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Will Denver Catholic Archbishop finally enforce Canon 915? ^ | August 18, 2008 | Barbara Kralis

Posted on 08/19/2008 10:30:58 AM PDT by Alex Murphy

The Democrat National Convention of the pro-abortion party of the United States will take place within the Archdiocese of Denver from Saturday, August 23, with the official Welcoming Celebration, through Friday, August 29, 2008.

More than 50,000 persons, including Democrat Party elected politicians, party members, delegates, and media, are expected for the weeklong event at various venues throughout the city. Many of these visiting folks will be pro-abortion Catholics — or Catholics in name only. Ironically, the 'Freedom from Religion Foundation' is posting a billboard near the Convention Center that says, 'Keep Religion Out of Politics.'

Many are wondering if Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Archdiocese of Denver is prepared spiritually to take advantage of such a momentous teaching moment? Here's why.

It's well known the Denver Archbishop has failed to say that he will implement Canon Law's canon 915, a clearly taught discipline against persons who obstinately persist in grave, manifest [public] sin, such as the murder of the unborn child and infanticide. This is a moral stand, not a political one.

Let's take the Democrat Catholic governor of Colorado, Bill Ritter, for an example, who lives and works in the Denver area. Archbishop Chaput has warned him publicly for almost two years, has written columns denouncing Ritter's legislations, and I assume the Archbishop has written him personal catechetical appeals.

What is so morally offensive about Governor Bill Ritter that Archbishop Chaput should deny him Holy Communion? Let us look at Ritter's record to date.

Shortly after taking office, Ritter restored state funding for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, signed legislation that requires all Roman Catholic hospitals to distribute emergency contraception to rape survivors, and pledged that he will not seek to appoint judges who oppose abortion rights. To date, Ritter has no anti-abortion legislation on his agenda. Ritter also has made it clear that if Roe v. Wade were overturned, he would veto legislation that is 'too restrictive' against abortions in Colorado. Ritter also supports sodomite marriage. The Catholic Church condemns all of Ritter's beliefs. [1]

When a public pro-abortion person disregards a bishop's directive to stay away and comes to Holy Communion 'of his own volition,' and the Minister of the Eucharist gives the Host to such a person, the bishop is doing evil [CIC, n.1755] because he has not instructed his Ministers to deny. The Denver Archbishop refuses to walk the talk. [2] He failed to teach his flock that these persons must be denied Holy Communion.

Sadly, Archbishop Chaput has indicated that it is the responsibility of the communicant to stay away from the Communion Rail. This is not correct. Rather, it is the responsibility of the Minister of the Eucharist to deny Holy Communion. This is a huge difference that goes against the Church's teachings [3] regarding canon 915 as well as recent statements from the Vatican stating that the manifest pro-abortion politicians must be denied, and the burden IS upon the Minister to deny, NOT upon the communicant to stay away.

Canon Law also places the responsibility on the minister — 'ne admittantur' — who, in some canonists' opinion, could be punished themselves according to canon 1389 §2, should he unlawfully administer the sacrament with the consequent danger of scandal for the rest of the faithful. Canon 1339 prescribes the possibility of punishing any person who causes grave scandal by any violation of a divine or ecclesiastical law.

Therefore, if pro-abortion Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi approaches the altar in Denver to receive the Eucharist, the Ministers of the Eucharist, including 'ordinary' and 'extra-ordinary,' [4] must deny Holy Communion themselves, regardless that their bishop has failed to instruct them to do so.

Archbishop Chaput in May of 2004 in his regular column for the Denver Catholic Register, wrote:

All right, Archbishop. What are you waiting for? Isn't murder [abortion] and sodomy grave enough and extraordinary enough to deny Holy Communion?

This is not a political decision, dear Archbishop, but a moral decision, for all times, not just for election times. It is not a sudden decision of piety, as you say in your column, but of concern for the eternal salvation of souls of persons who refuse to abandon their pro-abortion, pro-sodomite views. Abortion is murder and evil actions have consequences and a bishop is called to 'govern' and 'correct' using the discipline of canon 915.

