Catholics and non-Catholics Receive Communion Together in “Ecumenical Mass” Promoted by Turin Archdiocese

ecumenical mass

The “ecumenical mass” promoted by the Archdiocese of Turin, Italy

The group “Spezzare il pane” (“Breaking the Bread”) in the archdiocese of Turin, Italy, has officially started with the celebration of “ecumenical masses” where Holy Communion is distributed to Catholics and non-Catholics.

The group is headed by Catholic priest Father Fredo Oliviero, an apologist for illegal immigration, who has the support of his archbishop, Monsignor Cesare Nosiglia. The practice of the group to distribute Holy Communion to non-Catholics, is openly promoted in the newspaper of the Turin Archdiocese “La Voce e il Tempo”.

Among the members of the group are “Catholics”, Anglicans, Baptists, Waldensians and Lutherans. They gather once a month in one of their churches, where they celebrate a “Eucharist” according to the respective denomination, distributing “Communion” to everybody.

It is now customary that once a month, the group meets in a Catholic, Lutheran, Waldensian, or Baptist church to share the “Eucharist”, partaking in worship or Mass – officiated according to the liturgy of the host church.  According Fr. Fredo, the ecumenical ceremony replaces “in the foreground the identity of Christians with respect to belonging to a specific Church.”  He likewise said that the practice is spreading in other cities in Italy as well.

The Catholic Church teaches that non-Catholics may not receive Communion because they do not share our belief in the doctrine of Eucharistic transubstantiation. According to transubstantiation, the bread and wine are actually transformed into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ, with only the appearances of bread and wine remaining.

These developments, indeed, seem to be a corroboration of the various reputable prophecies in recent times that predict the rise of a false church in the end times, just prior to the return of Jesus Christ. This false church, according to prophecy,  will promote a false “ecumenical mass” that will deny the real presence of Jesus.  These prophecies are likewise supported by the testimony of the late Gabriel Amorth, former chief exorcist of Rome, who said that the Padre Pio told him that the third secret of Fatima refers to a false church that will rise in the end times.

Not Required to Have a “Single Thought” on the Eucharist

In an article written by Breaking Bread Founder Fr. Fredo Olivero last May in Turin Archdiocese’s official newspaper and website, he said that attendees to the “Ecumenical Mass” are not required to have a “single thought” on the Eucharist: “It is not required, in order to live together this event, to adhere to a ‘single thought’ on the Eucharist, but rather to respect everyone for the thought of each.”

He also likewise cast doubt on the Doctrine of Transubstantiation of the Catholic Church, saying: “Neither Jesus nor Paul explained the ‘how’ of this presence [in the Eucharist], why then should we do it?”

Eucharistic “interpretations” not part of the Gospel?

Aside from support from his bishop, Fr. Fredo likewise claims that Pope Francis supports this concept of an “Ecumenical Mass”.  In the same article in the Turin Archdiocesan newspaper, Fr. Fredo recalls the visit of Pope Francis on June 22, 2015 to Turin Italy.  Pope Francis then became the first pope in history to visit a Waldensian evangelical church, and in that trip, asked Waldensian Christians for forgiveness for their past “persecution” from the Catholic Church.

Fr. Fredo recalls that on the occasion of that papal visit, Pope Francis did not refute or deny the point of view raised by the moderator, Eugenio Bernardini, who pointed out that the various “interpretations” on the Eucharist were not part of the Gospel.  Fr. Fredo quotes Bernardini, who then said in the presence of the Pope and Waldensian ministers and Christians:

Among the things we have in common are the words that Jesus gave on the occasion of the last supper, “I  am the bread… and the wine.”  The interpretations of those words are different between the churches and within each of them. But what unites the Christians gathered around the table of Jesus are the bread and wine that He offers us and His words, not our interpretations that are not part of the Gospel.

He said that unlike previous pontiffs who had “solved the question [on the Eucharistic presence] precisely”, Pope Francis admitted that could not solve the Eucharistic question precisely himself, because he was moving the Church from an authoritarian decision-making model, to a more “synodal” model.

