Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Archbishop Chaput to Journalists

I've seen one report of Archbishop Chaput's conversation with various Journalists in Washington, DC, but I hadn't seen his own initial remarks, which are succinct, concise, and very hard to misrepresent. These deserve attention in how they challenge while inviting a response. Though, "where there's a will..."

Full Text

The heart of the issue is as follows:

Sometimes in reading the news, I get the impression that access to Holy Communion in the Church is like having bar privileges at the Elks’ Club. I’m reminded of the story of the Catholic novelist Flannery O’Connor. She was at a cocktail party talking with fellow writer Mary McCarthy, who had left the Church. McCarthy, though no longer Catholic, said she still thought the Eucharist was a pretty good symbol of God’s presence. O’Connor replied: “Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.”

For believing Catholics, the Eucharist is not a symbol; or rather, it’s enormously more than a symbol. It’s the literal, tangible, body and blood of Jesus Christ. And since the earliest days of the Christian community, honest believers have never wanted to, and never been allowed to, approach the Eucharist in a state of grave sin or scandal. St. Paul said that if we do that, we profane the body and blood of Christ, and we eat and drink judgment upon ourselves (1 Cor. 11:27–32).

In other words, we commit a kind of blasphemy against God, and violence against our own integrity and the faith of other believers. There’s nothing casual about this kind of sin, and the American notion of “civil rights” is useless and flatly wrong in trying to understand it. No one ever has a “right” to the Eucharist -- and the vanity or hurt feelings of an individual Catholic governor or senator or even a vice president do not take priority over the faith of the believing community.

Blasphemy and violence are unpleasant words in polite conversation – but for believers, they have substance. They also have implications beyond this lifetime. That’s why no Catholic – from the simplest parishioner to the most important public leader – should approach Communion with grave sin on his soul. The media have no obligation to believe what the Church teaches. But they certainly do have the obligation to understand, respect and accurately recount how she understands herself – and especially how she teaches and why she teaches.

Is this effective and sufficient engagement of the spirit of the day? Why or why not? It isn't total or final but does it challenge? I think so.

God bless Archbishop Chaput.

Say a prayer, send a card, write him an email.


Irenaeus said...

I just love this guy. Hope to meet him next fall.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

I feel like I should completely misread this and go off on a tangent! *kidding*

I don't see a lot of "wiggle room" in the Archbishop's comments but just because I don't think so doesn't mean someone else won't pull out that old "primacy of conscience" phrase and once again misapply it.

Welcome back, Father!

Nan said...

Father, thank you for this post. I will indeed pray for Archbishop Chaput. And I will put you both on our parish bible study's list of priests we pray for each week.
Pax in Christ,

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Father: I'll remember you during the DM Novena-esp. tomorrow which is for priests and religious.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Happy Easter, Father!

Steve T. said...

No one owns the Eucharist. Only God. The Archbishop is wrong. This is making a doctrine into a god.

girlfriday said...

Interestingly, though I don't recognize the bread and wine as the actual body and blood (I do believe it to be vastly more than a symbol), I am encouraged by the Archbishop's words. I wish there was more of this in Sunday masses. People need to be reminded of the warning.

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