Tuesday, October 23, 2007

One last word

I wanted to post this as my (hopefully) last thought on the goings on at Most Holy Redeemer Parish in San Francisco. I originally posted this on the catholic-pages forum but I wanted to give it a more wide audience, in part so proper refutation can be made if I'm inaccurate anywhere. If you don't know what issue this deals with, American Papist has been doing his usual yeoman's work to keep us all up to date.
I'm still trying to figure out why this is so hard. The plain reading of Canon 915 applies more easily to this situation than even that of pro-abortion politicians, the specific instructions of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith notwithstanding.

Canon 915 says those "who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion". Let's break this down by the words. If we can find a word from this which does not apply the application of Canon 915 does not fit the situation.

Are the actions of the "Sisters" 'obstinate'? By definition, 'obstinate' means "unwilling to yield" and by the "Sisters'" own declaration, they are unwilling to yield to ecclesiastical and magisterial authority on a grave matter. So yeah, their actions can be defined as 'obstinate' (note: this does not necessarily imply the common negative connotation which we normally take for granted - by simple deconstruction 'obstinate' is neither positive nor negative but merely a modifier). We could further consider 'obstinate' to apply as the "Sisters" clearly have been informed that their positions are contrary to the teachings of the Church and they have not, in light of that knowledge, changed their position.

Do they 'persist'? Certainly. Well before and even after this event the motives of the "Sisters" have been well known and unchanged.

Is this issue 'manifest', meaning "publicly known"? Clearly. The "Sisters" have seen to that, including in their own press releases. Are their existence or their positions unknown to the public, to the Church in the greater area? No, as is frequently admitted they and their positions are well known to all involved.

Does the issue rise to the level of "grave sin"? The Catechism, in #2357 uses terms such as "grave depravity" and "intrinsically disordered" and "contrary to the natural law" in discussing the practices the "Sisters" promote. To move a step further, I would suggest that to encourage "grave depravities" could be considered an even greater harm than to merely commit them one's self under the Matthew 18:6 teaching.

So, to me, not being a Canon lawyer, it would seem that the acts of the "Sisters" would be consonant with the application of Canon 915 both in their actions and their teachings. By publicly wearing the uniform of the "Sisters" one implicitly announces support for their positions and incur the ecclesiastical justice due them even without an explicit act of such support at the time of Communion. This situation is much like those who wear the rainbow sashes and are appropriately refused Communion due to Canon 915 (and I'm sure others) without need of an explicit affirmation of what positions that act entails. One need not hold up a sign or scream out one's position for it to be both obstinate and manifest.

I know there are many important pastoral issues to deal with, but allowing sacrilege (i.e. reception of Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin) for the sake of someone's self-image never got anyone into heaven. St. Paul is very clear on this issue and we elide his statement in 1 Cor 11:28-29 to our peril. One of the original titles and responsibilities of Deacons was "Defenders of the Eucharist" for very much this very problem.
Again, I'll make the same statement I made on catholic-pages. If you can give a properly reasoned response to my read on the Canon (i.e. a response devoid of histrionics) that can show errors, please let me know. Sometimes my living as an engineer gets the best of me and I can make things simply too easy.