to as an examination of conscience and its results will either clear us for Holy Communion or send us off to Confession, that the grave sin(s) confirmed in our exam of conscience might be confessed before a priest who stands in the stead of Christ and whose declaration of absolution then readies us for Holy Communion.

But what if a Catholic should object to this formula or otherwise trivialize the matter of grave sin? What if the Catholic were fooling himself on the matter, being deceived by devils? And what if the Catholic, while acting contrary to the formula—for whatever reason—were a prominent, public figure?

Ultimately, the responsibility for safeguarding the Eucharist from any and all abuses, including those just described, rests with the Bishop. However, the Bishop has been provided with guidance in the matter and is expected to respond according to well defined Church law. This is a crucial point: The Bishop has relatively little latitude in the matter precisely because of the magnitude of the potential damage arising from a sacrilegious Holy Communion [more simply, a sacrilege, otherwise known as a desecration of the Holy Eucharist]. And what is the magnitude of this sacrilege? The judgment of the Church throughout history concerning this most grave offense may be summed up by quoting from the Catechism of the Council of Trent 1566 (De Euch., iv.i):
“As of all the sacred mysteries bequeathed to us by our Lord and Savior as most infallible instruments of divine grace, there is none comparable to the most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist; so, for no crime is there a heavier punishment to be feared from God than for the unholy or irreligious use by the faithful of that which is full of holiness, or rather which contains the very author and source of holiness (1 Cor. 11:30).”
Let’s return then to the subject of the prominent, public Catholic figure approaching for Holy Communion whose actions appear contrary to the formula provided in CCC1415. How is the Bishop instructed to prevent the possibility of grave abuse of the Eucharist? Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church provides the rationale and the response. The text of the Canon is as follows:  
“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.”
Canon 915 identifies three different conditions under which Holy Communion is to be denied to a Catholic:
i. First, those who have been excommunicated e.g. the decision in 2013 by Pope Francis to dismiss Father Greg Reynolds from the clerical state and to declare him excommunicated because of his public teaching on the ordination of women contrary to the teaching of the Church.
ii. Secondly, those who have been interdicted, e.g. such as the inderdict threatened by Bishop Robert Morlino of the Catholic Diocese of Madison against unruly parishioners in 2012.
iii. Thirdly, those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin” [more commonly known in past times as the “publicly unworthy”.]
A 2004 memorandum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on "Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion", signed by its Prefect, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, explains in brief form the administration guidelines for Canon 915. Here is the most relevant passage for our purposes:
4. Apart from an individual's judgment about his worthiness to present himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone, such as in cases of a declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin (cf. can. 915).
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.
There has been a good deal of disputation by Bishops regarding the denial of Holy Communion under the terms of Canon 915. A good many Bishops insist that the decision whether or not to even apply the Canon, at any time or under any conditions, is a matter strictly of the Bishop’s personal judgment, i.e. his normal right to “prudential judgement, “ thus setting aside the objective truths embedded in the canon. Thus do these Bishops shield themselves against any criticism of their inaction relative to Canon 915. Bishop Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois has spoken out in order to educate Catholics on the duty of all Bishops with respect to ecclesiastical laws:
“All clergy before they are ordained take an Oath of Fidelity which includes the statement, ‘In fulfilling the charge entrusted to me in the name of the Church, I shall hold fast to the deposit of faith in its entirety; I shall faithfully hand it on and explain it, and I shall avoid any teachings contrary to it. I shall follow and foster the common discipline of the entire Church and I shall maintain the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those contained in the Code of Canon Law.’ Pastors and bishops repeat this oath upon assuming their office to be exercised in the name of the Church. Thus, deacons, priests and bishops cannot contradict church teachings or refuse to observe ecclesiastical laws without violating their oath, which is a promise made to God.” [full text available here.]
Other Bishops in other dioceses have issued similar reminders.

A seldom mentioned authoritative source, powerful in its statement, beckons all those who wish to gain clarity over the din of voices on the subject. Cardinal Ratzinger, in his 2004 memorandum discussed above, pointed already to this source: the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, in agreement with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Although the context of the document concerns the admission to Holy Communion of Catholics who are divorced and remarried, the application of the principles of Canon 915 are on full display and the foundation of the Church’s teaching strongly defended therein. All those seeking to know the mind of the Church on the matter of Canon 915 are urged to read the brief judgment of the Pontifical Council. The Council, in the early stages of its document, sets the tone:
Any interpretation of can. 915 that would set itself against the canon's substantial content, as declared uninterruptedly by the Magisterium and by the discipline of the Church throughout the centuries, is clearly misleading.
In the wider context of Canon 915, a very important and recent discussion by canonist Edward Peters on the severe consequences of disregarding its divinely-rooted origins can be found here.

