FRANCIS EXTENDS CONDOLENCES TO PARENTS OF ALFIE EVANS – POPE PRAYS FOR ‘NUCLEAR-FREE’ KOREAN PENINSULA AND FOR NIGERIAN CHRISTIANS – HOLY FATHER, 3 VICTIMS OF SEX ABUSE MEET IN VATICAN – VATICAN OFFICIALS, GERMAN PRELATES TO DISCUSS COMMUNION IN MIXED MARRIAGES

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.

To continue reading: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/pope-meets-with-three-survivors-of-clerical-sexual-abuse-from-chile

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.

More here: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/full-text-of-seven-german-bishops-letter-on-intercommunion-for-protestant-s

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POPE FRANCIS: ‘TO KILL IN THE NAME OF GOD IS SATANIC’ – POPE ISSUES MOTU PROPRIO HARMONIZING CANON LAW CODES – PAPAL DIPLOMATS DISCUSS ISLAM AND GENDER AT JUBILEE EVENT

I arrived in Birmingham yesterday afternoon, got settled in at the Sheraton hotel, just across from the city’s convention center where this weekend’s EWTN Family Celebration will be held, and thern had dinner with Fr. Frank Pavone, Janet Morana, Fr. Steve Imbarrato, Elena Rodriguez and Kathy Ranelli, all of EWTN’s “Defending Life” program. Fun evening, great food and very interesting conversation.

I did a bit of work this morning before going to the network to appear live on “At Home with Jim and Joy.” It was a barrel of fun and the time passed so quickly it was unbelievable. But don’t we always say, “how quickly time passes when you’re having fun!”

I also met a number of “Joan’s Rome” fans in studio and we had some time to speak and will see each other again at the Family Celebration. Met more fans in the hotel as people start to arrive from around the state and country for this annual celebration.

I’m now in the hotel to work on a new edition of “Vatican Insider” that will air this weekend – more on that tomorrow.

I have just one comment to make about visiting the U.S. in summer time or any time the weather is really hot. Why do hotels, stores, restaurants, cafes, convention centers, etc., etc. all have to have the air conditioning at such low levels you could be excused for thinking you just got off a plane in Antarctica!

You cannot visit America when it is summer unless you have packed a shawl, a long-sleeved sweater, a suitcoat or some jacket to put over your summer clothing just to stay reasonably warm inside a building. When the temps and humidity are really high – as they are now in Birmingham, AC is the way to go, but not the excessive low temps – just give us enough to make us feel comfortable.

And you know what? The food gets cold much faster when a restaurant has very cold AC. That is just logical.

And now to three news stories from yesterday and today that I wanted to bring to you – important words and events. I’d love to be a fly on the wall at some of the meetings mentioned in the third story about the Jubilee of Papal Diplomats.

PAPAL TWEETS: September 15: The Church is called to walk with Jesus on the roads of the world, in order to meet the humanity of today.

Yesterday: The Church’s forgiveness must be every bit as broad as that offered by Jesus on the Cross and by Mary at his feet.

POPE FRANCIS: ‘TO KILL IN THE NAME OF GOD IS SATANIC’

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday morning celebrated Mass for the French priest of Rouen, Fr. Jacques Hamel, whom he described, is part of the chain of Christian martyrs that runs throughout the history of the Church. (photo news.va)

fr-hamel

Father Hamel was murdered while celebrating Mass in his Parish Church by two men swearing allegiance to the so-called Islamic State in July. Linda Bordoni reports:

To the congregation gathered at Santa Marta, which included Archbishop Dominque Lebrun of Rouen and 80 other pilgrims from the diocese, Pope Francis said that “to kill in the name of God is satanic.”

Reflecting on the many martyrs that are part of the history of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis said: “this is a story that repeats itself in the Church, and today there are more Christian martyrs than there were at beginning of Christianity.”

Today, he continued, there are Christians “who are murdered, tortured, imprisoned, have their throats slit because they do not deny Jesus Christ.”

This history, said Francis, continues with our Father Jacques: he is part of this chain of martyrs.

