Wow, this is a first for the Archbishop of DC, Fr. Donald Wuerl, and a very big development.
Wuerl has the distinct problem of being the away-from-home bishop for all pro-abortion Catholic politicians, including Joe Biden, Dick Durbin, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, and Nancy Pelosi, to name some of the more infamous.
The Washington Times first reported March 24 that bishop wagons were beginning to circle, starting with Kathleen Sebelius. Deal Hudson expounded March 30 in a great, informative piece in Inside Catholic:
wuerl sebelius.jpg

… Gov. Sebelius got some bad news… something not noticed much in Catholic media or the secular press. The bishops of Washington, DC, and Arlington, VA, confirmed publicly they would uphold the declaration of her ordinary, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of KC, stating that Gov. Sebelius should not present herself for communion.
A spokeswoman… said Archbishop Donald Wuerl [pictured right, next to Sebelius] would expect Sebelius to follow Bishop Naumann’s request while in Washington…. [A] spokeswoman… announced that Bishop Paul Loverde would expect the same while she was in Northern VA.
That Archbishop Wuerl and Bishop Loverde would back up Bishop Naumann in regard to the future Secretary of Health and Human Services is a significant development in the effort of some bishops to enforce Canon 915: “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.”…

This will send the message to other bishops that if they choose to pronounce members of Congress from their dioceses unfit for communion, their authority will be respected in DC and across the Potomac in VA. The ramifications are enormous: For example, if Sean Cardinal O’Malley of Boston stated publicly that Sen. John Kerry was in violation of Canon 915, he would not have been able to receive communion at Pope Benedict XVI’s Mass in DC a year ago. Rep. Nancy Pelosi would not have been able to celebrate her elevation to speaker of the House with a special Mass at Trinity College, if Archbishop Neiderhauer had found her wanting according to the standard of Canon 915.
Some will argue that neither Archbishop Wuerl nor Bishop Loverde will attempt, through their priests, to deny Governor Sebelius communion. But this misses the point, and the significance, of how the combined statements of Bishops Naumann, Wuerl, and Loverde have created a new and more vulnerable situation for the pro-abortion Catholic members of Congress. As Archbishop Raymond Burke has explained, Bishop Naumann did not impose a “sanction” on Governor Sebelius; Bishop Naumann asked Sebelius, not the clergy, to apply Canon 915 to herself.
But if Sebelius were to receive communion in D.C. or Northern VA, it would likely generate a news story that would mushroom quickly, involving the priest who administered communion and his bishop. This is not news coverage that Sebelius, or the Obama administration, would want to deal with.
No doubt there are priests in both dioceses who would have little compunction about giving communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians, but whether they want to get into a media-generated spat with their bishop over a high-profile politician is another matter.
A final point: Archbishop Wuerl and Bishop Loverde’s collegial response to Bishop Naumann destabilizes the relationship between pro-abortion Catholic politicians and their bishops back home. The question will arise as to why Governor Sebelius should be the only politician in Washington who has been called to account under Canon 915. What about the dozens of others in Congress who have a 100% pro-abortion voting record? What about Vice-President Joe Biden himself?
Will other bishops seize this opportunity to apply Canon 915 to politicians in their dioceses, knowing that Archbishop Wuerl and Bishop Loverde will back them up? Given the determination of the Obama administration and the Congress to roll back all restrictions on abortion, I wouldn’t be surprised.

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