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By Dr. Jeff Mirus, Catholic Culture, Oct 05, 2021
Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Prefect for the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, has weighed in on the question of denial of Communion to President Biden. The National Catholic Reporter was predictably delighted, but then it’s not really a Catholic newspaper. But the larger question is why Turkson should take a position on this at all.
Turkson’s assignment to Integral Human Development is pretty far removed from central Catholic matters of faith and morals. Worse still, his comments run contrary to Canon Law itself, which specifies:
Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion. [Can. 915, emphasis added]
Cardinal Turkson argues erroneously that Communion should almost never be denied because: “f you say somebody cannot receive Communion, you are basically doing a judgment that you are in a state of sin.” We will assume that he means that “you are basically doing a judgment that [the denied person is] in a state of sin.” But of course this implies a judgment of the state of the person’s conscience, which (a) Nobody but God can know; and (b) Is not at all the point of Canon 915. Persevering in “manifest” grave sin requires no judgment about the interior state of the potential communicant. It simply means the potential communicant is persevering in committing one or more gravely evil acts that are outwardly obvious (manifest). …
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