Pope Francis Says to Lutheran Woman to “Go Forward” and Receive Communion

Fr. Fredo likewise recalled the answer given by Pope Francis to a question posed to him by a Lutheran lady during his visit to a Lutheran church in Rome on November 15, 2015. During the question-and-answer session after a joint prayer service with Lutherans, Anke de Bernardinis told Pope Francis that she was married to a Catholic and that she and her husband share many “joys and sorrows” in life, but not Communion at church. “What can we do on this point to finally attain Communion?” she asked.

The Pope responded by saying to the Lutheran woman to “talk to the Lord and then go forward”, suggesting that she could receive Communion in the Catholic Church:

To your question, I can only respond with a question: What can I do with my husband, so that the Lord’s Supper accompanies me on my path? It is a problem that everyone has to answer, but a pastor-friend once told me: “We believe that the Lord is present there, he is present. You all believe that the Lord is present. And so what’s the difference?”—“Eh, there are explanations, interpretations.” Life is bigger than explanations and interpretations.

Always refer back to baptism. “One faith, one baptism, one Lord.” This is what Paul tells us, and from there take the consequences.

I would never dare to give permission for this, because it’s not my jurisdiction. “One baptism, one Lord, one faith.” Talk to the Lord and then go forward. I don’t dare to say anything more.

by Paul Simeon, Veritas

Theologian: Shared communion with Protestants would be blasphemy and sacrilege

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. ∎

Pope’s Favourite Journalist Claims Pope Francis Approves Communion for all Remarried Who Ask

Atheist_Scalfari_and_Pope_FrancisJust days after the conclusion of the Synod on the Family, Eugenio Scalfari, the atheist co-founder of the Italian daily La Republicca, said that Pope Francis told him “all the divorced [and remarried Catholics] who ask” will be admitted to Holy Communion.

Scalfari, who has published numerous controversial interviews with the pope, said that Francis phoned him the evening of October 28 to discuss an article Scalfari had written about the synod.

Scalfari said Pope Francis spoke about the diversity of opinions expressed by bishops at the Oct. 4-25 synod, particularly on the feasibility of some divorced and civilly remarried Catholics receiving absolution and being allowed to receive Communion even if their first, sacramental marriage has not been annulled.  Scalfari quotes the pope as follows:

The diverse opinion of the bishops is part of this modernity of the Church and of the diverse societies in which she operates, but the goal is the same, and for that which regards the admission of the divorced to the Sacraments, [it] confirms that this principle has been accepted by the Synod. This is bottom line result, the de facto appraisals are entrusted to the confessors, but at the end of faster or slower paths, all the divorced who ask will be admitted.

The synod’s final report to Pope Francis was not that clear and, in fact, did not specifically mention Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried. In current church practice, divorced and remarried Catholics are forbidden to receive Communion because they are living a state of grave sin – adultery.  In almost all cases, such people are not to receive Communion because the church recognizes only their sacramental marriage as valid.

Contrary to the Magisterium of the Church

John_Paul_II_on_Communion_for_Divorced_and_Remarried.pngThe pope’s support of the controversial proposal of Cardinal Kasper to allow Communion for the divorced and remarried runs contrary to the official Magisterium of the Church.

In 1980, there was a meeting of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, and Pope John Paul II subsequently issued the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio.  Paragraph 84 comments on the situation of the divorced and remarried and under what conditions they may be invited to the reception of communion.

St. John Paul II wrote:

The Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI re-affirmed the above teaching in Sacramentum Caritatis, the 2007 apostolic exhortation which followed the 2005 synod on the Eucharist:

The synod of bishops confirmed the Church’s practice, based on Sacred Scripture, of not admitting the divorced and re­married to the sacraments, since their state and their condition of life objective­ly contradict the loving union of Christ and the Church signified and made present in the Eucharist.

5th Controversial Interview

This latest article by Scalfari is the 5th such interview granted by the Pope to the controversial atheist author.  Previous interviews have caused a firestorm of controversy, with outrightly heretical statements attributed to the Pope.  While many have questioned the reliability and accuracy of Scalfari’s quotations of the Pope, it must be noted that the Scalfari interviews have been published by the Vatican in a book containing “official” interviews of the Pope with various journalists.

