Cardinal Edward Egan, the Archbishop of New York, took one of his flock to task for improperly receiving communion, and thereby helps reinforce the traditional Catholic teaching regarding Catholic politicians who publically support abortion receiving communion.
Apr. 29, 2008 (CWNews.com) – In his public rebuke to Rudy Giuliani for improperly receiving Communion during Pope Benedict’s visit to New York, Cardinal Edward Egan raised two subtle but very interesting points. First, the cardinal says that Giuliani should not receive the Eucharist because of his support for legal abortion; he does not base his argument on Giuliani’s irregular marital status. Second, the cardinal reveals that he had reached a quiet agreement with Giuliani. The former New York mayor violated that agreement– apparently for his own political purposes.
But before discussing those rather subtle aspects of Cardinal Egan’s message, let’s begin with the obvious. Cardinal Egan deserves praise and thanks for his public statement, in which he shows himself to be a leader, a teacher, and a pastor of souls.
By emphasizing the gravity of support for the legalized killing of the unborn, the cardinal takes a strong stand in defense of human life. Since Giuliani is not currently a candidate for political office, the cardinal’s statement cannot be misinterpreted as a partisan gesture. Rather, he is using an opportunity to instruct the faithful.
At the same time, the cardinal is protecting the Church from further scandal. And as a pastor he is showing his concern for Giuliani, who is endangering his own soul by receiving the Eucharist improperly. The cardinal’s message should not be lost on countless other Catholics who are receiving Communion while in a state of serious sin; in that respect, too, his is a valuable pastoral statement.
In all these respects, Cardinal Egan’s statement stands in stark contrast to the official silence from Washington’s Archbishop Donald Wuerl after several prominent pro-abortion Catholics– most notably Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy– received Communion during the papal Mass in that city. Although these prominent politicians had indicated beforehand that they planned to receive the Eucharist, the archbishop made no statement to discourage them or to indicate to the public that they would be receiving Communion in violation of Church law. A spokesman for the US bishops’ conference issued only a lame statement: “People go to church and people go to Communion if they feel in their heart they are prepared to receive Communion.”