November 9, 2021 (Edward J. Barr) – We now have learned from a preliminary document that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops will decline to directly confront the scandalous attack on the Eucharist by pro-abortion Catholic politicians. This is not surprising. The bishops have ignored this topic for decades; having a Catholic president in the White House wasn’t enough to change their tactics. To understand the real reason why the USCCB will avoid addressing the issue, let us consider what would happen if they did ever issue even a minor “pastoral correction” to wayward Catholics who hold power in Caesar’s government. Below is a fictitious account of the ramifications of directly confronting the issue.
“The United States Conference on Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is reeling from a series of punitive measures taken by the US Government over the “clarification on reception of the Eucharist” message to the faithful that was issued earlier this week. The document sought to provide clear guidance on assisting individual Catholics in determining whether they should present themselves for Holy Communion. The USCCB stressed that the promulgated instructions were not directed toward any specific individuals or group of individuals; rather, to inform all the faithful of the perennial teaching of Christ and His Church, in order that only those worthy of reception of our Lord would receive Him. Despite this denial, the reaction of the federal government indicates that Catholic politicians saw the document as directly aimed at them. They fired back quickly.
The document highlighted the Catholic doctrine that the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. It noted that St. Paul spoke specifically on this reality in 1st Corinthians. “Whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying.” (I Cor. 11:27-30) Papal documents such as Humane Vitae and Ecclesia de Eucharist were also cited in support of the instruction. While Church scholars noted nothing in the document was new, there was concern over the inclusion of a footnote from a June 2004 document written by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI when he was a Cardinal. The memorandum, titled, “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion,” was never implemented by American bishops, though it was given to disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
The retaliation by the Biden Administration was swift. Some pro-abortion Catholic politicians called the quotations of scripture “hate speech.” The administration indicated it would issue new guidelines for participation in federal grants that included adherence to new “equality act” standards on marriage, transgenderism, and euthanasia. In effect, in order to maintain any federal grant, the Church would have to repudiate its traditional teaching on the sacredness of marriage as between a man and woman, the creation by God of “man and woman,” and the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the human person. Losing the grant money would be catastrophic to the institutional Catholic Church. It has been reported that the Church receives hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants each year. Many go toward immigration, one area where the Church agrees with the Biden Administration. The Manhattan Institute has estimated that Catholic Charities received up to 65% of its funds from the federal government. The strong action by the Administration was fully supported by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. One Church official lamented that “we either become the Church of the poor or no Church at all.”
Insiders at the USCCB said they had hoped to “thread the needle” by addressing an important issue in a pastoral way. The document was relatively brief. It stated that presenting oneself for Holy Communion should be a conscious decision. That the faithful should consider if they are “in full communion with the Catholic Church.” It also mentioned that “abortion and euthanasia” are grave sins and that there is a clear obligation to oppose them. Evidently, this language was too close to home for many Democratic politicians who profess to be Catholic yet oppose the Church on matters of inherent evil. The insider noted that, “if the Church doesn’t capitulate, there will be massive layoffs of administrative staff at the USCCB and a lessening of pay and perks for senior prelates. Lavish residences will have to be sold. Travel will be drastically curtained. It will be a new world. The Church will have to go back to the early days when all they could do is preach the Gospel and administer the sacraments.”
The alarm aggressively roared to life. He slowly became aware of the high-pitched beeping. Squinting and frowning at the same time, he reached over and instinctively slapped the alarm button. Slowly sitting up on the edge of the bed, he wiped the sweat from his brow with both hands. Shaking them vigorously, he watched droplets of sweat fly across the room. Then he perked up. He sighed happily when he smelled the freshly brewed coffee. His eyes opened wide. The coffee was on his nightstand. A beautiful silver service with his date of ordination engraved on the tray. “Ah, it was only a nightmare.” He took a sip of coffee and smiled. On the bureau he could see his zucchetto and biretta. His vestments were hanging in the closet. Everything was in order. “Thank God,” whispered the Cardinal to himself. “Nothing has changed.”
Edward J Barr is a catechist, an attorney, an intelligence officer, and a Marine. He earned a Master of Theology degree from the Augustine Institute. Mr. Barr is a contributing writer for the Roma Locuta Est blog (www.RomaLocutaEst.com)