As we enter the final week of Advent and our elected officials in Washington prepare to come home for Christmas, it becomes urgent to remember the relationship between the sacraments and public scandal.

‘To lead into sin’ is the definition of scandal. U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski – both of whom profess to be Catholic – recently provided key votes for federal legislation which forces all states to name and treat same-sex unions as if they were true marriages. Every citizen of Alaska and in fact the entire USA and beyond has been thoroughly scandalized by this vote which strikes at the very foundations of “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” enshrined in our Declaration of Independence.

This scandal is deepened by the long history of Sen. Murkowski’s adamant support of other legislation opposed to Natural Law, and Sen. Sullivan’s unvarying support for her candidacy, even over viable pro-life, pro-family candidates. When our public officials come home to attend Holy Mass during the Christmas holidays, the issue of compounded scandal must be faced, if they erroneously expect to receive Holy Communion without having publicly recanted their public opposition to Natural and Divine Law.

The Church’s unchangeable Law requires that those who persist in manifest grave sin “are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” (Canon 915)

The following is an explanation of Canon 915 by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He shows that the purpose of denying anyone guilty of objective and public grave sin – without judging them to be subjectively guilty – is to avoid harming the flock – and the person themselves – by scandal, i.e., leading them into sin.  This protection is not an option but unchangeable divine law. Even if it has not been possible to counsel the person beforehand, or if they persist in presenting themselves for Holy Communion despite counsel, “the Minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it. This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.”

Please dear Fathers, do not give us scandal for Christmas. Everyone, especially our public officials themselves, would be powerfully “led into sin” by smoothing over the rumble strips which God Himself, speaking through His Church, has placed along The Way.

The views expressed here are those of the author.

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Open letter to Alaska’s Catholic priests: Avoid public scandal at Christmas Masses

Therese Syren
Therese Syren is a long-time pro-life advocate in Alaska who helped found a local sidewalk counseling outreach outside an Anchorage abortion clinic. She holds a Master's Degree in Catholic Theology and a Pontifical Catechetical Diploma.


  • Kathleen LaMantia says:

    Good point but in this church age odds are that you will hardly find a bishop with the sense of Mr. Bumble. The church could do with a little Dickensian wisdom as well as doctrinal loyalty. Sadly, I think anyone in Anchorage who has taken Holy Orders would consider refusing the Sacrament to either of them tantamount to saying, “Hold my beer.”

  • Steve Peterson says:

    “To lead into sin’ is the definition of scandal. U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski – both of whom profess to be Catholic …”
    Wellllll….. the Pope professes to be Catholic also, and he’s on board with this crap. The Catholic Church currently is a bipolar organization, but crap flows downhill.

  • Richard Eide says:

    This is what holding elected officials who violate God’s natural laws through their voting looks like.

  • John J Otness says:

    To fathom that the Church wavers with politicians that are clearly of their father the devil is astounding. Ask Frank Pavone. Stand strong stand firm release them to hell if that is how they feel… Their fruit that they be judged by is truly rotten. Also remember Lisa and Dr Zink pushed and promoted the poison MRNA injection to pregnant women.. We all saw the demons on video spouting safe and effective. GOD gives us intuitive reaction to Lies and all those naive woman whom trusted them and their lie of safe and effective and miscarried your precious child after being injected our prayers for your comfort are with you. Oh yes PHIZER just announced their vaccine causes heart attacks… The truth shall set us free,,,, Hang on and be compassionate to those who bought the lie… GOD WINS…

  • Steve says:

    Don’t expect either Murkowsk or Sullivan to be repent full. They are also guilty of seeking power over others and that trumps all other sins, because only one being has power over others and it isn’t those two heathens.

  • Charlie Bussell says:

    this is not Ms. Syren’s law but church cannon and those who trifle with God’s laws should expect a reaction from him at some point that will not end well for them….these wrongs must be corrected at some point by those who broke them..!!

