My wristwatch does not have a sweep-second hand, so I am not sure how many seconds elapsed between the announcement that a pastor in South Carolina had withheld Holy Communion from Joseph Biden and the chorus of condemnations that routinely follows such exercises of pastoral sense and good order. But it could not have been more than ten.

Even occasional displays of respect for the Eucharist, not to mention for canon law, provoke speedy denunciations. Not because the reasons behind the denunciations are obvious, let alone correct, but because these denunciations are pre-packaged, well-rehearsed, and oblivious to correction.

The well-worn complaints leveled against the pastor in South Carolina include: He has turned the Communion rail (one has to imagine those things these days) into a barrier; he has politicized, nay weaponized, the Eucharist; he presumed to judge the soul of another human being; and so on. Most of the “arguments” raised against withholding Holy Communion are actually slogans (which, like most slogans, are designed to arrest thought, not to facilitate it), and every single one has been answered many times over the centuries of the Church and many times over the last ten years alone. But I am not beyond trying again.

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