Paul Catalanotto: Real love may sometimes have to be very direct

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A priest prepares to distribute Communion during Mass in Washington in this 2011 photo. PHOTO: CNS/Bob Roller

Recently, Joe Cervantes, a Democratic Senator of New Mexico, posted on social media that his Bishop denied him Communion because of his political party.

Interestingly, this denial of Holy Communion comes not long after the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops had agreed to discuss “Eucharist coherence.” The document on Eucharistic coherence will consider Catholic government officials who publicly and obstinately deny certain Catholic teachings.

Senator Cervantes is a public supporter and promoter of certain intrinsic evils (an act that is always wrong), mainly abortion. Abortion is an intrinsically evil act, not because the Church says so, but because it is contrary to natural law and can never be justified; the Church affirms this natural law in her teachings.

The local bishop, charged with the care of the Eucharist, is trying to prevent the senator from sticking a spiritual fork in a spiritual power point.

The Senator should have posted that his Bishop attempted to contact him multiple times to discuss his voting on a Senate Bill and to caution him about presenting himself for Communion. He never returned the Bishop’s call.

So, the Bishop denied him Communion because he is a public figure who formally cooperates with evil by willing and publicly promoting intrinsically evil acts and obstinately denies Church teaching on certain intrinsic evils. Instead, he posted a misleading narrative because sin can’t garner sympathy wielding truth. Predictably, the Senator’s social media supporters said no one should be denied Communion out of love, especially Catholic politicians who support intrinsically evil acts. It is as if they say that love knows no boundaries or rules.

However, there are rules. When someone breaks the rules or crosses a boundary, there are penalties. For instance, there are rules when it comes to footy. Breaking the rules destroys the integrity of the game. No one tolerates the breaking of rules in footy based on a player’s love for the game.

Elevation of the Eucharist is depicted in a stained-glass window at St. Anthony’s Church in North Beach, Md., July 15, 2021. PHOTO: CNS/Bob Roller

In sport, break too many rules or one rule deemed too serious, and the official denies the offending player to return to the field. In other words, the player has done something so offensive that there is no place for him in the game, and there won’t be any place for him on the field until he corrects his behaviour.

The Senator’s defenders forget that, just as with sport, there are rules regarding love, and it is within those boundaries that love is possible. Lose the boundaries of love, and lose love. Operate outside the boundaries of love and claim it as loving is abuse.

For instance, we do not allow people we love to stick a fork in a power point. Love dictates we prevent those we love from sticking forks in power points. The same goes for Holy Communion. The local Bishop, charged with the care of the Eucharist, is trying to prevent the Senator from sticking a spiritual fork in a spiritual power point and thereby prevent the Senator from eating and drinking judgement upon himself and abusing the Mystical Body of Christ.

Reminding the Senator of the rules of love through the denial of Holy Communion might be the most loving act the Bishop can do for the Senator.

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