An empty communion line?

With just over a month to go before the presidential election, several U.S. bishops in recent days have been rather outspoken in suggesting to Catholics how they vote.

Atop the list of central issues this year for several prelates seems to be same-sex marriage.

In a pastoral letter that garnered wide-media coverage last week, Archbishop John Myers of Newark, N.J., warned Catholics that disagreement with the church’s official teaching on same-sex marriage “seriously harm[s] their communion with Christ and His Church.”

“I urge those not in communion with the Church regarding her teaching on marriage and family … sincerely to re-examine their consciences,” Myers wrote in a 16-page pastoral statement Sept. 25. “If they continue to be unable to assent to or live the Church’s teaching in these matters, they must in all honestly and humility refrain from receiving Holy Communion until they can do so with integrity.”

Over at the Mirror of Justice blog, which is dedicated to Catholic legal theory, Cornell University Law School professor Steve Shiffrin asks this morning if that statement is yet another example of the emperor losing his clothes.

We say: Charlottesville reveals the weeping wound of racism. What do we, the American Catholic faith community, do next? Read the editorial.

"If Myers is right about this, it seems to me that the overwhelming majority of American Catholics should not be receiving Communion. To reject the Church’s teaching on contraception is to reject the teaching authority of the Church, and the overwhelming majority of American Catholics do exactly that."

"There is already a crisis in the teaching authority of the Bishops," continues Shiffrin. "If they follow the lead of Archbishop Myers in being specific about which moral teachings cannot be rejected while continuing to receive communion, Catholics will either leave the Church or contumaciously receive Communion anyway. In other words, the Emperor will lose many of the clothes that are left."

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg

Show comments

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.