Biden and Communion, by Russell Shaw

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By Russell Shaw, The Catholic Thing, Dec. 2, 2020

Russell Shaw is former Secretary for Public Affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Eight Popes and the Crisis of Modernity (forthcoming from Ignatius Press).

Russell ShawPeople who think pro-choice Catholic politicians like President-elect Joe Biden shouldn’t be given Communion are often accused of politicizing the sacrament. But the real politicizers are the accusers, who introduce politics into the discussion. The accused aren’t motivated by politics but by reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, much as St. Paul was in cautioning the Christians of Corinth against receiving it unworthily. (cf.1 Cor 11:27)

It helps to see these matters in the broader context of respect and disrespect for the Eucharist generally. There is a neat formulation of the problem in the newly published first volume of Cardinal George Pell’s Prison Journal. Speaking of the too-casual reception of the sacrament, which is common today, he says: “Every type of Catholic should realize there is an exclusion zone around the Eucharist, where adults without faith and without basic good practice should not enter.”

Then he quotes a prison warden’s explanation of why a prominent Catholic criminal attended Mass without receiving Communion. “Because he has faith,” the warden said.  …