Skip to comments.Those in Mortal Sin Can't Go to Communion, Says Pope
Posted on 03/14/2005 9:40:26 PM PST by Salvation
Those in Mortal Sin Can't Go to Communion, Says Pope
In a Message to Priests at Course on "Internal Forum"
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 14, 2005 (Zenit.org).- In keeping with Church teaching, John Paul II issued a reminder that no one who is aware of being in a state of mortal sin can go to Communion.
The Pope confirmed the traditional teaching of the magisterium in a message published by the Holy See on Saturday. The message was addressed to young priests who attended a course last week on the "internal forum" -- questions of conscience -- organized by the tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary.
The Holy Father dedicated his letter, signed March 8 in the Gemelli Polyclinic where he was hospitalized, to the relationship that exists between the Eucharist and confession.
"We live in a society that seems frequently to have lost the sense of God and of sin," writes John Paul II. "In this context, therefore, Christ's invitation to conversion is that much more urgent, which implies the conscious confession of one's sins and the relative request for forgiveness and salvation.
"In the exercise of his ministry, the priest knows that he acts 'in the person of Christ and under the action of the Holy Spirit,' and for this reason he must nourish [Christ's] sentiments in his inner being, increase within himself the charity of Jesus, teacher and shepherd, physician of souls and bodies, spiritual guide, just and merciful judge."
The Pope continues: "In the tradition of the Church, sacramental reconciliation has always been considered in profound relationship with the banquet of the sacrifice of the Eucharist, memorial of our redemption.
"Already in the first Christian communities the need was felt to prepare oneself, with a worthy conduct of life, to celebrate the breaking of the Eucharistic bread, which is 'Communion' with the body and blood of the Lord and 'communion' ('koinonia') with believers who form only one body, as they are nourished with the same body of Christ."
Because of this, the Pontiff recalls St. Paul's warning to the Corinthians when he said: "Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:27).
"In the rite of the Holy Mass," notes the Pope, "many elements underline this exigency of purification and conversion: from the initial penitential act to the prayers for forgiveness; from the gesture of peace to the prayers that the priests and faithful recite before Communion."
"Only someone who is sincerely conscious of not having committed a mortal sin can receive the Body of Christ," states the papal message, recalling the doctrine of the Council of Trent. "And this continues to be the teaching of the Church also today."
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the difference between mortal and venial sin in Nos. 1854 to 1864.
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Is support for abortion a mortal sin? Euthanasia? Others?
John 20:21-23 (KJV)
21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
This is how Catholics interpret the above: the power Christ gave the apostles was twofold: to forgive sins or to hold them bound, which means to retain them unforgiven. Several things follow from this. First, the apostles could not know what sins to forgive and what not to forgive unless they were first told the sins by the sinner. This implies confession. Second, their authority was not merely to proclaim that God had already forgiven sins or that he would forgive sins if there were proper repentance.
Such interpretations dont account for the distinction between forgiving and retainingnor do they account for the importance given to the utterance in John 20:2123. If God has already forgiven all of a mans sins, or will forgive them all (past and future) upon a single act of repentance, then it makes little sense to tell the apostles they have been given the power to "retain" sins, since forgiveness would be all-or-nothing and nothing could be "retained."
Furthermore, if at conversion we were forgiven all sins, past, present, and future, it would make no sense for Christ to require us to pray, "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors," which he explained is required because "if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matt. 6:1215).
If forgiveness really can be partialnot a once-for-all thinghow is one to tell which sins have been forgiven, which not, in the absence of a priestly decision? You cant very well rely on your own gut feelings (think of the current convolutions regarding personal interpretation of what the bible has to say on homosexual behaviour). No, the biblical passages make sense only if the apostles and their successors were given a real authority.
You can read the above but with a bit more detail at "The Forgiveness of Sins"
It would be helpful if Catholics remembered what mortal sin is. That's taught from the pulpit at my parish, but not many others.
Hee hee. I love it.
...is expressly forbidden in II Timothy.
It wouldn't hurt.
With knowledge that it is wrong and you do it anyway, yes. The major infractions are things like stealing, lying, murder, etc., with knowledge of what you are doing and intent to do harm. There's a pretty good list which includes immodest dress (coug, cough considering what I saw at Mass on Sunday), not going to Mass on Sunday, impure thoughts, impure acts, etc.
That is, if you tell your wife that her awful new dress looks lovely, that is a venial sin, while lying under oath is a mortal sin.
Is a priest prevented from administering the Eucharist to a person the priest knows to be in mortal sin? a politician like Kennedy, for example?
Some Catholics justify receiving Communion in the state of mortal sin because they say they do not believe that what they are doing is sinful. For example, I have a close relative who lives with her boyfriend. She has told me that she doesn't believe it is a sin and she receives Communion.
A priest should be, if not by his bishop, by his conscience. That doesn't always happen. There's a little matter of free will and at this time in history, there are a number of revolutionary priests who are not hard line about this. i think there is some apathy and fear of making waves. There shouldn't be but no one ever said cowards couldn't be priests.
One of the bigger problems we're facing is some very weak bishops who do no teaching. This should be part of their teaching and when bishops like mine do say that politicians who are pro-death are not to take Eucharist (Burke was adament about it), they are labelled as extremist when all they are doing is teaching. Correctly, I might add.
Wow! You sound just like my husband!!
If the bible warning is valid, which I think it is, then the priest who prevents an unworthy communicant is doing that person a huge, eternal favor. Otherwise, the communicants eat and drink damnation to themselves.
Such hard line priests would be showing tough love and demonstrating themselves to be the ones who really cared about the individual.
Is there any moral/ethical difference between condoning an action and advocating an action?
It is a beautiful thing to see a faithful bishop actually behaving like a pastor, leading his flock in the right way...
One wonders who - below this old figurehead - is really trying to set policy.
Of course, it's more a "tempest in a teapot" as almost no one listens to them anymore.
I'm sure there are examples that push the limits in the other direction, but my understanding in our public law is that the one who hires a contract killer is more liable than the killer who pulls the trigger....condoning versus advocating.
Supporting versus doing.
Excuse me. I'm sorry. I didn't know this was the Catholic Forum. I thought it was the Religion forum.
Have a nice day.
Actually, with such a definition, there may not be as many people living in mortal sin as you think. Full, deliberate consent, grave matter, and full knowledge. Mortal sin separates one from God essentially; it ruptures the relationship.
Think of something that you do that can rupture the relationship between you and another person. There are things (such as losing one's temper or negligence) that can damage it, but it takes almost a premeditated act to kill a relationship with someone.
The present state, where Catholics think nothing is a mortal sin, is a reaction to years and years of Catholics thinking everything was a mortal sin. Catechesis is needed to bring our understanding back into balance.
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