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Bishops failing to enforce Canon 915 mortally sinful March 27, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Abortion, asshatery, Basics, contraception, disaster, error, foolishness, General Catholic, horror, sadness, scandals, secularism, sexual depravity, sickness, Society.

So much for not being topical?

A Father Vincent Fitzpatrick, of whom I am totally unfamiliar, has penned a piece for the American Life League that castigates all that great swath of bishops in this country who, for more than 40 years, have refused to enforce Canon 915 by denying the Blessed Sacrament to sinful pro-abort politicians.  According to Fr. Fitzpatrick, enforcement of Canon 915 is not just a duty, it is not an option, it is so mandatory that failing to do so is gravely sinful.


Fr. Fitzpatrick (I add emphasis):

Here is the text of Canon 915: “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

Several American bishops have made statements to the effect that a bishop must exercise “discretion” regarding whether to “impose the penalty” of denial of Communion. Among them: Chaput, Dolan, O’Malley, and Wuerl.

All bishops who refuse to “impose the penalty” are participating in a lie. Namely, that denial of Communion is a penalty.

Denial of Communion is NOT a penalty.

So? What is the import of this fact?

It means that denial of Communion is not an option that MAY be chosen. It is MANDATED by Canon 915. No bishop, priest, or other minister of Communion is free to disobey Canon 915, for the simple reason that the action Canon 915 forbids is ALWAYS gravely sinful.

It needs to be emphasized that Canon 915 is NOT a canon that may be “applied” or “not applied.” Canon 915 can only be obeyed or disobeyed. And disobeying Canon 915 is always gravely sinful.

Canon 915 exists precisely because giving Communion to a person “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin” is always gravely sinful. Doing so is always to give grave scandal, and to participate knowingly in a sacrilegious act.

Let that sink in. Always gravely sinful.

In terms perhaps more familiar to the laity: To give Communion knowingly and deliberately to ANYONE delineated in Canon 915 is ALWAYS a mortal sin.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl has been the most outspoken of those bishops who refuse to obey Canon 915, but all of them are on record, as he is, as endorsing the commission of MORTAL SINS by their priests and other ministers of Communion. Cardinal Wuerl has even punished those who have obeyed Canon 915.

Of course, this is something he has no right to do, because no bishop has the authority to command anyone to commit a mortal sin!

I believe he is absolutely correct in this.  Canon Law is Canon Law, and Canon 915 is crystal clear.  For a prelate to so fail in duty that he abrogates a very significant portion of Canon Law is objectively mortally sinful if only from the standpoint of the massive scandal it causes alone.  But add to that fact the reality that the Blessed Sacrament is thus received unworthily, and you add sacrilege and blasphemy on top of the grave scandal.  It seems a pretty clear cut case of objective mortal sin, to me.

Unless one wants to argue that our prelates are so badly formed they are ignorant of the nature of the Blessed Sacrament, scandal, sacrilege, and all the rest.  One might actually have an argument there, which is a scandal of the first rank in its own right.

But really, these men have been corrected so often on this matter, from above and below (including the relegating of then Cardinal Ratzinger’s instruction to enforce Canon 915 by Cardinal McCarrick to the memory hole), that claiming ignorance is to extend a charitable appreciation of the matter beyond the breaking point.

One more point from Fr. Fitzpatrick:

It is said by many, including Cardinal Wuerl, that Communion should not be used as a political weapon.

Absolutely true. And the reception of Communion is being used as a political weapon—by pro-abortion politicians. As long as they are permitted to receive Communion, the bishop (e.g., Cardinal Wuerl) endorses their claim to be “ardent Catholics” whose promotion of abortion is NO SIN.

Again, I totally agree.  There is no question in my mind that it is the pro-abort sinners and their episcopal enablers who are politicizing the Blessed Sacrament.  They are also committing sins more severe than even the worst heretics of the past.

One sad fact is that the article lists Fr. Fitzpatrick as a retired priest.  Of course, no active priest could write a missive like this because they would be cashiered instantly.

He does recommend raising a ruckus to Rome about this scandal.  I heartily agree. You can either send a letter directly to the Holy See, or to the Apostolic Nuncio in Washington, DC.  The address is as follows:

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vignano
Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See to the United States
3339 Massachusetts Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20008

Tel: (202) 337-0619

As always in such matters, be forthright, straightforward, and polite.  Very polite. But make your point firmly. You could even just copy Fr. Fitzpatrick’s article and mail that in.


1. Evan C. - March 27, 2014

Article printed and mailed…

2. Baseballmom - March 27, 2014

Wow. That is an excellent article, thanks so much for posting it. How is it that it takes a simple retired priest to speak Truth to Power?

3. M.P. - March 27, 2014

Yes, and Cardinal Burke would agree and has been saying this but he is ignored by most.

4. Anna - March 28, 2014

Oh, that we had more Fr. Fitzpatrick’s.

