Pastoral Delinquency of the Bishops

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2008 ( – At the same time as praise and gratitude pours into the office of New York’s Cardinal Egan from the pro-life community for his firm statements on the necessity of denying Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians, all eyes are now turning to Washington’s Archbishop Donald Wuerl who remains evasive after Senator John Kerry and other prominently pro-abortion Catholic politicians were photographed receiving the Eucharist at the Pope’s Mass.

Wuerl has issued a statement saying, “How to respond to those in public office who support abortion legislation is open to various legitimate pastoral approaches.” This is in sharp contrast to a letter sent four years ago by then-Cardinal Ratzinger saying unequivocally that such public figures “must” be refused Holy Communion.

The New York archdiocese issued a statement saying that the former mayor, Rudolph Giuliani had agreed to refrain from reception of Communion at Mass “because of his well-known support of abortion” and Cardinal Egan said he will be seeking a meeting with Giuliani over the issue. The archdiocese informed that the issue was being brought forward publicly at this time “because it has become a public issue and a public question.”


In the past, Archbishop Wuerl has refused to address the issue of publicly pro-abortion politicians who continue to receive Communion on his episcopal doorstep. Today, in a statement quoted in the New York Times, Wuerl repeated his contradiction of the Pope, saying that there is no absolute ground for refusing Communion.

The statement claimed that Archbishop Wuerl had “consistently and persistently presented the Church’s clear teaching on the evil of abortion and the need for those in public office to recognize that the support of abortion is wrong.”

It then attempted to pass the responsibility on: “The decision concerning the refusal of holy communion to an individual can best be made by the bishop in the person’s home diocese with whom he or she presumably is in conversation.”

But such evasions are not holding water with Catholics who have watched the scandal for years. Philip Lawler, editor of Catholic World News wrote in an editorial that Cardinal Egan’s statement “corrects the record and prevents the further dissemination of a very misleading and damaging perception about Catholic Church teaching and pastoral practice”.


“American Life League’s Crusade for the Defense of Our Catholic Church has been asking American Bishops to enforce Canon 915 since our campaign began in 2003.  We are indeed gratified that Cardinal Egan has seen this as a priority as well.  Protecting Christ from sacrilege is an honor and we applaud Cardinal Egan for making this clear.”

When I visited Archbishop Prendergast about retracting the Winnipeg Statement last November, I told him that the bishops of Canada had to repent.  I said it three times during the meeting. I wanted to say more, much more.

I wanted to tell him frankly that the bishops of Canada have been grossly negligent in their duties to protect the flock and now we are all paying the price in so many ways.  The unborn children have paid the price these past forty years in the most unimaginable way possible.  And every day that goes by, our schools and our freedoms are being eroded  — not just for us but for all Christians and people of good will — because of their pastoral delinquency.

Deliquent fathers.  That’s what most of them are.  Plain and simple.

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