The Deacon's Bench

The controversy swirling around Rudy Giuliani receiving communion at St. Patrick’s just won’t stop.

The latest to weigh in is Phil Lawler at CWN, who notes:

In his public rebuke to Rudy Giuliani for improperly receiving Communion during Pope Benedict’s visit to New York, Cardinal Edward Egan raised two subtle but very interesting points. First, the cardinal says that Giuliani should not receive the Eucharist because of his support for legal abortion; he does not base his argument on Giuliani’s irregular marital status. Second, the cardinal reveals that he had reached a quiet agreement with Giuliani. The former New York mayor violated that agreement– apparently for his own political purposes.

But before discussing those rather subtle aspects of Cardinal Egan’s message, let’s begin with the obvious. Cardinal Egan deserves praise and thanks for his public statement, in which he shows himself to be a leader, a teacher, and a pastor of souls.

He goes on in that vein. You’ll want to read the rest. But I’m left with a curious feeling of dissatisfaction over this whole mess.

The simple fact is: Egan could indeed be considered a “leader, a teacher, and a pastor of souls” — if he had addressed this issue more than a week ago, when it happened. He didn’t. The event was widely noted (and seen on national television, with Rudy chomping on the Body of Christ as he wandered down the aisle) and the good Cardinal said nothing. He only responded after he was challenged on the issue by a nationally syndicated columnist.

If Robert Novak had never written on the subject, would Egan have said anything?

I have to wonder.

UPDATE: The Anchoress has some remarkably sensible thoughts on this matter:

There are lots of ways to scandalize a church or to desecrate the Holy Eucharist, and many people who are not public figures commune “unworthilly.” As near as I could tell Giuliani was the only one of the recipient pols caught on television cameras. I have to be honest, when I saw it, I thought, “he’s not supposed to be doing that…” but I also thought his mien and demeanor, his whole attitude was serious, thoughtful and yes, reverent – moreso than some of the others participating. I knew I was right smack dab in the middle of an abiding Mystery.

In the Apostles Creed, we’re told that Jesus “descended into hell” before he rose. In communion He descends into the hell of our own lives – all of our confusion, all of our sins those declared and those unfaced, all of our doubt, all of our love and our hate, all of our fear, our conscience, our deepest longings and our conscious and sub-conscious minds; our very souls – Jesus descends into it, and then we rise with Him. His very Blood courses through our veins.

This cannot leave us unchanged. Even if outwardly, we seem the same, inwardly, we have been penetrated. Some of us are very, very thick-walled; some of us have built astounding fortresses and battlements within us, and Jesus may very well want to go head-to-head, one-on-one so to speak, to tumble them. To descend into our personal “hells” in order to help us rise from them. He is, after all, the Divine Physician. Paul gave us an ideal and a basis for law. But Jesus has always been – ultimately – bigger than all of it.

And so, no…for all that I accept the validity of those crying “scandal,” I cannot cry it myself.

Check out the rest of her post and see what you think.

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