Christ among the Doctors of the Law



Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My brief replies to Albany's brief response

A political wag once observed that the fastest way to start a ruckus on Capitol Hill is to point out what the Constitution actually says. In the Church, it seems, the fastest way to start a ruckus is to point out what the Code of Canon Law actually says.

Diocese of Albany has responded, briefly, to my comments regarding the eligibility of Gov. Andrew Cuomo for holy Communion under Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law. Their brief response follows in bold print, my brief reply in regular print.

There are norms of the church governing the sacraments which Catholics are expected to observe.

Agreed. I helped point them out.

However, it is unfair and imprudent to make a pastoral judgment about a particular situation without knowing all the facts.

Agreed. Has someone done that? I responded to reasonable questions that I received about public behavior, as known from public sources, about which public canon law, which is my area of expertise, has something to say for the welfare of the faith community. I did so calmly, accurately, and with due respect for the persons involved, per
Canon 212 § 3. I do not see how anyone could reasonably construe my comments as making improper ‘pastoral judgments’.

As a matter of pastoral practice we would not comment publicly on anything which should be addressed privately, regardless if the person is a public figure or a private citizen.

Agreed, the diocese should not do that, nor should I. Nor did I. Canon 915, if it means anything at all (
and it most certainly means something), is about public consequences for a Catholic whose public behavior is seriously odds with important Catholic Church teaching. I can, and certainly should when asked, tell people what canon law says about such matters. I cannot, however, enforce the law. That responsibility rests elsewhere. + + +

Media note: I have too many requests to do live interviews on this topic, whether Catholic or secular, and it’s not the best use of the limited time I have available. I would be happy to try to reply to written media questions, as always. I aim for 24 hour turn around, depending. Short, concise questions are more likely to get a quick response. For more background on the application of Canon 915, check out this page.

WIVBTV 4 in Buffalo has pretty good news story on this matter (pace their assumption that "the Vatican" has said anything about the case). And yes, I saw the clip of Whoopi and friends on "The View". As Uncle Claudius might say: "it was. . . . .indescribable."

Some other follow-ups, as occasions suggest.

For those who agree with what I wrote, thank you for your kind words.

For those who disagree with what I wrote, I’ve already been informed that: the law killeth and the Spirit giveth life, that I am a Pharisee, that I am worse than a Pharisee, that Jesus forgives everyone (except possibly me and people like me), that I am a sinner, that the Church should deal with child molesters, that religion is a private matter, that Church and State are separate, that Bp. Hubbard is a gracious man, that Republicans (long listed omitted) commit sins too, that lots of people live together who aren’t married, that people get divorced and it might not be their fault, that Jesus came to unite not to divide, that many bishops ignore canon law, that many priests ignore canon law, that many lay people ignore canon law, that only psychologcially insecure people think that law is important, that the wafer is just a symbol, that I need a life, that some European politicians behave far worse but their bishops give them Communion anyway, that the Bible says 'Judge not lest you be judged', et c.

For both groups: I am not an official of the Vatican, I am a consultant (
Referendary) to the Apostolic Signatura. All opinions are my own (and, no, the pope did not tell me to say that.) I am not a priest or a pastor; I am a layman.