It is the same with Lutherans and Anglicans. They might have a high liturgy and a more sacramental view of the Lord’s presence than a Baptist, but the 39 Articles of Religion–the Anglican statement of belief (which has never been scrapped) specifically denies transubstantiation. The Lutheran Formula of Concord also denies transubstantiation. The Lutherans and Anglicans believe “The Lord is present” but not as Catholics do, and although individual Lutherans and Anglicans may have a Catholic understanding we can’t decide policy and behaviors according to each individual’s theological opinion.
It is very nice of the Holy Father to be kind and welcoming to the Lutheran wife of the Catholic, but there is another side to the question. He is being very pastoral to the Protestant but how pastoral is he being to those of us who convert to the Catholic faith?
Some of us have given up virtually everything to convert to Catholicism. We have given up careers, homes, family and future and entered the Catholic Church as simple supplicants. We have made great sacrifices for church unity. When a Catholic pastor bends over backwards to make every accommodation possible for a Protestant and hints that it is okay for them to receive Catholic communion how “pastoral” is that to the men and women and their families who have given so much because they really did believe there was a difference between Lutheran and Catholic and that it was worth giving up everything to be in full communion?
What does it say to those who refrained from Catholic communion for months and years and waited until they were received to finally be one with the Lord in communion? What does it say to the Protestants in my RCIA course who come faithfully to Mass every Sunday and come forward for a blessing while they are catechized?
Why couldn’t the pope smile and say to the Lutheran spouse what I say to my Anglican mother in law when she grumbles that she can’t receive communion in the Catholic Church?
I give her a hug and say, “If you really want to receive communion in the Catholic Church you may.”
“Really?” she asks.
“Sure.” I say with a grin. “All you have to do is become a Catholic.”
I wish the pope had said to the Lutheran woman, “If you really feel such pain at the separation between us and your not being able to come to communion with your husband there is a way forward. Come into full communion with the Catholic Church! Bring all the gifts and graces you have received as a Lutheran! Be a sign to others of the importance of church unity! You are not denying the good things in your Lutheran experience, but you are completing them by becoming a Catholic because all the graces and good things you had as a Lutheran were derived originally from your Mother the Catholic Church. We are here. We welcome you!”