In this 21st century, ultra-Conservative Catholics in the United States have found a new tool to use against their more liberal counterparts in the church. They have dusted off the Church's official rule book, the "Code of Canon Law", and because they see in Canon 915 a weapon that they can use in their war against abortion, they now proclaim that Code "divinely inspired" and playing on the current DaVinci Code craze, refer to it as "The Divinity Code".
In 2006, the Roman Catholic "American Life League" website http://www.all.org/article.php?id=10798 used full page ads in papers such as USA Today to urge the nation's bishops to serve the political advantage of the Republican Party by threatening Liberal Democratic candidates and/or incumbents with political (as well as spiritual) harm, if they don't stop taking seriously the oath of office they take to "uphold the Constitution of the United States" – which includes the obligation to abide by the Supreme Court decision declaring that women in America have a constitutionally protected right, throughout the first trimester at least, to terminate any pregnancy of theirs.
Here's a pictorial rendition of that ad (reduced to fit your computer screen):
Father James Buckley, FSSP (an order established by Pope John Paul II, which likes things the way they were before the Second Vatican Council), has clarified why American Life League is asking the Church's bishops to enforce Canon 915:
"Prior to Vatican II priests were more conscious that the obligation of preventing public sinners from receiving communion rested on them. Today they hesitate. Further, Canon Law 915 clearly prohibits public sinners from taking the Eucharist. Priests are not disciplining pro-abortion legislators when they enforce this Canon law; they are protecting the Eucharist from sacrilege."
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III:q 80: article 6
"A distinction must be made among sinners: some are secret; others are notorious, either from evidence of the fact, as public usurers, or public robbers or from being denounced as evil men by some ecclesiastical or civil tribunal. Therefore Holy Communion ought not to be given to open sinners when they ask for it."
Father Buckley comments on the above: "It is from evidence of fact and not from the denunciation of an ecclesiastical tribunal that all men know that some Catholic politicians are obstinate in the manifest grave sin of formal cooperation in abortion. These are notorious sinners who should not be given the Eucharist."
Such conservative Catholics might be more believable if they were not at this very moment promoting the canonization of Pope Pius XII and defending all of the Catholic bishops of Europe who, throughout the period of World War II, failed to enforce the Canon Law of their day on the top leadership of the Nazi Third Reich, most of whom, as I show at CatholicArrogance.Org/NaziLeadership.html, were members of the Roman Catholic Church. Instead, they turned a deaf ear to all of the pleas of those who begged the Church to proclaim loud and clear that Catholics could not have any part in the effort being made by their laders in good standing with their Roman Catholic church to persecute and even exterminate the entire Jewish population of Europe. See CatholicArrogance.Org/RCscandal.html which shows, among othere things, how little use was made of the threat of excommunication or denial of the sacraments to dissuade either the Catholic leadership or the many millions of Catholics who carried out the actual brutalities against the Jews and others (including many Catholics victims) to divorce themselves from the holocaust, at the very least.
As a young priest, the future Pius XII, who came from a family of Catholic Church lawyers, was one of a handful of clerics charged with the massive undertaking of updating the Catholic Church's "Code of Canon Law" for the twentieth century. Of those who pleaded for Pope Pius XII to demand that Catholics stop killing Jews by the millions, few if any may have known of the 1917 version of Canon # 915, i.e. Canon 855, but this pope was certainly familiar with it. ( and with Canon 1397 which states: ďA person who commits a homicide or who kidnaps, detains, mutilates, or gravely wounds a person by force or fraud is to be punished with the privations and prohibitions mentioned in Canon 1336".) Although Conservative Republican Catholics defend Pope Pius XII for not abiding by Canon 855, when it came to the crimes perpetrated by NAZI Catholics against Jews, they want to invoke the corresponding Canon 915 against all of these liberal Democratic Catholic politicians in America in our time over th very debatable aborton issue. See more at CatholicArrogance.Org/abortionteaching.html