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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

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LJ

Joe Tremblay has hit the mark, gently, but hit it nonetheless.

My wife was raised in the Church pre-Vatican II and as I am a convert since the turn of the twenty-first century I asked her whether there were many people sitting in the pews, not receiving communion, in those days. She indicated that yes there were much larger numbers of those who stayed back, for whatever reason of conscience, although they fulfilled their Sunday obligation by attending Mass.

It has occurred to me many times over the years that because people are creatures of habit, particularly social habit, poor teaching and practices can become just as embedded as any other kind, even in the face of the truth and it occasionally takes a more forceful preaching of the truth to break through.

If we are to consider not just the politicians but all of us who go to communion I have noticed how uncomfortable it is to remain back and not receive when on occasion I haven't made it to confession and believe myself unworthy to receive. There is a great deal of social and conventional pressure to receive communion and it takes fortitude to resist sacrilege at that point, particularly when I am one of only two or three in a mass with some two hundred or more.

How much more the politician whose conscience is already seared in this popular disconnect between worship and practice. For someone who lives by their public profile, to remain in their seat and not receive would be difficult indeed, even if their conscience was telling them to do so.

The problem that the Cardinal Dolan's of the Church forget/overlook or don't think important in their quest to reclaim the wandering politician is the damage that is done to the rest of the faithful, because of the fact that those politician's sins in objective sense are manifest to all. That is the scandal. And it is compounded by the special treatment that those politicians get in the course of this pastoral emphasis and lack of disciplinary emphasis. While the sins of those of the rest of the people in the pew are not public, is it any surprise if we find that they may have a certain nonchalance regarding the Eucharist when they witness this public ongoing scandal?

The way out of this is for the bishops and priests to preach the truth about exactly who is to receive and not to receive, what constitutes a mortal sin, very specifically, and preach this often. Then, when sins are so manifest and public the bishops have the perfect follow-through in the form of excommunication, and the politician, though he/she may try, cannot fool the vast majority of Catholics in the pew who have heard the truth already preached constantly.

They may have the sympathetic ears of the dissenters, but even those people will have likely become uncomfortable enough in the glare of Catholic truth to be forced to conform or leave. And the majority of the people will support the Bishop, in which case the dissenters find themselves without support, because now the people are informed.

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