Posted by George Neumayr on Monday Mar 19th at 5:09am


The road to hell is paved with the skulls of bad bishops. That’s a slight paraphrase of a line from St. John Chrysostom.


The saints of old warned bishops to choose holiness and orthodoxy over the blandishments of the “world.” Many bishops today in America choose the good opinion of worldly elites over orthodoxy. These cufflinked cardinals worry not about punishment in the next world but slights in this one. They desperately crave the approval of America’s movers and shakers and live in dread fear of losing it.


What will the Pretty People think if I withhold Communion from powerful pro-abortion Catholic pols? Will the Washington Post editorialize against me? Will I lose my place of honor at posh parties? Will my dissenting priests think ill of me? Will I be scorned at the next USCCB meeting?
These are some of the thoughts that race through the minds of modern prelates. Out of these anxieties comes fiascoes like Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s recent one. Wuerl and his surrogates have rebuked a visiting priest from the archdiocese of Moscow for denying Communion to a self-described practicing lesbian at a funeral mass. That’s not our “policy,” gasped Wuerl’s horrified surrogates.


But it is the policy of the Roman Catholic Church. If a person is not in communion with the teachings of the Church, said person should not receive Communion. Period. Canon law makes this explicitly clear. If you don’t believe me, ask the head of the Vatican Supreme Court, Cardinal Raymond Burke. Though most of his colleagues seem to ignore his stance, he has said for years that canon law places a grave burden on priests to protect the sacraments from defiant sinners. According to Burke, canon law is not a whimsical option for hardline eccentric priests but a moral duty which “obliges the minister of Holy Communion to refuse the Sacrament” to those in “manifest grave sin. ”
Wuerl rejects this authoritative interpretation of canon law. A while back he was asked if he would withhold Communion from the pro-abortion Nancy Pelosi. He said no. That style of “confrontation” makes him uncomfortable, he told a persistent reporter.



I’ve heard Church insiders call the cardinal “Wuerl the girl,” a reference to his precious personality. He has many fine qualities. He seems a little less common to me than some of his hackish colleagues. But cufflinks, starched shirts, learning, and reasonably civilized manners do not a good bishop make. Jesus Christ never required that his disciples place roses in his room or mints on his pillow. He walked straight at the decadent elites of his time, denounced them as a “brood of vipers,” and then called it a day. It didn’t take long for these vipers to kill him.
Wuerl can only earn the red of his rich robes through a willingness to endure the blood of Jesus Christ’s martyrdom. And the truth is that protecting the sacraments would cost him far less than death. Maybe Joe Biden wouldn’t clap him on the back so heartily after that. Maybe he would get an angry letter or two from moneyed donors in the tank for the Dems. But who cares?



This latest episode isn’t even a close call. If Cardinal Wuerl doesn’t have the guts to deny Communion to an agitprop lesbian Buddhist, he should just close up shop and hand the keys to his chancery over to Obama.
This ludicrous controversy reminds me of another fiasco, one from 2008. Remember when San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer, while distributing Communion at a parish in the gay Castro district, handed out the sacred species to two garishly painted and costumed members of the homosexual activist group “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.”
News of this sparked furor across the Catholic world, and even the liberal archbishop had to admit he blew it, saying dimly:



Toward the end of the Communion line two strangely dressed persons came to receive Communion. I did not see any mock religious garb. As I recall, one of them wore a large flowered hat or garland. 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…

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…



Of course, the bishop’s passive understanding of his duties and his fear of the liberal elite — like Wuerl, Niederauer won’t deny Communion to Nancy Pelosi either — invited this outrage. After all, if a bishop announces that he is not a “gatekeeper,” who can’t come up to receive it? Such passivity was an invitation to abuse and the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” took it. Similarly, the lesbian Buddhist to which Wuerl cravenly apologized seized her chance to stick it to the Church.



The choice that the Wuerls face is clear: either they take seriously the duty enshrined in canon law to protect the sacraments from sacrilege and scandal, or these Communion controversies will multiply without end.



The notion that bishops aren’t gatekeepers would come as a surprise to the Church’s first ones. The apostles were told by Jesus Christ that the good shepherd watches the gate, lest his flock be eaten. “Do not give what is holy to dogs,” Jesus warned them.
The Church’s position on whether a bishop should stop sacrilege and scandal is not determined by his “comfort” level, Cardinal Wuerl. It is determined by the clear requirements of canon law. Cardinal Burke has spoken; the case is closed. Either the bishops take control over their own sacraments or the Church’s enemies will.


About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
This entry was posted in CANON LAW, DENYING HOLY COMMUNION. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. anselmusjmj says:

    Many of the bishops who showed up at the Council of Nicea (325 AD) were maimed, on account of being tortured or almost killed because of loyalty to Jesus and the teachings of the Church which was and is established by Jesus. The bishops who showed up for the Council of Nicea went to great trouble to do so, in a day when cars, trains and air travel were not yet invented. These maimed bishops, whose scars and missing body parts gave testimony to their love of the True God and True Teaching, showed up at the Council of Nicea for the sake of protecting and promoting true teaching which honors the Divinity of Jesus Christ, in opposition to the Arian heresy.

