Francis pushes more confusion on the reception of Holy Communion in new interview
In a new papal interview, Pope Francis cast doubt on the Catholic teaching prohibiting practicing homosexuals and the divorced and 're-married' from Holy Communion.
VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — In an interview granted to Argentinian news outlet infobae, Pope Francis has issued fresh confusing comments on homosexuality and the divorced and “re-married,” appearing to state that such individuals can receive Holy Communion without clarification.
The newly released interview was to mark the Pontiff’s 10-year anniversary upon ascending the papal throne, and forms one of many such initiatives which are taking place currently to mark the occasion.
Homosexuality: God wants ‘everyone inside’
Given the Pope’s regular comments regarding homosexuality, which have caused confusion for some time, infobae asked the Pontiff about the reception of Holy Communion for homosexuals. “Leaving aside the choice or sexual preference, a person who has complied with the rest of what the Church mandates, would he be able to receive Communion?,” asked the news outlet.
Francis recounted his most notable pronouncements on the issue, rating from his infamous 2013 comment “who am I to judge,” to his recent remarks in a January interview condemning anti-sodomy laws. Against such laws he re-issued his opposition, calling laws criminalizing homosexuality a “serious problem.”
Pausing then, before apparently refocussing on the issue of admitting those who practice homosexuality to Holy Communion, Francis stated: “The big answer was given by Jesus: everybody. Everybody. Everyone inside.”
“When the exquisite ones did not want to go to the banquet: go there to the crossroads and call everyone,” he said, drawing selectively from the Gospel passage. “Good, bad, old, young, young men, young boys: everybody. Everybody. And each one resolves his positions before the Lord with the strength he has.”
Francis re-iterated his 2013 comments “who am I to judge,” in expanding upon his apparent suggestion that Holy Communion was to be available to everyone:
This is a church of sinners. I don’t know where the church of saints is, here we are all sinners. And who am I to judge a person if he has good will? If he belongs to the devil’s gang, well, let’s defend him a little bit.
He decried the current focus given to issues of homosexuality, saying that instead Christ calls “everyone.” Francis also described a situation with an apparent lack of free will on the part of an individual, saying that “sometimes we want to [resolve a relationship with God] and sometimes we cannot.”
I think we have to go to the essence of the Gospel: Jesus calls everyone and each one resolves his relationship with God as he can or as he wants. Sometimes we want to and sometimes we cannot, but the Lord always waits.
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In clear terms, however, the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are “acts of grave depravity,” calling such acts “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law” since they “close the sexual act to the gift of life.” Additionally, Canon Law stipulates that under no circumstances are those who persist in manifest grave sin to receive the Holy Eucharist.
Divorced and ‘re-married’?
With the focus turning also to the question of the divorced and “re-married,” infobae asked Francis about the issue of Holy Communion for those in such situations, citing anecdotes of couples on their second “marriage” who have doubts about receiving Communion.
He answered that the Church “can’t reduce a human situation to a prescriptive one.” To defend this, he referred back to the late Pope Benedict XVI, claiming that Benedict argued “that a great part of church marriages are invalid for lack of faith.”
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Observing how many weddings appear “more like a social reception and not a sacrament,” Francis threw doubt on the validity of marriages contracted by young people, citing an alleged lack of understanding.
When these young people say ‘forever,’ who knows what they mean [by] ‘forever.’ And Benedict said because of this lack of conscience, a large part of them are invalid. And we have to take that into account. They have no awareness of what is forever.
Francis went so far as to suggest that marriage could be invalid even if those involved “may not be able to prove it.” In such situations, he still called for action to be taken, saying that “that is where the bishop’s conscience comes in. I advise separated couples to go to their bishop, to go and present their situation to him.”
READ: Pope Francis is encouraging dissident bishops to spread error and sinful teaching
However, while Pope Benedict did make comments on the state of marriage in modern society, contrary to Francis’ claim, Benedict did not suggest a widespread invalidity of marriages – indeed it was quite the opposite. In his 2013 address on the current state of marriage to the Roman Rota, the German Pope said:
I certainly do not intend to suggest any easy automatism between deficiency of faith and invalidity of the marriage union, but rather to point out how such a deficiency can, though not necessarily, also injure the goods of marriage, since the reference to the natural order willed by God is inherent in the marital covenant.
Quoting from Pope John Paul II’s address to the Roman Rota, Benedict XVI expanded on this, saying “an attitude of the betrothed that does not take into account the supernatural dimension in marriage can render it null and void only if it affects its validity on the natural plane in which the sacramental sign itself is placed.”
Celibacy, a matter for revision?
Citing the lack of vocations, infobae additionally raised the topic of clerical celibacy, asking the Pope if it could be a matter for change. This precept of clerical celibacy is taught in the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law.
However, citing the permission for married clerics in the Eastern rites, Francis hinted at a possible change in the Roman rite – echoing comments he has made on the matter in previous years.
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“There is no contradiction for a priest to marry,” he said. “Celibacy in the Western Church is a temporary prescription: I do not know if it is resolved in one way or another, but it is temporary in this sense; it is not eternal like priestly ordination, which is forever, whether you like it or not.”
Noting celibacy as “a discipline,” the Pope replied in the affirmative when asked if such rule “could be revised.”