Claims against the Archbishop of Montreal

Having reviewed some basic principles of Catholic teaching on the subject of “Holy Communion” we must now return to the matter of my claims against the Archbishop of Montreal. These are the two claims: 

Claim 1: Archbishop Lépine transgressed the laws of the Church
Archbishop Lépine, in allowing reception of the Eucharist by the Prime Minister, transgressed the laws of the Church by sidestepping the provisions and mandate of Canon 915. To my knowledge only one news outlet reported the event in that light, declaring it to be an act of sacrilege. Others reported it in a very matter of fact way, drawing no attention whatever to its controversial nature. The Catholic Register, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Toronto, included in its coverage of the anniversary Mass a statement that was truly oddball, at least in its very glaring omission: “Trudeau, who supports a woman’s right to abortion and whose government recently began funding abortion in the developing world, received Holy Communion from Lepine.” This was a shocking and scandalous disclosure, by any Catholic standard, but the lack of any related comment by the Register added further shock and disgrace. The Cardinal Archbishop of Toronto, Thomas Collins, attended the commemorative Mass along with about 30 other Bishops and sat a mere few metres from the ignoble act. Was that a factor in this omission from his diocesan newspaper?

Claim 2: Archbishop Lépine spouted heresy
Archbishop Lépine seriously compounded his predicament through a series of heretical statements made to media sometime soon after the event. Here, drawn from one media report, is the essence of Archbishop Christian Lepine’s apologetic for giving Holy Communion to Justin Trudeau, along with my comments in red and in brackets. The Archbishop's words (with very minor adaptation) appear in italics at the start of each paragraph.

Holy Communion was a “gesture of hope.” [This statement represents a great danger to the Catholic faith. It suggests that the Holy Eucharist may be enjoyed by one whose communion with Christ is not only in doubt but whose outward behaviour overwhelmingly testifies against that fact. It views the partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ only as a stepping stone of sorts to that true communion with Christ which, to the contrary, the Church says is non-negotiable in the moment. Instead, the Archbishop proposes that it is about what may be, or what might develop over time or merely what is desirable. If Holy Communion may be a “gesture of hope” then it does not speak of what is; it does not testify to current realities and dispositions. May we hear a word from the Church? “The celebration of the Eucharist, however, cannot be the starting-point for communion; it presupposes that communion already exists, a communion which it seeks to consolidate and bring to perfection.” #35. Ecclesia De Eucharistia, Pope John Paul II.]

Holy Communion was “to keep in contact and…to keep a bridge open.”  [This statement is but a continuation of the first thought, i.e. that Holy Communion is a hopeful gesture only, foreseeing some future attainment of a state of grace. The Archbishop reduces the Holy Sacrament to a kind of symbol that serves as a step in the process of conversion or readiness to meet Christ. He denies that it is to be in every case an already established communion accompanied by holy disposition.]

There’s a “distinction between the human being and what the person does, or says or thinks.” [This is a statement aimed at destroying the connection between free will and the chosen act of sin. It is a fundamental contradiction of the moral law, implying human beings must not be judged and/or censored on the basis of their thoughts, words or deeds. It also implies all human beings, regardless of spiritual disposition, are free to partake of Christ in the Holy Sacrament.]

We must “stay focused on who the person is, a human being called by Christ, called to true freedom.” [The subtle argument here is that our human dignity alone qualifies us to approach and receive Our Lord. Because Christ has called us to divine life we must be automatically & perfectly united to Him, regardless of personal choice. We are encouraged no longer to focus on a man freely choosing a host of evil actions that kill bodies and souls, but rather we must see simply a fellow human being called by Christ.]

“One of the difficulties is that we live in a dialectic of opposition, pressure groups against pressure groups, ways of thinking against ways of thinking, but behind that we’re all human beings.” [Here we are informed that we must break free of our identity group which imposes contradictory ways of thinking upon us and which keeps us from seeing one another as simply the human beings that we are. This is purely a call to abandon our Catholic way of life and the reality of objective truth.]

“Publicly, there’s a need for communication, and there’s been communication, but there are many forces going on in society, so yet again, it’s a matter of hope.” [This seems to be an acknowledgement of the need to resolve some difficulty, and a public one at that, with conversation, which is a giant step forward. But because society—and presumably conversation about those public matters—is complicated, there has been no resolution. Therefore, we must return to the “gesture of hope” argument. See Archbishop’s first apologetic above. But note well that the Archbishop is here admitting, on the one hand, failure of a process that is meant to restore a soul to good standing with Christ, and, on the other hand, nevertheless affording that same soul all the benefits of good standing! This is a dangerous breakdown in logic since what he advocates is unworthy reception of Holy Communion, which only compounds the grave state of sin of the individual!]

