Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Week 18 in Catholic Media, 2014

April 28th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

More Heroic Hierarchy

This week Cameroon Cardinal Christian Tumi, archbishop emeritus of Douala, was interviewed by LifeSiteNews just after the canonization of St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII.  He confirmed that pro-abortion politicians should not be given Communion in an article by Patrick B. Craine (April 28, 2014) from Rome.


Cardinal Christian Tumi, archbishop emeritus of Douala, Cameroon

“Abortion is a crime. Yes, a crime. It’s murder, really. So there’s no doubt about it,” he said.   “Treat evil as evil….If somebody’s in [mortal] sin, he should be denied Communion,” he said.   Tumi rejected the notion that denying a politician Communion turns the Eucharist into a political weapon, “as some U.S. cardinals have argued. …It’s not a weapon. You are free to come or not to come. If you do not fulfill the conditions, it is not the Church that refuses,” he explained. “It is the person himself who refuses by not fulfilling the conditions required to go to Communion.”  He said if he knows the person is in mortal sin, and “if it is public,” then “I cannot do that in conscience.  But if I do not know, and the person knows and goes to Communion, that’s his or her problem,” he said.

“Though some bishops and cardinals have opposed the use of the canon, the Vatican has been clear in upholding it.”  Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in 2004:  “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.”

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 judgement 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.”

U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke has been the most prominent defender of canon 915. In an interview last month by LifeSiteNews, Burke insisted denying Communion when required is not about punishment but charity.  “The priest’s refusal to give Holy Communion is a prime act of pastoral charity, helping the person in question to avoid sacrilege and safeguarding the other faithful from scandal,” he explained.

So we add the name of Cameroon’s Cardinal Tumi to the “Heroic Hierarchy” list.  It is one thing to enforce such discipline after a national organization of bishops has affirmed by committee action; it is quite another to be virtually standing alone because of the silence of so many other bishops and Cardinals.  What follows is a list of “Heroic Hierarchy” already named in 2014 in these NEWS stories.  Perhaps you know of more to add?  Scroll to the bottom for a “Question of the Week” for further discussion.

Heroic Hierarchy

Week 17:  Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins who publicly criticized the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) after it announced last month it would march in Toronto’s WorldPride parade this summer.

Week 14:  Bishop Paul Kariuki Njiru, chairman of the Catholic Health Commission of Kenya who wrote a letter urging that donations to “Free the Children” be discontinued because  the charity offers and promotes “family planning” in its clinics and programs.

Week 13:  Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Jos who, in his opening remarks at the Nigerian bishops’ recent plenary meeting,  made a strong defense  for a bill banning same-sex “marriage.”

Week 12:  In the same week both Cardinal Carlo Caffara of Bologna and Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, announced that not even a pope can change Catholic teaching or practice on marriage/divorce/remarriage regarding admission to the Eucharist.  (The following week, Cardinal O’Malley spoke similarly).

Week 11:  There were three heroic hierarchy cited:   Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth England calling for denying the Eucharist to those in same-sex unions as an “act of mercy”,  Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa who sponsored a repentant homosexual speaker to inform the flock on the devastating harm of such relationships, and Belize’s Bishop Dorick Wright who issued a directive to the country’s Catholic schools stating that ‘organizations whose activities and positions are actively opposed to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church, and which endanger the souls of the People of God, cannot be welcomed under any circumstances in our schools.’   “Stressing that Planned Parenthood is an international billion-dollar business that profits from the killing of babies through abortion, Bishop Wright said, “…the operational arm in Belize of International Planned Parenthood, is an instrument of the most serious crimes against life and our Christian morality.’”

Week 7:  Archbishop of New Orleans, Gregory M. Aymond, announced a boycott of all businesses which in any way participate in or facilitate the erection of a new $4.2 million Planned Parenthood abortion facility.

Week 5:  Buffalo’s Bishop Richard Malone has shot back after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested “extreme conservatives“, including pro-lifers and pro-family advocates, have no place in … New York.   In a video posted on his diocesan website … Bp. Malone said Cuomo’s “rant” was itself extremist:  ‘I think that comment is the best example of extremism I’ve heard for a long time.  At first it was so outrageous it made me laugh.  Then it made me deeply concerned,” he continued.  “New York State already has the highest rate of abortions in the country,” Bishop Malone stated. ‘The governor, and those who support him on this position, want to make us the abortion capital of the country.”

Question(s) of the Week:

V. P. Biden blesses himself after receiving communion at St. Patrick's. Cardinal Dolan looks the other way.

A pastor and his bishop have the responsibility for enforcing the appropriate Canons, but sometimes the person flaunting Church Teaching may go to an Extraordinary Eucharistic minister who is less aware or even more afraid of refusing the Sacred Species.   Is this an abuse of the laity?  Is it being used to avoid the necessary discipline?  Should laity faced with such a situation simply refuse to act as Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers until the pastor and/or local bishop enforce the Canons?  The question is made manifest by the picture of Cardinal Dolan ignoring Joe Biden’s reception of Communion.  What do you think?  Are lay ministers of communion enabling some of this abuse by giving pastors and their superiors “a way out?”  What should they do?  What would you do?


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One Response to “Week 18 in Catholic Media, 2014”

  1. Diane Harris says:

    Here is the flip-side of Heroic Hierarchy:

    LifeSiteNews tonight reprinted a Breakpoint article which is worth reading: “Unpreaching the Gospel: Why the pulpits avoid the pro-life issue,” by Rolley Haggard. Here are some excerpts:

    “[among] the top reasons evangelical pastors give for not preaching against abortion…. is that “preaching on the issue might politically stigmatize the pastor or politicize the pulpit, scaring seekers off.”

    “Aside from the fact that such reasoning is purely pragmatic—concerned with results (what works) rather than principle (what’s right)—it is also severely problematic in three of its underlying assumptions:

    One, that pulpits should avoid moral issues with controversial political overtones;

    Two, that silence is justified on issues that may “scare seekers off”;

    Three, that ignoring issues like abortion won’t adversely impact gospel ministry.”

    The author states: “…these assumptions are undoing the very work they hope to do…. they are “unpreaching” the gospel.”

    “Political overtones notwithstanding, abortion is arguably the moral/spiritual issue of our day. If we don’t speak to it, who will? Abortion is, in essence, a moral and spiritual issue. It is a violation of the commandment “thou shalt not murder.” It is political only secondarily and arbitrarily. Just because it has been made part of the national political discourse, that does not alter its fundamental character. No court on earth can vacate the laws of heaven….silence is not an option for the church—unless the plan is just to quit preaching against sin altogether.”

    “the reverse is true: politicization of abortion is an encroachment of the state into the affairs of the church. Christians have not only the right but the solemn obligation to preach against abortion. When there is conflict or overlap, our duty couldn’t be any more clear: We are to obey God rather than men and governments.”

    “Preaching on abortion may indeed scare off those merely seeking a church, but it will attract and keep those who are seeking a Savior….By failing to preach on abortion we … think we’re making it easier for seekers to find Christ, but we’re actually making it easier for them to never feel any real need for Him.”

    Worth a further look….

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