“Father Jacques Hamel was slain as he celebrated the sacrifice of Christ’s crucifixion. A good man, a meek man, a man who always tried to build peace was murdered (…). This is the satanic thread of persecution,” he said.

Pope Francis continued: “What a pleasure it would be if all religious confessions would say: ‘to kill in the name of God is satanic’.”

The Holy Father concluded his homily by holding up Fr. Hamel and his example of courage and said we must pray to him to grant us meekness, brotherhood, peace and the courage to tell the truth: “to kill in the name of God is satanic.”

On the altar, a simple photograph of Fr. Hamel who was slain by two Islamist fanatics while celebrating Mass in the Church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray on July 26, 2016.

The liturgy was broadcast live by the Vatican Television Station.

POPE ISSUES MOTU PROPRIO HARMONIZING CANON LAW CODES

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter motu proprio on Thursday, in which he brings the basic legal instruments that govern the Latin Church and the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome more closely into accord with one another in several different specific areas regarding the discipline of the sacraments, and ecclesial identity of the faithful.

The Holy Father has introduced material changes only to the Code of Canon Law that governs the Latin Church, in order to bring the Latin code into harmony with the Eastern code, especially as regards the valid celebration of marriages with spouses of mixed Rite, the circumstances under which a spouse may change Rite, how to determine the Rite to which a child belongs properly, and other questions in a similar vein.

A note issued by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts explains that the reason for the reforms is that of responding to the desire to facilitate the pastoral care of all the faithful, especially of those  very great and increasing numbers of Eastern Christians living in predominantly Latin environments.

Vatican Radio then presented the motu proprio in its original Latin.

PAPAL DIPLOMATS DISCUSS ISLAM AND GENDER AT JUBILEE EVENT

(Vatican Radio) Papal diplomats from around the world are in Rome this week for a special Jubilee event that includes both practical refresher seminars and moments of spiritual reflection with the Holy Father.

pope-diplomats

Relations with Islam, gender culture and other challenges facing the Church today are on the program, as Philippa Hitchen reports.

The year of mercy may be drawing to a close but Pope Francis is maintaining a packed agenda of Jubilee events. From September 15th to 17th he’s meeting with over a hundred representatives of the Holy See working in locations right across the globe. Of the 108 diplomatic missions in existence today, 103 are headed by archbishops serving as papal nuncios, while the other five posts are permanent observers to international organisations.

The Jubilee event began on Thursday morning with Mass, presided over by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, in St Peter’s Basilica, followed by two seminars held in the Synod Hall. The first of these was focused on the Pope, the Church and the world today, led by Professor Piero Coda, president of the Sofia University Institute founded by the Focolari movement just south of Florence. The second session, led by Rev. Robert Ghal from the Pontifical Holy Cross University in Rome is entitled ‘Genesis and the case of gender culture’ and will be followed by dinner with Pope Francis at the Casina Pio IV in the Vatican gardens.

On Friday morning participants will have a working session with officials from the Secretariat of State and in the afternoon they’ll attend a third seminar, focused on interreligious dialogue and relations with Islam, led by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran. In the evening, they’ll join heads of all the Curial offices and ambassadors accredited to the Holy See for a reception in the Vatican museums.

The final day, Saturday, will include many of the 40 retired apostolic nuncios and will be a time for spiritual communion, starting with Mass concelebrated with Pope Francis in the Santa Marta chapel. That’ll be followed by a reflection from Mgr Pierangelo Sequeri of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Life. The diplomats will then make their way through the Holy Door of St Peter’s Basilica before meeting together with Pope Francis in the Clementine hall of the apostolic palace.

The event concludes with a lunch in Santa Marta, but the Pope has invited all 163 staff members of the nunciatures and diplomatic missions for their own Jubilee here in the Vatican on November 18th.

 

HOME, SWEET ROME! – POPE FRANCIS’ LETTER ON JUBILEE INDULGENCES INCLUDES PERMISSION FOR PRIESTS TO GRANT ABSOLUTION FOR SIN OF ABORTION

HOME, SWEET ROME!

