Pope Francis stirs debate on Lutheran spouses of Catholics receiving Communion


From the Catholic Herald online:

The Pope tells Lutheran woman to ‘talk to the Lord’ in discerning whether or not to participate in Communion

Pope Francis has suggested a Lutheran spouse of a Catholic should “talk to the Lord” in discerning whether or not to receive Holy Communion with her husband.

Francis made the remark during a Q&A at a visit to Rome’s Evangelical Lutheran church on Sunday.

During the visit he presented the church’s pastor with the same chalice he had given the Archbishops of Washington, New York and Philadelphia while in the United States.

The Pope was asked whether a Lutheran and Catholic married couple might “finally participate together in Communion”. The questioner referred to “the hurt we’ve felt together due to [our] difference of faith”.

Francis said it was “not my competence” to give permission to do this, and admitted: “I ask myself and don’t know how to respond – what you’re asking me, I ask myself the [same] question.”

The Pope then stressed the role of personal discernment rather than repeating Church teaching that Protestant spouses can only receive Holy Communion if they do not “have recourse for the sacrament” at their own church.

He said: “There are questions that only if one is sincere with oneself and the little theological light one has, must be responded to on one’s own.”

The Pope referred to a bishop, Bishop Jerónimo Podestá, who “went a little wrong – 48 years old, he married, [and then had] two children”. Francis suggested that the bishop had been helped in his moral journey by accompanying his family to Mass.

Rocco Palmo, on his blog Whispers in the Loggia, said the Pope’s remarks “quite possibly show his hand on his intended course” on his post-synod document.

A proposal to allow Anglican spouses of Catholics to receive Holy Communion had been included in the Instrumentum Laboris of the synod.

Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, co-chairman of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), set up to further unity, said the idea did not meet the demands of the Code of Canon Law or the Ecumenical Directory.

He said: “Such a proposal would tend to establish a category of Christians not in full communion with the Catholic Church yet distinguished from other Christians by a ‘right’ to receive Holy Communion at a Catholic Mass on any occasion. Nor can I imagine that the usual and recurring demands of a hectic family life could be regarded as constituting a long-term situation where a person would ‘be unable to have recourse for the sacrament desired to a minister of his or her own Church or ecclesial community’.”

Tony Blair was famously criticised by Cardinal Basil Hume after he presented himself repeatedly for Communion while attending Mass with his wife, Cherie, and their children, before he became a Catholic.

The full text of the Pope’s remarks are available at Whispers in the Loggia.

Here’s what Father Z has to say

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16 Responses to Pope Francis stirs debate on Lutheran spouses of Catholics receiving Communion

  1. Michael says:

    For goodness’ sake… This is getting ridiculous. It’s obvious now where he stands re the Kasperite proposals, but either a.) try and push them through (and watch it fail as the Church revolts en masse), or b.) keep the private ideas private. Stop sowing confusion amongst the faithful!


  2. Mimi says:

    You’re very optimistic, Michael. Do you really think the church will revolt en masse? I wish I could believe it!


  3. Michael says:

    Mimi @ 20:43:

    Hard as it is for us in the West to see sometimes (given all the dissent in our midst), the majority of Catholics worldwide are faithful to the Deposit of Faith and would indeed be shocked if the Pope tried to push something like that through. Revolt is too strong a word perhaps, but there would be great turmoil in the Church universal should something like this happen. In the West, which represents an ever decreasing number of the Church’s numbers (and when one takes into account those who actually believe what she teaches, a very small number indeed) not so much no. But yes, the words ‘revolt’ and ‘en masse’ were definitely ill-chosen 🙂


  4. Michael says:

    Another thing re this story – if the Lutheran lady in question really wants to receive Communion in a Catholic church, why doesn’t she….become a Catholic?! That would be too much like common sense wouldn’t it, and would of course undermine the soon to be legally-defined human right (I am sure Ban Ki-Moon or Jean-Claude Juncker will enshrine it in law at some point) to participate in the sacramental life of the Church regardless of what you actually believe or how you live your life.


  5. Is this pontificate becoming more and more confusing? Is it in reality just getting worse and worse?


  6. toad says:

    Isis doesn’t make any significant distinction between a Lutheran and a Catholic.
    Maybe we shouldn’t.
    Is this how we unite against Islamania? Bickering over details?
    (Oh, I forgot – the Devil’s in them, isn’t he?)


  7. GC says:

    I had hoped it would never get to this point, but we might well start asking ourselves soon ‘who exactly is that man in the pope-suit?’


  8. GC says:

    To take a short break from the Lutheran missus, if Toad is about might I say your fame and that of Mrs Toad are now also resplendent here in South-East Asia:


    I told all my friends today that I am acquainted with Mr Toad and they were quite impressed


  9. toad says:

    Nifty bit of log-rolling there, by an old chum of my wife. Always welcome. Good for sales.
    In El Castillo (q.v.) I frequently boast of my acquaintance with GC.
    (While gulping down the stuff Ginny forswore.)


  10. GC says:

    Well, Toad, the Star is the leading English language daily here with a daily readership of about 4 million. You can expect a swarm of our locals to descend on Moratinos shortly. This is also the first time the name Moratinos has appeared in a South-East Asian daily, I suspect.

    Meanwhile, back to the Lutheran lass with the problem.


  11. Laura Sedivy says:

    I have been suspect of this pontiff since the day he was elected. I will even go so far as to say I smelled a rat when B16 “stepped down”. The Question “Is the Pope Catholic” has taken on completely different meaning. I truly believe that just as Jesus chose Judas knowing full well the role he would play in His passion, the Holy Spirit allowed Francois to take the chair of Peter knowing, too, the role he would play in the passion of the Bride of Christ. It is clearly a time to separate the goats from the sheep; the wheat from the weeds. Time to take sides. Hopefully, this will make the Lukewarms choose.


  12. Robert says:

    Lets just say how Our Lord suffers the pain of His Crucifixion when He sees those who claim to be Christians but who do not or won’t proclaim His teachings publicly for fear of ridicule.


  13. toad says:

    “”It is clearly a time to separate the goats from the sheep; the wheat from the weeds.”
    Put Toad down as a wheat-eating goat.

    [Moderator: Two sentences deleted. Relativism, Toad. We’ve had enough of that.]


  14. toad says:

    “I truly believe that just as Jesus chose Judas knowing full well the role he would play in His passion..”
    That makes me suspect the “play” in question – clearly “written” in advance, is little more than that. – a pre-determined piece of theatre. Fatalism must be the logical outcome.
    If Francis was chosen by God “…knowing full well what role he would play,” what are we getting so steamed up about? Why, in fact get steamed up about anything?


  15. Laura Sedivy says:

    Well, all things according to His plan and some things just must happen. The thing that I think people are “steamed” about is the chaos and confusion that this pontificate creates and, thus, the loss of souls. Of course, it is my SUSPICION that Bergolio was allowed to sit in the chair of Peter to play the necessary role. Just a guess at best………………….


  16. Michael says:

    A useful comparison of Catholic and Lutheran beliefs regarding the Eucharist and sacraments in general here:


    Maybe someone could forward it on to the Vatican?


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