Thursday, December 19, 2013


First a disclaimer; I teach that a person who is in a state of mortal sin must use the normal, ordinary means for the forgiveness of mortal sin that the Holy Spirit has given the Church through the Sacrament of Penance, confession in order for that person to receive Holy Communion worthily and without adding the mortal sin of sacrilege to the grocery list of unforgiven mortal sins they already have.  However, I instruct our extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion never to deny anyone who is Catholic Holy Communion, no matter what they know personally about that person's life. When someone approaches Holy Communion we give them the benefit of the doubt; we don't judge them. The only ones denied Holy Communion are those publicly excommunicated from the Church. In my 34 years as a I priest, I have never encountered such a person in the Holy Communion procession.

In other words, the onus is on the communicant. If he or she receives in a state of mortal sin they will be held accountable by God if they choose to ignore the Sacrament of Penance altogether.

So are Pope Francis and Cardinal Burke that far off in terms of their own attitudes about who should and who shouldn't receive Holy Communion?  I don't think so. On top of that, Pope Francis refuses to distribute Holy Communion to anyone except clerics at his Masses and First Communion children. He doesn't want politicians and others in an entrenched ideological  state of mortal sin for whatever political reasons they espouse, to have a "photo opportunity" with him at Holy Communion.

I don't think Cardinal Burke refuses to distribute Holy Communion to the laity during his Masses nor did Pope Benedict XVI!

LifeSiteNews reports the following about Cardinal Bergoglio now Pope Francis:

However, while Archbishop in Argentina, Pope Francis was the lead bishop working on a document to guide the Church in Latin America which included a section, albeit minor, which barred Holy Communion to anyone who facilitates an abortion, including politicians.  Moreover, as Pope, he encouraged the bishops of Latin America to use that document.

The Aparecida document states in paragraph 436 "we should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence’, that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated.  This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals."

MY FINAL COMMENTS: Pope Francis makes a dramatic distinction (one I was never taught, but one that I truly like and I think needs exploration) between sinners who know they are sinners and go to confession regularly and those who are corrupt. The corrupt do not know they are sinners and thus do not believe they need to repent of their acts against God and the 10 Commandments, especially as it regards "abortion, euthanasia and other serious crimes against life and family..."

That statement on corruption surely applies to those Catholics who are corrupt in their public morality and statements of support for these crimes against God and Church. "This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors and health professionals."

So who is more radical in their approach to not giving Holy Communion to the corrupt? Certainly it must be Pope Francis who refuses to distribute Holy Communion to the laity and not Cardinal Burke who does.


Rood Screen said...

There's another comparison we can make, and it's between the Holy Father's approach and effect compared to the papacy of Paul VI. Both use strong words, such as in 1964's Ecclesiam Suam: "The Church itself is being engulfed and shaken by this tidal wave of change... It drives many people to adopt the most outlandish views. They imagine that the Church should abdicate its proper role, and adopt an entirely new and unprecedented mode of existence. Modernism might be cited as an example. This is an error which is still making its appearance under various new guises, wholly inconsistent with any genuine religious expression. It is surely an attempt on the part of secular philosophies and secular trends to vitiate the true teaching and discipline of the Church of Christ."

But it remains to be seen whether Pope Francis will show the force of pastoral action that was sometimes lacking in Paul VI's time (e.g. against clergy abuse of children and the liturgy). A good adviser like Burke could help with this, if he can stick around.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

None of us knows, nor should we know, 100% why Cardinal Burke was removed from the Congregation that submits names of bishop candidates to the Holy Father. It does seem that Burke has his plate full. If he is removed from his main "gig" then we know he has fallen completely out of favor with the pope. If he is removed from the Congregation for the Divine Liturgy, the same can be said also. But if he is named the head of Divine Liturgy, well, well, well. But at this point given what Pope Francis has made clear to the Roman Curia about not looking or acting like princes, (a models a more drab look at Mass himself) I would be shocked beyond blogging if Cardinal Burke were named the new liturgy head, but if he were to be named such, he would not only promote SP but would fix the Ordinary Form so that it isn't so drastically different from the EF and I would say that his fix would be in line with the Anglican Ordinariate's wonderful compromise of having in the appendix of their Missal the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, EF offertory Prayers, Roman Canon's EF rubrics and the Last Gospel, all in English if one so desires. This is a wonderful accommodation and I cannot see why it would not be extended universally in the Latin Rite.

Rood Screen said...

Fr. McDonald,

What about, at least for now, reciting the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar in the sacristy before Mass, and the Last Gospel in the sacristy after Mass, doing so with the deacon and servers?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Certainly that is an option to say the least.

rcg said...

Heard James Carroll speak on his New Yorker article about snow angle Pope Francis. He is of the opinion that PF is repudiating any teachings on homosexuality, birth control, and abortion as an act of contrition for selling out priests in Argentina to the junta. He said that the Pope has told them that they are OK. there is a lot more so I encourage everyone to listen to it on 'Fresh Air' on the NPR web site. This is what people are thinking about the Pope. The most interesting feature of the interview was the life of John Carroll. He entered seminary at the start of Vatican II conclave and left the priesthood in 1970 because he felt there was not enough progress implementing it. How could he have become so formed in it before it was even released to depart when it was not implemented in only a few years? This speaks to a few other posts about what happened. I stick with my theory that Vatican II was not the start, but the terms of surrender for the Church to progressive non-Catholic objectives.