Pope Francis and Admonishing the Sinner. More on ‘Who Died and Made You Pope?”
A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece dealing with the current trend of Catholic laity calling for certain politicians and public figures to be denied the Eucharist.
And I also heard from a few dissenters who felt it should be our Christian duty to deny the Eucharist to certain politicians.
They were quick to say that this would be “admonishing the sinner” which is something that Christ himself instructed us to do.
Let’s take a look at that Scripture:
If your brother sins, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. (Mt 18:15)
Calling someone out on the Internet does not fit that bill, does it?
Well, what exactly DID Christ say in Matthew 18:15?
Gospel According to Saint Matthew Chapter 18 :  But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother.  And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand.  And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.
Two observations on the general note: offend against thee sounds like a private sin. The escalation procedure implies it need not remain private. And there is an escalation procedure foreseen against obstinate sinners, and it ends up with - if he will not mend - considering him as a heathen and a publican.
Like, denying him the Eucharist.
So, any pro-abortion politicians out there, if "Catholic", should have been given a chance to mend in private and then correct their public stance in next public speech. "Sorry, I was a bit carried away by one view point my last speech, here is what I think on better consideration" (i e that abortion should be illegal and defunded). If however the politician has been going on defending legality and funding of abortion for years, he should definitely be considered as already having had his chance and as being a heathen and publican.
Plus, making a speech or a vote in favour of abortion is very much not the kind of private sin against a superior that would have absolutely warranted starting with private admonition.
Here is anyway what Haydock Comment has to say on these verses:
Ver. 15. Offend against thee. St. Chrysostom, St. Augustine, and St. Jerome understand from this verse, that the injured person is to go and admonish his brother. Other understand against thee, to mean in thy presence, or to thy knowledge, because fraternal correction is a duty, not only when our brother offends us, but likewise when he offends against his neighbour, and much more when he offends God. It is moreover a duty not peculiar to the injured, but common to all. When the offence is not personal, our advice will be less interested. This precept, though positive, is only obligatory, when it is likely to profit your brother, as charity is the only motive for observing it. Therefore, it not only may, but ought to be omitted, when the contrary effect is likely to ensue, whether it be owing to the perversity of the sinner, or the circumstances of the admonisher. (Jansenius)
Ver. 17. Tell the church. This not only shews the order of fraternal correction, but also every man's duty in submitting to the judgment of the Church. (Witham)
There cannot be a plainer condemnation of those who make particular creeds, and will not submit the articles of their belief to the judgment of the authority appointed by Christ. (Haydock)
I am actually reminded of a parallel. Adolf Hitler was never told by public authorities of the Church in front of all, that he was excommunicated not only latae sententiae, but even by ecclesiastical judgement as a person, for his involvement in euthanasia, eugenic abortion, killing tramps in labour camps if found stealing soup or refusing to work (at least that evil reglement was in legal "force" since November 33 in the labour camps), and similar things, or later for deporting Jews en masse into a captivity of inhuman and sometimes mortal conditions. After the conflict Pius XII was severely criticised, sometimes by backbiters, for not having publically discredited Hitler with an excommunication. He had however followed the advice of Jansenius (which is here given in Haydock) that "This precept, though positive, is only obligatory, when it is likely to profit your brother, as charity is the only motive for observing it. Therefore, it not only may, but ought to be omitted, when the contrary effect is likely to ensue, whether it be owing to the perversity of the sinner, or the circumstances of the admonisher." And applied it as if this was also the case about the final stage of the escalation foreseen by Christ. That is, as if when a man should normally be excluded from Communion, he should nevertheless be admitted, unless he could himself profit from the correction.
So, a pro-abortion politician is not comparable to Hitler? Or Pius XII did the right thing in not condemning Hitler in such great public and was even wrong the other way round, he should have given Hitler Communion if he had approached the rail, rather than stopping Hitler from visiting churches when the latter was in Rome?
If neither is the case, that abortionist politician should have been publically denied Communion too.
Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre University Library
St Elisabeth Widow,
Queen of Portugal