Many readers of this web site were surprised to learn that in July, 2004, then-Cardinal Ratzinger issued a statement on civil authorities and their worthiness to receive Holy Communion. This comes as no surprise because the liberal media, to protect the pro-abortion and nominal Catholic presidential candidate John Kerry, chose to ignore the Vatican’s pronouncement.
Streetcornerconservative.com is pleased to present the entire text of Cardinal Ratzinger’s “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion, General Principles.”
Reader’s should note that Ratzinger’s statement pulled the rug out from under the proponents of the “seamless garment” argument by making it perfectly clear that not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. “There may be,” he declared, “a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not, however, with regard to abortion and euthanasia.” When it comes to abortion, death penalty, or the war in Iraq, only abortion is intrinsically wrong because it destroys innocent human life.
On the death penalty and the war, Ratzinger confirmed that the Church does not hold a univocal view. While it is true that the late Pope John Paul II and the U.S. bishops opposed the death penalty, they never decried the Church’s stand on capital punishment. In fact, in a 1980 pastoral letter, the American bishops insisted that “the state has the right to take the life of a person guilty of a serious crime.” Catholics are free to oppose using the death penalty in particular situations, but Catholics are not free to condemn it in the name of the Church as always morally wrong.
Similarly, while the Vatican opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Catholics are free to use prudential judgment in determining if it was just. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has stressed that “reasonable people can disagree about the necessity of using force” to overthrow Saddam.
Here’s the 2004 Vatican memorandum: (more…)