Moral Theologian Joins Bishop in Rebuking Father James Martin over Holy Communion Stand

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 18: A priest serves communion during Mass on Ash Wednesday at St. Patrick's Catherdral on February 18, 2015 in New York City. Ash Wednesday is the holy day that marks the beginning of Lent, a 40-day period in the Christian calendar that leads up to …
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ROME — Moral theologian Father Brian Graebe has joined Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki in rebuking Jesuit Father James Martin for his promotion of Holy Communion for politicians who aggressively promote abortion.

Father Graebe, who is pastor of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in Manhattan, writes in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) this week that Church leaders “have a responsibility to correct those who use the powers of their public offices to promote, facilitate and expand access to the unique evil of abortion.”

While denying a public official communion “should be a last resort, reserved for the most egregious violations of justice,” Father Graebe writes, enabling the killing of unborn children “far exceeds that threshold.”

“Withholding communion from someone in manifest, public, grave sin is not an act of unkindness, but one of love and mercy,” the priest insists. “Sometimes medicine has to sting before it can heal.”

“When the church sees souls jeopardizing their salvation through sacrilegious communions, she would be derelict not to intervene,” he adds.

Pretending that promoting abortion is not that big a deal, as Father Martin does, is the true “weaponization” of the Eucharist, Father Graebe asserts, since every reception of communion “wounds that public official’s soul and deepens its alienation from God.”

Progressives like Father Martin “risk diminishing the unique evil of abortion through false equivalences,” Graebe argues, such as the death penalty.

While recent popes have sought to limit the application of the death penalty, and Pope Francis has declared it “inadmissible,” Graebe notes, the Church “has always taught that the state has the inherent right to carry out capital punishment” and it is the how and when that is “a matter for debate.”

“Another issue often cited is poverty,” he states. “No one of good will wants people to remain poor, but how best to relieve poverty is a matter for prudential judgment. Give a man a fish or teach a man to fish?”

In his fraternal correction of Father Martin, Father Graebe echoes arguments brought forward by Springfield bishop Thomas Paprocki, who is also a Canon lawyer.

“Father James Martin contradicts basic Catholic moral principles and theology in his case against denying communion to those who persist in manifest, grave sin,” Bishop Paprocki wrote in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week.

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