  • Matthew myers says:

    With that ambiguous title, I was concerned, but excellent article.
    Only a few Priests and Bishops have the principles to actually follow canon 915. Those that do actually show care for a heretic’s soul are attacked by this lackluster Archbishop.

  • P. Mahony says:

    Materialism, vs Spirituality. Free-will.
    ‘Comfort zones’;ambition;”power”.
    SATAN the prince of the air & earth, has ‘easy pickings’ in The ‘Modernists’ of the Roman Church” – In Apostasy.
    Incrementalism. This was PREDICTED at Lourdes,Fatima, LaSalette and at least 2 other Apparitions. But- the True ‘CHURCH’ is The MYSTICAL BODY; NOT: a Building.
    The Free-wheeling, brazen arrogance of the Dark-side and those minions who ‘Choose’, are spoken of in Milton, and Dante Alighieri’s tomes. C.S.Lewis and G.K.Chesterton. . . . FREE WILL.
    It shan’t be long. STAY TRUE.
    STAY *FAITHFUL*. “Do NOT Be afraid.”
    The clock ticks…

  • Neil DeWitt says:

    This article finally says what I’ve thought from the very first time I heard about this. I say if they come up for Holy Communion the priest has the right to NOT distribute it to them. If they say anything they are wrong. Now that being said, didn’t the Pope say it was ok for them to take Communion during the mass? I’ve been upset with that since I heard it. Please tell me in wrong!

    • Matthew myers says:

      This pope is very squishy about many things including mortal sin. Well, except for conservatives. He vehemently hates conservatives.
      He just laicized Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life for untrue annd hypocritical reasons and let him hear about it 5 days later in an email from a Catholic News service.

    • Tamra Nygaard says:

      This Pope is hardly worth listening to. He is not exactly a Canon scholar. His constant cluelessness about sin and its effects is a scandal all of its own. However, unless he speaks ex-cathedra, his opinions are not binding on any Catholic or anyone else. Thanks be to God for small favors.

  • DoneWithIt says:

    Lisa and Dan have fallen prey to the demonic forces among us that seek to destroy all that is good and virtuous about American and Catholic society.
    Their support for all of the gays, trannies and the rest of the freak show is a blatant attempt to morally equivocate perversion and deviancy with traditional values. Evil. Shame.

  • Now We Are Two says:

    …federal legislation which forces all states to…treat same-sex unions as if they were true marriages. Every citizen of Alaska and in fact the entire USA and beyond has been thoroughly scandalized…
    Look, regular state-sponsored “marriage” is a scandal, period, since it allows for divorce & is rarely open to life. Catholics should accept we are in a post-Christian culture & stop relying on the state for our marriage cues. And start excommunicating Catholics who don’t follow marriage laws. Only when Catholics treat a Catholic marriage as something real and different, and ignore state sponsored “marriage” as the joke that it is, we might just start to rebuild our culture for ourselves, plus offer an example to all the pagans. But we aren’t even close in our own Church and family, so need to focus on the log in our own eye first.

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      We have pushed the Almighty Creator out of our Nation and need to plead with him to return and show us the way. We also need to get rid of this “instant-gratification” mindset because its evil tentacles have reached into every part of our lives from the Self to Family to Community to World and is destroying humanity.

      • Carbon neutral says:

        FoH: Isn’t it enough that your “Almighty Creator” lives within you and guides you? Do the rest of us have to be subjected to him/her/it?

      • Matthew myers says:

        CN, the Atheist Religionists and Secularist religions hold more sway in the public space and they are destructive religions. Do the rest of us have to be subjected to no/logic/ProveANegative?

      • Joel Adams says:

        CN, it is the Athiest Religionists who are more than simply destructive of their own lives. They are a bunch of fascists that demand under penalty of law that we harm our own. “You will bake the cake!” “You will transition your child” “You will accept and pay for perversity in your public spaces!”

