Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Archbishop apologizes for giving Communion

Well look at the previous post and the subsequent comment by Gashwin for back-ground info. It looks like The of San Fran has written an apology. I must say the conservative Catholic Blogospher has been rather vociferous - especially in regards to the AB's statement that he had no idea they were transvestites, was unaware, just thought they were strangely dressed - despite there being photographic evidence that they were just that.(or two players from the time of Shakespeare) And let's not forget the videographic evidence that even shows the AB talking with one of the outrageously dressed communicants.

A couple of sources (Quamdiu Domine, CNA, & the Archdiocese) have noted that the Archbishop has prepared an apology that appears in the latest Catholic San Francisco. Here's the text if you don't want to bounce:

A recent event that greatly concerns me needs some
additional explanation -- and with it an apology.
On Sunday, October 7, 2007, I celebrated Mass at
Most Holy Redeemer Parish here in San Francisco,
during my first visit there. The congregation was
devout and the liturgy was celebrated with reverence.
I noticed no demonstration, no protest, no disruption
of the Eucharist.
At Communion time, toward the end of the line, two
strangely dressed persons came to receive Communion.
As I recall one of them wore a large flowered hat or
garland. I did not recognize either of them as wearing
mock religious garb.
Afterward it was made clear to me that these two
people were members of the organization "Sisters of
Perpetual Indulgence," who have long made a practice
of mocking the Catholic Church in general and
religious women in particular. My predecessors,
Cardinal William Levada and Archbishop John Quinn,
have both denounced this group's abuse of sacred
things many times in the past. Only last year, I
instructed the Administrator of Most Holy Redeemer
Parish to cancel the group's use of the hall on the
parish grounds, once I became aware of it.
In the year and a half since I arrived in San
Francisco, there have been several instances of
offensive attacks on Catholic faith and devotional
life. Only two weeks ago Catholic San Francisco
carried my remarks condemning the derisive use of the
image of the Last Supper on a poster printed by
another local group.
Although I had often seen photographs of members of
the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, I had never
encountered them in person until October 7th. I did
not recognize who these people were when they
approached me.
After the event, I realized that they were members
of this particular organization and that giving them
Holy Communion had been a mistake.
I apologize to the Catholics of the Archdiocese of
San Francisco and to Catholics at large for doing so.
The manner of dress and public comportment of the
Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is deeply offensive to
women religious and to the witness of holiness and
Christian service that women religious have offered to
the Church and to the world for centuries. The
citizens of San Francisco have ample reason to be
grateful to women religious for their unfailing
support of those most in need, and to be deeply
offended when that service is belittled so
outrageously and offensively.
Someone who dresses in a mock religious habit to
attend Mass does so to make a point. If people dress
in a manner clearly intended to mock what we hold
sacred, they place themselves in an objective
situation in which it is not appropriate for them to
receive Holy Communion, much less for a minister of
the Church to give the Sacrament to them.
Therefore I conclude that the presence of the
Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at the Mass on October
7th was intended as a provocative gesture. In that
moment I failed to recognize it as such, and for that,
as I have said, I must apologize.

Well, I'll give him one thing he's sticking with his story. I'm reminded of something comedian Wanda Sykes said in a routine - You have to believe that lie, that lie must become your truth! Well perhaps he's not persisting in a lie per se, but still.

But are we really surprised? He was praised by the San Francisco Chronicle's Wyatt Buchanan for his friendly stance towards the LGBT community. And although I couldn't find this particular article in the SF Chronicle - Lifesite.net alleges positive reactions from the AB on Brokeback Mountain.

All of that aside, whether he knew - he didn't know, even if he wasn't exactly the poster child for Gay support, how difficult is it to tell someone that no, you can't have Jesus. Honestly I don't know any priest or EMEs that have ever denied anyone Eucharist. How do you do that? Oh well, my question now is - were these to transies actually catholic? or were they just belligerent queens? What did they say to the AB? Whatever they said precipitated him giving the host. The answer to that question and many others are with the AB and no one else, and we may never find out completely.

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Gashwin said...

"how difficult is it to tell someone that no, you can't have Jesus."

But who says that someone's "having Jesus" is limited to the reception of Holy Communion, which signifies so much more than just "having" Him? He certainly is not bound by anything -- He is where two or three are gathered in His name. He is where we can barely even imagine Him to be.

Reception of Holy Communion, however, is of a different nature -- something signifying unity with His body, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, assent to her teaching, her authority, and, with trembling, to be received by one "who is not worthy," (as Peter realized when he told the Lord to leave him, after the miraculous catch of fish), who is conscious of his or her own abject dependence on God. Catholics -- those in communion with the Church -- ought not to receive lightly, or flippantly, and certainly not as perfunctorily as we might. This is all part and parcel of its being, in the words of St. Ignatius, ton pharmakon anastasias, the medicine of immortality.

None of this is to say that reception of Holy Communion is to be made into some kind of moral-police weapon, or a place to practice partisan politics.

It is not to be denied lightly, nor is however reception to be taken lightly either! (And, my dear friend, I know that you especially are keenly aware of this!)

As to what was appropriate in this case -- well, ultimately, God knows. I was disturbed by the incident more because of the nature of this particular Catholic parish, than because the good Archbishop may have been disingenuous. He's apologized. In omnia caritas One accepts his apology, and hopes that a lesson has been learned.

Mattheus Mei said...

That is all well and good, and I agree totally.

The question was one more of - have you ever known anyone to deny someone communion, priests and EME's get into such a rhythm and the assumption is 'well, they're in the line...' - How many times have non-Catholics been given the bread and cup? knowingly even?

I think the Archbishops actions reflect more upon this notion, and when he noticed them he thought about it and either concluded 1) well I'm at this parish, so this is normal, or 2) he was in complete shock and decided perhaps it wasn't worth the commotion to make a scene and deny these two communion, especially when the liturgy was so dignified and devout as he says in his apology. BOTH of which are not "good excuses." (And I'm not sure which 'reason' is worse)

And I think you're right, it's time for more consideration on both the parts of the laity and the presbyterate when it comes to reception.