Skip to comments.Why Pope Francis Doesn't Give (Distribute) Communion
Posted on 05/09/2013 5:06:34 AM PDT by NYer
Because, he says, unrepentant public sinners could slip in among the faithful, and he does not want to back up their hypocrisy. The case of Catholic politicians who support abortion.
ROME, May 9, 2013 – There is one particular in the Masses celebrated by Pope Francis that raises questions that have so far gone unanswered.
At the moment of communion, pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio does not administer it himself, but allows others to give the consecrated host to the faithful. He sits down and waits for the distribution of the sacrament to be completed.
The exceptions are very few. At solemn Masses the pope, before sitting down, gives communion to those assisting him at the altar. And at the Mass last Holy Thursday, at the juvenile detention facility of Casal del Marmo, he wanted to give communion himself to the young detainees who approached to receive it.
Bergoglio has given no explicit explanation of this behavior since becoming pope.
But there is one page in a book he published in 2010 that allows one to infer the motives at the origin of this practice.
The book is a collection of conversations with the rabbi of Buenos Aires, Abraham Skorka.
At the end of the chapter dedicated prayer, the then-archbishop Bergoglio says:
"David had been an adulterer and had ordered a murder, and nonetheless we venerate him as a saint because he had the courage to say: 'I have sinned.' He humbled himself before God. One can commit enormous mistakes, but one can also acknowledge them, change one's life and make reparation for what one has done. It is true that among parishioners there are persons who have killed not only intellectually or physically but indirectly, with improper management of capital, paying unjust wages. There are members of charitable organizations who do not pay their employees what they deserve, or make them work off the books. [. . .] With some of them we know their whole résumé, we know that they pass themselves off as Catholics but practice indecent behaviors of which they do not repent. For this reason, on some occasions I do not give communion, I stay back and let the assistants do it, because I do not want these persons to approach me for a photo. One may also deny communion to a known sinner who has not repented, but it is very difficult to prove these things. Receiving communion means receiving the body of the Lord, with the awareness of forming a community. But if a man, rather than uniting the people of God, has devastated the lives of many persons, he cannot receive communion, it would be a total contradiction. Such cases of spiritual hypocrisy present themselves in many who take refuge in the Church and do not live according to the justice that God preaches. And they do not demonstrate repentance. This is what we commonly call leading a double life.”
As can be noted, Bergoglio explained in 2010 his abstaining from giving communion personally with a very practical reason: "I do not want these persons to approach me for a photo."
As an experienced pastor and a good Jesuit, he knew that among those who receive communion there could be unrepentant public sinners who nonetheless professed themselves to be Catholics. He knew that at that point it would be difficult to deny them the sacrament. And he knew the public effects that that communion could have, if received from the hands of the archbishop of the Argentine capital.
One could infer that Bergoglio may sense the same danger as pope, indeed even more so. And for this reason he would be adopting the same prudential conduct: “I do not give communion, I stay back and let the assistants do it.”
The public sins that Bergoglio gave as examples in his conversation with the rabbi are the oppression of the poor and the withholding of just wages from the worker. Two sins traditionally listed among the four that “cry out to heaven for vengeance.”
But the reasoning is the same that in recent years has been applied by other bishops to another sin: public support for pro-abortion laws on the part of politicians who profess themselves to be Catholic.
This latter controversy has had its epicenter in the United States.
In 2004, then-cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, sent to the episcopal conference of the United States a note with the “general principles” on the question.
The episcopal conference decided to “apply” on a case-by-case basis the principles recalled by Ratzinger, leaving it up to the "individual bishops to make prudent pastoral judgments in [their] own circumstance.”
From Rome, Cardinal Ratzinger accepted this solution and called it “in harmony” with the general principles of his note.
In reality, the bishops of the United States are not unanimous. Some of them, including among the conservatives, like cardinals Francis George and Patrick O'Malley, are reluctant to “make the Eucharist a political battleground.” Others are more intransigent. When the Catholic Joe Biden was chosen as vice-presidential running mate by Barack Obama, the archbishop of Denver at the time, Charles J. Chaput, now in Philadelphia, said that Biden's support for the so-called “right” to abortion was a grave public fault and “I presume that his integrity will lead him to refrain from presenting himself for communion."
The fact remains that last March 19, at the Mass for the inauguration of the pontificate of Francis, vice-president Biden and the leader of the House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, she too a pro-abortion Catholic, were part of the official delegation of the United States.
And both received communion. But not from the hands of pope Bergoglio, who was seated behind the altar.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Abraham Skorka, "On Heaven and Earth", Random House, New York, 2013.
unrepentant public sinners could slip in among the faithful
He means like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi when they received Communion in Rome.
Both bragged on it too.
Imagine if the Pope had given it to them.
well done Pope Francis..
If the Pope would excommunicate Nancy Pelosi, you woundn't need to infer anything.
If His Holiness does not wish to give abortionists communion he could instruct the ministers of the Holy Communion not to.
I agree. This is too cute by half.
