U.S. Archbishop issues perplexing "clarification" statement

Barbara Kralis
January 31, 2005
Reproduced with Permission

Juridically, why can't this teacher of faith see the clarity and simplicity of Cardinal Arinze's recent admonition: "Rainbow Sash wearers are showing their opposition to Church teaching on a major issue of natural law and so disqualify themselves from being given Holy Communion."1

Of all the many liturgical abuses attacking the Church today, none compare in gravity with the untold numbers of sacrilegious receptions of Holy Communion committed by persons who are persistently obstinate in their grave, manifest (known) sins.2

Especially grievous is the sacrilegious reception by rainbow sash-wearing 'gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender' homosexuals who, for the past five years on Pentecost Sunday, protest the Church's teachings regarding their 'intrinsically disordered' acts.3

Interfice errorem, diligere errantem.


It is important for us to note there are 279 active Bishops who comprise the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops [USCCB]. This includes 7 Cardinal Archbishops, 28 Archbishops, 1 Co-Adjutor Archbishop, 158 Diocesan Bishops, 2 Co-Adjutor Bishops, and 83 Auxiliary Bishops.

In spite of this great number, there are only four active Bishops within this vast group who persistently flout the Church's Teachings and Divine Law by giving the sash-wearers Holy Communion. The four are: Cardinal Roger Mahony [Los Angeles], Archbishop Harry Flynn [St. Paul/Minneapolis], Bishop Matthew Clark [Rochester, N.Y.], and Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton [Detroit].

However, Archbishop Flynn has caused the greatest recent concern.

(For background on this concern, click on Cardinal Arinze denies he approved U.S. Archbishop giving sash wearing "gays" Holy Communion."")

It is most interesting that on January 26, 2005, Archbishop Flynn issued a new 'Clarification,' with regard to inexact comments he made to Catholic News Service [CNS] on December 14, 2004. These comments were issued after Archbishop Flynn's December meeting in Rome with His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments [CDW].

The next day, on January 27, CNS published a column entitled "Archbishop says Vatican wants uniform approach to gay rights groups." In their column, CNS quoted only two sentences of the Archbishop's 300 word 'Clarification' [CNS is own and operated by the USCCB].

Since the entire 'Clarification' contains others words of interest, it is presented in its entirety herewith.

Father Joseph Johnson, Assistant Chancellor of the St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese kindly faxed Archbishop Flynn's 'Clarification' to this writer on January 29, 2005:5

Clarification of Archbishop Flynn's Comments with Regard to His Meeting with Cardinal Arinze

The Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn, D.D., Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, today issued a statement with regard to his meeting with Francis Cardinal Arinze in Rome in December, 2004. He made this statement because he did not feel that his previous comments were properly understood within the context of his discussion with the Cardinal.

"I sincerely regret if my remarks were not sufficiently clear when speaking to the reporter from Catholic News Service last month during my ad limina visit to Rome. I do not blame the reporter for this misunderstanding, for he seemed both sincere and competent. I was asked to comment upon my meeting with Cardinal Arinze and did not feel it appropriate to enter into all of the details of our conversation. Unfortunately, it seems that my statement allowed for the rise of misinterpretation. I wish now to set the record straight out of regard for the truth and the clear teaching of the Church's position on certain matters pertaining to the correct understanding of human sexuality.

"Cardinal Arinze and I did discuss the difficult pastoral situation of the Rainbow Sash movement. His Eminence did not in fact suggest an immediate change to the policy in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. However, he did clearly indicate that this situation merits further study and that ideally all of the bishops who have pastoral care for the members of this movement should seek to adopt a uniform approach. This recommendation needs to be reviewed by those bishops involved in the near future.

"It is unfortunate that some people have wished to create controversy out of my original remarks. It is because of this that I felt the obligation to issue this statement. January 26, 2005 \ Chancery."

With all due respect, the Archbishop creates controversy when he allows sash-wearing protesters to sacrilegiously receive Holy Communion. If he instead upheld the clear Church teachings, there would be no controversy whatsoever.

It is important to remember that when Archbishop Flynn refers above to "all of the bishops who have pastoral care for the members of this [sash-wearing] movement," in reality there are only four Bishops who allow this sacrilege. Four Bishops out of 279 active Bishops represents only l.44 percent. If there are more, then who are all the other Bishops?

CNS's unsigned column of January 27 also minimized the large number of 275 Bishops who do deny the sash-wearers the Eucharist. CNS reported: "Some bishops, like Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, have denied the Eucharist to Rainbow Sash members on the grounds that they were using the Eucharist to manifest opposition to church teaching." Ninety-eight and a half percent of a whole are not the same as 'some.' Instead, they should be identified as 'virtually all.'

This is not a minute nuance but is misleading. If 275 Bishops is not remarkable enough, what number of Bishops will be required before the sacrilege is acknowledged and ended.

