Monsignor Pierre Antoine Paulo, bishop of Haiti, said that “under certain conditions” the Catholic Church allowed communion to be taken by people who were technically in a state of sin. “We have to ask ourselves whether in particular cases, as already happens for certain sinners, it could not be given to remarried divorcees,” he said.
Sinners? Sinners are going to Communion? In our Church? Seriously, I wonder who he means, exactly.
Msgr Paulo’s remark was one of several made by bishops from countries far away from Rome which indicated a slightly different viewpoint from that held by central Church authorities.
Is this Italian sarcasm? “Slightly” different?
Cardinal Angelo Scola, who has the job of coordinating the synod, did not respond directly to the Haitian bishop’s remark but noted in comments later that communion was a “gift” and not a “right”.
Scola also said once that the Church often does an inadequate job explaining itself. Example here? I think so. The Eucharist is a gift of Christ, not of the hierarchy. Priests certainly are responsible for the appropriate distribution of God’s gift, but this issue is worthy of serious discussion and discernment. “Gift” for the laity also means “gift,” not “right,” for the clergy as well.
Respect for the Sacrament of Marriage does not begin and end in the domicile. Bishops and parish priests must live up to their responsibility to oversee how marriages are fostered and encouraged. I’d include married persons in the parish as well. We do a grave disservice to conduct some weddings as favors to parents who still live in the parish. Splintering preparation for marriage between one’s childhood parish and one’s current parish is no boon for the engaged couple. Well … if you got me started on that topic, it’d hijack if not swamp the whole post.
Let me finish off my remarks by commenting on the critique that Americans have swamped the annulment market. A few things:
The critique itself is silly. Americans respect the law and appropriate procedures. Except for about three or four countries, the rest of the Catholic world is far less churched than US Catholics. Italy, France, and the rest have fewer annulments, not because they respect Church teaching more, but because they observe it far less.
Leave it to be said:
Diverging viewpoints were also apparent in other areas of the synod’s debate, which focuses on the Eucharist, or communion.
It will be interesting to read more about these in the days ahead.