In the cases of biden and pelosi especially, it's not like we're dealing with obscure figures, or folks who try to hide their crimes against God and humanity. We're talking about two of the most powerful politicians in the most powerful nation on earth, who trumpet their support for on-going premeditated, mass, serial murder of innocent children.
If he really wanted, the pope could ensure that this filth and vermin would not receive when he is saying Mass. As well, he could instruct the bishops of the world, and the United States specifically, to ban from communion these haughty, proud, unrepentant public sinners who do not even acknowledge that their crimes are sins.
I agree - this is a very good way of handling it. At some point, we’ll have to discuss whether any priest should give communion to a “notorious public sinner,” unless that person has publicly renounced his sin and repented.
But this is a step in the right direction.
All very nice, but then he need so start forcing that practice upon his American Bishops in blue states.
Or he could have told Biden personally and given him a message to have San Fran Gran Nan call him for a chat.
Not sure I agree with the reasoning - even Jesus spent more time with the low-downs because they were the ones who need to be ministered to. What is in a person’s heart, and what may come out of sharing in the taking of Communion is not for us to decide.
Or he could have a public, solemn excommunication ritual where he formally excommunicates publicly unrepentant sinners like Biden, Pelosi, Sebelius, Cuomo, etc.
How can any priest know if someone is repentant or not?
* sigh *
Works for me.
Yeah there's nothing but God-fearing, humble penitents at the juvenile detention center, is there? No chance that an unrepentant one slipped through in a place like that.
It's usually easier to know that someone is unrepentant than that he is repentant.
A creature like biden appears clearly unrepentant. It struts around proclaiming its baby-murder credentials. In public matters, it's difficult to imagine a realistic scenario where someone might feign unrepentance while secretly repenting.
It's more difficult to know when someone who says he is repentant is sincerely so. Here, if there is no external evidence to suggest otherwise, the Church gives the benefit of the doubt.
If someone is feigning repentance while secretly nursing hidden unrepentance, if he persists in this, he will find that at his particular judgment, he may have fooled men, but he will not have fooled God, Who sees into every heart.
I am sad that they received the Eucharist at all, and that the Pope did not stand up for principles and allowed it to happen.
Pope Francis is merely turning an error of commission into an error of omission.
Thanks, I guess the Pope doesn’t give the benefit of the doubt.
Much ado about nothing!
Nobody needs anybody else to have communion. All you need is a chunk of bread, a cup of wine, and yourself to practice this remembrance of Yeshua’s death.
Nicolaitanism is so absurd.
>> “I am sad that they received the Eucharist at all, and that the Pope did not stand up for principles and allowed it to happen.” <<
An absurd point of view.
Yeshua commissioned no one to decide if another should partake of communion. If one does so unworthily it is on them, and nobody else.
The apostle Paul explained this to the Corinthians, and it is OK for you to read it too.
To whom doesn’t he give the benefit of the doubt?
All the people that he doesn’t give Communion to, like #18 said.
“Yeshua commissioned no one to decide if another should partake of communion. If one does so unworthily it is on them, and nobody else.” -ES
hmmm - I’m not sure how correct this statement is. I think the Catholic Church has rules that govern the priest’s responsibilities in this area.
Regardless of what the RCC rules say, its the rules that Yeshua set out that count. Francis has nothing to worry about over this when he meets Yeshua in the air.
So you don’t think the Pope should follow the rules of the Church?
- interesting position you take on that...ok, nice chatting with you.
A bit of apples and oranges.
Unfortunately, it appears that Pope Francis’ practice is more about avoiding inappropriate photo ops than about true sacramental discipline.
His failure to “give the benefit of the doubt” isn't about protecting the sacrament so much as preventing folks from having pictures of him giving them Holy Communion, or at least, that's my reading.
"And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake [it], and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup [is] the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you." - Luke 22:19-20
"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him." - John 6:51-56
Jesus lost many disciples when He stated that they would have to eat His Body and drink His Blood (John 6:60, 66 ). Yet He did not "call back" these disciples stating "I was just speaking figuratively." He let them leave. Why? If He had been speaking figuratively, wouldn't He have called them back and "explained" the doctrine? Here is an example where the Catholic Church rightly takes these passages literally while many non-Catholic Christian denominations take it figuratively because it would be too hard of a doctrine to accept otherwise just as it was for the disciples who left Christ.
Was trying to wrap my head around “feigning unrepentance while being repentant”...
nope, doesn’t work.
He said plainly that the bread was “Spirit,” not flesh, adding that Flesh profiteth not.
Catholics just skip reading the parts that spoil their pudding.
Had the catho;ic church existed a few centuries earlier, they would have broken the authors fingers so that they couldn’t write the NT.
Those who cannot discern the difference between His Flesh and the flesh, who do not recognize the difference between saying I am the bread and the bread is me will have no chance of getting this right.
Peace be with you
After Jesus proclaims they must eat His flesh, Jesus' disciples are scandalized by these words. They even ask, "Who can 'listen' to it (much less understand it)?" To the unillumined mind, it seems grotesque. In John 6:61-63 - Jesus acknowledges their disgust. Jesus' use of the phrase "the spirit gives life" means the disciples need supernatural faith, not logic, to understand His words.
