Cardinal Bergoglio on denying communion

Cardinal Bergoglio on denying communion April 30, 2013

Before he became pope, he had some thoughts on the subject.  Fr. Thomas Reese explains in the National Catholic Reporter: 

In On Heaven and Earth, the book he co-authored with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, Cardinal Bergoglio wrote, “One could deny communion to a public sinner who has not repented, but it is very difficult to check such things.”

One should note that he said, “could” not “must.” And as an experienced pastor, he stressed the difficulty of checking whether a person is “a public sinner who has not repented.” Many American bishops, like Cardinals Francis George and Donald Wuerl, have taken similar positions.

At the same time, Bergoglio said it would be wrong for someone to receive communion who “rather than uniting the people to God, warps the lives of many people.” Such a person “cannot receive communion; it would be a complete contradiction.”

In the book, the communion issue came up not in the context of abortion but of injustice. He referred to those “who have not only killed intellectually or physically, but also have killed indirectly through the poor use of resources by paying unjust wages.” He called them hypocrites because “In public they may form welfare societies, but they do not pay their employees a wage corresponding to their work or they hire them ‘under the table.'”

So if you are paying your employees off the books, with no payroll taxes, then Pope Francis would consider you a “pretend” Catholic suffering from spiritual hypocrisy and schizophrenia. He acknowledged that there are many such people “who hide within the Church and do not live according to the justice that God proclaims.” If you are such a person, he would want you to ask yourself whether you are ready for communion.

Read it all.

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2 responses to “Cardinal Bergoglio on denying communion”

  1. It points to the wider question that we all ought to be examining ourselves with humility as we encounter Christ in the Eucharist…

  2. But clearly the difference between those who are paying someone under the table and those who are, for instance, publicly advocating for and facilitating the crime of abortion and other such objective evils is the difference between the private and public natures of those sinful actions, which is why there are two canons governing this: 915 and 916. Father Tom Reese looks for every opportunity he can to denigrate Cardinal Raymond Burke’s position on canon 915, but this isn’t one of those. “One could deny communion to a public sinner who has not repented, but it is very difficult to check such things,” isn’t a statement against Burke’s interpretation of c. 915 (which I believe to be correct); it’s merely an acknowledgement of the difficulty of carrying it out.