The mayor says he is a practicing Catholic, yet supports abortion and gay “marriage”. The parish he attends is extremely proud of him, not being sarcastic, they really are very proud of him. The archdiocese sabotaged efforts to stop the homosexual non-discrimination ordinance that discriminates against Christians. Our archbishop deny Communion ? Not a chance.

Maybe I should copy the letter and send it to the mayor’s parish priest.

Molly - March 28, 2014

The sabotage efforts were deplorable, signature collectors were at the title loan store a mere 200 feet away from our church parking lot. When I learned that the parishes were instructed to not allow the petitioners to collect signatures of archdiocesan property, I was so dismayed. If the church had allowed this, the NDO ban initiative would have been on the ballot.

But then I learn that our archbishop is hosting the 24 hours of confession at San Francisco di Paolo (and is disseminating the event info widely – our school principal emailed all the families, first time ever a message from Archbishop Gustavo has come through the schools). And also consecrating the archdiocese to the Holy Spirit. These are good things, but I’m confused – is this for the archbishop to look good for the Vatican? Perhaps I shouldn’t question his motives here, but just accept that he is encouraging confession and consecrating the archdiocese.

I agree with you completely, however, the chancery will avoid alienating the Hispanic Catholic Democrats here at any cost. I’ve heard that the newspapers will not print anything damning either. We’re relatively new to town but so appalled at the disorder in the Catholic community here.

I also wish we had more Fr. Fitzpatrick’s.

tantamergo - March 28, 2014

You in San Antonio? You have my prayers. I can make a few recommendations – look Northeast, Lavernia, Seguin, places like that. Pretty churches, fairly orthodox priests.

You know about Atonement, I assume? But it’s not without problems, some very serious. Pius X has a weekly TLM.

SA is about as bad a diocese as I have deep experience of. It’s really problematic, like Texas’ LA.

Molly - March 28, 2014

Tantam – yes I am in San Antonio – you and I have emailed about parishes and Atonement. Thank you for offering this info again!

Yes, I am coming to realize how awful SA is. I went back through your posts for more stories. Ugh.

anna - March 28, 2014

It’s worse than LA, because you think LA, forgive me, but one might have a tendency to say, oh those West Coasters, it’s expected, but SA, everyone thinks it has multiple Catholic uni’s, a large Catholic population, and think it’s doing OK. Oh those poor Catholics who move here and are at first fooled, and then when it dawns on them, it’s like bait and switch.

Father Rodriguez is all the way out in the boonies, but it would be well worth it to pilgrimage there!

anna - March 28, 2014

Molly, were you at the rally in front of the cathedral in support of religious freedom about two years ago? One of the Catholic organizers was so upset, not a single priest from the archdiocese would attend, they were not allowed to pass out their flyers at the churches, but lovely Bishop Yanta came all the way from Amarillo. Now there is a fierce defender of the Faith!

We have had personal dealings, one on one, with multiple administrators, priests, etc in the archdiocese,and have never met a more duplicitous bunch. If the average Catholic here could have heard those conversations, sat in those meetings they might be left with their faith in tatters.The chancery is infested with the most sniveling sycophants I have ever run across. Talk about leprous courtiers. It’s disgusting. I’m not a youngster, but in the course of my years I thought I had met every kind of coward, every kind of self-serving ingratiating panty-waist, every kind of backstabber, every kind of weasel, but it took dealing with the archdiocese for me to say now I have met a REAL coward, now I have met a REAL Judas.

The archdiocese is known as a stepping stone to bigger and better things for certain priests and bishops. And it isn’t your imagination, the media runs interference, when it was pointed out to the archbishop that multiple Catholic universities in town already offered “reproductive” coverage i.e. birth control to employees all he said was he would enter into a dialogue with them. And that was that. This must be the same dialogue he had with the city council regarding the NDO.

IMHO, chancery runs interference so the archbishop can eventually walk away with nothing sticking to him. This one will move up the food chain, like Gomez before him.

Sometimes wish I did not know what I know, could just worship here or there, but when you really know stuff, not hear-say, it’s disheartening. Gut wrenching. St. Pius is out. Permanently.

Sometimes I’m amazed that I’m still Catholic. Only by God’s grace for sure.

Sorry, tantamergo, for hogging your comments box.

Cassandra - March 29, 2014

I think you should have gone ahead and stood on the public sidewalk outside the Church’s and collected signatures anyway. One, it’s not really parish property. Two, let the archdiocese embarrass itself very publicly by trying to have you arrested. Can you imagine how that would play in Catholic blogland?

Terri - March 28, 2014

I wouldn’t hesitate to send that letter. I do believe the more we, the lay in the pew speak out the better. Possibly we may plant the seed with some of our Bishops and more importantly with their superiors to do the right thing in accordance with the Church of Christ.

