Archbishop Blaise Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago recently suggested that conscience decides who can receive Holy Communion. Speaking specifically about divorced and civilly remarried Roman Catholics, Archbishop Cupich said they must “come to a decision in good conscience” and that the job of the Church is is to “help them move forward and to respect that.”
Quoting from the same article in the National Catholic Register referenced above:
Asked if he would likewise accompany homosexual couples into receiving the sacraments according to their conscience, Archbishop Cupich replied: “Gay people are human beings, too, they have a conscience and my role as a pastor is to help them to discern what the will of God is by looking at the objective moral teaching of the Church.”
But he added that “at the same time,” his role as a pastor is to help them “through a period of discernment, to understand what God is calling them to at that point, so it’s for everybody.”
His comments have touched off a firestorm among Roman Catholics. In the comments on this article, one reader suggested that this is heresy. Most of the comments I read were extremely critical of the Archbishop.
I’m not sure how a priest or bishop — or even Pope Francis — is supposed to police this. Their role is not to play God. Each of us, no matter our role in the church, ordained or laity, is to follow the teachings of the Church.
But we’re not supposed to judge each other.
Do we have a responsibility to point out faults or errors in thinking? Yes. But we’ve got to be careful that we don’t play God.
Our role is to exercise mercy.
I voiced my own opinion in the comments section of the National Catholic Register article.
May I take a slightly contrarian view of Archbishop Cupich’s comments? Is he welcoming these groups into full communion? Or is he suggesting that he will not refuse them Holy Communion if they come to the front of church to receive it?
The reception of Holy Communion does not relieve me of my responsibility for my actions. As a sinner who has ignorantly gone to Holy Communion while in mortal sin, thinking that this somehow brought me into grace with God the Father, I now understand that reception of Holy Communion at that time in my life only magnified my state of sinfulness and grievously profaned the Eucharist.
Receiving Holy Communion while in a state of mortal sin only enhances my immorality. Let’s face it, there’s no litmus test for any of us on our way to the altar to receive our Lord and Savior. Whether or not we are aware of the grave consequences of our actions, our reception of the Eucharist only magnifies our present state in the eyes of the Father.
Those of you who know me or put up with my (… shall we say…) musings on Facebook know that I have my differences of opinion with some of the things Pope Francis has had to say when he comments on most things political. And you also know that I am an apologist for Catholicism and faithfully believe in the infallibility of the Holy Catholic Church.
This is not the same.