He suggested that politicians seek to benefit from being religious and also by “holding and promoting non-Catholic policies.”
“Of course, these stances are contradictory, but then politicians are not known for consistency,” said Fr. Weinandy.
He acknowledged that for a Catholic leader who promotes matters contrary to the Catholic faith, there may still be a deep and inerasable belief in Christ and the Catholic Church.
“Thus, one claims to be a devout Catholic and receives Communion in the hope that, somehow, someday, it will all work out. This comes dangerously close to a sentimental ‘Catholic’ superstition – which is the most charitable interpretation of why dissident Catholic politicians insist on receiving Holy Communion,” said Weinandy.
He encouraged Catholics to pray for the conversions of Catholic politicians and also for God’s protection of his Church.
Fr. Weinandy also summarized an exchange between Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver and Blase Cardinal Cupich of Chicago. Archbishop Aquila, writing in America Magazine last month, said that those who receive Holy Communion, including politicians, must adhere to Catholic doctrinal and moral teaching. Otherwise, they would go against St. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians that whoever eats and drinks unworthily will be “guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord'' and bring “judgment upon himself.”
For his part, Cardinal Cupich suggested that Archbishop Aquila’s essay violated Catholic sacramental principles like the idea that the sacraments are based on the power of God, and cannot be diminished by either the celebrant or recipient. Archbishop Aquila, citing authorities like St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, responded in Catholic World Report that the benefit of the sacrament of the Eucharist depends on the subjective disposition of the person receiving it.
Fr. Weinandy said Cardinal Cupich’s critique was “in no way relevant to what Archbishop Aquila wrote” but allowed Archbishop Aquila to clarify any ambiguity and “develop his point even more strongly.”
Fr. Weinandy previously served as executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Doctrine. He resigned his position as a consultant to the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine in 2017 after he published a letter to Pope Francis asking him to correct the “chronic fusion” of his pontificate, which Fr. Weinandy said “fosters within the faithful a growing unease.”
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix have both issued recent documents that discuss the importance of the worthy reception of Holy Communion.
Bishop McElroy of San Diego wrote an essay in America Magazine arguing that refusing Holy Communion to pro-abortion rights politicians is an act that politicizes the Eucharist.