By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The bishops of Washington, D.C. and Arlington, Virginia have publicly confirmed that they will uphold the declaration of Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City that Governor Kathleen Sebelius should not present herself for communion should she be appointed Secretary of Health and Human Services and move to Washington, DC.
According to a report by Deal W. Hudson, a spokeswoman for the Washington Archdiocese, Susan Gibbs, said Archbishop Donald Wuerl will expect Sebelius to follow Bishop Naumann’s request while in Washington. Joelle Santolla, spokeswoman for the Arlington Diocese, announced that Bishop Paul Loverde would expect the same while she was in Northern Virginia.
âThat Archbishop Wuerl and Bishop Loverde would back up Bishop Naumann in regard to the future Secretary of Health and Human Services is a significant development in the effort of some bishops to enforce Canon 915,â Hudson wrote.
âThis will send the message to other bishops that if they choose to pronounce members of Congress from their dioceses unfit for communion, their authority will be respected in D.C. and across the Potomac in Virginia. The ramifications are enormous.â
Should the bishops of pro-abortion politicians such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. John Kerry follow suit,Â the Catholic community could avoid scandals such asÂ when Sen. Kerry received communion at Pope Benedict XVIâs Mass in Washington last year orÂ when Speaker Pelosi had a special Mass at Trinity College to celebrate her elevation to Speaker.
âSome will argue that neither Archbishop Wuerl nor Bishop Loverde will attempt, through their priests, to deny Governor Sebelius communion,â Hudson writes. âBut this misses the point, and the significance, of how the combined statements of Bishops Naumann, Wuerl, and Loverde have created a new and more vulnerable situation for the pro-abortion Catholic members of Congress. As Archbishop Raymond Burke has explained, Bishop Naumann did not impose a âsanctionâ on Governor Sebelius; Bishop Naumann asked Sebelius, not the clergy, to apply Canon 915 to herself.â
Were Sebelius to receive communion in Washington or somewhere in Northern Virginia, it will likely create a media storm that will engulf not only Sebelius and the Obama administration but also whatever priest administered communion. This is something neither the Church nor the Obama administration wants.
âNo doubt there are priests in both dioceses who would have little compunction about giving communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians, but whether they want to get into a media-generated spat with their bishop over a high-profile politician is another matter.â
Hudson also points out that the question is sure to be raised as to why Governor Sebelius is the only Catholic politician in Washington who has been called to account under Canon 915. What about the dozens of others in Congress who have a 100 percent pro-abortion voting record, such as Vice President Joe Biden?
âWill other bishops seize this opportunity to apply Canon 915 to politicians in their dioceses, knowing that Archbishop Wuerl and Bishop Loverde will back them up?â Hudson asks.
âGiven the determination of the Obama administration and the Congress to roll back all restrictions on abortion, I wouldn’t be surprised.â
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