ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT ON “WHAT HAPPENS IN GERMANY…”

ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT ON “WHAT HAPPENS IN GERMANY…”

I posted this earlier today on my Facebook page and, in the midst of a busy news day, only now have I had time to copy this to Joan’s Rome:

Kudos – and heartfelt thanks (!) to Abp. Charles Chaput for this timely, accurate and much needed evaluation of the proposal of many of the bishops of Germany to allow communion to be given to the non/Catholic spouse of a Catholic husband/wife. The archbishop tells us clearly why this is not possible. You never need to worry about what the Magisterium of the Catholic Church teaches when you follow Philadelphia’s archbishop. I am only sorry that this even had to be written – that something contrary to the teaching of the Church and the Magisterium came from a Catholic bishops conference.

We are used to reading tweet-length versions of very important news stories so please take your time to read this in its entirety – and say a pray for Abp. Chaput! Let’s also pray, in charity, for the German Bishops that they revert to Church teaching.

A final word: Yes. folks, I know Pope Francis speaks of a pastoral approach to matters, undoubtedly important in so many cases, but is there a pastoral approach to a red light?

The archbishop’s article was in FIRST THINGS:

“What Happens in Germany”

In The Making of Martin Luther, the Cambridge scholar Richard Rex notes that 1518, not 1517, marks the real birth of Luther’s public profile. Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses hit the wider German market in January 1518. He wrote his Instructions for Confession and his Sermon on the Proper Preparation of the Heart for the Reception of Communion in the spring of the same year. The Sermon, especially, bore the early seeds of Luther’s later full-blown attack on Catholic sacramental theology—a fact that Cardinal Thomas Cajetan had already sensed when he met with Luther and pressed him to recant his more problematic views in Augsburg in October 1518.

Luther declined. The rest of the story is well known.

Exactly 500 years after Luther’s Sermon, communion is again a matter of debate in Germany. This time the disputants are the bishops themselves. Munich’s Cardinal Reinhard Marx and other German bishops seek to allow Protestant spouses of Catholics to receive communion under certain conditions, so long as they “affirm the Catholic faith in the Eucharist.” Cologne’s Cardinal Rainer Woelki and six other German bishops oppose the effort. They have sought clarification from Rome. The Vatican, however, has declined to intervene and returned the matter to the German bishops, urging them to arrive at a conference-level agreement.

Heat around the issue spiked earlier this month at a national German Catholic gathering. The country’s president, along with a major television personality and others, publicly sided with Marx. Cardinal Marx argued that “When someone is hungry and has faith, they must have access to the Eucharist. That must be our passion, and I will not let up on this.” Cardinal Woelki disagreed, noting that “whoever says ‘yes’ to the real presence of Christ in the [Catholic] Eucharist” also “naturally says ‘yes’ to the papacy, and the hierarchical structure of the Church, and the veneration of the saints, and much, much more”—all typically rejected in Protestant belief. Woelki further stressed that “we [in Germany] are a part and parcel of the universal Church. There can be no German exceptionalism.”

Being human, bishops often disagree. Internal differences are common in any episcopal conference, and they’re handled—no surprise—internally. But two things set the German situation apart: the global prominence of the controversy and the doctrinal substance of the debate. Who can receive the Eucharist, and when, and why, are not merely German questions. If, as Vatican II said, the Eucharist is the source and summit of our life as Christians and the seal of our Catholic unity, then the answers to these questions have implications for the whole Church. They concern all of us. And in that light, I offer these points for thought and discussion, speaking simply as one among many diocesan bishops:

1. If the Eucharist truly is the sign and instrument of ecclesial unity, then if we change the conditions of communion, don’t we in fact redefine who and what the Church is?

2. Intentionally or not, the German proposal will inevitably do exactly that. It is the first stage in opening communion to all Protestants, or all baptized persons, since marriage ultimately provides no unique reason to allow communion for non-Catholics.

