Monday, November 23, 2009

Dear clergy: please fulfil your calling

It's true that our Church is in bad shape. But God doesn't abandon His children. There are always some faithful shepherds who will give a good example. Today's news brings us another such instance.

LifeSiteNews reports that Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin instructed a pro-abortion politician, Patrick Kennedy (son of Ted Kennedy) not to receive communion because of his dissenting views. Now there are elements in the Church who think that such a statement by a Bishop is un-Christian, uncharitable, unloving, etc. If we had eyes to see the truth as God has revealed it, we would realize that such a statement by a Bishop is an extreme act of virtue and is of immense benefit to the Church in many ways:

  1. First and foremost, this directive by the Bishop sends a clear message to the recipient that he or she is endorsing a grave sin and that their eternal salvation is in peril. It is therefore a strong call to repentance and conversion, which is what the Gospel is all about.
  2. In cases where such a directive is made public, as in the current case, it also instructs the other faithful of the gravity of the sin that is being endorsed by the politician. It therefore gives them reason to pause and rethink in their own positions.
  3. It protects Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament from sacrilege.  Jesus gave us a priceless gift in the Eucharist.  Do we want to repay Him with love and worship or by offering Him a dwelling place that is full of filth and corruption?
  4. It prevents further sin by the politician by protecting him from the opportunity to commit sacrilege.
  5. It ensures the salvation of the Bishop's soul, because it is his responsibility before God Almighty to instruct the faithful and to call sinners to repentance. If he were to shun away from this responsibility, his own salvation would be in peril.  As St. John Chrysostom once said, “the road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.”

I sure wish that other bishops and priests would realize the benefits of this type of fraternal correction. It need not be done in public. And in fact, Bishop Tobin kept the matter private.  It was Patrick Kennedy who made the matter public when he told the press that the Bishop had asked him to stop receiving communion back in 2007. 

So I urge all the clergy out there to pray to the Holy Spirit for the strength they need to effectively carry out their ministry. Yes, it's important to emphasize the positives of the Gospel. But you cannot ignore the importance of calling sinners to repentance.  Jesus did it. And aren't you called to imitate Jesus in a special way through the sacrament of ordination? Then get with it!