It’s hard for me to feel bad for those who have been denied communion by Catholic priests. It’s a silly ritual to begin with, taking a bite of Jesus, but if you’re someone who doesn’t follow or accept Catholic teachings in a certain area, then not receiving communion ought to be the least of your worries. It’s embarrassing when the denial happens publicly, but it ultimately has the same effect of parents telling children that their imaginary friends can’t come out and play unless they eat their broccoli.
Pope Francis has said many times that he doesn’t want the Church to be so “obsessed” with social issues like that, but other Church leaders haven’t taken the advice.
In fact, according to a memo from Newark Archbishop John Myers to his priests (and obtained by Religion News Service), Myers reiterated that priests shouldn’t be giving communion to the wrong kind of people or appearing at events alongside those have positions contrary to Catholic dogma:
The new rules could raise eyebrows given that Francis is currently leading a high-level Vatican summit, called a synod, where he and some 270 bishops are debating whether to let divorced and remarried Catholics receive Communion, and how to be more welcoming to cohabiting and gay couples whose lives don’t conform to Catholic teaching.
The guidelines could also up the ante for the coming election season, when Catholic candidates who support abortion rights or gay rights are sometimes challenged by conservatives over whether they should receive Communion.
“Catholics,” [Myers] continues, “must be in a marriage recognized as valid by the Church to receive Holy Communion or the other sacraments. Non-Catholics and any Catholic who publicly rejects Church teaching or discipline, either by public statements or by joining or supporting organizations which do so, are not to receive the Sacraments.”
Frankly, if you’re someone who thinks the Church is wrong on women’s rights and LGBT rights, you’d be doing everyone a favor by denying communion on your own. There’s no need to wait for the priests to say no when you shouldn’t be getting in line to begin with. The Church isn’t going to change its ways unless the people who call themselves Catholics demand it.
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