Regarding sacrilege, a distinction must be made between “the person and the acts of the person and what the person says.” [Again, we see the same argument as in a similar previous statement cited above. We are being informed that we must not judge someone’s right to the Holy Eucharist on anything other than the fact of being a human person. Therefore, we must accept that regardless of words or actions, every person, presumably every baptized person, may freely feed on Christ at Mass. This formula erases the concept of sin as well as any distinction between the grave sin that prohibits reception of the Sacrament and the grave sin of sacrilege that results from the profanation of the Sacrament. Since it is a denial of sin itself, it also denies the concept of sacrilege.]

It’s “going too far” if someone “feels to be rejected as a person.” [It’s true that in some settings and situations we might say that it goes too far to place restrictions on people that cause them to feel rejected. However, the context here is the Holy Eucharist and God Himself imposes His divine law on access to that Sacrament. The Church merely seeks to serve God in making His Son accessible to all men, but only in full accord with the express will of God, regardless of the feelings of any one individual, since God is not a respecter of persons.]

The challenge is “how to discuss what is said or what is done without rejecting the person as a person.” [Since there is no conflict between the law of God and the perfection of man, we can be sure that nothing God asks of us is actually a rejection of our person. The Archbishop seems to be denying this fact. He seems to be saying that when an explanation is given of Church teaching on the subject of the Holy Eucharist and particularly the worthy reception of that Sacrament, the Prime Minister might imagine he is being rejected, and that is an unacceptable outcome. Since a Bishop is called to govern, to teach and to sanctify, one hopes that he can connect the dots better than this. In the final analysis however, Canon 915 is suited perfectly to just this sort of impasse and it deals only with the outward objective condition of the Catholic’s public behaviour. It is not a judgment on the subjective state of the soul of the person.]

Regarding scandal, “it can cause scandal to the faithful if you cut someone.” [Is the argument here that there is no good or effective method to deal with scandal, regardless of how we govern our actions? If that is the case Our Lord left us in a terrible predicament, warning us at the peril of our souls not to offend the little ones while knowing at the same time that it was really impossible for any man to personally prevent scandal. However, it is possible that the Archbishop was saying something else. Perhaps he was saying that if action was taken against the Prime Minister in regard to denying him Holy Communion, that some of the faithful would nevertheless still be scandalized by such a serious action. But we must reply to that with a question: Dear Archbishop, is it better to obey God and be misunderstood for it, thus being forced to undertake better catechesis of the faithful or is it better to ignore God because His ways seem to put us in what we consider impossible straits?]

We mustn’t “lose sight that it’s a human being created in the image of God.” [This is basically another version of a previous argument already discussed above: “stay focused on who the person is, a human being called by Christ…” The argument denies the very Gospel of Jesus Christ since all men are human beings created in the image of God and have always been, from creation, exactly that. If that were sufficient basis today for any human being to approach the Eternal God then Jesus Christ need not have died for our sin and redemption. ]

On establishing contact with Trudeau: “The call is happening, but if you want to call, you have to be connected, you have to meet somewhere.” [The Archbishop is quite adept at vague language, leaving the listener to fill in the blanks as required. But this is another version of failure of resolution and the “gesture of hope” argument which we have seen in previous statements. This is what the Archbishop is really saying: “We’re working on the problem with our PM but if we deny him access to the Holy Sacrament it will rupture our connection so we have to go with a less than perfect solution, i.e. allow him to make a sacrilegious Holy Communion. This, by the way, is a near perfect picture of the new “accompaniment” paradigm being fostered by many renegade Bishops globally, which is nothing more than accompaniment in sin.]

Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and Catholic faith [CCC2089]. In his statements given in May 2017 Archbishop Lépine clearly denies a divinely revealed truth: that the eternal moral code demands the recipient of Holy Communion be in a state of grace. Because he has made no other public statements or corrections on the matter since that date one might fairly conclude he stands accused of heresy, a state of obstinate denial of Catholic teaching.

He has also denied his obligation under Church law, specifically Canon 915, to deny Holy Communion to public sinners but that breach does not in itself constitute heresy.

Concluding comments

In the annals of unholy communion in the Great White North over the last 60 years or so, has a Bishop ever ventured to explain why he served up the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ to the nation’s at-the-time #1 public sinner, the Prime Minister himself? I suspect not. Whether it was Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Joe Clark, John Turner, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien, or Paul Martin, perhaps we are only now getting a glimpse of what was in the minds and hearts of renegade Bishops who never once denied Holy Communion to the #1 public sinner of their day.