3. Communion presupposes common faith and creed, including supernatural faith in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, along with the seven sacraments recognized by the perennial tradition of the Catholic Church. By renegotiating this fact, the German proposal in effect adopts a Protestant notion of ecclesial identity. Simple baptism and a belief in Christ seem to suffice, not belief in the mystery of faith as understood by the Catholic tradition and its councils. Will the Protestant spouse need to believe in holy orders as understood by the Catholic Church, which is logically related to belief in the consecration of the bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ? Or are the German bishops suggesting that the sacrament of holy orders might not depend upon apostolic succession? In such a case, we would be confronting a much deeper error.

4. The German proposal severs the vital link between communion and sacramental confession. Presumably it does not imply that Protestant spouses must go to confession for serious sins as a prelude to communion. But this stands in contradiction to the perennial practice and express dogmatic teaching of the Catholic Church, the Council of Trent, and the modern Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as the ordinary magisterium. It implies, in its effect, a Protestantization of the Catholic theology of the sacraments.

5. If the teaching of the Church can be ignored or renegotiated, even a teaching that has received a conciliar definition (as in this case, at Trent), then can all councils be historically relativized and renegotiated? Many modern liberal Protestants question or reject or simply ignore as historical baggage the teaching on the divinity of Christ from the Council of Nicaea. Will Protestant spouses be required to believe in the divinity of Christ? If they need to believe in the real presence of Christ in the sacrament, why would they not need to share the Catholic belief in holy orders or the sacrament of penance? If they do believe in all these things, why are they not invited to become Catholic as a means to enter into visible full communion?

6. If Protestants are invited to Catholic communion, will Catholics still be barred from Protestant communion? If so, why would they be barred? If they’re not barred, doesn’t this imply that the Catholic view on holy orders and valid Eucharistic consecration is in fact false, and if it is false, that Protestant beliefs are true? If intercommunion is not intended to imply an equivalence in the Catholic and Protestant confections of the Eucharist, then the practice of intercommunion misleads the faithful. Isn’t this a textbook case of “causing scandal”? And won’t it be seen by many as a polite form of deception or of hiding hard teachings, within the context of ecumenical discussion? Unity cannot be built on a process that systematically conceals the truth of our differences.

The essence of the German intercommunion proposal is that there would be a sharing in holy communion even when there is not true Church unity. This strikes at the very heart of the truth of the sacrament of the Eucharist, because by its very nature, the Eucharist is the body of Christ. And the “body of Christ” is both the real and substantial presence of Christ under the appearances of bread and wine, and also the Church herself, the communion of believers united to Christ, the head. To receive the Eucharist is to proclaim in a solemn and public way, before God and in the Church, that one is in communion both with Jesus and with the visible community celebrating the Eucharist.

An intrinsic link therefore exists between “being in communion” with a community, and “receiving communion” in that community. These realities point to each other.

Many things unite us with Protestant Christians. The age of bitter polemics is over, and among the blessings in my life are the presence and example of Protestant friends of great Christian character, erudition, and dedication to the Gospel. Nothing I write here is meant to diminish their extraordinary witness. But it’s also true that important things still divide us, and the issues that separate us are not merely the verbal artifacts of a bygone era. Our separation is a wound in the unity of Christians, and it is not willed by God; but it is a reality that we need to acknowledge. To insert a falsehood into the most solemn moment of one’s encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist—to say by one’s actions, “I am in communion with this community,” when one is demonstrably not in communion with that community—is a lie, and thus a serious offense before God.

In his 2003 encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, John Paul II wrote:

The celebration of the Eucharist … cannot be the starting-point for communion; it presupposes that communion already exists, a communion which it seeks to consolidate and bring to perfection. The sacrament is an expression of this bond of communion both in its invisible dimension, which, in Christ and through the working of the Holy Spirit, unites us to the Father and among ourselves, and in its visible dimension, which entails communion in the teaching of the Apostles, in the sacraments and in the Church’s hierarchical order. The profound relationship between the invisible and the visible elements of ecclesial communion is constitutive of the Church as the sacrament of salvation.

Only in this context can there be a legitimate celebration of the Eucharist and true participation in it. Consequently it is an intrinsic requirement of the Eucharist that it should be celebrated in communion, and specifically maintaining the various bonds of that communion intact.