Your roamin’ Catholic correspondent is again back in the Eternal City following one of the best vacations ever – delightful, fun-filled and extraordinarily relaxing days with my Hawaiian ohana (family) and then a visit with my sister and her family, including nieces and nephews I had not seen in two years and one, little Charlotte, whom I had never met! Photos were posted by my nieces on my Facebook page in case you are curious!

Vacation time has ended but I have promised myself to try and relax a bit each workday just as I did in Hawaii. To make time to smell the flowers, to enjoy a Roman piazza for a few minutes more than planned, to phone friends just to say ‘ciao’. I’d like to do what a speech and drama teacher taught us in high school: the next time you walk home from school, look up, not down, and come back to class and tell me what you saw that you never noticed before.

A page on my desk calendar says “No one ever said on their deathbed, ‘Gee I wish I’d spent more time at the office’.” And that’s true even when you really love your work, as I do!

A very important story broke on September 1 as I was enroute from Los Angeles to Rome. I arrived Rome yesterday and, after I unpacked my luggage, including my computer, I followed some of the news about the just-published papal letter and saw a fine piece on Fr. Douglas Vu’s Facebook page. Fr. Vu, based in Birmingham Alabama, and I are good friends and I respect how he explained this extraordinary piece of news from Pope Francis, and how he also warned about misinterpretations and media spin.

I thus decided to share his post on my own Facebook page (facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420) so as not to possibly do an injustice to a vitally important piece of news because of jetlag. And, as I said yesterday, if you want the truth about this matter, read Fr. Vu’s entire post.

In the event you have been checking in at this blog post but not on Facebook here again is that story.

If you already saw this on Facebook, make some time to smell the flowers!

POPE FRANCIS’ LETTER ON JUBILEE INDULGENCES INCLUDES PERMISSION FOR PRIESTS TO GRANT ABSOLUTION FOR SIN OF ABORTION

Fr. Vu introduced the news referring to the http://www.news.va publication of the Holy Father’s letter on absolution for the sin of abortion during the Holy Year of Mercy in this fashion

Friends,

Please be very careful and be prudent on what you might hear, read, see in the news, or post on social media this week about the LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS ACCORDING TO WHICH AN INDULGENCE IS GRANTED TO THE FAITHFUL ON THE OCCASION OF THE EXTRAORDINARY JUBILEE OF MERCY

First, please read the entire letter (only 2 pages), the link is here: http://w2.vatican.va/…/papa-francesco_20150901_lettera-indu…

Here is an article from Catholic News Service could help you to understand about the context of this letter: “Administering mercy: Facilitating forgiveness does not downplay sin” – Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Always, but especially during a Holy Year, the Catholic Church does everything possible to help Catholics repent of their sins, receive forgiveness and draw closer to God.

The church’s law and its canon lawyers are part of that effort, said Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and a prelate of the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican court handling matters of conscience.

When Pope Francis announced the Holy Year of Mercy would open Dec. 8, he also said he would appoint “missionaries of mercy” to preach and teach about God’s mercy. They will be given special authority, the pope said, “to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See.”

Then, in a letter released at the Vatican Sept. 1, Pope Francis announced his decision “to concede to all priests for the jubilee year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.”

The first step, of course, is to recognize an action is a sin and confess it, expressing contrition and a willingness to do penance. Bishop Arrieta said the pope’s action is designed to ensure that the path to penance and reconciliation is not blocked by a priest not having the full authority to offer absolution in the name of God and the church.

In an interview with Catholic News Service June 2, before the pope announced the extended faculties, Bishop Arrieta said the pope’s mention of “reserved” sins refers to actions that can bring with them automatic excommunication, for example, abortion when the person is aware of the penalty and commits the sin anyway.

The missionaries of mercy will have the “faculties” or authority to remove the excommunication and grant absolution in those cases, which normally require the intervention or permission of the local bishop or the Apostolic Penitentiary, he said.

Some commentators have questioned whether the pope’s plan for mercy will send the message that abortion isn’t a serious sin.

