The Eucharist should not be used to punish


To the Editor:

The vote two weeks ago by the U.S. bishops on whether to proceed with drafting a document on the Eucharist that could potentially result in the withholding of Communion from some political leaders is saddening. I find nowhere in the Catechism where access to the Eucharist may be used as a means of punishment. In my experience, the sacrament offers freedom from the politics of contention that binds all of us. My conscience is formed in private, pastoral settings and through the sacrament of reconciliation, not by public policy. Our leaders, of every stripe, should receive the same grace. The practice of the last three popes and all but a few of the world’s bishops bears this out.

The past three decades have shown Catholics that any moral high ground we might claim is built on sand — for politicians, for bishops, and for us all. Humility can be a helpful guide here. The Eucharist is not a weak and fragile tool to be controlled or wielded, even by church leaders, but an explosive power to be unleashed in all our hearts and in the world.

Ric Smith


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