Prelate Defends Giving Communion to Muslim Sheikh

News: World News
by Jules Gomes  •  •  September 4, 2023   

Brazilian archbishop quotes Pope Francis and Vatican II's 'Nostra Aetate'

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LONDRINA, Brazil ( - A pro-LGBT Brazilian archbishop is invoking Pope Francis' apostolic letter on liturgical formation and the documents of Vatican II to justify his choice to administer Holy Communion to a Muslim sheikh at a funeral service. 

King Faisal Mosque, Londrina

"Every reception of Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ was already desired by Him in the Last Supper," argues the archbishop of Londrina, Geremias Steinmetz, quoting Pope Francis in a clarification issued on the diocesan website on Aug. 30.

Viral Video

A video of Abp. Steinmetz giving the Sacred Host to Sheikh Ahmad Saleh Mahairi at the funeral of Cdl. Geraldo Majella Agnelo on Aug. 28 went viral on social media, sparking outrage among faithful Catholics. 

In the video, Sheikh Mahairi, founder of the King Faisal Mosque in Londrina, accepts the host in his hand and leaves without consuming it.

The Muslim leader told the diocese's vicar general that he consumed the Eucharist after sitting down in his pew.

Prelate Cites Pope

In his clarification, the archbishop defends the sheikh's reception of Communion on the grounds that "he participated in the Eucharistic celebration, as a friend, and, entering the communion line, received the Body of Christ."

Steinmetz said that Mahairi was friends with the late Albano Cavallin, a former archbishop of Londrina, who had explained to the Muslim leader many years ago that "the Eucharist is the body of Jesus, who is considered to be a prophet of Islam."

It is up to the pastors to warn those present at the right moment about the truth and the discipline to be strictly observed.

Quoting Vatican II's Nostra Aetate, the declaration on the relations of the Church with non-Christian religions, Steinmetz noted that the Church regards Muslims "with esteem" since "they adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the creator of Heaven and earth, who has spoken to men."

Muslims "take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God," Steinmetz continued, quoting verbatim from Vatican II. 

Steinmetz cites the second part of paragraph three from Nostra Aetate, which explains how Muslims revere Jesus as a prophet, even though they do not acknowledge him as God, and honor Mary, await Judgement Day and value the moral life. 

The archbishop also quotes Desiderio Desideravi, Pope Francis' most recent apostolic letter on the liturgy, stressing how "no one earned a place" at the Last Supper but "all had been drawn there by the burning desire that Jesus had to eat that Passover with them."

Every reception of Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ was already desired by Him in the Last Supper.

Steinmetz cites paragraph six of the papal document: 

Before our response to his invitation — well before! — there is His desire for us. We may not even be aware of it, but every time we go to Mass, the first reason is that we are drawn there by His desire for us. For our part, the possible response — which is also the most demanding asceticism — is, as always, that surrender to this love, that letting ourselves be drawn by Him.

Noting that the Eucharist is a "sign of charity of the unrepeatable love of God manifested in the Cross of Jesus," Steinmetz added a quotation from Desiderio Desideravi urging his flock to "abandon our polemics to listen together to what the Spirit is saying to the Church."

Vatican Warning

In March 2004, Cdl. Francis Arinze, then prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, issued a decree stating that "Catholic ministers [can] licitly administer the sacraments only to the Catholic faithful." 

Cardinal Arinze's decree, titled Redemptionis Sacramentum: On Some Things to Observe and Avoid About the Most Holy Eucharist, urged pastors to ensure that non-Catholics do not receive Communion when celebrating Holy Mass for a large crowd. 

Cdl. Francis Arinze

"It is up to the pastors to warn those present at the right moment about the truth and the discipline to be strictly observed," Arinze wrote. 

The Vatican instruction also asked for "particular care to be taken that the communicant immediately takes up the wafer in front of the minister so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand." 

"If there is a danger of profanation, Holy Communion is not to be distributed in the hand of the faithful," Redemptionis Sacramentum added. 

In September 2021, Abp. Steinmetz joined leftist Mayor Marcelo Belinati in support of a bill demanding the creation of a municipal council for LGBT rights.

"We know the reality that the LGBT community faces," the archbishop said. I wanted to say that we are not talking about the LGBT people who live at the highest levels of society but the one who is at the bottom. The one on the street. He is the one who suffers." 

Faithful Catholics hit back in a letter warning that the approval of the council's bill would make gender ideology official.

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