Archbishop Cruz and the “Public Sinner”

April 8th, 2008 by Julian Alejandro

Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz recently said that public sinners should not be given the Holy communion. News reports said he was referring to Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo — the Philippines’ de facto president who is accused of election fraud and corruption. But the maverick archbishop denied he called Arroyo a public sinner who should not be given communion.

He told CBCPNews that all he stated was, according to the teachings of the Church, a public sinner should not be given communion.

He had earlier wrote on his blog:

“This is why as a matter of doctrinal principle and moral norm, someone known to the public as reasonably perceived or actually known guilty not simply of one, neither only three nor merely five but more grave or mortal sins of such as gross stealing, flagrant graft and corrupt practices, and other glaring big moral misdeeds with extensive and intensive adverse effects to society, fits the reality of a public sinner. To conclude otherwise, i.e., that the person concerned is holy or saintly, is not only irrational but also futile. And to give the Most Sacred Body and Blood of Christ to the same, is not simply highly offensive to the sensitivity of the simple Christian faithful in general but also—and primarily so—means a big contempt of inherent divinity and intrinsic sanctity of Christ Himself. That is why giving Holy Communion in public to a public sinner is a public scandal.

Romulo Macalintal, Arroyo’s election lawyer, said the archbishop’s statement was judgmental. He said a lay minister does not have the right to refuse the Holy Communion to anyone.

“Walang karapatan ang lay minister na tanggihan ang pagbibigay ng Holy Communion sa taong ‘yan. Kahit sa paningin ng isang pari o lay minister na ‘yan ay makasalanan, hindi niya problema ‘yan.Problema na noong kumukuha ng komunyon at ng kanyang Diyos,” Macalintal said in a GMA-7 report.

But Archbishop Cruz, a canon lawyer and former president of the Catholic Bishops’ of the Philippines, also wrote:

It is the responsibility and accountability of the Minister of Holy Communion to decide whom to give Holy Communion due to presumption of the worthiness of the recipient, and whom to deny it on account of sound conviction of unworthiness by reason of publicly known serious objective moral offenses—particularly those with wide and intensive adverse social impacts.

I think a canon lawyer, more than an election lawyer, would know the rules governing an issue of faith.

Meanwhile, Fr. Bel San Luis, in his column for the administration-friendly Manila Bulletin, wrote: “In Jesus’ parable of the self-righteous Pharisee and publican (public sinner), Archbishop Cruz, by his judgmental stance, would be the epitome of the Pharisee who condemned the poor publican.”

“But the Lord said: It was the tax collector, the self-accused sinner who “went down to his house justified rather than the other” (Lk 18:14).”

Fr. San Luis missed something. The tax collector, as he wrote, was a “self-accused sinner.” That is the reason the Lord defended him. But the public sinner Archbishop Cruz was probably referring to would rather lie than admit her sins against the people.

San Luis further wrote:

Archbishop Cruz should be more careful in judging “known” sinners. In the first place, how can he be sure they are sinners? Does he have a third eye to discern what’s inside the heart of a person? What if a particular sinner is trying hard to make peace with the Lord unknown to the prelate and others?

Duh?! Where you live, Father? In Enchanted Kingdom?

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