If Archbishop Chaput' statement and action in regard to Governor Ritter is morally correct, this would mean that priests in the Denver Archdiocese, and everywhere else for that matter, should give Holy Communion without question to anyone approaching the Altar, to people publicly professing beliefs contrary to the doctrines of the Catholic Church or publicly living lives at serious variance with the teachings of the Church. This would include homosexual couples approaching the Eucharist arm and arm, the divorced and "remarried" without benefit of annulment, directors of Planned Parenthood, Mafia figures, drug lords, et al.

Let's ask this question of the Archbishop — if you were distributing Holy Communion and in front of you stood a known serial killer with a severed bloody head in one hand and a bloody machete in the other hand, would you give him the Eucharist? And after you denied the serial killer you next had standing before you the known pro-abortion politician Nancy Pelosi. Would you also deny her? Murder is murder, isn't it Archbishop?

It is well for us to remember that in his memorandum entitled "Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion — General Principles," Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, said without ambiguity:

In contrast to Archbishop Chaput, 15 U.S. Archbishops and Bishops [6] have publicly stated that they would deny Holy Communion to such persons. Of this list of 15 Bishops, is included Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, Co. Does the disunited U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops now teach that it is correct for Bishop Sheridan to deny Nancy Pelosi the Eucharist in his diocese while Archbishop Chaput, in his Archdiocese, just 75 minutes away, allows his ministers to give evil Nancy Pelosi the Eucharist?

For some U.S. bishops to deny and other U.S. bishops not deny Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians is a source of disunity and confusion for the entire universal Church and a grave scandal against the faithful worldwide.

This leads the common observer to wonder why a group of 268 active U.S. bishops, including 25 Archbishops and 11 Cardinals, should even pretend to exist as a united Conference when they cannot agree on the most fundamental and crucial teaching of the Church, that abortion is murder. [7]

Recently, in the prestigious canon law journal, specifically the 2007 edition of the Pontificia Università Gregoriana Periodica De Re Canonica, volume 96, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke wrote an important essay entitled "The Discipline Regarding the Denial of Holy Communion to Those Obstinately Persevering in Manifest Grave Sin." In it, he suitably and accurately named three of the 253 active, obstinate bishops who refused to obey the Church's canon law c. 915. [8]

Furthermore, on May 9, 2007, Pope Benedict reiterated lofty and long-held Church teachings at 35,000 feet above sea level while in flight to Brazil, agreeing with the Mexican bishops' recent warning of automatic 'tolerati' excommunication [9] or 'Latæ sententiæ' [10] for Catholic persons who supported, legislated, or promoted abortion [cf. formal accomplices, c.1329; cf. EV 62B]. Benedict said the teaching was, in fact, the law of the Church:

Pope Benedict and the Bishops who teach in union with the Pope speak loud and clear what the church's priorities are for voting as a Catholic. They teach that one may not consider other human conditions without giving first predominant consideration of the five most important conditions of the right to life: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, cloning and same-sex marriage.

To send a note of encouragement to Archbishop Chaput to enforce canon 915, you may email him personally at:


[1]  The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's 'Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life' 11/24/02 states in No.4: "John Paul II, continuing the constant teaching of the Church, has reiterated many times that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a 'grave and clear obligation to oppose' any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them"[Evangelium vitae, n.73].

[2]  Shortly after the CDF's November, 2002 'Doctrinal Note' on Catholics in political life, in the Congregation of Divine Worship's December, 2002 Notitiae edition we read from its prefect Cardinal Estevez: "Another fundamental right of the faithful, as noted in Canon 213, is 'the right to receive assistance by the sacred Pastors from the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the Sacraments.' In view of the law that 'sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who opportunely ask for them, are properly disposed and are not prohibited by law from receiving them' (canon 843 ¶ 1), there should be no such refusal to any Catholic who presents himself for Holy Communion at Mass, except in cases presenting a danger of grave scandal to other believers arising out of the person's unrepented public sin or obstinate heresy or schism, publicly professed or declared."

