Matt C. Abbott
The canonist's 'no Communion for Cuomo' controversy
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By Matt C. Abbott
February 24, 2011

From a Feb. 23 Associated Press story (excerpted; click here for the full article):

    'A consultant for the Vatican's high court says he believes New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo shouldn't receive the Catholic sacrament of Holy Communion because he is not married to his live-in girlfriend, Food Network star Sandra Lee.

    'Edward Peters, who's also a conservative Catholic blogger and seminary professor in Detroit, called the living arrangement 'public concubinage' and said that Cuomo taking Communion would be sacrilegious.

    'But Catholic bishops don't agree. Bishops and priests have allowed the Catholic Democrat to receive Communion for years, including at Christmas last year and at a Mass last month marking his inauguration. The practice appears to conform to church law....

    ''There are norms of the church governing the sacraments which Catholics are expected to observe,' said Albany Diocese Bishop Howard J. Hubbard. 'However, it is unfair and imprudent to make a pastoral judgment about a particular situation without knowing all the facts. As a matter of pastoral practice, we should not comment publicly on anything which should be addressed privately, regardless if the person is a public figure or a private citizen'.....

    'Cuomo is divorced and supports abortion rights. He has said he lives much of the time with Lee in her house. She refers to Cuomo's daughters from his marriage with Kerry Kennedy as her children....

    'The conservative Catholic League wouldn't comment on the issue, first raised in January by the New York Daily News after Cuomo received Communion at a Mass before his inauguration....

    'Peters' opinion may conflict with church law. The Vatican states Catholics may receive Communion if they confess their sins or intend to confess their sins and that 'church custom shows that is necessary for each person to examine himself at depth'.....'

A few observations about the above story:

Bishop Howard Hubbard. Bishop Hubbard's comments come as absolutely no surprise. Many orthodox Catholics are well aware of his legacy — and it's a sad one at that.

The Catholic League. While I agree with the Catholic League far more than I disagree with it, there is an area into which Bill Donohue will not enter, namely, saying anything that might be construed as being critical of the bishops. Even if Donohue is privately critical of some bishops — and, to be honest, I don't know whether that's the case — there's no way he could publicly criticize the actions, or inaction, of those bishops. If he did, he would almost certainly be looking for a new job.

Orthodox Catholics who publicly and prudently (yes, I do realize the application of this term is open to debate) question and/or criticize "the establishment" in any way, shape or form will likely find themselves persecuted by those in "the establishment" who should be supporting them. Just ask Michael Voris.

The Associated Press states, "Peters' opinion may conflict with church law." Knowing how thorough and analytical Dr. Peters is when it comes to Catholic teaching and canon law, I highly doubt his opinion "may conflict with church law." He certainly knows more about it than The Associated Press (by the way, when has the Vatican ever said that it's OK for us Catholics to receive Communion in the state of serious sin as long as we intend to go to confession at some point?) — and even, dare I say, some bishops.

To find out what Dr. Peters is truly asserting on matters Catholic, check out his blog by clicking here.

In a humorous post on this controversy, Dr. Peters writes:

    'For those who agree with what I wrote, thank you for your kind words.

    'For those who disagree with what I wrote, I've already been informed that: the law killeth and the Spirit giveth life, that I am a Pharisee, that I am worse than a Pharisee, that Jesus forgives everyone (except possibly me and people like me), that I am a sinner, that the Church should deal with child molesters, that religion is a private matter, that Church and State are separate, that Bishop Hubbard is a gracious man, that Republicans (long list omitted) commit sins too, that lots of people live together who aren't married, that people get divorced and it might not be their fault, that Jesus came to unite not to divide, that many bishops ignore canon law, that many priests ignore canon law, that many lay people ignore canon law, that only psychologically insecure people think that law is important, that the wafer is just a symbol, that I need a life, that some European politicians behave far worse but their bishops give them Communion anyway, and that the Bible says 'Judge not lest you be judged,' etc.'

Also, Dr. Peters' son, Thomas Peters, has a popular and informative Catholic blog; check it out by clicking here.

© 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's been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.


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