Cdl. Burke: Priests ‘must refuse and face the consequences’
GOZO, Malta (ChurchMilitant.com)
Malta’s priests will be the first clerics to ever face suspension for refusing Holy Communion to divorced Catholics who have remarried outside the Church.
Bishop Mario Grech of the diocese of Gozo, Malta, is saying he will strip all priests of their priestly faculties who do not follow his new guidelines, claiming he is implementing the papal exhortation Amoris Laetitia. He reportedly has taken this severe position upon returning this week from his visit to Rome.
The guidelines Bsp. Grech co-published on January 8 with Abp. Charles Scicluna of Malta’s archdiocese read, “If … a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages … to acknowledge and believe that he or she is at peace with God, he or she can not be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.”
The focus of Malta’s guidelines are on the consciences of the civilly remarried who come forward at Mass to receive the Eucharist. No mention is made of the priest’s conscience who’s attempting to follow Church law as contained in the Code of Canon Law.
Canon 915 mandates that those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” This judgement is based on the couple’s objective situation called the external forum and is completely independent of their subjective feeling of guilt which is part of what’s called their internal forum.
An experienced canonists, Dr. Ed Peters, recently emphasized that priests are commanded by Holy Mother Church to follow this canon and not admit to Holy Communion couples who publicly live in a state of objective mortal sin:
In administering Holy Communion to a member of the faithful, Roman Catholic ministers are bound not by guidelines supposedly fashioned from a single, ambiguous and highly controverted papal document but instead by the plain and dispositive text of another papal document, called the Code of Canon Law (especially Canon 915 thereof), and by the common and constant interpretation accorded such norms over the centuries.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, patron of the Knights of Malta, in an interview last May called it a “grave injustice” for bishops to order their priests to do this very thing which in conscience they couldn’t do. Burke added, “If someone tells the priest that he has to do these things, he simply must refuse and face the consequences.”