We also recall Vatican spokesman Fr. Lombardi who, pressed by reporters on the reliability of the Scalfari interviews, said that if Francis felt his thought had been “gravely misrepresented,” he would have said so. To-date, Pope Francis has not denied or clarified any of the interviews.

The 4th interview, published on March 15, was a  highly controversial one, since in it, Scalfari has the pope denying hell.  Scalfari wrote:

What happens to that lost soul? Will it be punished? And how? The response of Francis is distinct and clear: there is no punishment, but the annihilation of that soul.  All the others will participate in the beatitude of living in the presence of the Father. The souls that are annihilated will not take part in that banquet; with the death of the body their journey is finished.∎

by Christopher Leonis

Defending the Holy Eucharist

TarcisiusTarcisius was a twelve-year-old boy who lived in the third century, at a time when pagan Rome fiercely persecuted Christiains.

Each day, from a secret meeting place in the catacombs where Christians gathered for Mass, a deacon would be sent to the prisons to carry the Eucharist to Christians condemned to die. At one point, there was no deacon to send and so Tarcisius, an acolyte, was sent carrying the sacred consecrated hosts to those in prison.

On the way, he was stopped by boys his own age who were not Christians but knew him as a playmate. He was asked to join their games, but this time he refused, and the crowd of boys noticed that he was carrying something. Somehow, he was recognized as a Christian. The small gang of boys, anxious to view the pouch containing the sacred hosts which Tarcisius was trying to hide, became a mob and beat up the poor boy in their fury. Despite being bombarded with severe blows, Tarcisius guarded the pouch with every ounce of strength he had, fearing the sacrilege that would result if the pagans were successful. It is believed that a Roman soldier, who happened to be a Christian, drove off the mob and rescued the young acolyte. The mangled body of Tarcisius was carried back to the catacombs, but the boy died on the way from his injuries.

Today, we find ourselves in the midst of a major persecution of the Eucharist – worse than the time of Tarcisius. The sacrilegious blows to the Eucharist do not come from a gang of pagan boys like in the story of Tarcisius.  Instead,  more painfully, they come from within the Church itself – from priests, bishops and cardinals who are preaching and promoting heretical ideas and practices against the Eucharist.

A powerful cadre of liberal bishops and cardinals are currently behind a major push to redefine the Church’s teachings and practice regarding the Eucharist. They are pushing for the Church to allow public, unrepentant sinners to receive the Eucharist – adulterers (divorced and remarried Catholics) and even non-Catholics. All this boils down to one thing: sacrilegious reception of the Eucharist by public sinners.

The good news is that there are many courageous priests, bishops and cardinals who have publicly taken the challenge of defending the Eucharist and the Catholic Faith.  In fact, thirteen prominent cardinals have even taken the unprecedented step of writing a letter to Pope Francis, warning him of a “collapse of the Church” if the liberal forces in the Church get their way in the Synod.

Just like the thirteen cardinals, we are called upon today to defend the Eucharist from these attacks.  How are we to respond?  Will we turn a blind eye? Will we run away scared – afraid to challenge those powerful liberal forces from the very top of the Church? Or will we defend the Eucharist with our very lives, as Tarcisius did? May we follow the example of this 12-year-old boy who, without the benefit of so many years of theological study, knew the infinite value of the Eucharist and defended it with his very life.

The “Bread of Life” – does it refer to the Eucharist, or the Passion of Jesus?

Pope John Paul II on the EucharistDuring his angelus message on August 23, 2015, Pope Francis explained the Gospel on the Bread of Life in a way that is a radical departure from the traditional Catholic explanation, and in a manner that is completely compatible with Protestantism.

To refresh your memories, Jesus had performed the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, but then explains that He is the Bread of Life. Jesus shockingly states that His flesh is real food and His blood is real drink. When everybody starts to walk away, Jesus does not soften the claim by saying He is only speaking in symbolic terms. Because He isn’t. He’s willing to watch them go. This is a strong scriptural argument for the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation.

