Amid US Bench’s Communion Clash, The “Holy Office” Flashes A Red Light

As some US bishops advocate levying de facto sanctions on President Biden and other Catholic politicians for their support of legal abortion, the Holy See’s distinct, but veiled skepticism over a Communion clash has taken a marked leap in volume, with the church’s lead doctrinal official warning that the push would be “misleading if [it] were to give the impression that abortion and euthanasia alone constitute the only grave matters of Catholic social teaching that demand the fullest level of accountability on the part of Catholics.”

Dated Friday, 7 May, the message came in a letter from the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Spanish Cardinal Luis Ladaria SJ, to the USCCB President, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles. Whispers has obtained the three-page missive, which was shared with the body of bishops over the weekend at Ladaria’s behest. (As this piece goes to press, the text was similarly leaked to the Jesuit-run America magazine and Catholic News Service, the USCCB-owned wire.)

With the bench slated to vote next month on empowering its own Doctrine Committee to craft national guidelines on “Eucharistic coherence” on the part of public officials – and a few of its top conservatives urging an officeholder’s support for abortion to disqualify them from receiving Communion – in his letter, the CDF chief expresses several stark reservations, leading with one apparently made by Rome during the 2019-20 ad limina visit: namely, that a “national policy” would “only” be useful “if this would help the bishops maintain unity.” 

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“A Child Can Teach Us How To Love” – Despite COVID and Curfews, Christus Natus Est

Before anything else, especially amid all the sorrows, fears, loss and disorientation of a brutal year across the globe, Buon Natale a tutti – to one and all, a Blessed Christmas… may all its light, hope and richness fill each of us in ways we’ve never known.

Always the world’s most-watched religious event, the Pope’s Mass on this Holy Night takes place under circumstances without modern precedent. 

A far cry from the usual overflow crowd spilling into St Peter’s Square, this Eve’s liturgy begins at the record early hour of 7.30pm Rome time (1.30pm US Eastern) in deference to Italy’s monthlong 10pm curfew, the nation’s latest drastic effort to curtail the virus’ second major wave there. 

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“The Poor Are The Center of The Gospel” – At Vatican “Festivus,” The Church’s Choice: “The Docility of the Shepherds, or the Defensiveness of Herod”

Fifteen years (less a day) since Benedict XVI revolutionized the Roman Pontiff’s Christmas “greeting” to the leaders of his Curia – transforming the holiday pleasantry into a Pope’s ultimate programmatic address of the calendar – for everything that’s changed since, the distinction remains.

Even so, of course, 2020 has been no ordinary year: not merely in terms of a pandemic that’s only bolstered Francis’ standing as the premier spiritual leader of a world under lockdown (one left all the more to watch him over a livefeed), but likewise in a tenuous feeling on the homefront, whether in the loss of the crowds and travel that define the nature of a Church gathered around Peter, or the ongoing throes of a Curial reform which doesn’t seek mere structural tweaks, but the spiritual conversion of its players – the latter marked in epochal form by September’s “decapitation” of a cardinal, the first such move in the modern era for reasons apart from sexual abuse.

Where B16 made the Christmas speech a premier moment of the governing munus of the Universal Pastor, his successor has brought his own unique facet to the exercise. 

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