By Pete Balinski and John-Henry Western
ZAGREB, Croatia, October 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — It is “irreformable” dogma of the Catholic Church that only those who believe that Jesus Christ is truly present in the consecrated bread and wine are able to receive Holy Communion, stated Cardinal Raymond Burke. The Vatican cardinal said that St. Paul makes it clear that unless the person receiving recognizes the body of Christ, he “eats condemnation to himself.”
“This is a sacrilege. This is among the gravest of sins,” he said.
The cardinal was responding to a question on intercommunion with other Christian denominations asked by LifeSiteNews’ John-Henry Westen during the October 23 launch of the Croatian version of the cardinal’s book on the Eucharist in Zagreb, Croatia.
“No one can approach to receive the Holy Eucharist unless he believes that the host that he is receiving — even though it looks like bread, tastes like bread, and smells like bread — is in reality the body and blood of Christ. Only that person who believes in this way can approach the Blessed Sacrament, can approach to receive Holy Communion,” he stated.
Burke’s comments come days before Pope Francis travels to Lund, Sweden to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 theses to the door of the castle church of Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. Lutheran and Catholic bishops have expressed a hope that the Pope will allow for intercommunion at first at least for Lutherans married to Catholics.
The pope has shown openness to Lutherans receiving Holy Communion alongside Catholics, telling one Lutheran woman last year to “go forward” guided by her conscience. Also last year, a Lutheran pastor from Rome insisted that the pope had “opened the door” to intercommunion between Catholics and Lutherans after the pope visited a Lutheran community and said that the two religions “must walk together.”
But Cardinal Robert Sarah, the Vatican’s liturgy chief, responded days later by stating that “intercommunion is not permitted between Catholics and non-Catholics,” adding that “you must confess the Catholic Faith. A non-Catholic cannot receive Communion. That is very, very clear. It’s not a matter of following your conscience.”
Burke called it “very problematic” for anyone to suggest that the forthcoming celebration honoring Martin Luther should be the “occasion of some kind of ‘Eucharistic hospitality’ or intercommunion.”
“That is not possible. Yes, it is irreformable,” he stated.
“Either the sacred host is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, or it is not. And if it is, it is the gravest of sins to offer the sacred host to someone who does not believe,” he concluded.