    Today, bishops who choose to promote true teaching (orthodoxy) have to endure the immeasurable wound of low public approval ratings by those who don’t care about God or Church, how difficult it must be (I’m being sarcastic, lest anyone be confused) ! The red and crimson which bishops and cardinals wear is supposed to reflect the blood of Christ and blood of the martyrs who died loving Jesus and the teachings of Jesus. Would that that breed of bishops would show up and join the episcopal ranks in the 21st century. Instead, we have bishops and cardinals like Wuerl, who tried to democratize the Catholic Church in America 7 years ago (Thanks to Bishop Gracida, this diabolical attempt was a flop). We must pray and sacrifice more for the Catholic Church in America.


  2. Curt Stoller says:

    I would like to make comments on this. Although we cannot make people follow the Holy Father, we can follow the Holy Father ourselves and we must. God has blessed us with a Servant of the Servants of God who is exceedingly wise. His writings are profound and timely and we must read them and take them to heart. If a ran a Catholic bookstore and had to reduce my store inventory to a minimum, I would keep the writings of His Holiness Pope Benedict on the shelves. The fact that so many Catholic read everything “but” the writings of the Pope is particular unfortunate. In his words you will find the words of Jesus for exactly this 21st century world. In his words you will find food for spiritual hungers you didn’t even know you had. If I could turn back the hands of time I would burn everything I had written in my comments on this web log and replace them with quotes from the Holy Father because compared to his words, everything I have written is straw and I mean that without an iota of exaggeration and with all my heart. If Cardinals and Bishops and Priests and Laity would just follow the Pope. If you think I am exaggerating, put me the test: read the Pope and see if I have exaggerated. I dare you.

    On the issue of abortion, euthanasia and human experimentation, the Holy Father has made it very, very clear that these issues have a primacy that other social issues lack. And I would like to address an appeal to those of my fellow lay brothers and sisters. The Holy Father has made it clear that prayers to end abortion are not to be restricted to the merely private sphere. They are to be part of the “public prayer” of the Catholic Church. Where I live, prayers to end abortion are not made public at Mass. They are not included in the General Intercessions [Prayers of the the Faithful]. If you are a layperson reading this, please try to influence whoever is in charge of these prayers to include a public prayer to end abortion in the General Intercessions.

    Where I live there are so many prelates and priests opposed to the Pope on abortion that attempts to do this are futile. And if you live in a Diocese or parish where attempts to include public prayers against abortion in the Mass are also futile, I would ask you to try this: If you have any financial resources, no matter how meager, please consider offering a Sunday Mass for the intention of ending abortion. It may be read aloud during Mass or printed in the church bulletin. You may have to pay a $10 stipend. Some parishes will object to even this. Very liberal parishes will accept prayers of mercy for women who have had abortions or prayers of mercy for doctors who have performed abortion. Buty not prayers for the children killed. And they will try to influence you away from prayer for the little victims of abortion because this interferes with their political agenda. Sometimes you will be successful if you pray BOTH for the unborn children and their parents. If you can afford one Mass, great! If you can afford to offer every Sunday Mass for the unborn, fantastic.

    If you are a priest and can say a funeral Mass for the unborn killed, please do.

    Election day approaches and in very leftist parishes prayers will focus on liberal issues. Homilies will focus on liberal issues. But no one can stop you from following the Holy Father and no can can ultimately stop you from offering public prayers to end the brutality against God’s unborn children. If your public prayers and stiffled, then private prayers. Be like the importune widow flooding Heaven with pleas.

    For those of you in very liberal Diocese and parishes . . . as election day approaches, you will begin to hear the following message in homilies and in letters written by bishops to be read in all parishes: “Don’t vote on a single issue.” “Don’t favor a political candidate because he is strong on one issue.” “Vote for candidates who represent Catholic moral teaching on a wide variety of issues.” This is code for not voting against pro-abortion candidates.

    You may also hear a message similar to this: “Pro-life means protection of life from birth to natural death: anti-abortion, anti-war, anti-capitol punishment, anti-injustice in immigration reform and health reform and so on. Vote for those candidates who embrace the ‘greatest ‘ number of these pro-life issues and don’t embrace candidates who just represent one issue.” This is code for: “Don’t vote against candidates just because they are anti-abortion. The Holy Father is very clear that their is a hierarchy of moral truths and ending abortion is the top priority of Catholics.” It is not one issue. It is the issue. All other issues are based on the right to life of the unborn.

    Last Friday in the Divine Office readings for the morning was a sermon by Saint Gregory the Great. His discourse was on some of the words of Job. These words are very appropriate to the issue of the killing of God’s innocent children in abortion: “I have suffered this without sin on my hands , , , Earth, do not cover over my blood, do not let my cry find a hiding place in you.” Come election day, remember these words. Those who rule the earth seek to cover over the blood of those slaughtered by abortion. Those who rule the earth seek to hide the cry of God’s littlest children. Fight this with your time, talent and treasure. Pray and fast. Pray and fast. God forgive me for anything I may have said or done to hurt the pro-life movement including my comments on this web log. God bless you all. Pray for me.

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