Pope's Intercommunion "hokey-pokey" on the Plane

First he is in, then he is out, then he is in again, now he shakes it all about.

Many of us dread the papal plane comments now. Yesterday, June 21st, during an in-flight news conference, the pope was asked about his recent decision requesting the Catholic bishops’ conference of Germany not publish nationwide guidelines for allowing Communion for such couples.

Carol Glatz at CNS reports that in response he said the guidelines went beyond what is foreseen by the Code of Canon law “and there is the problem.” The code does not provide for nationwide policies, he said, but “provides for the bishop of the diocese (to make a decision on each case), not the bishops’ conference.”

“This was the difficulty of the debate. Not the content,” he said saying it will have to be studied more. He said he believed what could be done is an “illustrative” type of document “so that each diocesan bishop could oversee what the Code of Canon Law permits. There was no stepping on the brakes,” he said. I suppose by "illustrative document" he means something like Amoris Laetitia?

The bishops’ conference can study the issue and offer guidelines that help each bishop handle each individual case, he said. Some people think this indicates a change of mind over this issue, which was on, then off, then on again, the off again. Now it seems to be back on! Certainly Cardinal Marx public surprise at the pope's request not to publish the guidelines would seem to indicate the pontiff had given Marx no reason to think this would not go through.

An alternative scenario is that he did not change his mind, but he did know that he had no alternative but to go along with the CDF or essentially be declaring himself to be a heretic. So this is, as with so many things before, his way of saying "do it anyway... under the covers -- I can’t ‘declare it’ but you can be "pastoral". Now everybody at Mass can be considered an exception.

The argument is that there is a “grave necessity” that arises from the threat to marital unions and the faith of the Catholic part in mixed unions that stems from the prohibition on non-Catholics from Holy Communion, which means that such couples cannot licitly receive Communion together. Secondly, the fact that many non-Catholic spouses in such unions already do receive Communion in Catholic churches with their Catholic spouses (policing such matters is often nigh on impossible), hence the need for a pastoral framework to guide it. Supporters believe there is just enough room in the law (Canon 844.4, for those interested) to make that happen.

This is what Bishop Schneider had to say on what is going on recently:
"We can discover in this context also the problematic and contradictory principle of canon 844 of the Code of the Canon Law (about the administration of certain sacraments such as the Holy Eucharist to non-Catholic Christians in situations of emergency or danger of death). This principle contradicts the Apostolic Tradition and the constant practice of the Catholic Church throughout two thousand years. Already in the sub-apostolic time of the second century, the Roman Church observed this rule as Saint Justin witnessed it: “This food is called among us the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true” (Apol. I, 66). The problem created recently by the German Bishops’ Conference is – to be honest – only the logical consequence of the problematic concessions formulated by canon 844 of the Code of the Canon Law."
Seven German bishops, led by Cardinal Rainer Woelki, have asked the Vatican to rule on the proposals which state that Protestant spouses may receive Communion after making a “serious examination of conscience”, and must also “affirm the faith of the Catholic Church”, and wish to end “serious spiritual distress” and a “longing to satisfy hunger for the Eucharist” (why they can't become Catholics if these criterea are all met is not discussed in the document).

Cardinal Woelki's request demonstrates that, despite assurances from Marx who is the German Conference president, that there is no attempt to alter Church doctrine, the proposal has deeply divided the German hierarchy. In the March 22 letter, authored by Weolki and six other German bishops and published in English in full here, the seven bishops say they “do not consider” the German bishops’ decision on Feb. 20 to allow Protestant spouses to receive Holy Communion in some cases to be “right” because they do not believe the issue to be a pastoral one but rather a “question of the faith and unity of the Church which is not subject to a vote.” 

In their letter, the seven bishops lay out four points calling for clarification: They question whether such a proposal is pastoral matter or one concerning the faith and Church unity; why a person who shares the Catholic faith on the Eucharist should not become Catholic; whether “spiritual distress” is really exceptional or simply part of striving for unity; and if a bishops’ conference should be making such a decision without reference to the universal Church.

They add that they have “many other fundamental questions and reservations” about the proposal and so prefer to seek a solution within the field of ecumenical dialogue which is “viable for the universal Church.” Cardinals Francis Arinze, Walter Brandmüller, and Paul Cordes all decried the move. Cardinal Brandmüller said the German bishops' weak opposition to the proposal was a “scandal, no question.”

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, denounced the move as a “rhetorical trick” and said the conditions mentioned in the draft document could never be met while staying faithful to Church teaching. He noted that most of the bishops who support the proposals are not theologians and stressed that interdenominational marriage is “not an emergency situation.” For the good of the Church, he added, a “clear expression of the Catholic faith” is needed, for the Pope to “affirm the faith,” especially the “pillar of our faith, the Eucharist.” The Pope and the CDF, he went on, are supposed to “give a very clear orientation” not through “personal opinion but according to the revealed faith.”

A source close to the two bishops opposed to the proposal told the Register May 4 that the “official answer is that there is no answer.” The Holy Father, he said, had “failed to fulfil his obligation as pope regarding a question of dogma which his office must decide.”

The Pope “refused” to take a line, he stressed, “and the CDF was left to act as a postman, not to affirm the faith, but to announce this information.” The dicasteries, he said, “are useless” if all will be given over to bishops’ conferences to decide.

Well, now the pope has given a clear indication of his position, on a plane. And he position is, as usual, deeply troubling and worrying for anyone like me who actually takes what the Church teaches seriously, because it appears to contradict what the Church has always taught without much thought or care. It seems to move towards an Protestant/Anglican position that "all are welcome at the Lord's table" which contradicts principles of evangelisation and mission and the CCC as well as Sacred Scripture (cf 1 Cor 11:27).

Where does that leave us? Where does it leave Catholics like me who teach the faith? Here is Fr. Vincent Serpa explaining why Protestants CAN NOT receive the Eucharist:

So how does Fr. Vincent deal now with questions like this? "Well in some diocese it is allowed so I suggest you move there"????

Here is Bishop Christopher Coyne explaining why non-Catholics can not receive the Eucharist:

If I were the bishop, would I not now feel somewhat undermined? Given what Bishop Coyne says in this video, how can we be in communion with the German church if they implement this proivision unilaterally?

Here's Fr Mike Schmitz:

So is Fr. Mike wrong now???

I don't know about you, but I am sick and tired of this pope who speaks out of both sides of his mouth. This might be fun for him and his cronies, but this is my life. This is what I have committed my children to. I have to explain this stuff to everyone to defend why I believe such counter-cultural stuff.

This measure might keep some (a majority) of the rich German prelates happy, but how does it speak to the truth of the Real Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament?

Some people are applauding this on the internet, but, as always, not in a direct, theological way, rather in a broad, let's all be happy sort of way. I studied theology for five years and I was taught it is the queen of the sciences. Pope Francis is anything but scientific in his "theology".

Please can someone hold a conclave and get someone who understands the Catholic faith in the See of Peter please?


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