A recent article in the National Catholic Register reported an exchange between Mike Allen on HBO and Cardinal Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development:
“Do you have any question that President Biden is a Catholic in good standing?” Allen asked. “Should he be served communion?”
Cardinal Turkson responded: “If you say somebody cannot receive Communion, you are basically doing a judgment that you are in a state of sin.”
“It sounds like you don’t think that should happen in the case of President Biden,” said the interviewer.
“No,” said Cardinal Turkson. “You know, if, you know, a priest who’s distributing Communion sees — unexpected all of a sudden somebody he knows to have committed murder, he’s meant to protect their dignity and the respect of that person.”
“So it’s for extreme cases?”
“Yeah. Those, for extreme cases, okay?” Cardinal Turkson replied.
I can't really follow the logic here, whether or not priests are supposed to withhold Communion to murderers to protect their dignity or not distribute Communion for the sake of the murdered person, but the Cardinal appears to be saying that making a decision to withhold Communion is only for extreme circumstances.
Does that jibe with Canon law and the way things are practically done in the Catholic Church? It's not like we have a list of sinners at Mass like a list of people who pass bad checks at a diner. But I was under the impression that scandal was one of the things that should rouse the suspicions of a priest and to distribute Communion to a public heretic like Joe Biden would be inappropriate, in the way that distributing Communion to a private sinner like myself wouldn't be scandalous. If I were denied absolution, like I've heard St. Padre Pio would do after reading souls, wouldn't that be a more private scandal? Either way, it seems like an untenable situation, there are clear guidelines for the laity, but what do priests do in response to the laity not following the rules?