Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:27-32, New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition)
It is in this passage that we find the basis of Section 915 of the Code of Canon Law:
Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.
It has been rare that CCL 915 has ever actually been put to use. Recently, a Catholic blogger and expert on Canon Law has made the case that if there ever was a time to use CCL 915, it is the case of Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. Speaker Pelosi’s views on abortion, which contradict Church teaching, have long been known but the issue came back to the forefront recently during the health-care debate, particularly due to the concern that the new health-care bill allows for public funding of abortion. It is the second clause of CCL 915 that is viewed as applicable to the Speaker, the problem being that Mrs. Pelosi refuses to come in line with Church teaching and, being a public figure and a lawmaker, is a problematic public example of rebellion against Church authority.
I don’t necessarily have a problem with the use of CCL 915 in the case of the Speaker, my problem lies in the political nature of the issue. There are likely millions of American Catholics who vote in favor pro-abortion candidates, and who support the “pro-choice” position. In fact, if I had been able to vote in 2008, I probably would have been one of them (a position I am forced to seriously reconsider looking toward 2012, with hope that a good alternative will be available in lieu of not voting for President at all). Now the issue becomes, is there “obstinate perseverance” in going against Church teaching? In my case, I am personally firmly opposed to abortion in all cases, but I hate it as a political issue where such a grave matter of life becomes a trifle, as do all political issues in America. My problem is the fact that Bishops constantly speak out with warnings about politicians and CCL 915 but they never warn the average Catholic of the same. And my problem is with Bishops speaking out about abortion but not against Catholic politicians who support the death penalty, unjust war, and are divorced, all public and obstinate violations of the teaching of the Church. I have a problem with the Eucharist being used as a political tool.