The battle of who may and may not receive Communion in the Catholic Church goes on into 2018. Some cardinals have asked for official clarification from the Pope which, to date, has not been forthcoming. Ambiguity is opening up divisions from parish to parish as there seems to be a real battle about whether divorced and remarried people can receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist. And, as with any large-scale group, there are some who will see this as an easy way to deal with divorced-remarried people in their congregations that want to be ‘like everyone else’ at Communion time.
I also know, for a fact, that one cannot be too careful with whom you might speak on the subject. I was naive enough to think that discussing it with what I thought was a long-time friend, caused an irreparable chasm in a relationship. They felt the Church had to be kinder (aka overlook sin) and let these people enjoy all the benefits of our Faith without worrying about problematic rules. I was actually told that I was too hard-lined on obeying the Church and probably couldn’t even be considered a Catholic!
On December 31, 2017, two archbishops and one bishop decided to take on stand on this issue using the clarity of the already present and still in force, guidelines of the church. I will share some of the pertinent quotes and reasoning behind their proclamation.
*Sexual relationships between people who are not in the bond to one another of a valid marriage – which occurs in the case of the so-called “divorced and remarried” – are always contrary to God’s will and constitute a grave offense against God.
*No circumstance or finality, not even a possible imputability or diminished guilt, can make such sexual relations a positive moral reality and pleasing to God. The same applies to the other negative precepts of the Ten Commandments of God. Since “there exist acts which, per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object” (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 17).
*The Church does not possess the infallible charism of judging the internal state of grace of a member of the faithful (see Council of Trent, session 24, chapter 1). The non-admission to Holy Communion of the so-called “divorced and remarried” does not therefore mean a judgment on their state of grace before God, but a judgment on the visible, public, and objective character of their situation. Because of the visible nature of the sacraments and of the Church herself, the reception of the sacraments necessarily depends on the corresponding visible and objective situation of the faithful.
*It is not morally licit to engage in sexual relations with a person who is not one’s legitimate spouse supposedly to avoid another sin. Since the Word of God teaches us, it is not lawful “to do evil so that good may come” (Romans 3, 8).
*The admission of such persons to Holy Communion may be permitted only when they with the help of God’s grace and a patient and individual pastoral accompaniment make a sincere intention to cease from now on the habit of such sexual relations and to avoid scandal. It is in this way that true discernment and authentic pastoral accompaniment were always expressed in the Church.
*People who have habitual non-marital sexual relations violate their indissoluble sacramental nuptial bond with their life style in relation to their legitimate spouse. For this reason they are not able to participate “in Spirit and in Truth” (see John 4, 23) at the Eucharistic wedding supper of Christ, also taking into account the words of the rite of Holy Communion: “Blessed are the guests at the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19, 9).
The fulfillment of God’s will, revealed in His Ten Commandments and in His explicit and absolute prohibition of divorce, constitutes the true spiritual good of the people here on earth and will lead them to the true joy of love in the salvation of eternal life.
Being bishops in the pastoral office, who promote the Catholic and Apostolic faith (“cultores catholicae et apostolicae fidei”, see Missale Romanum, Canon Romanus), we are aware of this grave responsibility and our duty before the faithful who await from us a public and unequivocal profession of the truth and the immutable discipline of the Church regarding the indissolubility of marriage. For this reason we are not allowed to be silent.
We affirm therefore in the spirit of St. John the Baptist, of St. John Fisher, of St. Thomas More, of Blessed Laura Vicuña and of numerous known and unknown confessors and martyrs of the indissolubility of marriage:
It is not licit (non licet) to justify, approve, or legitimize either directly or indirectly divorce and a non-conjugal stable sexual relationship through the sacramental discipline of the admission of so-called “divorced and remarried” to Holy Communion, in this case a discipline alien to the entire Tradition of the Catholic and Apostolic faith.
By making this public profession before our conscience and before God who will judge us, we are sincerely convinced that we have provided a service of charity in truth to the Church of our day and to the Supreme Pontiff, Successor of Saint Peter and Vicar of Christ on earth.
31 December 2017, the Feast of the Holy Family, in the year of the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima.
+ Tomash Peta, Archbishop Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana
+ Jan Pawel Lenga, Archbishop-Bishop of Karaganda
+ Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana
There is a lot of discussion and worry about the fate of the Catholic Church today. Too many people are forgetting that God promised the Church would survive. So much conversation and often too little prayer. Yes, we have problems and possible schisms in our midst but we still have Jesus, Body and Blood, at Mass. It might be scary from our narrow point of view, but the ‘weather’ outside the bounds of the Catholic Church could be worse. I found this quote that while funny is full of meaning for everyone right now.
The New Testament compares the church to the ark of Noah. There is an old yarn about Noah finding his son on the bow of the ark, in a deep funk. Noah asked him how he was and he replied, “Not good, Dad. If it weren’t for the storm outside, I couldn’t stand the stink inside.”
A ‘prayer shield’ and a ‘wall of meat’: Christians and bikers vow to protect Trump at inauguration
The headlines get more and more interesting but this one shows that people are willing to stand up and use their physical and spiritual time to protect the President-Elect, Donald Trump. Although few of us have the time or money to head to Washington DC for the Inauguration this week, we still have the power of prayer on our side and can offer our own prayers from every corner of the United States to protect our new president and for his guidance in taking on the leadership of this country. Too often, people are only reminded to pray when they need prayer.
Some quotes to ponder in anticipation of the next four years and as a reminder that prayer needs to be ongoing.
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in Heaven …” 1. Matthew 5:44-45
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24
“Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.” Luke 6:22
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12
“But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of Hell.” Matthew 5:22
“I pray that all polar opposites learn to Agape Love, live and work together as brothers and sisters—or perish as fools. While I voted for Mr. Trump, my confidence remains in God, for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“Alveda C. King (Niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.