Saturday, October 18, 2014


I have never demanded anyone leave a Catholic Mass or prevented anyone from entering our Church for any liturgy including Mass. All are welcome, believer and non-believer, saint and sinner, criminal and the upright. But we do make it clear that in order to receive Holy Communion (and this is not even necessary for someone in a state of grace, it is an optional gift to be received) that the person must be a Roman Catholic in good standing (meaning no impediments) and properly disposed (in a state of grace which implies if one is in a state of mortal sin, one must not receive).

What I find disingenuous about some of the discussion at the Synod on the Family about inclusiveness is that it makes it sound like Catholic priests are shutting the door on people who are disordered, not Catholic and just plain nasty. We don't. Anyone can come to a Catholic Mass as long as they aren't disruptive!

Where we become more guarded is at Holy Communion. If you have broken the one hour fast, you can't receive. If you are not a Catholic, you can't receive. If you are in a state of mortal sin, you can't receive. Mortal sin is qualified as having three things present: 1. serious matter (breaking any of the 10 Commandments); 2. One knows that it is wrong; 3. One commits the sin with full consent of the will.

The problem is that people don't believe in mortal sin as cutting them off from God and possibly leading them to hell at the personal judgment. They think they can even live in mortal sin if they are doing some kind of good in other ways or if they are nice people.

While there are many sins against charity that are institutionalized, such as belonging to hate organizations such as the KKK (which also is an impediment to receiving Holy Communion, no matter how much good this groups might do for their members!) we can't say to people that their irregular situations as long as some good is being accomplished allows you to go to Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin, especially if that sin is public and institutionalized!

But with that said, I agree with what John Thavis on his blog this morning reports as one of the talks given by Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro in front of Pope Francis to the Synod. I should say I agree with some points of Fr. Spadaro:

Spadaro makes six points, and Thavis summarizes them here (my comments in red):

1. The church must never use the family as an ideological weapon, but respond to the needs of real people who are living in complex, fragile situations. The church’s traditional ways of talking about the family are no longer understood by many people today, and that poses a challenge for pastors. (This is obvious to most of us!)

2. Pope Francis’ vision of the church as a “field hospital” is more than a poetic image – it is an ecclesial model, the opposite of a “besieged fortress.” The main battlefield today is people’ inability to truly love, and to move beyond their own individualistic interests. The church’s first concern must be to avoid closing its doors to these people. (Just what I said above in my post! I agree!)

3. Some see the church and its truths as a permanent lighthouse shining on people’s lives. But a lighthouse stays in one place, and is incapable of reaching people who have moved away from church teaching. The better image is a torch or lamp capable of accompanying and consoling families in all their forms, “no matter how ambiguous, difficult and many-sided.” (I agree, parish ministry is about this but it isn't "either/or" but "both/and" in terms of the light house/torch image!)

4. The church’s pastoral response on homosexuality need careful reconsideration, especially because it impacts the church’s mission with young people. “We always need to be aware that the attitude we express toward situations that we define as ‘disordered’ and ‘irregular’ among couples will determine how younger generations of children approach the church,” he said. The very question of homosexuality, he added, may deserve better attention from the church, with greater focus on listening and discernment, rather than considering it solely in terms of “disorder.” (When our Catholic High School fired a popular non-Catholic band director because he was entering into a civil same-sex marriage in another state, a significant number of our Catholic kids and parents were outraged at the administration and the Church. He was a nice guy and he is! While not a Catholic, and even after he was fired, I would not have prevented him from attending Mass if he wanted to do so (he doesn't and never did on Sunday) but he wouldn't be able to receive Holy Communion and his public marriage would be an impediment to becoming Catholic. But the Church got a black eye with more progressive Catholics who didn't see his same sex "marriage" as a sin but as good, a virtue!)

5. The sacraments are meant for healing, and when it comes to situations like divorced and remarried Catholics, the church needs to ask itself whether it can simply exclude such couples from the sacrament of reconciliation. In other words, he said, in light of God’s mercy can there really be any “radically irretrievable” situations? The answer is no. (Are there or aren't there any impediments to receiving Holy Communion??? Of course there are and we need to make explicit why one must be in a state of grace to receive Holy Communion)

6. In general, the church’s doctrinal patrimony needs to be seen in the light of the modern human condition. That means aiming above all at the salvation of each person, helping him or her grow as much as possible in faith. (If become a Church of enablement of sin rather than repentance from sin even if other aspects of one's sinful life are good, like the KKK member who does good things for his KKK buddies, do we lead people to salvation (heaven) or to damnation (hell)? I think we have many enablers in the Vatican and in high places who are wearing blinders along with their ideologies.)

