NJ Archbishop denies communion to large majority of Catholics

Timothy Kincaid

October 13th, 2015

myersDespite a poorly conceived meet-up with Kim Davis, Pope Francis has tried to repackage the Catholic Church as welcoming to gays and others who have felt excluded and rejected by the Church. He has endeavored to walk the organization back from the image of arrogance and intolerance that it held under Pope Benedict the Malevolent.

But while the Holy Father is the head and spiritual leader of the Church, he is not dictator. He does not have limitless power to purge voices of dissent and there is substantial infrastructure which has not accepted and does not support a more inclusive or gentler Church. They believe that the Church is God’s sledgehammer to be wielded against political, civic, or religious institutions which reject the teaching of the church.

One such advocate for moral absolutism and conformity is Newark Archbishop John Myers who seeks to limit fellowship in the faith to those who adhere to confirm the teachings of the church. (WaPo)

Even as Pope Francis and Catholic leaders from around the world debate ways to make the Catholic Church more inclusive, Newark Archbishop John Myers has given his priests strict guidelines on refusing Communion to Catholics who, for example, support gay marriage or whose own marriage is not valid in the eyes of the church.

In the two-page memo, Myers also orders parishes and Catholic institutions not to host people or organizations that disagree with church teachings.

He says Catholics, “especially ministers and others who represent the Church, should not participate in or be present at religious events or events intended to endorse or support those who reject or ignore Church teaching and Canon Law.”

I will say this for Myers, he isn’t simply going with the winds of change in public opinion. In fact, it would be difficult to come up with a less popular position.

First, this doubles down on about one quarter of Catholics who have been divorced and the nine percent who remarried. While the church’s teaching has always been a bit touchy in this area, there has been a growing desire withing the Church to emphasize pastoral care over dogma and finding that balance is a large part of the current synod.

Standing in the door of the church with a list of the disallowed – even while the Pope is seeking greater inclusion – not only undermines the efforts of Francis, but serves to disillusion those who have divorced, along with their friends and family.

But more significant than the quarter of Catholics who have divorced and remarried is the denial of communion to Catholics who support gay marriage. In February 2012, prior to New Jersey achieving marriage equality, 52% of Catholics indicated support for same-sex marriage. By June 2013 57% indicated that they would vote for same-sex marriage if it were on the ballot.

In a September national poll of Catholics, 46% said that not only should same sex marriage be legal, it should be recognized by the Catholic Church. It is fair to assume that the numbers in socially liberal New Jersey are at least that large.

And finally, there are those who “reject or ignore Church teaching and Canon Law” on birth control. The poll found that 76% of Catholics believe the church should allow birth control.

Between those three issues alone, even assuming large overlap, any strict enforcement would drive away the vast majority of Americans who identify as Catholic. Add in those who have lived with a partner outside marriage (44%) and you can really cut down on the cost of communion wafers.

This is stupid. Truly stupid. And it’s unlikely to hold much sway.

Myers is set to offer his retirement when he turns 75 next July and the Pope isn’t going to beg him to stay on. Archbishop Bernard Hebda has already been appointed as his replacement and Hebda has a reputation for listening.

But in the meantime, please know that if you are a New Jersey Catholic and you read at BTB, you are almost certainly unwelcome to the Lord’s Table.


October 13th, 2015

Wow, that’s seems pretty meanspirited. But if the Archbishop wants it that way, so be it.

It’s hard to believe congregations in America are all dwindling.


October 14th, 2015

It is interesting to see how big of a gap there is between the beliefs of the average American, and in general Western, Catholic and the hierarchy. Of course when you push for ideological purity you end up alienating those who agree with you and pushing others away from their faith. Personally I like the decline of the influence of the church, the growing influence on health care is a different matter, but I wonder how it will take the higher-ups to realize that they are the reason people are being pushed away. Will it take until the last door closes permanently on the last church/chapel/cathedral for them to realize how wrong they were?

Ben in oakland

October 14th, 2015

“ministers and others who represent the Church, should not participate in or be present at religious events or events intended to endorse or support those who reject or ignore Church teaching and Canon Law.”

Personally, I think it is even worse than you said, Timothy. The sentence alone forbids Catholic representation at any Protestant event, any Jewish event, or any ecumenical event whatsoever.


October 14th, 2015

Myers is obviously prepared to do as much damage as possible before he’s eased out of his seat.

I hope Francis has enough time to sideline more of the dinosaurs in the Curia — not from any love for the Church (I’m a devout Pagan), but just in the hope that more moderate (read “rational”) voices will move into positions of influence.

Eric Payne

October 14th, 2015

I’m guessing Myers would have no problem with an American Inquisition, then.


October 14th, 2015

Meanwhile, birth control users and supporters of same-gender civil marriage are still lining up at the rail what do bishops know? The higher the office, the less attention the layperson gives – at least in the USA. The Pope is a celebrity, but no one is listening to him either concerning birth control.

Timothy Kincaid

October 14th, 2015


yes, it pretty much puts a stop to any ecumenical efforts or cross-denominational fellowship.


October 14th, 2015

So these poor misguided people are not going to be allowed to eat flesh and drink blood. Poor things!

