US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Kmiec on Communion

Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Doug Kmiec has made much having of being denied Communion some months ago for his support of Barack Obama, most recently in his book, Can a Catholic Support Him--"him" being Obama. Beliefnet has an excerpt that's worth the read.

My argument, which I think has rock solid roots in our tradition, is that no one can judge the conscience of another, and a minister of Communion, lay or ordained, has to err on the side of charity when it comes to distributing Communion and presume the good intentions and clean conscience of the communicant. Think about it: Would you want your pastor deciding whether you were "worthy" to receive Communion. (Do you feel competent to judge his?) Even more, would you want the random eucharistic minister deciding? This time it's over abortion policy (not whether one has had or cooperated in an actual abortion). What next? "Known" gay or lesbian people? Married couples who use artificial birth control (more than 90 percent of Catholic couples of child-bearing age)? People who openly support the ordination of women? We'd be at the mercy of the particular concern of the minister in question. Further, this has the effect of preventing Catholics from speaking freely about how faith interacts with politics, which sometimes involves difficult conversations about the relationship between morality and public policy. 

Jesus is in no danger, folks. This denying Communion business is bad policy--and it allows us to pretend that any of us are actually "worthy" by some merit of our own to take part in the eucharistic mystery.