Right to Communion a Private Matter, bishop says

From the New York Times:

ALBANY — One of New York State’s leading Roman Catholic bishops said on Tuesday that it was not appropriate for church officials to comment on whether specific elected officials should be allowed to receive holy communion.


Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, the leader of the Albany diocese and a member of the executive committee of the New York State Catholic Conference, made his comments at a news conference after meeting with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at the Executive Mansion to discuss the state budget, same-sex marriage and other issues.

Mr. Cuomo was criticized last month by a consultant to the Vatican’s highest court, who called for the governor to be denied communion because he lives with his girlfriend without being married to her.

But when Bishop Hubbard was asked if he agreed with the consultant — Edward N. Peters, a professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit — he said that such matters were between officials and their pastors, much as they are for private individuals.

“There are norms for all Catholics about receiving communion and we have to be sensitive pastorally to every person in their own particular situation,” Bishop Hubbard said. “And when it comes to judging worthiness for communion, we do not comment on either public figures or private figures. That’s something between the communicant and his pastor personally. It’s not something we comment on.”

Bishop Hubbard also distanced New York bishops from bishops in other states who have sparked controversy in recent years by calling publicly for communion to be denied to elected officials who disagree with church teachings on issues like abortion or same-sex marriage.

“Some bishops have done that but not all bishops have done that,” Bishop Hubbard said. “Quite frankly, there is a disagreement among bishops about using the communion line as a place for a confrontation. And I don’t think that the bishops of New York State feel that’s appropriate.”

Professor Peters’s criticism followed similar remarks made by Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, a former archbishop of St. Louis and the head of the Vatican court, who is known for his criticism of President Obama and of Catholic politicians who support abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

Bishop Hubbard appeared with Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, the leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, and several other high-ranking bishops who had lunch with Mr. Cuomo at the Executive Mansion on Tuesday afternoon.

In a statement, Josh Vlasto, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, said: “The governor enjoyed his lunch meeting with Archbishop Dolan and the bishops from the Catholic Conference. He looks forward to continuing to work closely with them during his administration.”

The meeting was closely scrutinized because Mr. Cuomo had previously said he would be unable to meet with Archbishop Dolan on Monday due to a scheduling conflict, a move some in Albany suggested was an intentional snub by a governor unhappy with the public criticism of his living arrangements. But Tuesday’s lunch was quickly scheduled and a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo said on Monday that no snub was intended.

Archbishop Dolan said on Tuesday that he had accepted Mr. Cuomo’s explanation and that the issue had not arisen during lunch.

“Thank God it didn’t, because it was a bit of a tempest in a teapot,” the archbishop said. “We were just happy to be there, and he obviously was, too.”

He added that the rescheduled meeting had had another benefit.

“We got lunch out of it,” Archbishop Dolan said.

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Jim McCrea
7 years 7 months ago
Hubbard is already vilified by the tighty-righty theocons.  This statement should really bring down the calls for drawing and quartering him.
John Barbieri
7 years 7 months ago
Bishop Hubbard sounds like he is conciliatory and compassionate.I can only hope that the same willingness to understand would be shown to the rest of the catholic community.
7 years 7 months ago
Anything Goes

The world has gone mad today
And good's bad today,
And black's white today,
And day's night today.

Cole Porter. He sure knew his way around the big apple, didn't he?
Daniel Horan
7 years 7 months ago
Here is my take on this situation from the other week shortly after it happened. Note Prof. Edward Peters personally joined the conversation in the comments section of the post on my blog. Lots of lively conversation going on here: http://datinggod.org/2011/02/25/the-eucharist-is-not-a-weapon-part-i/ 
Glad to see the America blog discussing this topic. Peace! 
7 years 7 months ago
What is the Church's teaching on the celebrant's (and for that matter Eucharistic Minister's) obligation with respect to giving communion?  If I shoot someone in the head just before saying "amen," is the priest/minister forbidden from handing the host to me?

I don't even know the rules anymore; I was taught that if you missed church, you couldn't take communion until you went to confession.  Although I've missed church very rarely since my last confession of 5 years ago, I do not go to communion.  I'm always amazed that at every mass, I am one of only a couple of people who do not go up for communion. 

I gotta believe that there are a boatload of people taking communion in violation of what the Church teaches (whatever the rule du jour is), but I've never seen a priest deny anyone communion.  And as mentioned in the blog linked in the previous post, no one can say for sure whether Cuomo had committed a mortal sin by living with a woman; cohabitation without sex is not a sin (as far as I know - or did they change that in V-II?).
Joe Garcia
7 years 7 months ago

Please go to Confession. PLEASE.

7 years 7 months ago
If I shoot someone in the head just before saying "amen," is the priest/minister forbidden from handing the host to me?

Yes, if you're Republican.
7 years 7 months ago
We would all be better off if we spent far less time tinking about what the "other guy" is or isn't doing, and more time living the Gospel message. Michael, make a good act of contrition and receive communion.
Anne Chapman
7 years 7 months ago
David, I may misunderstand your point, but it seems you might see things through a  clouded prism. Chains are associated with slavery, with lack of freedom.  To grow spiritually, you must break those chains, obeying God and God's laws in freedom and out of love rather than because of man-made rules!
7 years 7 months ago
''man-made rules''

Where did the 10 Commandments come from?   And where did that ''whatever you bind on earth'' comment come from? 
Marie Rehbein
7 years 7 months ago
Just in case no one thought of this, but since I am not Catholic, I am one of a handful of people who don't go up to communion.  When my daughter had her First Communion, nearly every child had one parent who was not Catholic and did not receive communion.
Anne Chapman
7 years 7 months ago
JR, following rules while in chains, without freedom - whether the ten commandments or the man-made rules of the church - is simply a form of slavery. God does not wish people to strive to follow the ten commandments because they are in chains and have no freedom to do otherwise - God wants us to do these things out of love, freely given.


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