There is not one place in Scripture where "spirit" means "symbolic." As we have seen, the use of "spirit" relates to supernatural faith. What words are spirit and life? The words that we must eat Jesus' flesh and drink His blood, or we have no life in us.
I am glad you do.
I’m sorry but this isn’t good enough for me.
This is like sticking your fingers in your ears and saying “la la la” and then claiming you didn’t hear what the other person said.
Jesus did meet with the low-downs, but He didn’t affirm them in their sins. He told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more. He asked the Samaritian woman married multiple times to go get her husband because He wanted to get at the sin which was hurting her, serial adultery. The woman who poured oil over Him was forgiven because of her great love, but He didn’t say her sins were okay. Jesus met with the low-downs because He said that the sick need a physician, not the well. I can in no way see Jesus wanting unrepentant sinners to receive Catholic communion until they repented. Jesus’ first word in Mark is “Repent”(Mk 1:15).
Peace to you.
He talks about St David but what about King Saul whose mortal sin was refusing to carry out judgment against child killers?
They're only bringing God's condemnation down on themselves.
Peace to you too. I know He told folks to stop sinning, but He also knew that they could not. He was the only person to walk the Earth that could do so without sinning. If it was otherwise, He would not have had to die for our sins. When I hear folks state that we should not sin, I see the words from one who was in His presence - lamenting about doing that which he would not do and not doing that which he would do. It goes hand-in-hand with how the poor in spirit (those who agonize because they recognize their sinful natures) will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. When He told folks to stop the sinning, He was being obedient to the law of the Old Covenant - the Law which He came to fulfill.
It's not a question of whether the sinners need more pastoral attention. Of course they do. They need a straight, personal message of truth. They need this from any brother or sister n Christ who has a chance to communicate with them. They especially need it from pastors: the pastor of their own parish (if they go to church), from their own bishop; from the Pope. How long has it been, do you think, since Biden, Sebelius, Cuomo and Pelosi have been called out individuals and addressed seriously and personally?
" What is in a persons heart, and what may come out of sharing in the taking of Communion is not for us to decide."
Their offenses have been, in the words of Canon 915 (Link) "obstinately" "persevering" in "manifest" "grave" sin. That means they have been previously warned and ignored the warning; they';re still doing it; they're doing it IN PUBLIV; and it s a serious matter.
They have to repent publicly because they have done open public harm. It's not just a private thing between Biden and God, Pelosi and God, etc. It's manifest -- pubic --- and requires a public recantation.
Not only that, but preserving the Blessed Sacrament from sacrilege is one of the most important duties of a priest. Knowingly providing a parody of Communing to a person "obstinately" "persevering" in "manifest" "grave" sin, can damn both the souls of the recipient and of the person who wrongly ministered the Sacrament to them..
(I especially didn't mean "pubic" for "public"!!)
He could ask him if he has confessed this sin. He could require a public renunciation of his support for (and votes in favor of) child-killing and sodomy.
He didn’t give the juvenile offenders at the detention center Communion. As far as I know, none of them were practicing Catolics; two were Muslims.
Canon 915. Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.
You can't give the person the "benefit of the doubt" if they are making public statements. That's what the word "manifest" means in Canon 915: the problem is a public official's public actions... not a private personal opinion.
OMgosh I am so angry right now. I can’t take this.
THE POPE THINKS IT’S OKAY TO JUST NOT DISTRIBUTE COMMUNION WHILE OTHER PRIESTS DO?????
Seriously? Is this the *Catholic Church*???
I'm hopeful. I think he's getting ready to lay down the law on this. I think he's distressed about what happened with Biden and Pelosi, and knows this has to stop.
Watch and Pray.
I appreciate the patience and thoroughness of your responses. I keep coming up with questions though. How is the one administering communion to know whether or not the person receiving it has recently confessed and whether it was sincere? It seems harsh that a priest could be damned forever due to a (excuse the pun) clerical error. I thought that under the New Covenant, each was responsible for his own soul and relationship with God because Jesus made it a personal relationship.
I also wonder about the need for public atonement - what keeps the Evil One from using that as an opportunity to lie and then turn around and mock the Church?
Please be patient with me - I was raised Catholic in my early years but never got the message. I am now non-denominational and find what I need in the Bible and Jesus is Lord and Savior in my heart. I'm one of His kids that finds most religion to be unnecessarily confusing and diverting from the real issue of carrying the Word. It seems odd that religious doctrine would dwarf the Bible in words. At any rate, I hope you use my diversions as learning/teaching opportunities because it never hurts to concentrate on Him and His love for us. God Bless
Read the article. According to that, yes he did.
In every case,though, the sacrilege is grave matter. It always objectively brings dishonor to Almighty God and negatively impacts anybody who sees it, hears about it, is confused or morally compromised by it, etc.
I want to thank you for the sincerity of your questions. And may your example rub off on others --- courtesy is seriously needed in this antagonistic, FReepy domain!
It is a pleasure to volley an idea back and forth with a person who asks, as you do, intelligently and with an open mind. May God bless you abundantly.