Cdl. Arinze: Stop Intercommunion

by Alexander Slavsky  •  •  May 25, 2018   

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BUCKFASTLEIGH, England ( - The former liturgy chief is saying no to intercommunion, reaffirming the Eucharist is only for Catholics in a state of grace.

In a Catholic News Service article Wednesday, Nigerian Cdl. Francis Arinze emphasized that extending Holy Communion to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics and non-Catholic spouses of Catholics poses a "serious" challenge to Church teaching.

His Eminence blasted the doctrinal ambiguities in Amoris Laetitia, the pope's 2016 exhortation on marriage and the family, which have led dioceses around the world to open Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried.

"If a person is divorced and remarried (without the first marriage being annulled) then there is a problem," Arinze said, declaring it is Christ who taught this situation constitutes adultery.

He continued:

You can see that it is not possible. Not even if all of the bishops agree, it doesn't become so. It is rather serious, because it touches the faith on the [H]oly Eucharist and also that marriage cannot be dissolved between Christians who have lived together and no human power can dissolve it.

Arinze served as head of the Congregation for Divine Worship under Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

The cardinal also touched on calls to give the Eucharist to non-Catholics, asserting "the [H]oly Eucharist is not our private possession which we can share with our friends."

"It isn't just that we wish one another well. After Mass[,] you can go to the refectory and have a cup of tea and even a glass of beer and a bit of cake. That's OK. But the Mass is not like that," he added.

The Mass "is not an ecumenical service," it is rather "a celebration of the mysteries of Christ who died for us on the cross, who made bread into [H]is body and wine into [H]is blood and told the apostles 'do this in memory of me,'" insisted Arinze.

"The eucharistic celebration of the Mass is the celebration of the faith community — those who believe in Christ, they are communicating in the [F]aith, and in the sacraments, and in ... ecclesiastical unity with their pastor, their bishop and the Pope," he continued. "Anybody who is not a member of that community does not fit in at all."

His Eminence explained that if Protestants want to receive Communion, then they should enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.

"Come, be received into the Church, and then you can receive [H]oly Communion seven times a week. Otherwise no," Arinze said.

The [H]oly Eucharist is not our private possession which we can share with our friends.

His remarks come as German-speaking Catholics and Protestants met in Münster, Germany for a Catholic conference, Katholikentag, where some reaffirmed Communion as the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, while others dismissed it as simply "a wafer."

Instead of settling the matter, Pope Francis punted the issue to the German bishops, asking that they come to a "unanimous" decision on intercommunion between Catholic and Protestant spouses earlier this month following a conference in the Vatican.

However, a number of bishops have stood up in defense of the sacrament of the Eucharist. This growing number of prelates include Cdl. Robert Sarah, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cdl. Gerhard Müller, former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cdl. Willem Eijk of Utrecht, Netherlands, Abp. Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, Abp. Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, Canada and Bp. Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan among others.

Since the publishing of Amoris Laetitia, bishops and bishops' groups in Argentina, Malta, Germany and Belgium have issued pastoral instructions that allow for civilly divorced and remarried Catholics living in adultery to receive Communion, contrary to longstanding Church teaching and practice. Bishops in Canada and Poland, however, have issued statements reaffirming Church teaching.

And more than 250 academics and priests signed a filial correction addressed to Pope Francis last July over some serious misgivings about the effects of these passages in the document. No answer has yet been received from the Holy Father.

"We cannot be more merciful than Christ," argued Arinze. "If any of us says he has permission from Christ to change one of the major points Christ gave us in the Gospel, we would like to see that permission and also the signature."

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