Covering the Land of Lincoln

US bishops are trying to focus on the Eucharist, not politicians, in a new document

By Lauretta Brown / National Catholic Register

The U.S. Bishops’ Conference overwhelmingly voted in favor of adopting a teaching document on the Eucharist on Wednesday, which caused much controversy at its June session over fear that its section on Communion could be viewed as Catholics targeting prominent abortion advocates Politicians like US President Joe Biden.

The document contained a section on the worthiness to receive communion and reminded believers that “if a Catholic knowingly and stubbornly rejects the established doctrines of the church or knowingly and stubbornly rejects its ultimate doctrine” in his personal or professional life. on moral issues ”they were to“ refrain from communion ”, but did not contain any references to certain politicians. Compared to the three hours of heated debate that sparked its draft, there were only about half an hour of comment from bishops before it was passed by 222 votes to 8, with three abstentions.

The bishops underline the focus of the autumn meeting on the Eucharistic doctrine and have also given the green light to an initiative for the Eucharistic awakening for the renewal of faith in the real presence among the faithful.

The bishops had only a few brief comments during the discussion prior to the approval of the document “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church”. Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, the outgoing chairman of the Pro-Life Committee, commented shortly before the vote: “It was good to repeat in this document what we said earlier about our responsibility for dialogue and conversation with those who are Catholic but act against our belief in this basic moral teaching. “

“We’ve said this before, but one of the reasons we have to say it again is because I’m not sure we as bishops took it seriously: our responsibility for caring for the souls of these politicians, really to enter into a good dialogue, “said Archbishop Naumann, referring in the Second Book of the Maccabees to the mother who was ready to die for her faith, and urged the bishops” not to be afraid “to inform politicians,” how serious “it is to deviate from church teaching on fundamental moral issues such as abortion.

Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, chairman of the teaching committee that drafted the document, told reporters about the worthiness of receiving Communion: “We did what I said in June, and that We have given these two canons, canon 915 and canon 916, the doctrinal theological background, so I would say that we have not avoided the subject … the application is up to the individual bishops, that is not the role of the conference. “

Canon 915 of the Codex of Canon Law says that “those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or imposition of the sentence, and others who persist in persisting in obvious grave sins, will not be admitted to Holy Communion” and Canon 916 states that One who is aware of a serious sin may not celebrate mass or receive the body of the Lord without first making sacramental confession, unless there is a serious cause and there is no opportunity to confess.

Worthiness to receive communion

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, a doctor of canon law, told the register that the document “was never intended to highlight anyone in particular, but rather to promote understanding of the Eucharist because surveys show us that what appears to be a good number of” Catholics understand or don’t believe in the real presence, so that’s an important part of it. “

He said the document had sections on “the call to repentance, the call to conversion, the call to be consistent between what we believe and what we do, and there is a section on the worthiness of receiving Holy Communion “. He added that “Not only is this document to be viewed in isolation, it really should be viewed in conjunction with canon law. We quote from canon 915, which says that those who persist in obvious grave sins should not be admitted to the sacraments of Holy Communion. We quote from canon 916, which says that those who are aware of grave sin should not appear for Holy Communion. “

Bishop Paprocki said that in relation to bishops talking to politicians about the worthiness of receiving communion, “it is important that people realize that these conversations have been going on for years and that they are behind the scenes and that people do not know about it. Unfortunately, when bishops have called politicians, it is not the bishops who refuse to enter into dialogue, and unfortunately there are some very prominent politicians who simply reject what the church teaches, and that is unfortunate. He said the bishops should “keep shaking hands and be very clear about what the Church teaches.”

