Thursday, August 4, 2022

Eucharistic hospitality?

According to reports in the media, a Muslim politician and at least one Protestant politician have received the Eucharistic at Masses celebrated by bishops during a multi-day Catholic event in Germany.  The same event, held on May 25-29, also reportedly barred organizers of the German March for Life from having a booth as an exhibitor.   The Federal Association for Life is the group that oversees the March for Life in Berlin. When applying for a stand at the Katholikentag, the organization was reportedly told by organizers that they were “unable to determine that your organization is clearly Christian.” The Katholikentag (“Catholics Day”) is a biannual event organized by the local diocese together with the Central Committee of German Catholics, a lay organization supported by the German bishops’ conference -- the organizers of which seemed to have no problem welcoming a Muslim to the Eucharist and at least one prominent Protestant politician (Thomas de Maizière, a former defense minister and interior minister who served in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet for 12 years, was seen receiving the Eucharist from the hand of Bishop Bätzing).  Bätzing has repeatedly expressed qualified support for intercommunion with Protestants, telling journalists in February 2021 that it was necessary to respect the “personal decision of conscience” of those seeking to receive Communion.  Bätzing's position had already received a formal response and rejection from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in September 2020.

So what do we say?  If this is the path of Synodality and the direction of Francis' reform, Rome is in a decidedly worse position than many had thought.  But we already knew that there were voices to say, along with some Lutheran voices today, that the job of the Church is to welcome and it is up to the individual to decide what they believe about the Sacrament and whether they choose to communion or not.  Sadly, Rome is mirroring all that is wrong with Protestantism on this point and all that is problematic with Lutheranism as well.  We appear to stand for nothing more than personal choice, personal preference, and personal truth.  When that happens the heart of the Gospel is reduced to something even less than myth and legend -- at least these usually have some fact upon which their larger truth is built.  Here there is no truth -- only that which each individual defines and holds as their own.

Sadly, I can see many Lutherans rushing to the defense of such a claim and such a position.  After all, the ELCA long ago decided that sharing the Eucharist was hardly more than offering coffee and donuts and therefore it did not matter what the people communing believed or if they believed something in common.  The welcome was more than what it was they were welcoming people to eat and drink.  That is pretty much where things sit in the evolution of a Sacrament once esteemed not simply as the last testament of our Lord but His very gift of Himself to be received by the baptized who live in repentance and faith.  I get it.  We have been so reticent to keep the altar rail for those with a common faith who come in baptism and repentance that it makes it hard now to justify excluding anyone.  How strange it is that we are more concerned with what those outside the faith might think of us than we are what God thinks about how we steward His mysteries.  How odd it is that in one place a bishop restricts a politician from receiving the Sacrament and in another part of the world a Muslim is communed.


Archimandrite Gregory said...

I know that the majority of RC members do not believe in the rea presence, neither transubstantiation nor what is dubbed consubstantiation. Small wonder anyone can receive. Why some Anglican are joining the RCs is mystifying to me. thaey are still in the frying pan either way.

Daniel G. said...

While there are many Catholics who don't believe in the real presence or transubstantiation (we never believed in consubstantiation) it is a gross overstatement to say that the "majority" do not believe. I will ignore your ending statement because it's just ridiculous.

Pastor Peters said...

The statement that a majority do not believe did not come from me but from the National Catholic Reporter. Read it and weep.

Daniel G. said...

Pastor Peters, that comment was not directed at you but at the archimandrite. I do weep at the lack of belief in the Real Presence and Transubstantiation due to bad catechesis. In any event, getting your information from National Catholic Reporter is suspect since it's run by the Jesuits who don't know what they believe, period. If you said with was from National Catholic Register, then mea colpa as that is an orthodox Catholic publication although I would still say it's an overstatement. Have a nice day.