What happens in Germany will not stay in Germany. History has already taught us that lesson once.
(https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/05/what-happens-in-germany)

ST. JOHN XXIII LEAVES THE VATICAN FOR HIS NATIVE BERGAMO

ST. JOHN XXIII LEAVES THE VATICAN FOR HIS NATIVE BERGAMO

At first light this morning, in the silence of St. Peter’s Basilica, the voyage to Bergamo began for the remains of Pope St. John XXIII – Bergamo, the diocese in which Angelo Roncalli served for 40 years, and Sotto il Monte where he was born November 25, 1881.

The theme of the trip is a phrase from this Saint who returns to his land and people for the 60th anniversary of his election to the papacy: “We begin from the land where I was born and we continue right up to heaven.”

This will be an 18-day pilgrimage, an exceptional gift from Pope Francis. There was a precedent that took place in the spring of 1959 when Pope John XXIII (Italians often called him, as they do all Popes, by his last name, Papa Roncalli) authorized the departure of the remains of St. Pius X for his native Venice.

This morning, in the basilica, it was the archpriest of St. Peter’s, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, who presided at the ceremony of the departure of the intact remains of John XXII. His remains were transferred from the Vatican Grottoes to the main part of the basilica in 2001, the year of his beatification, when he was placed in the glass coffin that all persons visiting the basilica can view.

JFL photo:

Cardinal Comastri recalled John XXIII’s love for his native land where “he breathed the faith in the beautiful example of his parents. Today, John XXIII fulfils the pilgrimage of gratitude and blessings towards the land where he was born, where he became Christian and where his priestly vocation matured.”

Reciting a prayer for those present, the cardinal spoke of “God’s profume” in John XXIII, his always having sowed seeds of hope, helping people to be “instruments of peace at home and in the public square.”

There will be a number of stops on his pilgrimage for St. John XXIII, whose remains arrived in the heart of Bergamo this afternoon at 3:30. The first stop was the prison in Via Gleno in remembrance of Pope John’s visit to detainees in Rome’s Regina Coeli prison. His remains will travel to the seminary and, at 9 pm, will be solemnly welcomed in the cathedral for a prayer vigil.

For a video of the morning ceremony that accompanied this story by Vatican Media, click here: https://www.vaticannews.va/it/chiesa/news/2018-05/pellegrinaggio-spoglie-papa-roncalli-bergamo.html#play

“IF THERE IS DOUBT ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY, BETTER NOT TO ENTER THE SEMINARY”

“IF THERE IS DOUBT ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY, BETTER NOT TO ENTER THE SEMINARY”

Following is my translation of an article that appeared yesterday in the online edition of the Italian daily, La Stampa, in its section called “Vatican Insider.” The piece is by Salvatore Cernuzio and is entitled, “If there is doubt about homosexuality, better not to enter the seminary.”

(A little footnote for history: In June 2011 when La Stampa wanted to inaugurate its new section about the Vatican, the papacy and Catholic Church, they wanted to name it “Vatican Insider.” However, we at EWTN had copyrighted that name with my weekend radio show “Vatican Insider,” and thus they had to ask us for permission to use that name.)

I took the time to translate this piece because I feel that what the Pope has said in the past about homosexuality, and what Church documents say, especiallyt vis-à-vis homosexuality and candidates to the priesthood, might calm the waters that have reached boiling temperatures over words allegedly spoken by Pope Francis to Juan Cruz, a victim of clerical sex abuse in Chile, when he was in Rome with two other victims as a guest of the Holy Father earlier this month. Cruz had quoted the Holy Father in a recent interview.

Neither Pope Francis nor the Holy See Press Office has confirmed or denied the words the pontiff allegedly said to Cruz.

Re: the Vatican Insider article: Pope Francis’ opening remarks to the CEI, the Italian Episcopal Conference, as it met Monday in the Vatican, have been reported in several languages. Following his opening remarks in which he spoke of three areas of “concern” for the Church in Italy, there was a give and take, a question and answer session. The author of this piece does not explicitly say so but I am surmising that what he writes (he says at one point “Vatican Insider has learned”) occurred during the Q&A session as these words are not in the formal papal address.

