Dear Editor, A Sunday news story said that anonymous reports claimed that parish priests had “pilloried” TDs from the pulpit and challenged others directly and refused Communion because they voted for the abortion law. Mr M Long, spokesman for the bishops’ conference, said there was no diktat issued. Unfortunate all round. The canon law on Communion includes the rights of the recipient and requires some personal communication between bishop, parish priest and the citizen.
The canons are nuanced regarding degrees of cooperation. The use of the whip by three of the parties, denying the elected officials’ use of conscience and the extremely strange law passed against normal medical practice, based on the X case (an extreme example of hard cases make bad law) and the expert medical advice that saw no need for the law as passed made it more complex. Archbishop Eamon Martin’s warning before the vote was cast and his later statement that he did not wish to politicise Holy Communion added confusion in light of Mr Long’s official statement. Have a competent canon lawyer with a pastoral heart advise the bishops and offer workshops for the parish clergy if appropriate and publish the results in plain language. The Church in the USA has been riveted by some hierarchs and parish priests every election season making up canon law with no knowledge and less pastoral sensitivity.