But for Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel, a ministry promoting healing and forgiveness for those who regret an abortion, it is a crucial part of the Year of Mercy.

“For millions of women, in their hearts abortion is the unforgiveable sin,” Thorn said during a telephone interview from her home in Milwaukee. “This sin holds people hostage,” she said. “Some women keep coming back confessing the same sin” over and over, Thorn said. “She knows she has committed a sin — the hard part is to convince her of God’s mercy.”

In the Latin Church’s Code of Canon Law, Bishop Arrieta said, the offenses that carry automatic excommunication are: apostasy, heresy and schism; profanation of the Eucharist; physical violence against the pope; attempted absolution of an accomplice in sexual sin; attempted ordination of women; consecration of a bishop without papal approval; violating the secrecy of the sacrament of confession; recording the words of a confessor or penitent during confession; procuring, performing or actively assisting or pressuring a woman into having an abortion.

“All sins can be forgiven,” Bishop Arrieta said, but more serious sins are also considered crimes under canon law and carry penalties. In order to receive absolution, a person must be allowed to receive the sacraments, which he or she cannot do while under the penalty of excommunication.

However, when an excommunicated person is in danger of death, any priest can hear his or her confession and grant absolution, the bishop said. That is because the priority in the church’s law is the salvation of souls.

“All the barriers of canonical penalties fall when faced with the need to save souls and the danger of death,” he said.

When a woman goes to confession seeking absolution for abortion, “the problem is not the sin, but the penalty, which prevents the reception of any sacrament,” Bishop Arrieta said, which is why Pope Francis is making special global provisions.

In most dioceses of the United States, England and several other countries, the bishops regularly give all their priests the faculties to grant absolution for abortion. But in other places, like Italy, such permission is given only on special occasions.

During the April 19-June 24 public exposition of the Shroud of Turin, for example, Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin granted his priests such faculties to “demonstrate the Father’s mercy toward those who repent of an evil committed.”

He said, however, the permission would be valid only during the shroud’s public display so as not to “diminish the rigor of the law,” which is designed to teach people how seriously wrong it is to kill an innocent life.

Bishop Arrieta said that when the Code of Canon Law was being revised in the 1970s and ’80s, church officials had long, passionate discussions about removing the penalty of automatic excommunication for an abortion. After all, the serious sin of murder does not carry the penalty of automatic excommunication.

The penalty was maintained, however, because officials believed it could “give a distorted impression that the church no longer sees abortion as so grave,” he said. “Sin is sin,” Bishop Arrieta said, and the offenses that can carry automatic excommunication are especially serious, but a Holy Year is an especially serious time of grace.

“The pope is not saying abortion is no longer important. No. It’s important,” the bishop said. “It is the most frequent cause of excommunication.” By granting a special faculty to certain priests during the Year of Mercy, he said, Pope Francis is trying to balance a desire “to facilitate reconciliation as much as possible” while also “trying to form consciences” about the seriousness of abortion. “The church has a spiritual patrimony and during a Holy Year, it encourages the faithful to draw on this patrimony” for the grace and strength to reconcile with God and begin a new life, he said.

The pope is not saying that any sin is unimportant, the bishop said. “No, not at all. The pope is saying the church is like a field hospital in the middle of battle and the treasure of the merits of Christ and of the saints must be distributed broadly” to heal the wounded.

END of article

***

  1. Link to the Catechism of the Catholic Church on abortion: http://www.vatican.va     (Paras 2270 through 2276)
  2. Link to the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the sacrament of penance and reconciliation: http://www.vatican.va     Go to: PART TWO
    THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY –
    SECTION TWO, THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCHCHAPTER TWO  THE SACRAMENTS OF HEALING – ARTICLE 4
    THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE AND RECONCILIATION (starting with Para 1422)
  3. Please talk to a Catholic bishop, priest, or deacon if you need help to understand the teaching of the Church on faith and morals.
  4. If you are live in the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama and you need help to make a good confession, please contact me and I am happy to assist you (email: Fr.Vu (at) stsbhm.org
  5. Please get this post so more Catholics and people of Christian faith and people of good will might learn