Pope Francis explained the Gospel reading without referring to transubstantiation. Instead, he said that what Jesus meant by that flesh and blood talk was the “sacrifice of his very life”. Below is Pope Francis’ explanation:

Today is the conclusion of the readings from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of St John, with the discourse on the “Bread of Life,” proclaimed by Jesus on the day after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. At the end of that discourse, the great enthusiasm of the day before faded, because Jesus had said He was the Bread come down from heaven, and that He would give His Flesh as food and His Blood as drink, clearly alluding to the sacrifice of His very life.

The previous Sunday’s gospel, John 6:51-58, presents us squarely with eating Jesus’ flesh and blood, and again is a strong scriptural basis for the Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

In his angelus address for the above passage, Francis explained that, “knowing he will have to die on the cross for us, Jesus identifies himself with the bread broken and shared, and it becomes for him the “sign” of the sacrifice that awaits him.”

Pope Francis insisted then, as he did during his August 23 angelus message, that the “bread” relates not to the Eucharist, but to Jesus’ death on the cross.

The Protestant Explanation: Similar to Pope Francis

Interestingly, here is how a footnote from a popular Protestant study Bible, the English Standard Version, deals with John 6:51:

6:51 living bread. The “bread” Jesus gives is his flesh (a reference to Jesus’ death on the cross). Jesus’ statement intermingles physical and spiritual truth. Jesus is not talking about literal “bread,” but he is the true “living bread” in the sense that those who believe in him have their spiritual hunger satisfied. He becomes this spiritually satisfying “bread” by sacrificing his own physical body in his death on the cross, and in that sense he can say that this spiritual bread is my flesh.

Note the parallelism in the explanation of Pope Francis and the Protestant study Bible. Both identify Jesus’ “bread” as his flesh on the cross.

Pope Francis: “knowing he will have to die on the cross for us, Jesus identifies himself with the bread broken and shared, and it becomes for him the “sign” of the sacrifice that awaits him.”

Protestant study Bible note: “The “bread” Jesus gives is his flesh (a reference to Jesus’ death on the cross).

Did the Pope deny Eucharistic Transubstantiation? No. But it wasn’t affirmed either, as is the usual traditional Catholic interpretation of the passage. A Protestant could have heard the explanation without a single objection.

Contrast the above explanations of the “Bread of Life” gospel with the explanations of Benedict XVI and John Paul II, who both clearly associated the “Bread of Life” with the Eucharist.

Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II on the “Bread of Life”

In his August 26, 2012 angelus homily, Benedict XVI explained the “Bread of Life” gospel (John 6:51) as follows:

This revelation [“I am the bread of life”] was incomprehensible to them [disciples] because they understood it in a purely literal sense, whereas these words foretold the Paschal Mystery of Jesus, in which He was to give Himself for the world’s salvation: the new presence of the Blessed Eucharist.

The closing Mass of World Youth Day 2000 had the “Bread of Life” Gospel (John 6:51) as the gospel reading.  In the closing Mass, the late St. John Paul II explained that the “Bread of Life” that Jesus refers to is the gift of Himself in the Eucharist:

In today’s Eucharistic celebration, Jesus helps us to come to know a particular aspect of his mystery. In the Gospel…[Jesus] reveals himself as the true bread of life, the bread which has come down from heaven to give life to the world (cf. Jn 6:51). These are words that those who hear Him do not understand…

But His hearers are hesitant: “This is a hard saying, who can listen to it?” (Jn 6:60)…they shake their heads and go away muttering, one after another. The initial crowd gradually grows smaller. At the end, only the tiny group of His most faithful disciples remains. But with regard to the “bread of life” Jesus is not prepared to back down. Rather, He is ready to lose even those closest to Him: “Will you also go away?” (Jn 6:67).

…This is the stupendous truth, dear friends: the Word, who took flesh two thousand years ago, is present today in the Eucharist…The Eucharist is the sacrament of the presence of Christ, who gives himself to us because he loves us. ∎

By Stephen Kinsley

Will Pope Francis Allow Communion for Divorced and Re-married Catholics?

by Paul Simmons

On February 20, 2014, at the request of Pope Francis, Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the Unity of Christians, gave a controversial speech to more than 150 cardinals gathered in the Vatican for a “consistory” in preparation for the upcoming Synod on the Family in October.  In his speech, the Cardinal called on the Church to allow communion for divorced and re-married Catholics.

