Matt C. Abbott
Archbishop, Catholic activist spar via e-mail; Rod Blagojevich's favorite priest?
By Matt C. Abbott
March 3, 2009

One controversy that has yet to subside is how Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law applies to pro-abortion Catholic politicians and how the bishops should enforce said canon.

Scranton, Pa., Bishop Joseph Martino appears to be enforcing it — see this story from — but other bishops, including the outspokenly pro-life Denver archbishop, Charles Chaput, seem to subscribe to a somewhat different school of thought.

On Aug. 22, 2008, Catholic activist Allyson Smith sent the following e-mail to Archbishop Chaput:

    'Your Excellency, Archbishop Charles Chaput,

    'Starting tomorrow, many prominent Democrat politicians who fraudulently call themselves 'Catholic' yet who publicly support positions that directly contradict the true Catholic faith — such as abortion on demand, euthanasia, and homosexual sodomy — will arrive in your archdiocese for the Democrat convention. These people are very likely to act in defiance of Catholic Church teachings by presenting themselves for Holy Communion at Denver parishes.

    I urgently beg you to enforce Canon 915, which forbids the reception of Holy Communion by manifest, obstinate, and unrepentant public sinners, for any and all Democrat politicians who present themselves for this sacrament in the Denver archdiocese. Any politician who belongs to the Democrat party — the 'party of death' — automatically incurs excommunication and must be denied the Church's sacraments.

    'It is not enough to ask these politicians to not present themselves. Out of pride and defiance, they will disregard such an edict and present themselves anyway. It is your duty and responsibility to withhold Holy Communion from them, and to instruct your priests and Eucharistic ministers to do the same.

    'You can do this by sending photos of unrepentant and obstinate so-called 'Catholic' politicians, like Kansas governor and protector of 'Tiller the Killer' Kathleen Sebelius, to your priests and Eucharistic ministers to enable their identification, and by issuing a public edict enjoining all priests and Eucharistic ministers in the Denver archdiocese to withhold Holy Communion from them. Please do it NOW. The hour is very late.

    'I heard part of your interview with Hugh Hewitt Tuesday night about your new book, where you said in effect that Catholics should not check their faith at the door. Please practice what you preach. Inform all of your priests and Eucharistic ministers to adhere to Canon 915 and withhold the Blessed Sacrament from so-called 'Catholic' Democrat politicians who attend Denver archdiocesan Masses this weekend.'

On Aug. 24, 2008, Archbishop Chaput responded:

    'Dear Allyson,

    'I received your email. It must be a response to what Barbara Kralis has been sending around. Her column is full of inaccuracies and I really don't have time to respond to all of those.

    'Thank you for your own commitment for the protection of unborn human life. God bless you for all your efforts.'

On Aug. 26, 2008, Allyson Smith responded:

    'Your Excellency,

    'Thank you for reading my email and for your response. However, the issue is not whether I wrote to you in response to anything Barbara Kralis might be sending around (although, if you feel her column is inaccurate, you should explain why instead of employing 'shoot the messenger' tactics).

    'Rather, the issue is: Will you, or will you not, enforce Canon 915? Will you enjoin all of your priests and Eucharistic ministers to deny Holy Communion to pro-abortion and pro-sodomy so-called 'Catholic' politicians while they are gathered in your archdiocese for the Democratic convention? So far, I have yet to read any item where you publicly state that you will.

    'The Associated Press is reporting that you, along with Washington D.C. Archbishop Donald Wuerl, have issued a correction regarding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's recent statements regarding abortion. AP is also reporting that you wrote to them saying that Democratic vice presidential nominee-in-waiting Sen. Joseph Biden should refrain from receiving Communion because of his abortion stance.

    'While your actions in this regard are good and commendable, again, they fall short of your saying that you will actually enforce Canon 915 and deny the Blessed Sacrament to them and any other obstinate 'Catholic' Democrat politicians who may approach to receive the Sacrament. As I said in my previous letter to you, it is not enough to ask that such politicians not present themselves. They must be DENIED. I pray that you will have the courage to enforce Canon 915.'

Later that same day, Archbishop Chaput responded:


    'I have a very busy life as an archbishop and I can't spend time responding to spurious columns like the spurious column that Barbara Kralis wrote. She has an obligation in justice to make sure she doesn't misrepresent things.

    'I don't choose to respond to your questions because I don't trust that you won't share what I say with others in an appropriate way and then use me for your own purposes.

    'God bless you. I hope you'll develop the right kind of compassion sometime for people you don't know and whose situation you're not really aware of. What you do may make you feel good, but it doesn't accomplish anything for the Lord and for his Church.'

I got a real kick out of this item, courtesy of Catholic journalist Stephanie Block, regarding one of the speakers at Cardinal Roger Mahony's 2009 Religious Education Congress — Father John Cusick, of the Archdiocese of Chicago:

    'Fr. John Cusick: Co-host of Chicago's Theology on Tap; Young Adult Ministry at which he brings dissenting speakers (among them, Fr. Pat Brennan). Appointed by (then) Governor Rod Blagojevich to the Executive Ethics Commission of the State of Illinois.'

Okay, in case you didn't see that second phrase, I'll print it again:

    'Appointed by (then) Governor Rod Blagojevich to the Executive Ethics Commission of the State of Illinois.'


© Matt C. Abbott


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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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