Denying Communion ‘painful’ but necessary to ‘protect the sacraments,’ says Cardinal George

.- Denying someone Communion is a painful thing to do, however the sacraments must be protected and cannot be manipulated by any person or group, said Francis Cardinal George in a recent column in the Catholic New World. The archbishop of Chicago wrote the column upon his return from an Ad Limina visit with Pope John Paul II. He was referring to a recent incident in which homosexual rights activists, belonging to the Rainbow Sash Movement, were denied Communion during a mass in his archdiocese.

“Several years ago, members of a movement called the Rainbow Sash began to present themselves for Holy Communion while wearing a sash, indicating they do not accept the Church’s teaching on the objective immorality of homosexual genital relations,” said the cardinal.

The policy of the U.S. Bishops’ conference, “is to refuse Communion to anyone who used its reception as an occasion to protest against the Church’s teaching,” said the cardinal, explaining why the activists were not given Communion. 

“The media insists on reporting this story as a conflict between people. It’s not,” he wrote. “No one wants to refuse to give Communion; it’s a painful thing to do. The policy, however, is about the worship of God, which is not to be instrumentalized or manipulated by any group.

“The Church protects the sacraments,” he said, adding that the basic criterion for receiving Communion is unity in faith and in moral discipline.

“This unity is presupposed, no questions asked, unless someone gives a clear sign at the moment of coming to Communion that he or she is not in communion of faith,” he said.

The archbishop of Chicago said the Pope spoke of the U.S. Church’s mission to address important and controversial social issues, such as respect for human life, justice and peace, immigration and the defense of marriage and the family. The U.S. Church must bring the light of the Gospel to these issues, said the pope, calling this contribution “a significant service to the common good in a democracy.”

However, many today “do not see the Church’s teaching as a contribution to the common good,” wrote the cardinal. He noted that it is “extremely difficult to use the media to even say what the Church teaches, let alone to get a fair hearing.”

The cardinal also lamented that the popular media does little “to help us understand in any depth why we (the Church) are suspect in the eyes of so many others.

“This lack of understanding of others, coupled with their lack of understanding of who we really are because they have their own distortions to deal with, can only destroy us sooner rather than later,” he stated.

“The media’s frequent difficulty in presenting Catholicism, which is not an American invention and has been historically the ‘other’ within this country, demonstrates the difficulty (the media) seem to have with anything that falls outside of a very narrow framework of interpretation,” he wrote.

For Cardinal George’s full column, go to:  http://catholicnewworld.com/cnw/issue/cardinal.html

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