Archbishop Myers in a delusional
world: proving the axiom that once
one becomes a bishop one has had
his last bad meal and will never hear
the truth again.
Why would a bishop tell Catholics that they should not present themselves for Holy Communion? Archbishop Myers of Newark is certainly not the brightest votive candle in the rack but he certainly knows that total doctrinal conformity is no requirement for Holy Communion. The essential doctrines of the faith are set forth in the historic Creeds and the Nicene Creed was included in the Liturgy in the 11th century precisely to be a statement of faith for believers to subscribe to before approaching the Eucharist. Of course by the 11th century the reception of Holy Communion was in decline with few people receiving the Eucharist more than once or twice a year, and many not even that often which is why the fourth Lateran Council in 1215 had to mandate an annual communion (at Eastertide) for all Catholics.In the seventeenth century communions were still rather rare and becoming ever more so due to the influence of Jansenism. We have often discussed the Jansenist heresy in this blog (March 6, and November 27, 2011, February 28, March 1, August 19, September 13, 16 and 20, 2012) and I have said that I believe that it is alive and well and thriving in certain sectors of American Catholicism. Michael Voris of ChurchMilitant.TV (formerly Real Catholic TV) is one proponent of the heresy which is one of the reasons he was ordered to remove the title “Catholic” from his productions and why he is not given an audience in many dioceses. Christendom College in Front Royal Virginia has a reputation for being tainted with Jansenism as does the seminary at Mount Saint Mary’s Emmitsburg, but these reputations may be due more to individual graduates than actual academic philosophies, courses taught, or faculty teaching. That being said, there are some that claim that Germain Grisez, professor emeritus of Mortal Theology at Mount Saint Mary’s, picked up the Jansenist mantle of the late Monsignor Gommar de Pauw who had taught at the Mount in the 50’s and 60’s before establishing the Catholic Traditionalist Movement, but I have not read Grisez and while he seems quite rigid, rigidity alone does not make one a Jansenist. This idea however that in order to approach the Eucharist one must agree in theory and not merely conform in practice to the Church’s moral teaching certainly opens wide the door to Jansenism, especially when the admonition is applied to every detail of every issue. When one hears the rants that it is necessary to deny the Eucharist to those who disagree with Church teaching in order to “prevent sacrilege,” there is sufficient smoke of self-righteousness to surmise the fires of Jansenism are burning brightly somewhere nearby.
Now, that being said, I doubt that Archbishop Myers is a Jansenist. Jansenists are usually gaunt and dour folk, rarely suffering from gout. I would look for another reason. His Grace knows that at age 71 he is no longer a candidate for a higher see with an attached and much longed for red-hat and while he is not, as I said, bright, neither is he so unobservant as not to see that it is the Donald Wuerls and Timothy Dolans and Sean O’Malleys that get entrusted with the crucial sees. (Though Charlie Chaput is probably headed for a cardinal’s galero and he can be a bit restrictive on the Eucharist, but I don’t believe Chaput has gone so far out on the crazy limb as Myers.)
“Farmer John” as he is known to his priests (it is that East-Coast snobbery about Midwesterners) may simply have been bored and wanted some attention before his impending retirement relegates him permanently to the obscurity of an ecclesiastical has-been. His remark that he felt it necessary to issue the statement because of the lack of clarity on the issue by his brother bishops was not designed to win him support from his peers but it sure has gotten him some attention. Anyone who has taught second graders knows that infantile minds find negative attention preferable to no attention. I suspect, however, that His Grace was playing to the Republican bleachers, knowing that that is where the big donors sit. Like the steward of Luke 16,he is about to be out of a job and may know that he had better make friends fast with the mammon of iniquity as his days of service are coming to an end. Jesus praised the crafty steward for his astuteness and I don’t disparage the Archbishop for his foresight. I have met him often enough to know there is no malice in him and we all know well where our own bread is buttered. Furthermore, I think that he—like many of his colleagues—honestly believe in the Republican philosophy and think it better for America. I myself find certain planks in the Republican platform that I prefer over the alternatives and in particular I can’t support “abortion rights.” I believe that a fetus is a human person with an inalienable right to life and that laws that permit that life to be taken at whim are unjust. I don’t believe this because the Church says so—I believe it based on my (albeit limited) knowledge of biology. Unlike many of the moral vocal in the anti-abortion camp, I support a consistent life-ethic. It is not that I think the Church’s teachings here are “true” because the Church says that they are but rather I see that they reflect a Truth that is greater than the teaching of any particular religion. Well, enough of that sermon; I am getting sidetracked. I do intend to come out of my political closet in a future entry just for the sake of full-disclosure, but let me say that I believe a Catholic can be a Democrat in good faith and I believe that a Catholic can be in good faith a Republican. Either one requires some compromise with our faith as neither party can claim to be consistent with our Catholic (or even Christian) values but if one had to follow everything the Church teaches when one entered the voting booth either no one of us could vote or no one of us could receive Holy Communion. ‘nuff said.