  • Tamra Nygaard says:

    The simple truth is that the priests who offer obvious self-excommunicates Holy Communion will be held to account as well. It is an awesome and awful responsibility, one the Pope himself will have to answer for, after offering Nancy Pelosi and her husband Holy Communion. Those who work for the destruction of God’s laws excommunicate themselves, automatically, and without public penance they cannot be welcomed back into the fold. So far, nothing has indicated that either of these miscreants are bending in that direction. So, pray for them, as you would any enemy, as He commanded, but do not listen to their counsel or follow their ways.

  • Edward J Wassell says:

    An outstanding, much-needed, and well-researched article Therese. You make me proud to be Catholic. Thank you, and thanks to the Alaska Watchman

  • Klarky says:

    The Pope is the one direct conduit to God and His will for Earth. When the Pope speaks, his words are the very will of God!

    Doctrinally, in Catholic churches, the pope is regarded as the successor of St. Peter, who was head of the Apostles. The pope, as bishop of Rome, is thus seen to have full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the universal church in matters of faith and morals, as well as in church discipline and government.
    The Pope says God loves gay people too and that God recognizes gay marriages.
    To rebuke the Pope is to rebuke God. True Christians don’t like to blaspheme against God.

  • Therese Syren says:

    Dear Klarky, Please understand that it is NOT TRUE that “when the Pope speaks, his words are the very will of God!” The Pope is ONLY infallible when he speaks EX CATHEDRA; i.e. formally as from the CHAIR of PETER. Pope Francis has expressed a number of opinions that are clearly not the will of God, but never Ex Cathedra. The same is true of many other Popes through the ages.
    Popes are also Not infallible in their capacity as ruler of the Church. They have through the centuries made many rulings which have turned out to be disastrous to the Church; obviously not God’s will.
    And clearly Popes are not impeccable; incapable of sin. Pope Vigilius is a perfect example of what Christ’s gift of papal infallibility really means. Vigilius had promised the Empress Theodora he would cooperate with her plans to promote heresy if she helped him get elected. There is much evidence that he even collaborated with her in the murder of the two preceding popes who stood in his way. But after she had contrived his valid election, he suddenly refused to speak falsely in an Ex Cathedra capacity as he had agreed. “Far be it from me, Lady Augusta. Formerly I spoke wrongly and foolishly; now I assuredly refuse to restore a man who is a heretic. Though unworthy, I am [now] the Vicar of Blessed Peter the Apostle….”

  • Therese Syren says:

    PS It is important to note that Pope Francis has never HIMSELF given Holy Communion to anyone obviously in manifest grave sin, neither Nancy Pelosi and her husband nor anyone else. Even if he did, it would not at all imply such an action would be the active Will of God. God tolerates much evil, He actively Wills only Good.

  • Therese Syren says:

    Reply to all above: Christ promised that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church. He did Not promise that every word a Pope speaks from the moment he is elected is Gospel truth, still less that a pope is incapable of sin or mistakes in his personal behavior and opinions. Only formal Ex Cathedra statements enjoy the protection of infallibility.
    It’s not our job to judge the souls of anyone, Priests, Bishops or Popes, or public figures. Canon 915 has Nothing to do with judging the soul of the person who must be denied! It is not an excommunication in the proper sense, it is not a public calling-out. It is ONLY a protection from scandal of the whole flock and the person themselves. The arresting officer of a driver who is wildly careening through traffic doesn’t hesitate on the basis that the person might be having a heart attack and so is not guilty for his reckless driver. No, his only concern is to stop the driver before they harm themselves and others, without making a judgment as to their personal conscience.
    Therefore let us refrain from the swords of judgments and insults, and beat them into the plowshares of prayer and sacrifice for our fellow human beings. No human being is essentially our enemy, they are fellow creatures of God, as the Watchman editorial above points out. Canon 915 is Divine Law, and God is Love.
    N.B. The word “Mass” is short for “The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” It should Always be capitalized.

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      To All: My understanding is that the god of this world is Satan. So, in my mind, when Klarky (Clark, btw) says that when the Pope speaks, his words are the will of god (sorry, I cannot capitalize the “g” here since the god of this world is not my God) Klarky is not wrong. Klarky’s Pope serves the god of this world whose name is Satan.