Christ among the Doctors of the Law



Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Letter to the Ottawa Citizen re Abp. Prendergast

Newspapers can't run every letter to the editor they get, but thanks to the internet, rejected missives have a second chance to see the light of day.

On Saturday, March 8, 2008, the Ottawa Citizen ran a story about Abp. Terrence Prendergast's statement concering pro-abortion politicians and reception of the Eucharist. As is typical of the secular press, however, the newspaper gave nearly as much time to the negative opinions of one Rosemary Ganley, coordinator of Canada's Catholics for a Free Choice, as if this lady knew enough about Church law and moral theology even to have an opinions worth pitting against those of the archbishop. Pace 1983 CIC 212.3.

Anyway, I sent a letter to the editor of the Ottawa Citizen and, three days having passed without its appearing it seems, I imagine it was not chosen for publication. Whatever. For those who might like to see it, I post it below.

Dear Editor:

Rosemary Ganley's ignorance of canon law seems no obstacle to her lecturing Ottawa's Archbishop Terrence Prendergast on it. No sooner does Abp. Prendergast announce, in some of the most measured language imaginable, that Catholic politicians who support abortion must be aware of the canonical consequences for their contrarian behavior, than does Ganley pronounce the prelate "to be on very shaky ground," allegedly because "There's nothing in [canon law] saying he could deny communion to people who are pro-choice."

Ms. Ganley is wrong.

Canon 915 states that Catholics who "obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion." Abp. Prendergast's statement shows that he is quite familiar not only with this canon, but with Church teaching on the inviolability of innocent human life and the responsibility of governments to protect the weak. Abp. Prendergast is simply moving to apply Church law in defense of principles that the Church proclaims.

Ms. Ganley's shallow claim that canonical consequences should only arise for things expressly reprobated in the Code of Canon Law cannot be taken seriously. Consider: selling drugs, running prostitution rings, or distributing pornography are not expressly scored in the Code, but I doubt that Ms. Ganley would come rushing to the defense of any Catholics excluded from holy Communion for publicly engaging in or advocating such activities.

That's because Ms. Ganley does not really care what canon law says about most things, she cares about promoting abortion. Unfortunately, she also knows that her views on abortion will garner at least as much attention as will those of a man whose education and office make him immeasurably more knowledgeable about Church teaching than Ganley will ever be, so she has little incentive to educate herself.

Edward N. Peters, JD, JCD

Detroit, MI, USA