Fr Ray Blake raises an interesting question on his blog. He says that he would like to break communion with Cardinal Drew and Archbishop Cupich, but that he cannot since they are in communion with the Pope and so is he. The implication is that he would therefore be going into schism if he refused to give Holy Communion to either of these two prelates, were they to come and spend some time in Brighton.

But is this so? Schism is defined in canon law as “the withdrawal of submission from the supreme pontiff or from communion with members of the Church subject to him” (canon 751; incidentally, I like the fact that this canon uses the term ‘members’ – it is there in the Latin too – as this term has to a large degree vanished from modern ecclesiastical vocabulary, implying as it does that baptised non-Catholics are severed members.) So the question is, is Archbishop Cupich or Cardinal Drew a member of the Church subject to the Roman pontiff? Pius XII made it clear in Mystici Corporis that to be a member of the Church, one must among other things, profess the true faith. Therefore if the archbishop and the cardinal are no longer professing the true faith – and Archbishop Cupich’s latest remarks are totally unCatholic – then they are no longer members of the Church. In that case Fr Blake could, and indeed should refuse to give either man communion. It may be that the Roman pontiff himself continued to give them communion; but that would not cause them to be members of the Church.

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