Bishop Paprocki attributed the overwhelming majority he achieved to Bishop Rhoades. It is a great honor for him to have succeeded in getting people to agree so overwhelmingly. “

“The right balance”

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco told the Register after the vote that he believed the document “strikes the right balance between an educational document that is also widely available” because it is “written in a way that is accessible to a wide audience ”. Particularly helpful for those who are charged with conveying the faith in the parishes. It is supposed to be a resource document. It lays out the teaching very clearly. It goes into the realm of reception, but theology goes beyond that too. “

Regarding the worthiness to receive communion, he said that the document “sets out very clearly the doctrine and principles, including those that Cardinal Ratzinger gave us back in 2004. The letter he sent us, which then came to light, “afterwards decided on the conversations that must be had to push the person on the path of conversion and, at some point, that if that were to be fruitless, decided that they should not be admitted to communion. “

Archbishop Cordileone added: “It is up to each bishop in his own conscience whether and when to do this, but each bishop has a duty to help. We are responsible for the salvation of souls, to help them see their mistake on this very important and pre-eminent subject, and to help them walk the path of conversion to embrace the entirety of human life. “

Archbishop Cordileone said, “It is a document that sets out the doctrine of the Church, so there should be nothing controversial about it” in reference to the consensus among the bishops that has been reached. He added that this conference, which spent more time in closed sessions than in previous meetings, may also have benefited spiritually from its first time, “beginning with a morning of prayer. We had a Monday morning devoted to prayer, the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, confession ”, which, he thought,“ changed everything, there was certainly a different tone ”.

Speaking to the Register Wednesday morning shortly before the document was approved, Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane, Washington, referred to a letter he wrote to his diocese in February 2019 that “Politicians who reside in the Catholic Diocese of Spokane and are persistent in their public support for abortion should not receive communion without first being reconciled to Christ and the Church. “

Bishop Daly said he took this action because he “saw a very aggressive movement specifically on the subject of abortion and people had asked me for clarification, so I made a statement about it.

“We’re looking at the moral issues we face as a nation, and it seems right now, given Texan law, there are, I’ll use the term again, aggressive celebrations of the right to abortion. And apart from the Eucharist, our primary duty as a Church is to speak for the most vulnerable. The modern widows and orphans of today are essentially the unborn. “

As for the process of drafting a document on the Eucharist, Bishop Daly said that the Doctrine Committee “is getting on with it right away, but really examining in general what is happening to Catholics in Mass, and I think in many ways that it was shaping it. And we must never lose sight of the fact that the Mass, the Eucharist, the source and the climax of our faith, is the most important thing. “

Eucharistic Revival

In addition to the adoption of the teaching document on the Eucharist on Wednesday, the bishops voted 201-17 to approve a three-year initiative for the Eucharistic Resuscitation, which will culminate in a National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis.

Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Chairman of the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis of the United States Conference of the Catholic Eucharist so that their lives may be changed ”and that the revival would last for three years“ because we are the Church at all levels want to influence “.

Bishop Cozzens, who will serve as the eighth bishop of Crookston, Minnesota, on December 6, said: “The bishops ask for a deep and sustained focus on the Eucharist. And I hope that … this will be a permanent movement. “

Archbishop Cordileone told the Register that “this whole focus on the Eucharist was really given a boost with the 2019 Pew study of the decline in Catholic belief in the Real Presence.”

“We now have this doctrinal document on the Eucharist and the mystery of the Eucharist and the life of the Church” which will serve as “the doctrinal basis of our parallel eucharistic revival project,” which will focus more on prayer and solemn devotion in the diocese , then in the parish, which then culminates in this National Eucharistic Congress. So all of this is a kind of interweaving to try to revive our Catholic faith in the Eucharist, for this is the heart and core of what Catholics are. “

Bishop Paprocki said that the Eucharistic Revival has “a very wonderful plan presented here for the diocesan celebrations of Corpus Christi next year and then for the parish celebrations. Each congregation would be asked to do so in 2023 and then hold a National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis in July 2024. “

He said that the teaching document on the Eucharist was “an essential basis for it, because we are calling for a revival of the Eucharist and that is above all a belief in the Real Presence, but also in the practice of going to Mass on Sunday”. and when we call people to do so, it is important to have a good understanding of what the Eucharist is about, and that is what the document seeks to do. “

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