Did the Pope speak heresy about the Eucharist?
The Manila Times
ished in the September 25 Mass second reading, partly quoted above, from his First Letter to Timothy (1 Tim 6:11-16). He urged the faithful to “fight the good fight for the faith,” as another highly authoritative translation, the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, puts it. That means taking strong interest and seeking divine inspiration and sound guidance in matters of faith, doctrine and morals, not shying away out of disinterest, lack of learning, or nil capacity to influence, let alone decide such controversies. Well, if Filipino Catholics could intensely debate who should govern in coming years, we should be even more engaged in faith concerns which affect our future for eternity. And for those short on faith knowledge, tackling Church issues would precisely help enhance learning. So what’s the latest in Pope Francis’ theological tussles? Three issues flared up the past year: his statements and actions toward other religions, his July 2021 restrictions on the traditional Latin Mass, and the most recent one reviving the years-old dispute over receiving communion. The controversies arise just when the Church is charting major new directions in Francis’ three-year Synodality initiative, which involves parish surveys and consultation and national bishops conferences to determine the views of the global faithful. These deliberations will then feed into bishops’ synods in Rome in 2021 to 2023. Already, the worldwide process stirred strong reactions in conservative circles and even the increasingly liberal Vatican. In July, amid German advocacy for women priests, greater lay power in the Church, and acceptance of homosexuality, the Holy See told Germany’s “Synodal Way”: “It would not be lawful to initiate in the dioceses, prior to an agreed understanding at the level of the universal Church, new official structures or doctrines, which would represent … a threat to the unity of the Church.” Censuring the Pope If even the Vatican frets over deviations from doctrine, conservative bishops worry even more. And since Francis’ 2013 remark— “If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?” — the Holy Father has faced doctrinal disputes. Among them are the 2016 “Seeking Clarity” by four revered Cardinals questioning Francis’ 2015 Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” following the bishops’ Synod on the Family, and the 2017 statement, “A filial correction concerning the propagation of heresies” issued by Catholic scholars citing heresies allegedly propagated by papal statements and actions. The last document called on bishops to censure Francis over heresies he allegedly advanced in declarations and decisions, including naming cardinals, bishops and high Church officials seen as undermining Church teachings. That’s exactly what four bishops — two from Texas, one from Holland, and one from Kazakhstan — did in signing “The teaching of the Catholic faith on the reception of the Holy Eucharist,” along with at least 75 believers, including priests, deacons, theology and philosophy professors, and editors of respected religious journals. Signatories took issue with the following statement in Pope Francis’ latest Apostolic Letter, Desiderio desideravi, published in June: “The world still does not know it, but everyone is invited to the supper of the wedding of the Lamb (Re 19:9). To be admitted to the feast all that is required is the wedding garment of faith which comes from the hearing of his Word (cf. Ro 10:17).” The critique said the “natural meaning” of the papal statement is that faith alone is required to receive Holy Communion. This goes against the 16th Century Council of Trent and Latin and Oriental Canon Law, which require confession of mortal sin before receiving the Eucharist. The statement also cited Francis’ Amoris Laetitia section said to allow communion for divorced Catholics who remarry without annulling their first marriages, as well as his view allowing communion for top American lawmaker Nancy Pelosi, who sinfully advocates legalizing abortion. As Francis’ detractors and supporters debate, two must-dos for believers: seek counsel from clergy and authoritative writings, and follow current communion rules. That safeguards souls, whoever is right.