Bishop Gregory on Kerry-and-communion
Gregory (in a CNS story) rightly identifies the bishop's fundamental role in this regard as teaching: "When asked if he would give Kerry Communion, Bishop Gregory said, 'as a bishop, the first thing I have to do is teach. I have to teach the truth.'"
At the same time, isn't the imposition of ecclesiastical sanction a means of 'teaching the truth'? In fact, isn't that the primary purpose of an ecclesiastical sanction? We punish children to teach them (and their siblings) the difference between right and wrong, and to demonstrate that actions have consequences. Isn't this the thinking of St. Paul with regard to the incestuous member of the Corinthian congregation:
"Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough?
Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, inasmuch as you are unleavened . . . But I now write to you not to associate with anyone named a brother, if he is immoral, greedy, an idolater, a slanderer, a drunkard, or a robber, not even to eat with such a person . . . Purge the evil person from your midst" (1 Cor. 5:6-13).
St. Paul hardly seems convinced that effective preaching will do the trick: "You are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord" (v. 5).
The goal is always the salvation of the excommunicant ('so that his spirit may be saved'), yet having also in mind the spiritual well-being of the faithful ('that you may become a fresh batch of dough'). Allowing a wolf to remain amongst the sheep is good neither for the wolf nor for the sheep.
In an age when confusion reigns amongst the faithful regarding what moral behavior is compatible with Catholic teaching and what is not -- confusion demonstrated by both the existence and the remarkable success of groups like 'Catholics for Free Choice' -- couldn't such confusion be effectively 'straightened out' as much by a healthy excommunication now and then, as by a good sermon? If the goal is to "abhor the sin but not the sinner," is it not a viable means to dismiss a sinner from communion, that both he and the congregation be purged of his sin?
# posted by Jamie : 7:12 AM