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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 12, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 15
No room at God's table? Some Catholic leaders want to deny Communion to marriage equality supporters
Section One
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No room at God's table? Some Catholic leaders want to deny Communion to marriage equality supporters

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A leading expert in Roman Catholic canon law and a prominent U.S. archbishop have stated that Catholics who support marriage equality should not take Communion.

Edward Peters is a Detroit attorney and seminary professor who was appointed by former Pope Benedict XVI to be the church's top legal advisor in the United States. He is also the father of NOM Cultural Director Thomas Peters.

'Catholics who promote 'same-sex marriage' act contrary to' Catholic law, Peters wrote in a blog post, 'and should not approach for Holy Communion.'

'They also risk having Holy Communion withheld from them [and] being rebuked and/or being sanctioned.'

Peters did not specify a particular Catholic politician or public figure in his post, but he did tell the Detroit Free Press that a person's 'public efforts to change society's definition of marriage ... amount to committing objectively wrong actions.'

ARCHBISHOP AGREES
Detroit's Catholic Archbishop Allen Vigneron confirmed Peters' blog post, saying that it would be akin to 'perjury' for pro-gay Catholics to receive Communion.

'For a Catholic to receive Holy Communion and still deny the revelation Christ entrusted to the church is to try to say two contradictory things at once: 'I believe the church offers the saving truth of Jesus, and I reject what the church teaches,' Vigneron said.

'In effect, they would contradict themselves. This sort of behavior would result in publicly renouncing one's integrity and logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury.'

This view is not new for Peters, who has always taken a hard-line position against Catholics who differ from church doctrine.

In 2011, Peters said that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo should not receive Communion because he was an outspoken supporter of Gay marriage. Last month, Peters likewise took on House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

'Pelosi suffers from one of the most malformed consciences in the annals of American Catholic politics, or ... she is simply hell-bent on using her Catholic identity to attack Catholic values at pretty much every opportunity,' he wrote.

The previous Archbishop of Detroit, Cardinal Adam Maida, was also willing to use his religious authority to corral unruly politicians. In the 2002 race for Governor of Michigan, when Catholic Democrat Jennifer Granholm's support of abortion rights became an issue, Maida issued a letter saying Catholic politicians had a 'special moral obligation' to oppose legal abortion.

SOME THINK OTHERWISE
The idea that pro-equality or pro-choice Catholics disqualify themselves from the sacrament of Communion is not universally shared among Catholic bishops, however.

'Most American bishops do not favor denying either politicians or voters Communion because of their positions on controversial issues,' said Thomas Reese, a priest and senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. Reese said that Peters' views are 'in a minority among American canon lawyers.'

But, Reese added, 'about 30 or so bishops have said that pro-choice or pro-Gay-marriage Catholics should not present themselves for Communion.'

Among Protestants, the topic is far less controversial because most Protestant churches, including deeply conservative ones, practice 'open communion,' with no requirements for participation.

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