Listers, recently a priest in the diocese of Washington (DC) denied a lesbian communion, and the diocese released a public letter apologizing to her. It has left many wondering if any person at all is barred from Holy Communion when they are under the pastoral hand of Cardinal Wuerl. The answer is lies in the Cardinal’s – then Archbishop – words regarding Nancy Pelosi and communion.
In an interview published in a Politics Daily article today, Bishop Wuerl said he disagreed with refraining from giving communion to manifestly pro-abortion politicians, which was equated with “Communion wielded as a weapon.” “That’s the new way now to make your point,” said Wuerl.
“We never – the Church just didn’t use Communion this way. It wasn’t a part of the way we do things, and it wasn’t a way we convinced Catholic politicians to appropriate the faith and live it and apply it; the challenge has always been to convince people.’’ On the other hand, sanctioning Catholics tends to alienate them, he said.
Wuerl said he will make no effort to keep Speaker Pelosi from receiving Communion, saying first “there’s a question about whether this canon  was ever intended to be used’’ to correct Catholics in grave error.
Canon 915 states: “Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion.”
For bishops, “there are two different approaches” to bring Catholic politicians in line with Church teaching. “One is the pastoral, teaching mode, and the other is the canonical approach” – the legal approach, in other words. He doesn’t think it’s a very close call: “I have yet to see where the canonical approach has changed anyone’s heart.”
Has he seen his approach change anyone’s heart? He smiles, and says one has to take the long view: “The teaching approach that we’ve used for centuries requires patience, persistence and insistence, but I believe if we teach our people, we will not have a problem with our politicians.”
Of Pelosi in particular, he cites two big reasons he hasn’t and won’t try to keep her from receiving Communion:
First, “there’s a question about whether this canon” – the relevant church law – “was ever intended to be used” to bring politicians to heel. He thinks not. “I stand with the great majority of American bishops and bishops around the world in saying this canon was never intended to be used this way.”