On the Cuomo Communion Question, here comes everybody!

To date my father canon lawyer Ed Peters’ comments on Andrew Cuomo and his ineligibility to receive Communion have garnered over 500 headlines:

Of course my father didn’t go looking for this conflagration – he just answered an interview request. You can chalk up the avalanche of resulting headlines to a) general public interest in the salacious details of Governor Cuomo’s personal life and b) general public ignorance about the Church’s teaching on the Communion question.

But the corollary c) to this most recent episode in the Communion controversy (I absolutely hate the secularized term for this, “Waferwars”, “Wafergate”, etc. – blech!) has been the predictable list of progressive Catholics who have taken this opportunity to once again dissent from the Church’s pastoral discipline on who is eligible to receive Communion.

For those interested in this uneven match, here are the relevant links on my father’s blog:

You can keep up on this debate more easily by following my father on twitter @canonlaw.



  • Greg Smith

    Thomas – While we are on the subject of Canon Law, let me share an issue my daughter brought to my attention. It seems that some dozen or so states have or are considering legislation to ban the following and practice of Islamic Sharia law. Most of them simply prohibit the state courts from citing it in rulings. Some include international law, foreign law, Mosaic Law and finally Canon Law. Clearly, this is already covered by the First Amendment. However the Tennessean newspaper (February 22, 2011) reports that State Senator Bill Ketron,( R-Murfreesboro) has introduced a bill which would make any adherence to Sharia Law a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. It would criminalize such Islamic practices as daily prayer and feet washing. While I doubt Muslims in Tennessee need to worry about being imprisoned for praying, we as both Americans and Catholics ought to be concerned. While the police powers of the state are reserved to the state, the First Amendment allows us to voluntarily submit disputes and personal status questions to private bodies, including religious bodies, guided by Sharia, Canon Law or Halacah. Envision if you will an alternate history where 9/11 was committed by the IRA because of the US-UK relationship. We would likely have seen the Senator Ketrons of this alternate universe introducing bills to criminalize your father’s profession, saying the rosary in pubic and on and on. I do hope the Bishops of Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville speak out against this vicious and insane piece of legislation.

  • John Scott

    Thank you, Thomas, for posting on this controversy. I’m not even Roman Catholic (I’m Eastern Orthodox), but I watch your site for Pro-Life news, and this morning I decided to see what all the fuss was about. What a delight to read your father’s various contributions – lucid, compassionate and articulate, with just the right touch of self-deprecation and humor.

    What troubles me far more than Gov. Cuomo’s hubris and likely ignorance of his own faith has been 1) Bp. Hubbard’s initial action, and what I presume to be his response, as it was voiced through his diocesan press office, and 2) the rank ignorance – and vitriol – of most of the comments posted below the various articles (most CatholicVote.org comments excepted). All of the negative comments I read simply have no relevance – they are based on total misunderstanding of Dr. Peters’ motives and reasoning, and of the Roman Catholic faith. Your father’s actions in this matter have been exemplary – he is a scholar and a gentleman. I will follow his blog in the future.


    Thomas: My question is why does a public figure like Cuomo et. al. get singled out and tens of thousands of others get a free ride. One of the thing I always found comforting has been the uniformity of the Church. We don’t see it this case. How many people at your parish or mine are living in concubinage?(thank you Dr. Peters for teaching me a new word)I understand its not uncommon for priests to tell couples at the start of marriage preperaion to start living apart for the six months. I suspect that if it were simply Officer Cumo of the State Police and his ladyfriend, a CPA, the focus would be on thier Bishop or pastor to lobby them to “Make it legal” both civily and canonicly. I think what prevents most of the bishops from applying Canon 915 to politicos is the slippery slope. I believe even Bishops Chaput and Buzcowitz haven’t ordered the deniel of comunion to politicos who don’t oppose abortion,are divorced and remarried etc. for this very reason. If the American Bishops aplied it uniformly, well, shorter communion lines for folks who follow all the rules. .~~~~Best regards, Greg ~~~~~~ PS: If Gov. Cumo did the right thing and maried the woman (which I believe he jolly well ought to!) should they be denied a Catholic wedding because of his prro-abortion views?~~~~~PS: I wonder if Mel Gibson publicly recieves communion. He’s probebly had more influence on society than Mr Cumo. Ask your Dad about his situation sometime

    • Rod

      No one asked Dr. Peters about anyone else. If they had, he would have responded with honesty as he did in this case.

      • Greg Smith

        Rod – I’m asking. Most Americans, including Catholics, know more about, and are more interested in, movie stars than political office holders

  • TJM

    “Father” Reese is probably a member of the Abortion Party, formerly known as the Democratic Party, and just another apostate. Many bishops are also fake Catholics and members of the Abortion Party. That’s why nothing is done about Cuomo, Pelosi, Biden, and hosts of other fake Catholics.

  • zach b

    when we are done inquisitorially evaluating every detail of Catholic politicians lives, are we then moving on to the rest of the Catholic laity? There is a splinter in my brother’s eye that needs to be removed.

    • Zed

      No one was “inquisitorially evaluating every detail of Catholic politicians lives”. It was a VERY public detail about a public figure that was causing scandal to the faithful.

    • TrueCatholic

      I posted something yesterday on here but it never made it through. It could have been my fault but I wouldn’t put money on it. I simply wrote to agree with zach b. There are too many people walking around with beams in their own eyes pointing out the splinters in other people’s eyes. I think Thomas Peters doth protest too loudly on this and certainly on many other topics he raises on his blog. He should, as well should, look into the mirror. He seems also to take great delight in promoting, in his words, his “canon lawyer father Ed Peters” and the barrage of hate that follows his canon lawyer father Ed Peters’ infallible pronouncements while maintaining that neither he nor his father went “looking for this conflagration.” And yet he continues to fan the flames of hate on this blog.

      • TrueCatholic

        Sorry, should have read: “He should, as we all should, look into the mirror.”

    • Rod

      Do you guys even know what this is about!? Dr. Peters was asked a question and he answered it. No one was looking at any politician. He simply answered the question. We’re all sinners, we get it. That doesn’t mean we all get to do what we want. Geez.

  • Jack B

    A more useful question to have addressed would have been about priests who say public Masses and, like Cuomo, are not married to their girlfriends. The Sacrament is valid but, obviously, by the Ed Peters argument, the priest is forbidden to consume the consecrated host. Will this require an alternative version of that part of the Mass? If not, why not?

    • Zed

      If you personally know of a priest with a girlfriend, then you should report it to the local bishop who should (and most almost certainly will) enforce the appropriate canons. I cannot say I am aware of any priests living in this situation.

      The only reason Dr. Peters needed to point this out was because the appropriate canons were not being enforced even though the legitimate authority seemed to be well aware of the situation.

      • GREG SMITH

        I’ve been faithfully married for 41 years. I have a number of women friends. Ditto for priests. I’d like to suggust that before anyone runs to a bishop saying they “know” father so-and-so has a “girlfriend” they be very, very sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the priest is violating his vows. Idle speculation and gossip about such things can ruin a good priest’s ministry.



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