[3]  Pope John Paul II, in 'Ecclesia De Eucharistia' states that only the faithful who have confessed grave sins in the Sacrament of Penance may receive Holy Communion, and that those who "obstinately persist in manifest grave sin" must be denied Communion.

[4]  This loss of the 'fullness of unity' in teaching means that most 'ordinary ministers of Holy Communion' [cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons] and EMHCs [laymen who are duly installed by the bishops as 'extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion'] are handing Jesus over to be crucified once again.

[5]  Cardinal Ratzinger was referring to an earlier Vatican document, "Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Declaration Holy Communion and Divorced, Civilly Remarried Catholics," nos. 3-4, 6/00.

[6]  Revised 8/14/08: Archbishop Raymond L Burke, Bishop Emeritus, St. Louis; Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz, Lincoln NE; Bishop Joseph A. Galante, Camden, NJ; Bishop John M. Smith, Trenton, NJ; Bishop Michael Sheridan, Colorado Springs, CO; Bishop Robert F. Vasa, Baker, OR; Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger, Evansville, IN; Bishop Robert J. Baker, Birmingham, AL; Bishop Peter J. Jugis, Bishop, Charlotte, NC; Bishop Samuel Aquila, Fargo, ND; Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, Phoenix, AZ; Bishop Paul S. Coakley, D.D., Salina, KS.

Retired Bishops:
Bishop Henry Rene Gracida, Bishop Emeritus, Corpus Christi, TX; Archbishop John F. Donoghue Archbishop, Atlanta, GA, Bishop John Y. Yanta, Bishop Emeritus, Amarillo, TX.

[7]  Cf. endnote #4. Also, Pontius Pilate told Jesus that "It was your own people and the chief priests who have handed you over to me" [Jn. 18:35]. And Jesus responded to Pilate that "he who handed me over to you is guilty of the greater sin" [Jn. 19:11].

[8]  Specifically Archbishop Burke named Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles [cf footnote n. 4 of Periodica De Re Canonica essay], Cardinal Theodore McCarrick [cf footnote n. 5 of same essay], the former Archbishop of Washington, D.C.; and McCarrick's successor, Archbishop Donald Wuerl [cf footnote n. 87 of same essay], affectingly called "McWuerl" by some.

[9]  The excommunication affects all those who commit this crime with the knowledge of the penalty attached and thus includes those accomplices without whose help the crime would not have been committed [Canon 1329]. Any person who promotes, legislates, and supports abortion is clearly a formal accomplice. Clearly, U.S. Catholic politicians have been enlightened to the facts of excommunication by this time by their bishops and Catholic laity.

[10]  'Automatically without sentence.' A censure incurred by the very fact of committing a crime. This excommunication is inflicted by the perpetrator on his very act.

[11]  Canon Law is law; it is not a suggestion. Canon Law 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 a Catholic to vote for pro-abortion legislation is a "manifest grave sin." According to Code of Canon Law, a bishop has not only the right but also the duty to stop a grave sinner from committing sacrilege and scandal. Canon 1369 tells bishops: "A person is to be punished with a just penalty, who...gravely harms public morals...." The Church has an innate and proper right to coerce offending members by means of penal sanctions (canon 1311). Diocesan bishops as well as the Pope possess legislative power, and the Code of Canon Law (canons 1315 and 1318) expressly recognizes their right to enact laws for their dioceses.

[12]  Excommunication is a "medicinal penalty" [Canon 1312]; it is fundamentally oriented toward bringing Catholics to repent of certain seriously wrong behaviors. Meant not as punishment, but rather to bring people to wake up to what they're doing and the seriousness of it. The Pope has the right, the obligation, and the duty to enforce the moral law, which is superior to all municipal, state, federal, or even international law.

TOPICS: Catholic; Ministry/Outreach; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS: 2008dncconvention; catholic; nohewont; whipkey
It bears watching to see if Denver sees a repeat of the recent Papal Masses in New York and Washington, wherein Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, and Rudy Giuliani all received the Eucharist....
1 posted on 08/19/2008 10:31:01 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy
What's so hard about denying this heretics communion? Just do it!


