Posted May 29, 2004
Other articles on the issue of denying the sacraments are on our web site for comparison -- Excerpts from an NCR interview with Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk on denying the sacraments
By John L. Allen, Jr.
An American archbishop from a key “battleground state” has entered the flap over John Kerry and Communion, saying that for now he would “give him the benefit of the doubt” and not deny the pro-choice Democratic presidential candidate the Eucharist.
“We need to be very cautious about denying people the sacraments on the basis of what they say they believe, especially when those are political beliefs.”
“The last thing any church or any representative or agent of the church wants to do is to deny the sacraments to anybody unjustly.”
“If Kerry comes, do you give him Communion? Maybe you give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe you refuse him. What about his chief of staff? What about the people who write his speeches?
“What about people who don’t like Humanae Vitae? What about people who don’t like the church’s teaching on the death penalty or on homosexual marriages? Are we going to refuse them?”
“It seems to me at this point that it makes a lot more sense to presume people’s good will, presume erroneous conscience or perplexed conscience and give them Communion, rather than say, ‘I think you think such-and-such,’”
“These are complicated questions to which bishops may not all have the same answer, and our Catholic faith is not a whole series of black and white positions. There are some gray aspects in it. I think that’s a good lesson for people.”
Pilarczyk said that it is possible a Catholic politician could be both loyal to the church’s teaching on the immorality of abortion and convinced as a matter of prudential judgment that making abortion illegal would not work.