Here is my translation:

On Monday, May 21 Pope Francis spoke to the bishops of the CEI, the Italian Episcopal Conference, during a three-hour session of their 71st General assembly. Pope Francis faced the delicate theme of admission of homosexual young men into seminaries.

Pope Bergoglio expressed his opinion on the question, in fact repeating what he affirmed several years ago, though in a manner more implicit. “An eye on seminary admissions, open eyes,” is what he told the Congregation for Clergy.

Vatican Insider has learned that, with the Italian bishops Francis, speaking of the decline in vocations – one of his “three preoccupations for the Italian Church,” was clearer on this and he invited the prelates to take care of the quality of future priests over quantity. He explicitly mentioned the cases of homosexual persons who wish for various reasons to enter the seminary and he therefore invited the bishops to an attentive discernment, adding “If there is doubt about homosexuality, better not to enter the seminary.”

This indication by the pope expresses his great concern: these tendencies, when they are “deeply rooted” and the practice of “homosexual acts” can compromise the life of the seminary, in addition to that of the young man and his eventual future priesthood. And these acts can generate those “scandals” about which the pope spoke in his speech opening the CEI general assembly in the New Synod Hall, saying these acts disfigure the face of the church

Between the lines one can read what Pope Francis wrote in his letter of meditation given to the bishops of Chile during their meeting in the Vatican. In a note added to that text, the pope denounced the problems occurring in seminaries where, he wrote, bishops and religious superiors entrusted the leadership to “priests suspected of practicing homosexuality.”

Naturally, cases are very diverse among themselves and one needs to avoid generalizations. The pope’s note to the bishops of Italy actually goes back to the Ratio Fundamentalis published in December 2016 by the Congregation for Clergy: a thick document with the title, “The gift of the priestly vocation” in which this dicastery updated norms, uses and customs for access to the seminary, furnishing practical suggestions on matters such as health, nourishment, sports activity and rest.

Paragraph 199 of the Ratio states: “In relation to persons with homosexual tendencies who want to enter the seminary or who discover in the course of their formation in the seminary, in coherence with her Magisterium, the Church, though profoundly respecting the persons in question, may not admit to the seminary and to Holy Orders those who practice homosexuality, present deeply rooted homosexual tendencies or support the so-called gay culture.”

These indications from the 2016 Ratio repeat what was established by the instruction published by the Congregation for Catholic Education in August 2005 on the same “criteria for discernment of a vocation regarding persons with homosexual tendencies in view of their admission to seminaries and to Holy Orders.”

In nine pages with 20 notes, the document, approved by then Pope Benedict XVI, repeated the “no” of the Holy See to entrance into seminaries and religious orders of men who “practice homosexuality, have deeply rooted homosexual tendencies or even outright support the so-called gay culture.”

Above all, a distinction was made between “homosexual acts” and “homosexual tendencies”: for the first one, the Church reaffirmed the definition of “grave sin,” “intrinsically immoral and contrary to natural law,” whereas what was asked for those who show tendencies, in any case defined as “objectively disordered,” was an acceptance marked by “respect and delicateness,” avoiding “every sign of unjust discrimination.”

In any case, even just a doubt about the homosexual orientation of the candidate to priesthood – according to indications furnished by this instruction – can be considered an obstacle on his path towards ordination. One paragraph states: “If a candidate practices homosexuality or presents deeply rooted homosexual tendencies, his spiritual director as well as his confessor have the duty to dissuade him, in conscience, from proceeding towards ordination.”

In another paragraph of the same text, aspiring seminarians (with homosexual orientations) are invited to not lie to their superiors just to enter the seminary. “It is understood that the candidate himself is the first one responsible for his own formation” says the Vatican text. It would therefore be “gravely dishonest if a candidate hides his own homosexuality to arrive at – notwithstanding everything – ordination. Such an inauthentic behavior does not correspond to the spirit of truth, loyalty and availability which must mark the personality of those who believe they are called to serve Christ.”

What must not be forgotten – another risk indicated by Pope Francis in the previously quoted speech to the Congregation for Clergy – is that often “there are young men who are physically ill and seek strong structures that will defend them.”