Heresy St. Thomas (II-II:11:1) defines heresy: "a species of infidelity in men who, having professed the faith of Christ, corrupt its dogmas... There are, therefore, two ways of deviating from Christianity: the one by refusing to believe in Christ Himself, which is the way of infidelity, common to Pagans and Jews; the other by restricting belief to certain points of Christ's doctrine selected and fashioned at pleasure, which is the way of heretics."

2 posted on 08/19/2008 11:08:23 AM PDT by Aquinasfan (When you find "Sola Scriptura" in the Bible, let me know)
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I can almost guarantee that Chaput won’t do a thing to stop pro-infanticide politicians from receiving Communion during the convention or thereafter.

3 posted on 08/19/2008 11:39:18 AM PDT by A.A. Cunningham
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To: Aquinasfan
What's so hard about denying this heretics communion?

This is Archbishop Chaput we're talking about here. He's kept a recently convicted sex offender priest on the Archdiocese payroll. Why should he excommunicate a Catholic politician?

4 posted on 08/19/2008 11:39:48 AM PDT by Alex Murphy (What can I say? It's a gift. And I didn't get a receipt, so I can't exchange it.)
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To: Alex Murphy
A detail that you omitted about Whipkey:

Whipkey was placed on administrative leave by the Archdiocese of Denver after his arrest.

Chaput believes in due process for the accused and you are not privy to what additional action is being taken in Rome to dismiss Whipkey from the clerical state, are you?

5 posted on 08/19/2008 11:55:38 AM PDT by A.A. Cunningham
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To: A.A. Cunningham
A detail that you omitted about Whipkey

I left out no details. In fact, I first reported on Whipkey's "administrative leave" status last December. That's when it was mentioned for the first time - when Father Robert Whipkey entered his "not guilty" plea for (in the words of the county prosecutor) "(walking) the length of three football fields, past 21 homes, near a preschool and several businesses with no clothes and no regard for anyone else as dawn broke June 22, 2007...after (jogging) nude around the track at Frederick High School. The Archdiocese didn't place him on administrative leave until August 2007, two months after the incident, i.e. when the news of his behavior went public.

You don't place someone on "administrative leave" unless you still consider them part of the administration. Whipkey wasn't fired. Administrative leave usually means that you're still officially on the payroll. It's conceivable that his pay was reduced (perhaps even down to zero), but Whipkey's still on record as being an employee of the Archdiocese. It may only be a symbolic position, but it's one that sends the wrong message to be sure. And Archbishop Chaput gets 100% of the credit for that message.

Father Whipkey may have been stripped of his priestly duties, but he hasn't been stripped of his clerical collar. I'm surprised you don't give me credit for knowing he's on leave. After all, you made a post on the last thread I posted about it: Archdiocese: Priest still on leave [Only Vatican can defrock Fr Whipkey, the naked jogging priest]

6 posted on 08/19/2008 12:36:42 PM PDT by Alex Murphy (What can I say? It's a gift. And I didn't get a receipt, so I can't exchange it.)
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To: Alex Murphy
Vote for Real Hope and Change [Archbishop Chaput]

7 posted on 08/19/2008 9:34:55 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Alex Murphy
[Ritter] pledged that he will not seek to appoint judges who oppose abortion rights

This is news to me, as is the same-sex marriage support. In fact, it looks like Ritter's backed off from reports of his support for SSM, falling into the unsustainable "domestic unions" compromise also favored by McCain.

I once saw the archbishop try to temper intense pressure from anti-Ritter Catholics at one public gathering by saying Ritter had done some good things on conscience protection.

8 posted on 08/20/2008 4:26:16 PM PDT by Dumb_Ox (
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To: Aquinasfan; Alex Murphy
What's so hard about denying this heretics communion? Just do it!