I too am thankful for the letter from Fr. and will follow up with a letter to the Nuncio. This is happening in most diocese in the U.S. so it is well worth the effort. I only wish it could be a more “Universal” or at least country wide effort.

tantamergo - March 28, 2014

Thank you! God bless you!

5. Dismas - March 28, 2014

What about the Bishops’ Superior?

tantamergo - March 28, 2014

It’s a very good point. The bishops have behaved thus because their superiors have not done much – publicly, at least – to call them to account.

The collapse in discipline starts at the top. It is not just a problem of local ordinaries, but also a problem of the universal ordinary.

Nevertheless, the enormous failure to perform duty is inexcusable on the part of bishops. Saying “well, the Pope isn’t making us enforce Canon Law” doesn’t wash.

6. TG - March 28, 2014

Thanks for the article and the address. God bless this priest.

7. Paul Mitchell - March 28, 2014

My compliments! It’s been clear to me for a number of years (as I have written elsewhere) that one of two things must be true: either it’s not mortally sinful to advocate for abortion “rights”, or else the vast majority of bishops and priests (including this pope and his recent predecessors) who refuse to carry out Canon 915 are negligent in the extreme in their duties of caring for the faithful and protecting the sanctity of the sacrament.

You are the first Catholic blogger I know, and the priest you quote is one of the very few I am aware of, willing to answer this dilemma by choosing the latter option.

8. Willard Money - March 28, 2014

I would be careful what you wish for. John Paul II declared in Veritatis Splendor that in addition to abortion among those things that are “intrinsically evil” is torture and deportation. There are quite a few politicians on “your team” that could easily be denied communion on that basis.

See Veritatis Splendor paragraph 80.

DFW - March 29, 2014

from the Vatican Website: Note it also says genocide, which is what Mexico is attempting to perpetrate against this country by sending millions of its people into this country illegally for decades. It is an act of war. I fail to see how deportation of criminals and those who harm society is sinful. The Church excommunicates those who would hurt its body. Should the state do less in their own secular terms ? The Church provides for self-defense. Jobs are lost to illegals and outsourcing takes jobs to Mexico. How good is your U.S. economy ? That of the rest of ours is not so good. Do you enjoy paying taxes to support social services taken basically by theft from the American taxppayer for these people, who when they became citizees voted Obama into office ? Obama has promoted abortion at every turn including and is trying to make the Church fund insurance poicies that go against its teaxching.

The Second Vatican Council itself, in discussing the respect due to the human person, gives a number of examples of such acts: “Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work which treat labourers as mere instruments of profit, and not as free responsible persons: all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honour due to the Creator”.132

9. USA Priest: Canon 915 Mandatory & Failure to Apply, Mortally Sinful « Catholic Truth - March 29, 2014

[…] One sad fact is that the article lists Fr. Fitzpatrick as a retired priest.  Of course, no active priest could write a missive like this because they would be cashiered instantly.  Source […]

10. JeffB - March 29, 2014

According to Pope Pius XI, a large majority of priests and bishops have already been guilty of grave sin – for a very long time – of failing to teach the laity on the evils of contraception. In his encyclical Casti Connubii, the pope warns them that, “They are blind and leaders of the blind: and if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit.” Pray for our bishops and priests.

11. Cassandra - March 29, 2014

I’ve been making this case for quite some time.

There’s actually a far better case to be made than Father makes. If you would read ++Burke’s scholarly article on 915, you’d find some rather vital points.

Besides the affirmation that the minister himself commits a mortal sin when intentionally failing to enforce Canon 915, ++Burke makes clear that bishops can NOT dispense the ministers from the obligation. In other words, Wuerl does not have the authority to tell ministers to ignore Canon 915.

Now Wuerl did make a good point early on that it is not reasonable to expect lay extraordinary ministers to be adequately trained to properly enforce Canon 915. But instead of the obvious conclusion that therefore the use of extraordinary ministers should be stopped, he declares that Canon 915 wouldn’t be enforced.

12. Cassandra - March 29, 2014

Oh, I should add that a year or so ago when a few company men were trying to make the case that “loyal” Catholics should be “standing with the bishops” instead of objecting to certain practices, the response by two of the priest bloggers (including one in the Archdiocese of DC) to my objection that we shouldn’t be supportive of questionable “pastoral” decisions was the question: “Are they commanding you to sin?”. When I pointed out to the DC priest that, in fact, Wuerl WAS commanding him to sin by not enforcing Canon 915, he would give no answer. Now, I don’t expect (active) priests to be publicly criticizing bishops, but it’s outrageous to try to silence legitimate objections by questioning the loyalty and faith of the objector.

13. mortimer zilch - March 29, 2014

you wonder why Pelosi or Biden’s bishop hasn’t done this, and now it appears…spiritual death. it’s horrible how evil is so nice, so officious.

14. John Hemhauser - March 30, 2014

Commonsense should inform that participating in blasphemy
is a grave sin.

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