Ray Gardella, a former Catholic priest and author of the new book Jesus Versus Christianity, told PJ Media that it is extremely unlikely the U.S. Roman Catholic bishops will rebuke President Joe Biden or prevent him from taking Communion in its forthcoming statement on the Eucharist. Gardella said the Catholic Church — along with Christian churches in general — has lost its moral authority and often sacrifices the gospel of Jesus to follow the secular culture.
While the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) voted to draft a statement on the Eucharist after the head of the USCCB rebuked Biden’s support for abortion, the bishops “have lost their moral authority,” Gardella said. “After 47 years, the statute of limitations has taken over. They don’t want any authority, they don’t want to exercise it. The pope himself will not exercise moral authority.”
Gardella zeroed in on abortion and drew a powerful contrast between the pre-1973 world and today. He served as a priest from 1959 to 1969, and he noted that abortion was always considered murder during his tenure. “I was told by the bishop that if somebody came to the confessional to receive absolution for committing an abortion, I could only give conditional absolution. They would have to confess their crime — not sin, but crime — to authorities.”
Yet in recent years, “the phrase ‘mortal sin’ never comes up with regards to abortion. I would consider that reckless,” the former priest noted.
According to historic Catholic doctrine, Catholics can only receive Communion if they are in a “state of grace,” repentant and absolved of their sin. Some heinous sins, such as murder, are considered “mortal sins” and Catholics must atone for them before they take Communion. While these rules still technically apply, Gardella claimed that the church no longer enforces them.
“When you go to Communion these days in the Catholic Church, you don’t have any requirements. You used to have to be in a state of grace, free from mortal sin. Now, there are no restrictions,” he lamented.
Gardella described Biden — who has fought to force Catholic doctors to perform transgender surgery, fights to undermine religious freedom, and now supports forcing pro-life taxpayers to fund abortion — as “an arrogant and defiant individual.” Even so, Gardella noted that Wilton Daniel Gregory, archbishop of Washington, D.C., has pledged to keep giving Biden Communion.
Even if the USCCB issues guidance urging priests not to give Communion to rabid pro-abortion politicians, “Gregory won’t let them enforce it in his diocese. He has full authority, absolute full authority. He will not exercise restrictions on Biden,” Gardella explained. The former priest even suggested that Biden may have a secret deal with Gregory.
Gardella faulted the USCCB for failing to take a strong stand against abortion. He argued that Jesus “would condemn anybody supporting abortion and anybody who votes for someone supporting abortion.” Jesus, His disciples, and the early church considered it “a terrible miscarriage of natural law when you commit abortion.”
“Killing life in the womb is an evil act,” the former priest insisted. “What was created by God is not to be destroyed by man. Genesis tells us that Adam and Eve were created by God. He didn’t say to go forth and kill what He wants you to multiply. It’s not just human at birth, it’s human at conception.”
While the USCCB condemns abortion as evil, Gardella noted that when the USCCB released its 2020 Catholic voter guide entitled “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” it gave Catholics an excuse to vote for pro-abortion politicians.
“In Paragraph 35, the bishops give a free pass to people who want to vote for someone who supports abortion,” he explained. These voters can simply “substitute another grave issue like climate change or capital punishment or better working conditions.”
Indeed, Paragraph 35 reads:
There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position even on policies promoting an intrinsically evil act may reasonably decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.
Gardella argued that the document appears to prioritize Pope Francis over Jesus Christ. “In the document, Pope Francis is mentioned 34 times, and he is quoted extensively 19 times. Guess how many times Jesus Christ is named? Six times. The gospels are quoted 5 times.”
“When you have a church that can’t insist on something this deeply wrong and say it clearly and condemn those who are doing it, they’ve lost their moral authority,” the former priest insisted. He also noted that this rot extends far beyond the Catholic Church. “I mean churches all over.”
“The culture has taken over Christianity. It’s the gospel of culture without the gospel of Jesus because we don’t provide the full context of Jesus’ words,” Gardella insisted. “The words that are taken from scripture like love, peace, patience, kindness, unity… However the culture interprets those words, that’s the pulpit message you get on Sundays and through the writings of Christian authors.”
When Pope Francis speaks about “unity,” for instance, he means the cultural concept of “co-existence.” Yet “the only co-existence Jesus had with anyone is with His Father and the Holy Spirit. He would say, ‘Woe to you, pharisees and scribes, hypocrites!'”
“Out of context, Jesus’ words have no meaning at all. Pope Francis talks more about climate change than he talks about Jesus. If you want moral authority from the Catholic Church, you’re not going to get it,” Gardella lamented.
While the USCCB document focuses on building a “civilization of love,” Gardella pointed out that Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”
When the secular culture redefines the Christian concepts at the heart of Jesus’ gospel message, it flips morality upside down. “Can you imagine we translate abortion as women’s health, women’s privacy, women’s rights?”
Gardella pointed to Biden as a “supreme example” of Christians bowing to the secular culture. “He can say abortion is a private matter. Killing a baby is a private matter? What kind of stupid nonsense is that?!”
The former priest insisted that the Catholic Church — along with Christian churches across denominations — needs to reclaim the moral authority to boldly denounce evils like abortion, regardless of what the secular culture claims. Tragically, he said that isn’t likely to happen.