New Jersey bishop tells Catholics who reject Church teaching not to receive Communion
NEWARK, New Jersey, October 14, 2015 – (LifeSiteNews) - The Catholic archbishop of Newark, NJ has issued guidelines instructing those who reject Church teaching to refrain from receiving Communion, as well as cautioning Catholics to stay away from events that conflict with Church teaching and Canon Law.
In a memo issued last Friday to his priests, Archbishop John Myers focused on marriage in particular as an area where Church teaching must be preserved.
“Catholics must be in a marriage recognized as valid by the Church to receive Holy Communion or the other Sacraments,” the archbishop stated. “Non-Catholics and any Catholic who publicly reject Church teaching or discipline, either by public statements or by joining or supporting organizations which do so, are not to receive the Sacraments.”
Archdiocesan spokesman James Goodness told LifeSiteNews that the memo has been misinterpreted by some media, as though Archbishop Myers was being exceptionally hardline on Church teaching, or even that he was trying impact the ongoing Synod on the Family in Rome.
Goodness discounted this, explaining that the memo had been drafted and presented to the archdiocese’s Presbyteral Council last month, and only just last week distributed because of workflow being affected by the recent papal visit.
“I think it’s clear that the archbishop was just following along as principal teacher of the faith,” said Goodness. “And trying to support his priests and help people where they are.”
The timing had everything to do though, he said, with the challenges encountered by priests in the face of an ever advancing secular culture.
Dated September 22, the memo, titled, Principles to Aid in Preserving and Protecting the Catholic Faith in the Midst of an Increasingly Secular Culture, is directed toward priests in their ministry with the laity and all that both are facing in the world.
“We wanted to be make sure we are applying Catholic theological principles in what we do,” Goodness told LifeSiteNews. “The document is to help parishes and priests deal with people where they are.”
Goodness pointed out that Archbishop Myers’ memo starts out explaining that the Church continues to welcome and value everyone.
“The Church will continue to cherish and welcome her members and invite them to participate in her life to the degree that their personal situation permits them honestly to do so,” it stated, continuing on to say, “They are asked to be honest to themselves and to the Church community.”
The message is that the Church welcomes, but welcoming souls does not come at the expense of Church teaching, Goodness said, and Archbishop Myers was simply doing his job in issuing the memo.
“The only thing that should be read into this is the archbishop trying to help reinforce Church teaching to help people deal with their circumstances,” said Goodness, and everyone is welcome. “Don’t do anything that is going to mix the Church’s message, however.”
While some media reports have also held that the archbishop’s memo is out of step with Pope Francis’ pastoral approach, nothing could be further from the truth, Goodness said, as the pope has also consistently upheld Church doctrine while employing his welcoming approach. Actually, Goodness said, it is in sharing the truth of the Church that one is being most welcoming.
Archbishop Myers’ memo also instructs parishes and institutions not to allow organizations that disagree with Church teaching to use its facilities, and also that Catholics should not take part in events endorsing rejection of Church principles.
Nothing about the memo is intended to conflict with the Church’s welcome of sinners and offer of salvation with repentance, he told LifeSiteNews.
“The door is open, that’s the fact,” Goodness said. “Let’s see how we can get in there together.”
“I’m going to walk with you, we can do this together,” he said. “If you’re ready to take this on.”
In 2012 Myers issued another, similar letter urging Catholics to not receive Holy Communions if they do not accept the Church's teaching on marriage, with special reference then to "gay marriage."