BERN, Switzerland (ChurchMilitant.com) - Archbishop Thomas Gullickson, nuncio to Switzerland, is closing the door on Communion to civilly remarried divorcees, unrepentant homosexuals and non-Catholics such as Lutherans.
Gullickson, appointed to his post in Switzerland in September, spoke frankly on these topics in a recent interview to the Swiss paper Tages Anzeiger.
The 66-year-old archbishop, originally from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was formerly Ukraine's nuncio following a similar assignment in the Caribbean Islands.
As nuncio, he's the "Pope's on-site contact person" as well as the Swiss Church's "advocate in matters beyond the competence of local bishops."
During the 2015 Synod on the Family, Gullickson was known for making posts critical of extending Communion to the divorced and civilly remarried, as well as changing Church teaching regarding the homosexual lifestyle. Asked by the interviewer about these opinions, the archbishop responded, "What does Communion mean? Why do we have no Communion with the Orthodox or the Reformation churches? No non-Orthodox would presume in the Orthodox liturgy to ask them for Communion."
Asked whether he meant that the civilly remarried cannot receive Holy Communion, he answered, "Yes, exactly."
The nuncio further explained he was also thinking of the widely reported occasion when a Lutheran woman asked Pope Francis if she could receive Communion with her Catholic husband. Archbishop Gullickson stated, "If she is so eager to do so, why hasn't she become a Catholic?" He added, "We do a great deal out of love." He then recounted the conversion of his father, who wanted to share the Faith with his beloved spouse.
Asked about the possibility of gay marriage in the Church, Gullickson quickly dismissed it, saying, "The Church will never be able to say yes." He elaborated that the concept of marriage itself today needs to be clarified as one of committment and sacrifice rather than mere sentimentality and ease.
As an active blogger, Abp. Gullickson also shared articles on Twitter that sharply criticized the German Bishops' Conference for their involvement in state-funded pregnancy advice centers. The German bishops had set up 270 of the 1,700 state-funded pregnancy counseling centers, where women seeking abortions would go to get a counseling certificate required by law to obtain an abortion. Seventy-five percent of the women who obtained such certificates would use them to have an abortion. Failing to issue these certificates would result in a loss of state funding for the Church-run centers, which were making a profit off the scheme. Pope St. John Paul II wrote to the German hierarchy in 1999 demanding an end to their involvement in this practice.
Asked about this scandal, the archbishop responded that he had spent eight years in Germany and had witnessed the controversy with the German bishops firsthand in the late 1990s.
His Excellency said the real underlying problem in both Germany and Switzerland was that so few go to church. "Pope Francis was generous when he said 10 percent attend church in Germany," Gullickson said. "In fact, there are less than eight percent. One has to wonder why this is so. ... Obviously people no longer have a living faith."
To learn more about Church teaching on why divorced adulterers cannot receive Holy Communion, watch ChurchMilitant.com's exclusive interview with Ignatius Ephrem Joseph III Yonan, patriarch of Antioch.