Father John Kiley, longtime author of the Quiet Corner, recently published a column in the Providence Journal, “Catholics should not let the Oval Office set the standard on their faith.” Father Kiley noted that President Biden attends Mass and advocates some policies that seem in agreement with Pope Francis. He also pointed out that the President rejects Catholic doctrine related to abortion, marriage, and transgender ideology. His pointing out the President’s failure to support the truth about human dignity generated critical reaction in the days following the publication of his column. The reactions shared a common theme: confusion regarding the status of Catholics who persist in manifest grave sin.
It’s no great secret that people sin. Indeed, the Son of God took on flesh in order to save sinners. A Catholic remains a Catholic even after committing grave sin. Yet, grave sin has consequences for a person’s spiritual life. It kills the life of grace in the soul. Serious sin renders ineffective the reception of Holy Communion. Implicit in the reactions to Fr. Kiley’s column was the debate concerning Mass attendance and the reception of the Eucharist.
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone recently observed that “Catholics no longer understand the idea of worthiness to receive Communion.” Should those who have committed grave sins — like promoting the taking of innocent human life in abortion —still come to Mass? By all means, come one and all. But before receiving Holy Communion the first stop is the confessional to restore the person to a state of grace. Whether the Catholic is a president or a priest, married or single, employed or unemployed we must strive to remain in God’s friendship.