The “National” “Catholic” “Reporter” ran a blog post today called Recognizing the church that we already are— a wonderfully fatuous title, perfectly in line with the inanity of the contents.  It seems to me that the ’60s zeitgeist is just as compelling today as it was then– which is to say, not at all.

Anyway, the post concerns an address made to the national (anti-) Catholic dissident group Call to Action by one of the proletarian (s)heroes who writes for the aforementioned rag.  I will spare you the bulk of the speech, which I think had something to do with a pansexual workers’ paradise.

However, there is something worth noting here.  NCR is still carrying the flame– and continuing the whine– on behalf of the heresy-supporting Sister Louise Lears, who was placed under interdict by His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke, who was then Archbishop of Saint Louis.  Sister Lears was found to have committed the canonical crimes of pertinacious rejection of doctrine de Fide tenenda under can. 750, para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law, of causing scandal, of encouraging contumely against and disobedience to the Ordinary under can. 1373, and of communio in sacris in that she participated in the simulation of a sacrament under can. 1365.  Until she recanted her heresy and reconciled with the Church, she was barred from, among other things, receiving the sacraments.  For the benefit of NCR readers, I will point out that Holy Communion is one of the sacraments.

It comes as no surprise that NCR should think Louise Lears is a veritable hero, like Martin Luther or Satan or any number of great rebels against God’s authority.  It is no surprise that NCR would consider the decree of interdict to be of no consequence.  Yet although we have heard the story in bits and pieces before, this is the first time we have heard in such detail the story of the day that St. Cronan’s parish aided and abetted Lears’ defiance of the interdict.

From the full NCR post, with a few comments of my own mixed in:
 It is a true story that happened in a place as ordinary as St. Louis and as recently as 2008. The year that stretched from the summer of 2008 to the summer of 2009 was especially bizarre for the Catholic Church in the United States (and, I know there is a lot of competition for that title).


Interestingly, it was also during this time that Sister Louise Lears was forced out of all church ministerial roles by Saint Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke. The archbishop also placed Lears under a severe interdict (As opposed to a downy-soft one?), banishing her receiving any of the Sacraments within in the archdiocese. Her crime? You guessed it. She supported women’s ordination. (Of course, there was more, as noted above.)

It was also during this period that Pope Benedict XVI decided to lift the excommunications of four schismatic bishops who reject the reforms (Name one.  Just one.  Please.) of the Second Vatican Council.  (For NCR, heresy beats schism every time!  And btw, since when do they really care about either?)

…Every now and then, you run into a story so powerful, it shakes you up and then re-shapes your entire theology (For some, this is the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ.  For NCR?). This story did just that for me.

On the first Sunday (NB:  the very first Sunday) after she was placed under interdict, Louise Lears decided to attend Mass. The experience with Burke left her wounded and isolated. Naturally, she wanted to be with her beloved parish community. She did not plan to receive communion because she did not wish to jeopardize the parish any further. (Maybe she should have been as solicitous on behalf of her immortal soul.)  But this was her community and she wanted at least to be physically present with this body of Christ.

Her 85-year old mother was at her side at Mass. When her mother went forward for communion, she told Louise to follow her. Louise did not ask to receive communion, but simply walked by her mother’s side. Louise’s mother took Communion, she broke it, turned around and gave it to her daughter. After witnessing this, Sr. Louise’s sister went and did the same. Seeing what was going on, many other parishioners, one by one, also broke their bread and gave it to Louise.  (Can we not presume that the celebrating priest was aware of this?  It should not be hard to find out who this was, whether it was the Pastor, Fr. Kleba, or someone else.  Even if one of the score of “extraordinary” ministers of Holy Communion gave the Host, it would have had to have been physically near the priest.)

By the end of communion, Louise’s hands were filled with fragments of the Eucharist. (Please take a moment to offer an act of reparation to the Blessed Sacrament.)  After the Mass was over, as the family was standing in the back, Louise’s mother said to her daughter, “I was the first person to feed you, and I will feed you now.”

Our stories define us as a community. They recall paradigmatic people. They are vehicles for the sacred. (OK, I admit it.  I kept in this paragraph because it just made me laugh so hard…)

In that moment, Louise Lears’ 85 year-old mother revealed more about the love of God, more about living the Gospel of love, more about what makes a true church, than the entire hierarchy seems to have been able to reveal in quite some time. Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

And she figured out that secret that the hierarchy doesn’t want any of us to know: lay people have extraordinary sacramental power. (Um, Miss, I think we need a citation to a council document here…)

…With their interdicts, and denials of communion and excommunications, the hierarchy seems to believe that they can magically separate the children of God from the table of God. That they can separate whomever they wish from the love of God. That God Godself (yes, that is how it is written) is subject to their rules. (Fight the power, man!)

Though the institutional church may attempt deprive us blah blah blah… it goes on from there.

This is very serious.  This should be thoroughly investigated by the Archdiocese.  I assume that Archbishop Carlson was not aware of this outrage when he made a pastoral visit to St. Cronan’s parish last year.  Perhaps as a matter of local gossip it did not merit a special effort.  But now, a national publication purporting to be Catholic and marketed to purported Catholics has made this a national issue.  The lawful decree of the Ordinary of this Archdiocese was flouted nearly as soon as it was issued.  Eucharistic sacrilege was committed and countenanced by the parish.

Will this act of grave disobedience and sacrilege be allowed to scandalously stand?