I agree. The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church routinely denies participation in the Eucharist to other heretics such as protestants, mormons and other assorted Truth deniers, why is it so hard to deny heretics within our midst?

9 posted on 08/20/2008 4:30:08 PM PDT by big'ol_freeper (A vote for third party is a vote for nObama)
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To: Alex Murphy

Are you from Colorado? Nobody I know here is terribly concerned about Whipkey. Generally they only see him as an embarrassment and a weirdo rather than a hardened criminal worthy of obsessive attention.

10 posted on 08/20/2008 4:30:48 PM PDT by Dumb_Ox (
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To: Dumb_Ox
Are you from Colorado?

I have several Catholic relatives in Colorado.

Nobody I know here is terribly concerned about Whipkey.

I take it that means you're in Colorado?

Generally they only see him as an embarrassment and a weirdo rather than a hardened criminal worthy of obsessive attention.

When the Whipkey story first broke last year, I initially agreed with this. It was wierd and a little creepy (and a little funny), but that was about it. My interest was piqued when it was reported that Whipkey had received some form of counseling and was shuffled from parish to parish after prior reports of public nudity (as a priest). I decided that Whipkey's case might make an excellent test of reforms made in the wake of the Catholic priest/pedophilia scandals. When I heard that Whipkey's diocese was in Archbishop Chaput's archdiocese, my interest was riveted.

It's my understanding that Chaput is new to the Archdiocese (or at least his position within it), coming on board after Whipkey's prior exhibitionist behaviors (and possibly after his recent jogging incident). I've been following the case ever since, specifically to see how the archdiocese (under Chaput) would respond. And how have they responded? You be the judge...

- Whipkey was only put on administrative leave when the story broke last August, not six weeks prior, when Whipkey was actually arrested (and confessed). The archdiocese said they would wait for the outcome of the case before taking action (note that the priest was convicted this last June, and we're still waiting for the Archdiocese to take further action).
- The Archdiocese, although under a court order, did not release Whipkey's files in time for his arraignment hearing (at which time Whipkey entered a plea of "not guilty")
- Whipkey's motions hearing was delayed two months. News reports after January named a different legal team representing him, and also indicated that said legal team successfully argued that Whipkey's priestly status would not be mentioned during the jury trial, despite Whipkey's arrest taking place in front of the parish rectory after the nude jog.
- Whipkey's jury trial was delayed three months. Whipkey's attorney said Whipkey would be "out of state, undergoing some treatment."
- Following Whipkey's conviction in June, the archdiocese still has him on "administrative leave".
- Following an unsuccessful appeal this month to lower Whipkey's conviction to a lesser offense, the archdiocese still has him on "administrative leave".
What is Archbishop Chaput and the Archdiocese of Colorado waiting for? To find out how long Whipkey's sentence will be? Or just whether Whipkey will have to register as a convicted sex offender? Isn't the conviction enough for them?
11 posted on 08/22/2008 9:21:56 AM PDT by Alex Murphy (What can I say? It's a gift. And I didn't get a receipt, so I can't exchange it.)
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To: Alex Murphy; A.A. Cunningham
Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, and Rudy Giuliani all received the Eucharist.... Still waiting for one bishop to deny one politician the sacrament.

The rationale is that danger to the RCC to be seen meddling in politics is worse than allowing the scandal. That is, IMHO, a ridiculous bit of double-effect cheese-paring and a direct affront to the Pope.

12 posted on 09/09/2009 9:00:59 AM PDT by Kenny Bunk (Congratulations Obama Voters! You are not prejudiced. Unpatriotic, maybe. Dumb definitely.)
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To: Kenny Bunk
That is, IMHO, a ridiculous bit of double-effect cheese-paring and a direct affront to the Pope.

"What was that?"
"I think it was 'Blessed are the cheesemakers.'"
"What's so special about the cheesemakers?"
Well, obviously it's not meant to be taken literally. It refers to any manufacturer of dairy products."

13 posted on 09/09/2009 10:08:17 AM PDT by Alex Murphy (...We never faced anything like this...we only fought humans.)
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