Divorced and re-married Catholics are prohibited from receiving sacramental communion because they are living in a state of mortal sin. The Church teaches that  marriage is indissoluble – divorce does not break the bond of marriage.  Therefore those who divorce and subsequently remarry are living in a state of adultery, and are therefore prohibited from receiving communion.  They can, however, say a prayer of “spiritual communion” instead.

Kasper, however, called into question this prohibition, arguing as follows:

Whoever receives spiritual communion is one with Jesus Christ, how then can he be in contradiction with the commandment of Christ? So, why can he not then receive Sacramental communion? If we exclude divorced and remarried Christians from the sacraments (…) do we not perhaps put up for discussion the fundamental sacramental structure of the Church?

In his speech, Kasper laid down his “criteria” for allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion:

Jesus said to His disciples: ‘Whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.’” – Matthew 5:321. if he repents of his failure in the first marriage, 2. if he has clarified the obligations of the first marriage, if it is definitively ruled out that he could turn back, 3. if he cannot abandon without further harm the responsibilities taken on with the new civil marriage, 4. if however he is doing the best he can to live out the possibilities of the second marriage on the basis of the faith and to raise his children in the faith, 5. if he has a desire for the sacraments as a source of strength in his situation, should we or can we deny him, after a period of time in a new direction, of “metanoia,” the sacrament of penance and then of communion?

The speech sparked an intense debate amongst the Cardinals, with many going public with their objections to Kasper’s proposals via interviews with the press.

Is the Catholic Church on the verge of allowing communion for divorced and re-married Catholics? Doing so would mean a complete reversal on a ruling that is as old as the Church itself. It would lead to devastating changes to the Catholic understanding of the human family and human sexuality.  It will also greatly undermine core Catholic teachings on the Sacrament of Marriage, Sacrament of Reconciliation, and the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

Pope Francis: One Mind with Kasper?

In a March 5 interview with the Italian daily “Corriere della Sera”, Pope Francis expressed support for Kasper, praising him for his “beautiful and profound presentation” made to the College of Cardinals:

Cardinal Kasper made a beautiful and profound presentation…he confronted five points; the fifth was that of second marriages. I would have been concerned if in the consistory there wasn’t an intense discussion. It wouldn’t have served for anything. The cardinals knew that they could say what they wanted, and they presented many different points of view that are enriching. The fraternal and open comparisons make theological and pastoral thought grow. I am not afraid of this, actually I seek it. “No one is permitted to know a woman other than his wife. The marital right is given you for this reason: lest you fall into the snare and sin with a strange woman. ‘If you are bound to a wife do not seek a divorce’; for you are not permitted, while your wife lives, to marry another.” – St. Ambrose of Milan, “Abraham” c. 387 A.D.

On the day of Kasper’s lecture, Fr. Lombardi, the Holy See spokesman, said that the Pope’s words and Cardinal Kasper’s are  “in great harmony.”

It must be noted that Kasper is one of the pope’s favourite Cardinals, with many writers even calling him “the pope’s theologian”.  In his first angelus address as pope on March 17, 2013, Pope Francis publicly mentioned Kasper, praising him:

In these days, I have been able to read a book by a cardinal—Cardinal Kasper, a talented theologian, a good theologian—on mercy. And it did me such good, that book, but don’t think that I’m publicizing the books of my cardinals. That is not the case! But it did me such good, so much good…

The Pope Calls a Divorced and Remarried Woman

On April 25, 2014, in an apparent break from traditional Catholic teaching, Pope Francis was reported to have called remarried Argentine Jacqui Lisbona to say that there was “nothing wrong” in her taking Holy Communion. This despite the fact that she is married civilly to a previously divorced man. Lisbona originally wrote to the Pope to complain of the fact that she was refused Communion by her local priest, who was merely implementing the Church’s rule that unless a first marriage is annulled, Catholics who remarry cannot receive Communion since they are essentially living in a state of mortal sin and committing adultery.

Lisbona reported that in her conversation with Pope Francis, the pontiff told her: “It is an issue we are discussing in the Vatican, because a divorcee who takes communion is not doing anything wrong……There are some priests who are more papist than the Pope.”