I’ll pass, thank you.

Ben in Oakland

October 14th, 2015

By the number of his chins
you can tell how Myers sins.

Bacon, pork, and beef and mutton
One can see that he’s a glutton.

Theology that will not budge
Tells you he’s a man to judge

The sins of others, though these they should rue
Because he has so much to do.

Like building mansions costing millions
While starving kills kids by bajillions.

3000 square feet! Such a chore!
The pope has many, many more.

But not worry! He is holy!
Heavens gates are what he solely

Seeks to bar from those who think
That whited sepulchres do not stink.

OR, not quite quoting someone else who was parodying Gilbert and Sullivan:

I am the very model of a Cath-lic fundamentalist.
I’m merely not judgmental
I’m the absolute judgmentalest!
I always follow scripture and I act on God’s authority
Though biblical fidelity was never my priority.


October 14th, 2015

His actual edict contains a literally stricter requirement than the media has acknowledged: “Catholics must be in a marriage recognized as valid by the Church to receive Holy Communion or other Sacraments.” Literally, all unmarried persons and children have been disinvited.


October 14th, 2015

Doesn’t that mean also anyone that is married to a non-catholic can’t get communion? I thought the Catholic church frowns upon mixed-religion marriages.


October 14th, 2015

Lord Byron, no, if the Catholic received permission (if the non-Catholic is baptized), or a dispensation from the bishop (if the non-Catholic is not baptized), the marriage between a Catholic and non-Catholic can be recognized as valid by the Catholic Church.

Timothy Kincaid

October 14th, 2015


The memo can be seen here. Footnote 2 discusses non-catholics.


Yes he literally says to have to be married to receive Holy Communion.

I think what he really means is that if you are married, it has to be a recognized marriage. Otherwise no priests could receive communion.


October 14th, 2015

Timothy, I doubt anyone, even the archbishop himself, knows what he really means. His edict about “publically rejects Church teaching or discipline” and “intended to endorse or support those who reject or ignore Church teaching and Canon Law” is vaguely worded and loaded with subjectivity. In light of the literal falsity already pointed out, it could even be said that the archbishop’s own edict “publically rejects Church teaching or discipline”.

Timothy Kincaid

October 14th, 2015

Well you have a point.

Mark F.

October 14th, 2015

Church teaching has always been that those in a state of mortal sin may not receive communion.

I’m puzzled, however, as to why people who merely support same sex marriage are in a state of mortal sin. There is a distinction between civil marriage and marriage recognized by the church. Many devout Catholics don’t want to force their views on birth control, sex, divorce, abortion and gay marriage on others even though they fully agree with church teachings.


October 14th, 2015

Mark, some people seem to believe publicly supports same sex civil marriage, that means the person is not pro


October 14th, 2015

Well that got all garbled. Try again: some people seem to believe publicly supporting sane sex civil marriage is a grave sin, and that you must be in a state of mortal sin if you did it after the archbishop told you not to do it because that means you did it deliberately and knowing it was wrong. But not every Catholic believes that, perhaps in part because Catholic teaching doesn’t actually say that. Even the archbishop’s memo doesn’t say that. It just alludes to it. It reminds me of how some bishops reportedly claimed that if you voted for Obama you were recommended to go to confession.


October 15th, 2015

Seems to me I remember hearing something about Catholics being told to follow their consciences. Apparently, the Archbishop forgot that part.


October 15th, 2015

@rubio. How can anyone opposes sane sex civil marriage !?

Paul Douglas

October 15th, 2015

After 1700 years of the same nonsense, why does any thinking person still attend a roman church?

Mark F.

October 15th, 2015

“Seems to me I remember hearing something about Catholics being told to follow their consciences.”

What if your “conscience” tells you to rob a bank?


October 15th, 2015

Catholic teaching accepts that “it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and make erroneous judgments” but Catholic teaching is explicit: “A human being MUST ALWAYS obey the certain judgment of his conscience. if he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself.” Catholic teaching also permits taking money or property against the reasonable will of the owner in cases of “obvious and urgent necessity when the only way to provide for immediate essential needs”.


October 15th, 2015

@Ben in Oakland

Thanks. I didn’t realize this was the same guy with the 7500 square foot retirement “hovel” in NJ horse country…


“The new wing (a 3000 SF, $500M addition), now just a wood frame, will include an indoor exercise pool, a hot tub, three fireplaces, a library and an elevator, among other amenities, according to blueprints and permits.

The retired bishop of Trenton, John M. Smith, lives in a modest apartment at a retirement home for priests in Lawrenceville, N.J.”

Obviously, his plans for that were under Pope Maleficent. I wonder if Pope Francis made him sell it to restock the church coffers. Except for the fact that the Hunterdon County residents would have a sh*t-fit, the Pope should force Myers to turn it into a homeless shelter and soup kitchen…

Anyway, that’s really all you need to know about this sanctimonious a**hole.


October 15th, 2015

P.S. I wonder if he hired Cardinal Burke as his interior designer…

Mark F.

October 19th, 2015

Is he paying for the home with his own money or with church money? Contrary to popular opinion, not all priests take a vow of poverty.

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