If, as Archbishop Flynn states, these four Bishops were actually given the option by Cardinal Arinze to "adopt a uniform approach," and this approach was in opposition to the Church's teachings and Divine Laws, would the 275 remaining active Bishops have to then conform to the dissenting 'uniform approach.' Would they all therefore agree to disagree with Rome for the sake collegiality?

Additionally, is Archbishop Flynn saying that the Church is willing to allow sacrilegious reception of Holy Communion if the four Bishops decide this will be their 'uniform approach?'

The Church Teachings,6 the Divine Law,7 Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition,8 and Natural Law9 is clearly defined, so why would Cardinal Arinze say he wants the four Bishops to adopt another 'uniform approach?'

Homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life...Scripture presents [them] as acts of grave depravity."10

St. Augustine, quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas, taught: "That of all these [sins of vice], namely the sins belonging to lust, that which is against nature is the worst."11

Cardinal Arinze clarified this and the Church's position in a letter written to this writer, dated January 15, 2005. The Cardinal's secretary, Msgr. Jorge Quinones wrote:

"Cardinal Arinze wants you to know that the report was not exact and does not show his stand. He has written Archbishop Flynn about it.

"Rainbow Sash wearers, the Cardinal says, are showing their opposition to Church teaching on a major issue of natural law and so disqualify themselves from being given Holy Communion."

Today's Eucharistic abuses "are not to be taken lightly," said Cardinal Arinze recently.12

All Catholics are under obligation to adhere to the Church's Teachings if they want to be faithful Catholics in communion with Rome and be able to receive the Eucharist:

"In matters of faith and morals the bishops speak in the name of Christ, and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent of soul. This religious submission of will and of mind must be shown in a special way to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra."13

Therefore, 'in gremio legis,' it is most perplexing when Archbishop Flynn wrote, "This recommendation needs to be reviewed by those bishops involved in the near future."

Does Archbishop Flynn mean that clearly defined Church Teaching will be received only as a 'recommendation?' Does Archbishop Flynn believe that the four bishops have the freedom to accept or reject these Church Teachings now or sometime in the near future? This is a most perplexing 'Clarification.'


1  [Back]

January 15, 2005, a letter written by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments [CDW] to this writer, found here.

2  [Back]

The Code of Canon Law c.915 states: "Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."

3 The Catechism of the Catholic Church, §2357-2359. [Back]

4 In English, 'Kill the sin, love the sinner,' St. Augustine. [Back]

5 Click here to view photo of fax sent to this writer. [Back]

6 The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [CDF], "Considerations Regarding Proposals to be given legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons,' §4; Catechism of the Catholic Church §2357. [Back]

7  [Back]

The Code of Canon Law c.915.

8 Cf. Gen. 2: 22-24; Lev. 18:22-30; Rom. 1: 26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9; Jude 5-7; cf. 2 Pet 2:6; Ezek. 16:49; Didache 2:2 (A.D. 70); The Letter of Barnabas (A.D. 74); Justin Martyr 'First Apology 27' (A.D. 151); Basil the Great 'Letters 217:62 (A.D. 367); St. John Chrysostom, 'Homilies on Titus 5,' 'Homilies on Matthew 3.3,' 'Homilies on Romans 4;' The Apostolic Constitutions, 6:11 (A.D. 400). [Back]

9 Natural Law is part of the eternal law by way of the creation of human beings who have intelligence and freedom and can cooperate in freely carrying out God's Plan, an expression of the Will of God. Natural Law is 'participation of the eternal law by the rational creature...Eternal Law: the type of divine wisdom, which directs all actions and motions' [Aquinas, Summa, Ch.XVIII, Q.90-94]. [Back]

10 Catechism of the Catholic Church, §2357. [Back]

11 Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Q. 154, A.12; quotation taken from Cap. Adulterri xxxii, qu. 7. [Back]

12 On April 23, 2004, Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, promulgated a long awaited 70-page liturgical norm or 'Instruction.' Entitled, 'Redemptionis Sacramentum...On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist' (or 'The Sacrament of Redemption), heretofore referred to as 'RS.' In this clearly written liturgical Instruction, we are firmly directed: "let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected" [183]. 'RS' is clearly an important elaboration of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (GIRM) and the Encyclical Letter 'Ecclesia de Eucharistia' (EE). All are supported by the Code of Canon Law, "to establish certain norms by which those earlier ones are explained and complemented; and also to set forth for Bishops, as well as for Priests, Deacons and all the lay Christian faithful, how each should carry them out in accordance with his own responsibilities and the means at this disposal" [RS, preamble n.2]. [Back]

13 Dogmatic Constitution on the Church ('Lumen gentium'), Ch. 3, §25. [Back]