As a result of this single phone call, the media screamed their headlines all over the world: “Fracas over divorced stirred by call from the Pope”; “Pope in hot water over personal phone calls”; “Pope tells sinner she should be allowed communion”.  If verified, the incident has widespread ramifications for the future of the Church, for here we have a sitting Roman Pontiff openly contradicting the Church’s traditional teachings on marriage.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi went in full damage control mode after the widespread media coverage, clarifying that the calls were part of the pope’s “personal pastoral relationships” and “do not in any way form part of the pope’s public activities”.  He acknowledged that media reports about the phone call have been “a source of misunderstanding and confusion”.  Finally, he emphasised that “consequences relating to the teaching of the Church  are not to be inferred from these occurrences.”

A Clear Church Prohibition

The proposals of Kasper – as well as the implicit approval of the Pope as can be gleaned from his actions (allowing Kasper to speak on the issue in front of Cardinals; calling up the divorced and remarried woman to tell her it is okay to receive communion) – are contrary to the clear teaching of the Catholic Church on this matter.

Jesus was very explicit in His teaching on divorce and remarriage:  “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” (Mk 10:11-12).

Divorced and remarried Catholics cannot receive Holy Communion because they are living in a state of mortal sin.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church says unequivocally:“Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion.”  – CCC 1385

The Catechism clearly states its prohibition in this matter:

Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions… the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists…Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence. – (n. 1650 Catechism)

Pope Pius XII recalled to the parish priests of Rome on March 16, 1946 that not even the pope has the power to dissolve the bond of marriage: “The matrimony between baptized, validly contracted and consummated, cannot be dissolved by any power on earth, not even by the Supreme Church Authority.

Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical entitled Familiaries Consortio, re-affirmed clearly the Church’s teaching on this matter:

…the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage. Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.” (Familiaris Consortio, 84)

Other passages in the Bible emphasise the importance of receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord worthily:

“Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body (accepting all the doctrine of the Church and being in a state of grace in full communion with the Church), eats and drinks judgment on himself.” 1 Corinthians 11:27-29

Priests and Cardinals Rebuke Kasper

Many priests and Cardinals have gone public in rebuking the proposals of Cardinal Kasper. Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (the supreme Canonical Tribunal of the Catholic Church), said in an  interview with EWTN TV that Cardinal Kasper was “in error”.  He says that Kasper’s proposal to allow communion for divorced and remarried Catholics was not implementable: “In my estimation as a canonist I do not think it is possible…I trust in coming days… the error of his approach will become ever clearer.”

He recalled that the teaching of the Church on the indissolubility of marriage is clearly stated by Jesus Himself in the Gospel: “Here we’re not talking about truth that developed over time but here we’re talking about the very words of Christ himself in the Gospel in which he taught – and no one contests – the indissolubility of marriage.”

Burke revealed that the talk of Kasper was received by much opposition before the College of Cardinals: “The fact that he gave the text before the College of Cardinals does not in any way signify that it was well received by all the cardinals.”

Another Cardinal who went public with his rebuttal of Kasper was Cardinal Caffarra, Archbishop of Bologne:

If the Church admits [them] to the Eucharist, she must anyway grant a judgment of legitimacy to the second union. That is logical. But now – as I asked – what to make of the first matrimony? The second, it is said, cannot be a true second matrimony, considering that bigamy goes against the word of the Lord. What about the first one? Is it dissolved? But the Popes have always taught that the power of the Pope does not reach that point: the Pope has no power over a marriage that is ratum et consummatum. The proposed solution leads us to think that the first matrimony remains, but that there is also a second kind of cohabitation that the Church legitimizes. It is, therefore, an extramarital exercise of human sexuality that the Church legitimizes. But with this, the foundational pillar of the Church’s doctrine on sexuality is negated. At this point, one could ask: so why are not free [extramarital or premarital] unions approved? And why not relations between homosexuals? “A wife must not depart from her husband.  Or, if she should depart, she must remain unmarried.” –  St. Cyprian of Carthage, “Testimonies,” c. 250 A.D.

