MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, who was raised a Baptist, criticized Dr. Edward Peters, a Vatican canon law adviser, Wednesday on "Morning Joe," for his call to deny Holy Communion to a public figure who is living "in violation of a fundamental moral expectation of the Church."
"Deny Communion? I'm sorry, and not to get religious here, but Jesus said, you know, 'I didn't come here to heal the healthy,'" Scarborough trumpeted from his soapbox.
"Why don't they first open the books on past priests who have victimized children?" columnist and "Morning Joe" regular Mike Barnicle chimed in, following Scarborough's lead.."That shows rigor. That would be a mistake," CNBC anchor Jim Cramer lampooned the Church.
The issue at hand is not a matter of whether Dr. Peters is "butting in" and questioning Cuomo's faith or unduly condemning him. The Catholic Church's Code of Canon Law 915 explicitly states that those "who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy Communion."
Dr. Peters told CNSNews.com in an interview that Cuomo, who himself is divorced and lives with his divorced girlfriend, is living in a state of "public concubinage" and adultery – gravely sinful and a state that excludes someone from receiving Communion. In addition, Cuomo supports abortion and gay marriage – both serious issues that are in direct opposition with Church teaching.
The story the panel was discussing was first reported Monday by CNSNews.com, a division of the Media Research Center, the parent company of NewsBusters. It was then picked up by the New York Times Wednesday and appeared on page A18 of the print edition. Scarborough reported the story in the bottom half of the 6 a.m. EST hour.
Gov. Cuomo attended a Sunday mass in January in the state capital, which was celebrated by the Bishop of Albany, and received Communion. Dr. Peters then referenced the incident on January 4 on his canon lawyer blog and called for Cuomo to be denied holy Communion.
"The governor, with complete freedom, is publicly acting in violation of a fundamental moral expectation of the Church," Peters wrote in an e-mail to CNSNews.com. "On these facts alone, his taking holy Communion is objectively sacrilegious and produces grave scandal within the faith community."
UPDATE: Ken Shepherd of NewsBusters also reported Whoopi Goldberg lashing out against Dr. Peters on ABC's "The View."
A transcript of the segment, which aired on February 23 at 6:24 a.m. EST, is as follows:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: The New York Times – a consultant of the Vatican's highest court is calling for Gov. Andrew Cuomo – uh – to be denied Holy Communion. The reason – because he lives with his girlfriend, Food Network celebrity Sandra Lee, without being married to her. Yes, I uh, I'm just not going to go there because I know Sister Margaret's probably watching and I –
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: You know, it's an interesting debate.
SCARBOROUGH: Right. Deny Communion? I'm sorry, and not to get religious here, but Jesus said, you know, "I didn't come here to heal the healthy." You know, it's like all of sin and falling short of the glory of God, to throw another one out there the people in the Vatican should know, and I think they should worry about themselves.
BRZEZINSKI: Again, you're so Clarence Thomas. What's the other side of the story?
MIKE BARNICLE: Why don't they first open the books on past priests who have victimized children –
SCARBOROUGH: I don't want to – I didn't want to –
BRZEZINSKI: You know what?
JIM CRAMER: That shows rigor. That would be a mistake.
BRZEZINSKI: It's just – there is another side to the story.
BRZEZINSKI: No, I was actually going to speak up for the Catholic Church. But that's okay, we'll do that later.
SCARBOROUGH: I love the Catholic Church.