Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love

by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

For over 10 years now most of the parishes in our diocese have been praying the Prayer to St. Michael after Mass, invoking his intercession to “defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.” I have seen how our faithful, including many young people who otherwise appear inattentive at Mass, proclaim this prayer with enthusiasm and zeal, apparently because they recognize the battle for our souls waged by the powers of darkness and evil, seeking to pull us away from all that is good, all that is beautiful, and all that is true.

This battle is not just metaphorical, but is quite real. We see it every day in the secular media and popular entertainment that send very overt messages contrary to our Christian faith. We see how legislators and government leaders are corrupted by the donations they receive from Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union to pass laws that promote abortion, introduce distorted and harmful notions of human sexuality into the school curriculum, and turn the true meaning of marriage and family life on its head.

Unfortunately, the battle between good and evil must also be waged sometimes within the Church. St. Paul warned the leaders of the Christian community at Ephesus that “savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them” (Acts 20:29-30).

Sadly, this can be seen in some bishops and even cardinals of the Church who not only are willing to give holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians, but who seek to block the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from addressing the question of eucharistic coherence, which has taken on heightened urgency with the election of President Biden, a Catholic who promotes the evils of abortion and same-sex marriage. The phrase “eucharistic coherence” was used by the Latin American bishops in their 2007 Aparecida Document, in which they said:

“We hope that legislators, heads of government, and health professionals, conscious of the dignity of human life and of the rootedness of the family in our peoples, will defend and protect it from the abominable crimes of abortion and euthanasia; that is their responsibility… . We must adhere to ‘eucharistic coherence,’ that is, be conscious that they cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act with deeds or words against the commandments, particularly when abortion, euthanasia, and other grave crimes against life and the family are encouraged.”

It should be noted that then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, played a crucial role in the development of the Aparecida Document, which was issued by Episcopal Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAM).

The Bible is clear about eucharistic coherence as stated by St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians (11:27), “Whoever eats unworthily of the bread and drinks from the Lord’s cup makes himself guilty of profaning the body and of the blood of the Lord.”

Following the maxim that law follows theology, the principles of eucharistic coherence are thus articulated in the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law, which states that “a person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or to receive the Body of the Lord” and that those “who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion” (cf. canons 915-916). This is not a judgement of the interior disposition of person’s soul, which only God can judge, but pertains to the person’s external actions in relation to objectively grave sins.

There are also some very serious concerns about the situation of the Catholic Church in Germany, where some priests and bishops have openly defied the Church’s ban on blessing homosexual unions, despite the recent warning from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, published with the assent of Pope Francis, saying that “it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage (i.e., outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life), as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex.”

The Catholic Bishops of Germany have also announced a “German Catholic Synodal Path,” which proposes to consider some specific topics of concern to the Church in Germany. Writing in The Catholic World Report (Feb.25, 2021), Russell Shaw says that the “controlling idea is that the Catholic Church must adopt the structures and processes of secular liberal democracy operating through a network of synods and synod-like bodies. All leadership positions in the Church, including bishops and pastors, are to be elective and term-limited. Decisions of bishops and pastors can be overruled by majority vote. The pope’s role in selecting bishops is simply to confirm the results of the elections that choose them.”

Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila has written an excellent and articulate theological critique of the Synodal Assembly’s Fundamental Text. It is well worth reading his full text, but this sentence in particular sums up the concerns: “An attentive reading of the Fundamental Text in its entirety makes it difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Synodal Assembly hopes to bring about a Church that, far from being prepared to suffer the world’s contempt for her fidelity to Christ, will be preeminently conditioned by the world and comfortably accepted by it as one respectable institution among others.”

Calling attention to the Fundamental Text’s statement that “there is no one central perspective, no one truth of religious, moral, and political evaluation of the world, and no one way of thinking that can lay claim to final authority,” Archbishop Aquila describes this as a “disturbing subscription to an explicit, radical doctrinal relativism,” which he says “is a remarkable claim if only for its incomprehensibility.”

Even Rev. Alexander Garth, the Protestant pastor of the German church where Martin Luther preached, St. Mary’s Church in Wittenberg, which is known as the “mother church of the Reformation” has warned that the German Church’s Synodal Path is “the wrong path” that is “forcing the Protestantization of the Catholic Church” (National Catholic Register, May 4, 2021).  

Please pray for Our Lady, Mother of the Church, and St. Joseph, Terror of Demons, to intercede along with St. Michael the Archangel and all of our guardian angels to safeguard the Church from the insidious attacks of the Evil One.

May God give us this grace. Amen.