Recent papal tweets:
April 28: I am deeply moved by the death of little Alfie. Today I pray especially for his parents, as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace.
April 29: Do we really want peace? Then let’s ban all weapons so we don’t have to live in fear of war.
April 30: Be one with Christ when you pray, take care of your most vulnerable brothers and sisters, and work for peace.
I am fascinated by the news of the visit by German prelates to officials in the Vatican on the question of whether or not the Eucharist can be given to non-Catholic spouses in a mixed marriage.
I certainly thought I knew the teaching on this question.
In addition to what I had been taught, we have guidelines for the reception of communion in the Missalettes available to the faithful at Mass which basically states: Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to holy Communion. Non-Catholic faithful are then invited, if they wish, to approach the Eucharist with their arms folded over their chest to receive a blessing from the celebrant.
Here is what Canon law says:
For starters, we have Canon 842 §1. A person who has not received baptism cannot be admitted validly to the other sacraments.
And Canon 844:
Can. 844 §1. Catholic ministers administer the sacraments licitly to Catholic members of the Christian faithful alone, who likewise receive them licitly from Catholic ministers alone, without prejudice to the prescripts of §§2, 3, and 4 of this canon, and ⇒ can. 861, §2.
§2. Whenever necessity requires it or true spiritual advantage suggests it, and provided that danger of error or of indifferentism is avoided, the Christian faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister are permitted to receive the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.
§3. Catholic ministers administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick licitly to members of Eastern Churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church if they seek such on their own accord and are properly disposed. This is also valid for members of other Churches which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as these Eastern Churches.
§4. If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.
§5. For the cases mentioned in §§2, 3, and 4, the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops is not to issue general norms except after consultation at least with the local competent authority of the interested non-Catholic Church or community.
The German bishops’ decision to offer the Eucharist to the non-Catholic member of a mixed marriage has been inspired by their desire to implement certain provisions of “Amoris Laetitia,” the same document that has caused such angst by suggesting that, under certain circumstances, communion may be given to a couple who, validly married in the Catholic church but civilly divorced (thus, still married for the Church but in an adulterous union) and remarried in a civil ceremony.
The German prelates-Vatican officials meeting will be very interesting to watch.
FRANCIS EXTENDS CONDOLENCES TO PARENTS OF ALFIE EVANS
Pope Francis received the news Saturday morning, April 28, of the death of Alfie Evans, and tweeted the following: “I am deeply moved by the death of little Alfie. Today I pray especially for his parents, as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace.”
Pope Francis had been following Alfie with particular attention. He met with Thomas Evans, Alfie’s father, on the 18th of April, and made several appeals on his behalf. He had also expressed the desire that Alfie Evans be brought to the Vatican’s pedriatic hospital, Bambino Gesù, to be cared for.
POPE PRAYS FOR ‘NUCLEAR-FREE’ KOREAN PENINSULA AND FOR NIGERIAN CHRISTIANS
Sunday at the Regina Coeli, Pope Francis hailed the positive outcome of the Inter-Korean Summit and said he is praying for a future of peace for Koreans and for the world. He also mentioned the violence against Catholic communities in Nigeria and prayed for the achievement of harmony and peace there.
By Linda Bordoni (Vaticannews.va)
Calling for continued collaboration between the leaders of North and South Korea, Pope Francis said he is praying that their courageous commitment may achieve “a path of sincere dialogue for a Korean Peninsula that is free of nuclear weapons.”
Speaking after the Regina Coeli prayer in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, the Pope hailed the positive outcome of Friday’s Inter-Korean Summit and said he is praying so that “the hope for a future of peace and more fraternal friendship will not be disappointed, and that collaboration will continue to bear fruit for the beloved Korean people and for the whole world.”
Pope Francis has repeatedly prayed for dialogue and peace between the Koreas and for the historic Summit on Friday in which North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in agreed to work to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons.
The Pope also turned his attention to and offered his prayers for Christians in Nigeria that, yet again, have come under attack.
“Last week the Christian community of Nigeria was attacked again, and a group of faithful were killed, including two priests,” he said. “I entrust these brothers of ours to the mercy of God, and pray so that those severely tested communities may find harmony and peace.”
Finally, the Pope looked ahead to the Marian month of May inviting all Christians to join him in praying in particular for peace in Syria. He said that Tuesday, May 1, a holiday in the Vatican and Italy, he will make a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love where he will pray the Rosary, “praying in particular for peace in Syria and throughout the world.”
HOLY FATHER, 3 VICTIMS OF SEX ABUSE MEET IN VATICAN
Elise Harris/CNA/EWTN News
VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis began individual meetings with three survivors of clerical sexual abuse from Chile following a major apology earlier this month. The encounters, which have no time limit, went throughout the weekend and into Monday.
