Thursday 14 October 2010

Not in Communion with the Pope............ Not a Catholic?

The Holy Father outside Westminster Cathedral
receiving the applause of young people and
proving that you can wear lace and still be popular!

An article by Sandro Magister at Chiesa News Online highlights two diocese where, following the lead of the Holy Father, the most up-to-date thinking about the celebration of the Holy Eucharist is being put into practice: in Sri Lanka and Kasakhstan by bishops Ranjith and Schneider. Among other things Sandro Magister reports that some priests didn't receive Holy Communion from Pope Benedict because they disagreed with receiving on the tongue and kneeling (Yes, there really are such priests, sadly):

"In Palermo, where the pope went last October 3, some of the local priests refused to get in line to receive communion from him, simply to avoid taking part in an action with which they do not agree."

I'm sure you can disagree with a view taken by the Pope on some undecided matter and it may be that you can disagree with him on less important points of Church teaching. There is, after all, a hierarchy of truths in the Church - not adhering to the correct use of the chalice veil (never abolished, by the way) is less important than not murdering your granny. However, deliberately refusing to receive communion from the Holy Father would suggest that, literally, you are not in communion with him. I always understood that being in communion with the successor of St Peter was what put you in communion with everyone else who is also in communion with him - i.e. The Church. So, are these priests by a public act stating that they are not in communion with the Holy Father and does that act mean that they are outside that communion - that is to say, have placed themselves outside the communion of the Church - ex-communicate? Whatever their reasons, the act of refusing communion from the Holy Father is surely important.

Sandro Magister also mentions one of the lame reasons sometimes rolled out to defend changing the practice that obviously shows revererence for the Presence of the Lord - Kneeling.

"The main argument brought out against kneeling for communion is that the model and origin of the Mass is the Last Supper, where the apostles were seated and ate and drank with their hands."

When, Oh when, are we going to give up this bunkum. The Mass is also the sacrifice of the cross but it's never been suggested that we have to nail a priest to the wood at every Mass. This is the Church not an historical re-enactment society. The essential acts of the Mass were indeed given to us by the Lord and carried out by him - the Last Supper and the Crucifixion (to say nothing of the Resurrection and Ascension) but he also promised to be with His Church as it developed and grew in understanding. The Church has never stood still. Change is precisely what it has always done and now the so-called moderns want to stop change and travel back in time to some mythical moment in the fourth century when everything was perfect. I am all for change but not for going back to the past, especially some arbitrarily chosen time period. If you want to do that, join a re-enactment society and live out the civil war or get yourself on stage and do a good Agatha Christie.

Do read the whole article here:

It might be worth reading these words of Pope Benedict:

"The man who learns to believe learns also to kneel, and a faith or a liturgy no longer familiar with kneeling would be sick at the core. Where it has been lost, kneeling must be rediscovered, so that, in our prayer, we remain in fellowship with the apostles and martyrs, in fellowship with the whole cosmos, indeed in union with Jesus Christ Himself."

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