The Deacon's Bench

Some New Yorkers, from the Rockville Center diocese, are now weighing in on the Rudy-Egan flap.

Newsday has some reaction:

Heading into the noon Mass at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre Tuesday, Anne-Marie Patton said she had no doubts Rudy Giuliani was out of line when he received Holy Communion at a papal Mass despite his public advocacy for abortion rights.

And she agreed with the public rebuke Giuliani received on Monday from Cardinal Edward Egan.

“I think it’s more than rude,” said Patton, of Rockville Centre, as a light rain fell at the cathedral. “If Giuliani knows the teachings of the church and knows the state of his personal life, he should know he is not entitled to receive Holy Communion.”

She added: “If you are a member of a religion or an organization, you abide by the rules.”

But another Roman Catholic, Cristina Ruiz Diaz of Farmingdale, said she thought Egan was making too much of the matter. “Just because that’s one point we disagree with … doesn’t mean that we’re bad Catholics and nobody should talk to us,” she said.

“A lot of people think that way [about abortion rights] and they’re not as public,” she added.

Catholics across Long Island had mixed reactions Tuesday on the flare-up. Some said Egan’s actions were justified, while others thought he was stirring up a ruckus over something inconsequential.

Egan posted a statement on the Archdiocese of New York’s Web site stating that he and Giuliani had a “private agreement” that Giuliani would not receive Holy Communion — then Giuliani violated the agreement by doing so at the April 19 Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Giuliani is also twice-divorced and thrice-married. He never had his second marriage annulled and by church doctrine should not receive Holy Communion for that reason either.

Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said yesterday Egan does not plan any generalized crackdown on average Catholics in the pews who support abortion rights and receive Holy Communion.

But he said the issue with Giuliani had become so public that the cardinal felt obligated to respond. He added that “Catholics have an obligation to understand church teaching and to understand that Holy Communion should only be received when a person is in a state of grace.”

Asked what Egan’s move might mean for Catholics who worship on Long Island, Sean Dolan, spokesman for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, said the diocese adheres to church doctrine that prohibits abortion and added that any public official who advocates abortion shouldn’t receive Communion.

Another parishioner at St. Agnes, Peg McHale, 82, of Lynbrook, said that “it stands to reason if you are promoting abortion, then you are not in good standing with the Catholic Church” and should not receive Communion.

Janet Liotta, a Catholic from Farmingdale, said that while Giuliani’s lifestyle shows “he is not a Catholic,” Egan also mishandled it by making a public spectacle. “I don’t think Egan is acting in a Christ-like manner,” she said. “I think it’s heartless.”

Real estate agent Charles Funk, who works in Centereach, said there are other, more important issues the cardinal should spend his time on. “It’s more like gossip than news,” he said.

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