Fr. Brian W. Harrison, O.S., St. Louis, Missouri, in a letter to Vatican historian Robert Moynihan, wrote:

The German bishops have devised a pastoral plan to admit divorced and remarried Catholics to Communion, whether or not a Church tribunal has granted a decree of nullity of their first marriage…And what of Jesus’ teaching that those who remarry after divorce commit adultery? Admitting them to Communion without a commitment to continence will lead logically to one of three faith-breaking conclusions: (a) our Lord was mistaken in calling this relationship adulterous – in which case he can scarcely have been the Son of God; (b) adultery is not intrinsically and gravely sinful – in which case the Church’s universal and ordinary magisterium has always been wrong; or (c) Communion can be given to some who are living in objectively grave sin – in which case not only has the magisterium also erred monumentally by always teaching the opposite, but the way will also be opened to Communion for fornicators, practicing homosexuals, pederasts, and who knows who else?

Who is Cardinal Kasper?

So who is Cardinal Kasper and why is he pushing for measures that will have devastating effects on the family?  Cardinal Kasper is a radical liberal who has called for a “modernization” of the church, frequently clashing with the conservative theology of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: “The church needs to take seriously the legitimate requests of the modern age.”

He has called for a radical re-examining of the Holy Eucharist – the cornerstone of our Faith.  In his book “Sacrament of Unity”, published in 2005, Kasper called on the Church to move towards the vision of a “shared Eucharistic meal” with Protestants:

The fact that fidelity to the truth makes it impossible in today’s situation for all Christians to meet around the one table of the Lord and take part in the one Supper of the Lord is a deep wound inflicted on the Body of the Lord. Ultimately, it is scandalous…

Of course, this “shared Eucharistic meal” with Protestants is simply not possible.  Doing so would mean the Catholic Church compromising its core teaching in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist through the act of Transubstantiation during the Mass.

Kasper’s latest progressive push for allowing communion for divorce and remarried Catholics is nothing less than a direct, frontal assault on the bedrock of the Catholic faith: the institution of marriage, as well as the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

German Bishops Push for Communion for Divorced and Remarried

German Bishops have actually moved forward on their own on the issue of divorce and remarriage.  In October 2013, the Archdiocese of Freiburg, headed by Cardinal Marx (who is part of Pope Francis’ Council of 8 Cardinal advisors), released a document that laid out plans to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion, if they promised to enter “a new moral responsibility” with their new spouse.  The guidelines recommend that “in justified individual cases divorced should be allowed to return again to the sacraments…A personally responsible decision of conscience and a conversation with the chaplains are prerequisite.”

In response, Archbishop Gerhard Müller, prefect of the CDF, published an article in the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano saying that the practice of withholding Communion from those in a state of mortal sin would remain in place. This was followed by a letter to the German bishops ordering them to revisit their draft document.

The German bishops responded to this with more defiance, with Bishop Gebhard Fürst of Stuttgart saying in November they had voted to adopt the guidelines and expected them to be approved at their next plenary meeting in March 2014.

Bishop Gebhard Fürst of Stuttgart has told a group of German laity that while the indissolubility of marriage is “non-negotiable” for the Catholic Church, the German bishops are going to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion, despite clear instructions to the contrary from the Vatican’s doctrinal chief.

Loosening of the Catholic Annulment Process

Another measure proposed by Kasper during his speech in the consistory of Cardinals is that of loosening the Catholic annulment process –  an explosive, potentially devastating measure that will lead to more marriage breakups – only this time, with “blessing” from the Church.  In particular, Kasper argues for a decentralisation of annulment proceedings from ecclesiastical tribunals. In order to understand the nature of this proposal, we must first understand the distinction between divorce and annulment, as well as the Church’s process for granting of annulments.

The Church prohibits divorce, but it does have a process in place to evaluate requests for annulment of marriages. There is a big difference between divorce and annulment.  Divorce is an act recognised by some states/governments that involves the dissolution of the legal marriage contract – it does not, however, dissolve marriage in the eyes of the Church, since marriage is indissoluble.