One note: Father Spadaro spoke about readmission of divorced and remarried to the sacrament of reconciliation, not Communion. The one implies the other, but supporters of the idea are now underlining the confession aspect. Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has argued in favor of such an opening, put it this way in an interview today with Corriere della Sera: “Under the current discipline, these people (divorced and remarried without an annulment) can confess but cannot receive absolution. A person who has an abortion yes, those who divorced and remarried no.” ( A person who has an abortion and repent of this and goes to Holy Communion it is presumed will not be living a lifestyle of abortions and working in an abortion clinic even if that worker in the abortion clinic is doing some good in comforting her patients as they get an abortion. You see where this flawed logic goes for KKK people, abortion providers, those in same sex marriage and those in adulterous marriages!)


rcg said...

What I would caution about Fr Spadaro's comments is that they admit the frame work of argument put forth by the Enemy. The "family" that is no longer understood is not an out of date model, but is a revolutionary concept that dignifies its members and provides a laboratory for practicing a Christian life that can be brought out to the rest of the world. It does not depend on biology, e.g. Saint Joseph, but on the execution of a role. The sad fact that the majority of the world does not live this way proves the need for the model, not its obsolescence.

To cut short an over-long post, I will say that the problem stems from our almost universal belief that we *must* receive Communion at Mass.

Paul said...

Father, to opine on a question you posted earlier concerning how one would debate His Holiness:

Depends. His Holiness is human and fallible*.

First, I would approach the discussion as with a sin: Grave matter? Full knowledge? Consent of the Will? That is: Is the matter truly serious? Does the Pope have the proper, correct information? Is the Pope in good health and NOT under any undue pressure or coercion?


If the Pope is struggling with something privately, then private debate.

If the Pope is struggling with something publicly, try privately, then pray, revisit what one believes to be true (research, pray, more research), make a "career decision" and then proceed as decided.

With much of the world in the Pope's face screaming: "Do it! Permit some sin for the greater good of Truth, to save the Truth and to make Truth relevant to today!" We know he cannot -- but many will not accept it to be so profound and simple.

Another attack from the Liar: make Truth so complicated as to be easily misunderstood by the unwary and easily misused by the deceitful.

*Ex Cathedra aside. (Could it come to that?)

Concerning the Synod: it is my opinion that a mental trap is being set for "a bunch of old men" by younger, energetic wordsmiths. Many people are deceived to think that it's: "only a matter of time", "when will they come around?". "maybe the next generation". Does "no" still mean "no"? If not, then words are losing their meaning and the ability to communicate is eroding.

As for the the baby and bathwater: at the end we know this world is going to collapse despite (or due to) the best efforts and intentions of those concerned. At some point God decides: "time has ended".

By appeasing the moment will snowflakes become a driving blizzard?

Luke said...

Relativism. Period.

Robert Royal reports that Spadaro and Forte gave thumbs up across the room when the section of the relatio about homosexuals was read.

It makes one wonder why certain prelates have such a vested interest in homosexuality...

George said...

I would say a Catholic (be it priest of layman) should respond to those who are homosexual (have that inclination) in a respectful manner with consideration and politeness. We should be solicitous to their concerns without approbation of whatever is sinful in their lives. Indeed, is this not how a good Catholic should respond to all others, whether homosexual or not? Yes. This is how we should conduct ourselves if we are to be good disciples of Christ. With a caring attitude-a concern and willingness to help with whatever difficulties and problems a person may have ( it may only be through prayer that we can help) and the utmost concern for the person's eternal salvation. Christ did not come down to us, to suffer and die on the cross, to enable us in our sins. He came to draw us to Himself by calling us to repentance and conversion.

George said...

There could be a misinterpretation on the part of some reading your comment that a Catholic need only accept what is taught "ex Cathedra". This is of course not the case.

George said...

About #3

The Church as Lighthouse

Like the Truth of Christ which our Holy Church teaches, the lighthouse stays in a fixed location; it is constant, consistent, reliable, unchanging. Like the lighthouse, the Church spreads its light in all directions and so it calls all who have strayed back to the safe harbor of faithful belief. It shines its guiding light through the darkness of sin and unbelief and over the waters lifes problems and difficulties. To those who faithfully follow it, these it guides to their final destination, the Eternal heaven.

Paul said...

Thank you for the comment George. I understand that. On doctrinal matters concerning faith and morals it appears that some people, including Catholics, are:
1. rejecting what is said at the pulpit
2. rejecting what is said in the catechism
3. rejecting what is said in the encyclicals
4. rejecting what is said in The Holy Bible

No doubt some will reject whatever is proclaimed from the chair (if that ever occurs again). My overall impression is this Synod has become a "chess game" whereas external forces are trying to drive the stewards of Christ's Church into a corner and see if they "crack".