HILDESHEIM, Germany, April 14, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Heiner Wilmer SCJ of Hildesheim, Germany, has come out condemning Catholics who are “fixated only on the Eucharist.” In an interview with Deutschlandfunk, a national radio station funded by the public, Wilmer claimed that among “some believers the Eucharist is certainly exaggerated.”
“Of course,” the bishop admitted, the Eucharist “is important.” However, he then argued that “the Second Vatican Council says that the Lord is not only present in the Eucharist, but also in the Holy Scriptures, in reading the Bible, and we should take seriously the word of Jesus, where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”
According to Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Second Vatican Council’s constitution on the Sacred Liturgy promulgated in 1963 by Pope Paul VI, Christ is indeed “always present in His Church.”
“He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, ‘the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross,’ but especially under the Eucharistic species,” the constitution states.
“By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes. He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them’ (Matt. 18:20).”
Where Sacrosanctum Concilium spoke only of Christ being present “especially” in the Eucharist, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is more explicit.
“The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as ‘the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend.’ In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist ‘the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.’”
The correct and precise technical term for Christ’s special presence in the Eucharist is “real presence.” By this term, the Catechism continues, it “is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.’”
Concluding its section on the Eucharist, the Catechism emphasizes that there is “no surer pledge or dearer sign of this great hope in the new heavens and new earth ‘in which righteousness dwells,’ than the Eucharist. Every time this mystery is celebrated, ‘the work of our redemption is carried on’ and we ‘break the one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live for ever in Jesus Christ.’”
For Bishop Wilmer, some Catholics reacted to the ban on public Masses in Germany “[a]s if there were nothing else.” He then claimed that “in the history of Christianity we have had times when people have not had the opportunity to attend Holy Mass or receive Communion. That has always existed. But the faith has not collapsed because of that.
Wilmer did not explain that bishops in many parts of the world had already banned public Masses before governments forced them to do so, making the current situation unique in Church history.
In fact, in countries like the United States, church services are considered “essential.” Masses could still be said in public while complying with social distancing requirements, had not bishops already prohibited them.
In other countries, governments did ban public Masses, but bishops did not even carefully question the wisdom of such decisions. It was up to lay faithful to go to court.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, reflected on this phenomenon during a recent interview.
“When so many shops and restaurants were still open, the various Bishops’ Conferences had already suspended all sacred functions, even when the civil authorities had not asked them to do so,” Viganò said.
“This is further proof that the Hierarchy is in a dreadful state and shows that Bishops are all too willing to sacrifice the well-being of souls to pacify the power of the state or the dictatorship of ideas.”
Fittingly, when asked about the prohibition on religious gatherings imposed by the German government, Bishop Wilmer said he does not “feel restricted in my religious freedom.”
In 2018, when Wilmer was first made bishop, he claimed that the abuse of power is part “of the Church’s DNA.” Talking to Deutschlandfunk, he now clarified that statement. “I wanted to say that the Church is holy because of God, but the Church is also sinful because of the people.”