Annulment on the other hand, within the context of the Church, is a recognition that there was never a valid marriage in the first place (for example, if one of the couples was merely forced into the marriage, etc).  A Church-granted annulment, therefore, does not dissolve the marriage bond – it is simply a recognition that there was no valid marriage in the first place.

The process for securing an annulment from the Church is completely different from merely legal annulment proceedings sponsored by the State/government.  A church body headed by Cardinals and clergy, called “Ecclesiastical Tribunals”, handle the process of evaluating and studying requests for annulment.  It is a lengthy and exhaustive process, akin to a real legal court case, complete with submission of evidence, case facts, and other documents – and rightly so, in order to defend the sanctity of marriage.

Kasper’s proposal is to decentralize the annulment process, and give authority to local priests and bishops to grant an annulment to couples. Kasper said:

According to canon law the evaluation [of annulment cases] is the task of the ecclesiastical tribunals. Since these are not “iure divino,” but developed historically, we sometimes ask ourselves if the judicial way should be the only one for resolving the problem or if other more pastoral and spiritual procedures could also be possible.

As an alternative, one might think that the bishop could entrust this task to a priest with spiritual and pastoral experience as a penitentiary or episcopal vicar… Is it truly possible that the good and bad of persons should be decided at second and third hearings solely on the basis of the proceedings, meaning paperwork, but without knowing the person and his situation?

If adopted, the above measure will have devastating consequences for the Church and for the family.  It will conceivably lead to more “annulments”, since the process will be simplified, with authority for granting annulments transferred from the Ecclesiastical Tribunals to local bishops and priests.  It will likewise be prone to abuse and loose interpretation, since the rigourous process adopted by Ecclesiastical Tribunals will be replaced with the subjective judgement and interpretation of local pastors.

The Tribunals are there precisely to safeguard the sanctity of marriage and protect the core teaching that marriage is indissoluble.  Once subjectivity is introduced in the process, how are we to prevent a local pastor making an erroneous, subjective decision to grant a bogus annulment? This subjectivity will lead to errors in judgement, which will lead to de-facto granting of divorce by local priests.

Assault on the Family and the Eucharist

These two proposals of Kasper – allowing communion for the divorced and remarried, and loosening the annulment process – are nothing less than a direct, full-frontal assault on the familyIf adopted, it will mean that the Catholic Church will formally adopt a practice that is in direct contradiction to the very words of Jesus Himself: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery”.  It will mean adopting a practice that will be in complete contradiction with what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has taught on the matter.

Another equally devastating consequence if the Kasper proposal is adopted is the widespread desecration of the Holy Eucharist – public sinners living in a state of adultery, who have not repented of their mortal sin through confession, will be allowed to desecrate the Eucharist by receiving the Body of the Lord in a state of grave sin.

The question is this:  Does the Pope approve of Kasper’s proposal to allow communion for people living in a state of adultery?  From his numerous actions, the answer seems to be YES.  If he does support this position, which is clearly contrary to the teachings of the Church, then we have a disturbing problem.  Canon law specifically teaches that if a Pope believed in a heretical teaching at the time of his election, as well as after his election, then his election is de-facto not valid.

Why is it that Pope Francis seemingly tolerates, if not implicitly supports, these initiatives that are being pushed forward by the rabidly liberal elements within the Vatican?  Could it be that he himself believes that Catholics living in a state of mortal sin should be allowed communion?

If the Pope does indeed support Kasper’s position, how are we to respond to a sitting Roman Pontiff who will clearly then be supporting a heretical position? Do we obey heresy? Or do we proclaim the truth from the rooftops and fight for our Faith?

The stakes are high in this issue.  It must be recalled that it was this issue of divorce and remarriage that prompted the formal schism of the Church of England from the Catholic Church: Henry VIII’s request to be allowed by the Church to divorce and remarry was rebuffed by the Catholic Church, prompting him to separate the Church of England formally from the Church – a split that remains to this very day.

When it comes to the Truth, there is no room for compromise, there is no room for re-interpretation.  The words of Jesus are clear in this matter.  Let us fight to uphold the Word of Our Lord – and to protect the family.  Let us take inspiration from the words of Pope Leo XIII, who said: “An error which is not resisted is approved; a truth which is not defended is suppressed.”