If the Church were to change its rules on shared Eucharistic Communion it would “go against Revelation and the Magisterium”, leading Christians to “commit blasphemy and sacrilege,” an Italian theologian has warned.
Drawing on the Church’s teaching based on Sacred Scripture and Tradition, Msgr. Nicola Bux, a former consulter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stressed that non-Catholic Christians must have undertaken baptism and confirmation in the Catholic Church, and repented of grave sin through sacramental confession, in order to be able to receive Jesus in the Eucharist.
The concerns have arisen primarily due to the Holy Father’s own comments suggesting openness on intercommunion between Catholics and Lutherans, his apparent support for some remarried divorcees to receive Holy Communion, and how others have used his frequently repeated maxim about the Eucharist: that it is “not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”
In a December 10 interview with Avvenire, Cardinal Walter Kasper said he hopes Pope Francis’ next declaration will open the way for intercommunion with other denominations “in special cases.”
The German theologian said shared Eucharistic communion is just a matter of time, and that the Pope’s recent participation in the Reformation commemoration in Lund has given “a new thrust” to the “ecumenical process.”
Msgr. Bux emphasized that divorced and remarried Catholics cannot receive the Eucharist, since they are living in an objective state of adultery and therefore mortal sin.
He cited St. Thomas Aquinas, who wrote: “Whoever receives this sacrament while in mortal sin, is guilty of lying to this sacrament, and consequently of sacrilege, because he profanes the sacrament: and therefore he sins mortally.”
He also emphasized that St. Thomas Aquinas specifically condemned shared Eucharistic communion with non-Catholics. St. Thomas wrote:
Through reading the Gospel of John chapter 6, or especially the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians, chapter 11, one understands that this [communion for non-Catholics] is contrary to Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church, because, to receive Communion one must have undertaken Christian initiation (baptism and confirmation). Also, if the person had fallen into grave sin, he has to have made the penitential journey, especially sacramental confession.
The initiation and the penitential journey really show that the one who wants to communicate must first have entered into the communion of the faith of the Church; or if they had moved away because of a serious sin or schism or heresy, must re-enter by penance.
Msgr. Bux warned of the dangers of changing this rule that prohibits intercommunion between Catholics and non-Catholics:
If the Holy See absurdly changed the rule, that is if it were able to bring it about without having Christian initiation (baptism and confirmation) or, without having made sacramental confession, it would go against Revelation and the Magisterium of the one Holy and Apostolic Catholic Church, prompting the faithful to commit blasphemy and sacrilege. ∎