This latest blog posting then is merely a continuation of many years of reporting on the tragedy of heresy and dissent evident among the Catholic Bishops of Canada since the early 1960’s. Of all my postings, my article entitled Pastors And Bishops With Blood On Their Hands-Updated Version provides perhaps the single best overview of the calamity we face here in Canada. The article was first written and published for the Vote Life Canada blog in 2007 as an Open Letter to the Catholic Bishops of Canada and subsequently was posted also on the website. It was written in an attempt to understand the roots of the tragedy of legalized abortion in Canada and provides the background for a question I asked myself over and over again in those early years of being a Catholic convert.
 How is it possible to foster respect for human life when disrespect for God Himself, through the Body and Blood of Christ, is not only tolerated but modeled at every Mass?
I can refer the reader to another more recent posting which deals very well with the same subject matter, but directed specifically at the failure of Ottawa Archbishop Terrance Prendergast to control the awful scandal of rising star Justin Trudeau in our Canadian politics: Archbishop Prendergast Resign: Part 4 Why Torture Canon 915?

Here's a question really worth considering: If Canon 915 applies to any public sinner in present-day Canada who might that Catholic be? Broaden the timeline now to the last 60 years: who might that Catholic be? Pierre Elliot Trudeau? The culture warriors of today would likely not consider the father, Pierre, to be more despicably evil than who the son, Justin, has proved to be. A number of Catholic Bishops have even weighed in over the years on what might happen "should ever an evil or wicked Catholic politician arise in the distant future to torment Canada with unjust and ungodly laws." Two of these well known, brave churchmen (whom I’ve tagged as the Two Amigos) are on record here and here as being ready to jump into the lion’s den and rout the enemy! Duly noted.

But not only have these Bishops not done what they said—and what the Church has commanded—they have done worse! Now they remain silent when a sacrilegious Holy Communion takes place by the highest public official in Canada, even when it takes place on national TV! Presumably they think they will be spared the discomfort of having to comment any further on canon 915! But as usual, they forget God. Such wickedness must be punished and will be! But in the meanwhile, until these Bishops face the Almighty on their day of passing from this world, Canada itself will pay a high price as the resultant moral evil spewing from renegade Catholic politicians spreads into the social fabric of the nation.

The following are some comments I’ve tweeted out over this past year on the sacrilege that took place in Montreal in May of 2017. I use the hashtag #Montreal375Outrage to identify the infamous event.

·         Since that blasphemous moment in Montreal not 1 of the more than 30 influential Bishops & 400 priests present, including @archterentius has spoken up to condemn the evil perpetrated at that event or to defend the teaching of Christ. #Montreal375Outrage

·         #Montreal375Outrage demands redress. Who is on the Lord's side? Archbishop Lepine @diocesemontreal ignorant of Church teaching on Holy Eucharist? Eternal moral code demands recipient of Holy Communion be in a state of grace. This was act of objective mortal sin & heresy. Both parties automatically excommunicated.

·         But how is this possible? Justin Trudeau is in #CommunionWithChrist according to 30 Bishops & 400 priests. Just ask @archterentius or @gclacroix or @CardinalCollins. They were all there 4 the #Montreal375Outrage; have never repudiated the action, no hint #Canon915 might apply.

·         #1EvilPM Trudeau can't B wrong. Catholic Bishops of Canada affirm that he is in #CommunionWithChrist. It's all on national TV, no repudiation to date. What R Canadians supposed to think?

·         Priests & Bishops who have not publicly condemned the sacrilege of #Montreal375Outrage endanger their eternal souls. Repent & make public your error!

·         The most pressing matter in Canada today between Bishops & the PM is Y there's not yet been public condemnation of the #Montreal375Outrage.

·         Priests & Bishops who have not condemned the sacrilege of #Montreal375Outrage endanger their eternal souls. Repent & make public your error!

·         During #Montreal375Outrage, Bishops degraded Eucharist to lowest common denominator, #PseudoCatholic trademark.

·         The Bishops failed to deal w/ the dangerous, evil behaviour of Canada’s #1 public sinner PM Justin Trudeau.

·         And only a fellow heretic would deny, either openly or through silence, that the grave sin of sacrilege took place at #Montreal375Outrage.

·         Trudeau publicly faced down the Bishops at Notre Dame Basilica. He (& his father the devil) will forever B their master. #Montreal375Outrage

·         I must have missed the part where Bishops expressed sorrow for desecration of Eucharist, now beg the Virgin for help. #Montreal375Outrage

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