The survivors – Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Andres Murillo – were invited by the Pope to stay at the Vatican’s St. Martha guesthouse, where he has lived since his election in 2013.
In an April 27 statement (in Spanish) from the Vatican, spokesman Greg Burke said there will be no official statements on the encounters, as Francis’ primary intention is “to listen to the victims, ask them for forgiveness and respect the confidentiality of these meetings.”
“In this climate of trust and of reparation for suffering,” Bruke said, “the desire of Pope Francis is to allow those invited to speak for as long as needed, such that there are no fixed schedules or predetermined content.”
Cruz, Hamilton and Murillo were each victims of abuse carried out by Chilean priest Fernando Karadima, who in 2011 was found guilty by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of sexually abusing several minors during the 1980s and 1990s and sentenced to a life of prayer and solitude.
The Pope invited the three men to come to the Vatican after receiving a 2,300-page report from Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, who is highly regarded as the Vatican’s top abuse investigator and who traveled to the United States and Chile in February to investigate allegations of cover-up.
VATICAN OFFICIALS, GERMAN PRELATES TO DISCUSS COMMUNION IN MIXED MARRIAGES
From the Holy See Press Office – April 30, 2018:
On May 3, a group of German cardinals and bishops will meet in the Vatican with several heads of dicasteries and officials of the Roman Curia to confront the theme of eventual access to the Eucharist for the non-Catholic spouses in a mixed marriage.
The German delegation is composed of Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of München und Freising and president of the German Episcopal Conference; Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, Archbishop of Co of Munster; Bishop KarlHeinz Wiesemann, of Speyer and president of the Doctrinal Commission of the German Episcopal Conference; of Regensburg, Vice President of the Doctrinal Commission; Bishop Gerhard Feige of Magdeburg and president of the Commission for Ecumenism of the German Episcopal Conference; Fr. Hans Langendörfer, S.J., secretary general of the German Episcopal Conference.
The dicastery heads and curial officials are: Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF); Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Msgr. Markus Graulich, S.D.B., under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts; Fr. Hermann Geissler, F.S.O., bureau chief of the doctrinal section of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
You may remember my post several days ago, a piece written for the National Catholic Register by my EWTN colleague, Edward Pentin. Here is the first part of that post as background to today’s statement from the press office.
Complete Letter of Seven German Bishops on Holy Communion for Protestant Spouses Published
The Register obtained a copy of the March 22 missive which expresses serious concerns about the recent German bishops’ decision to give Holy Communion to Protestant spouses in some cases. Sources say the seven bishops’ call for clarification, which is being fiercely opposed by the German episcopal conference, has the full support of Benedict XVI.
by Edward Pentin
In the March 22 letter, published for the first time in English below, 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.”
The letter is signed by Cardinal Rainer Woelki of Cologne, Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg, Bishop Gregor Hanke of Eichstätt, Bishop Konrad Zdarsa of Augsburg, Bishop Wolfgang Ipolt of Görlitz, Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg, and Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau.
The German bishops voted overwhelmingly in favor of the proposal at their spring plenary meeting in Ingolstadt on Feb. 20, and the letter’s signatories affirm that out of the 60 bishops present, “13 voted no, including at least seven diocesan bishops.”
The majority of German bishops decided that permission could be granted to a Protestant spouse if, after having made a “serious examination” of conscience with a priest or another person with pastoral responsibilities, the partner “affirms the faith of the Catholic Church,” wishes to end “serious spiritual distress,” and has a “longing to satisfy a hunger for the Eucharist.”
At the time, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German bishops’ conference, said the guide would be a “pastoral handout” and that the intention was not to “change any doctrine.” He said the proposal also ruled out any path for Protestant spouses to conversion, otherwise known as an “ecumenism of return.” It also left much discretion to the local bishop.
The proposal caused considerable concern, also in Rome: Cardinals Francis Arinze, Gerhard Müller, Walter Brandmüller, and Paul Cordes all decried the move. Cardinal Müller called the proposal a “rhetorical trick” pulled on believers, most of whom he noted are not theologians and stressed that interdenominational marriage is “not an emergency situation.” Cardinal Brandmüller said the German bishops’ weak opposition to the proposal was a “scandal, no question.”
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.”
“We ask for your help, in the light of our doubts, as to whether the draft solution presented in this document is compatible with the faith and unity of the Church,” the bishops say in closing.
The March 22 letter was sent to Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (he was not informed of the Feb. 20 vote either before or after it took place),Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa de Chinchetru, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and the apostolic nuncio to Germany, Archbishop Nikola Eterović.