Pope Francis calls Eucharist ‘bread of sinners’ as USCCB considers denying pro-abort politicians Communion
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VATICAN CITY, Italy, June 11, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) prepares to debate whether pro-abortion politicians should be denied Holy Communion, Pope Francis hinted toward favoring no restriction on distributing the Eucharist in both his Corpus Christi homily and his Angelus address on Sunday.
The Church must be “a community with open arms, welcoming towards all,” Pope Francis exhorted during his June 6, Corpus Christi homily in a possible allusion towards the USCCB’s proposed denial of Holy Communion to anti-life politicians. “The Eucharist wants to nourish those who are tired and hungry along the way, let's not forget that!”
The remarks come ahead of next week’s U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) general assembly meeting, when the bishops are set to decide on whether or not a formal punishment should be laid on pro-abortion politicians like President Joe Biden, including barring them from receiving the Eucharist.
Pope Francis advised Catholics to “think together about pastoral care,” taking care to avoid becoming “[the] Church of the perfect and the pure … in which there is no room for anyone.”
Rather, “the Church with open doors, which celebrates around Christ, is instead a large room where everyone – everyone, righteous and sinful – can enter,” he said, making no distinction between the universal invitation to enter the Church and the worthiness or preparation necessary to fully participate in her sacraments.
The Church must be “a great hall” and not “a small and closed circle” in order to welcome he “who is hurt, who has made a mistake,” and also those whom Pope Francis mysteriously described as having “a different life path.”
Earlier in the day, as is customary, Pope Francis addressed the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s square after the weekly, midday recitation of the Angelus. He took the opportunity to lay the groundwork for his later homily, saying that the Eucharist demonstrates to the faithful “the strength to love those who make mistakes.”
Francis related the night of the Last Supper, when Christ gave Himself in the Eucharist for the first time, even to Judas Iscariot, who would betray Him. “And what does Jesus do? He reacts to the evil with a greater good,” he said.
“He responds to Judas’ ‘no’ with the ‘yes’ of mercy,” Francis noted, adding that, instead of punishing Judas, Jesus “rather gives His life for him; He pays for him.”
Pope Francis has previously indicated uncertainty regarding the destination of Judas’ soul, suggesting that he may not be in hell after betraying the Son of Man. A little over a year ago, during a homily on the Wednesday of that Holy Week, the Pope remarked that “Christ never calls Judas a ‘traitor’ personally. Rather, Jesus calls him ‘friend’ and kisses him.”
Consequently, Pope Francis asked himself “How did Judas end up?” answering, “I don’t know.” Pope St. Leo the Great, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Catherine of Siena, the Catechism of the Council of Trent, and the Church’s liturgy, on the other hand, are all of one accord regarding the damnation of Judas Iscariot.
However, with the attention having been given to Christ’s “yes of mercy” to Judas, Pope Francis said that when “we receive the Eucharist, Jesus does the same with us: he knows us; he knows we are sinners; he knows we make many mistakes, but he does not give up on joining his life to ours.” In doing so, Pope Francis removed any emphasis from the basic worthiness one must possess before presenting for Holy Communion, as St. Paul instructed the Corinthians: “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.” (1 Cor 11:29)
Instead, Pope Francis spoke exclusively of man’s need for the Eucharist, divorced from the reality of our worthy reception thereof, saying “the Eucharist is not the reward of saints, but the Bread of sinners. This is why he [Christ] exhorts us: ‘Do not be afraid! Take and eat.’”
The Council of Trent makes clear that worthy preparation for reception of the Eucharist is vital:
If anyone says that faith alone is sufficient preparation for receiving the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist: let him be anathema. And that so great a Sacrament may not be unworthily received, and therefore unto death and condemnation, this holy Council ordains and declares that sacramental confession must necessarily be made beforehand by those whose conscience is burdened by mortal sin, however contrite they may consider themselves. If anyone moreover teaches the contrary or preaches or obstinately asserts, or even publicly by disputation shall presume to defend the contrary, by that fact itself he is excommunicated. (Council of Trent, Session XIII, Canon 11; Denz. 893)
LifeSiteNews is unaware of the origin of the title "bread of sinners" to describe the Blessed Sacrament, as the title seems to have no basis in the Church’s bimillennial tradition. Many titles already exist for the sacramental Body and Blood of Christ: the Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament, the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, Holy Communion, the Real Presence, the Bread of Life, the Bread of Angels, the Bread of heaven, and Living Bread. Perhaps coming closest to “bread of sinners” is St. Thomas Aquinas’ title “Bread of men,” (as written in the hymn Panis Angelicus). St. Thomas Aquinas does not suggest in any of his writings that public figures in an objective state of grave sin should be permitted to receive the Blessed Sacrament.
In fact, the Catholic Church teaches (Code of Canon Law, can. 915) that Catholics who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” According to a 2004 memo issued to the U.S. bishops by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) who is now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, a Catholic politician who is “consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws” manifests “formal cooperation” with grave sin and must be “denied” the Eucharist.
President Biden is currently engaging in a number of liaisons with European leaders, beginning June 10 at the G7 summit being held in Cornwall, England. During his stay, Vatican sources have indicated that the president may stop in Rome to meet with Pope Francis on June 15, just one day before the USCCB are slated to begin their spring general assembly and debate the possibility of excluding Biden and other Catholic politicians from receiving Holy Communion.
A group of 67 American bishops, including dissident Cardinals Blaise Cupich and Wilton Gregory, voiced their opposition to any discussion at the upcoming assembly of formalizing penalties against Catholic, pro-abortion politicians, despite what the Church already teaches regarding Eucharistic reception for obstinate sinners in public office.
The Vatican has also backed a less forthright approach than the USCCB’s proposed policy of restricting Eucharistic reception for anti-life, anti-family politicians. The current prefect of the CDF, Cardinal Luis F. Ladaria S.J., penned a letter on May 7 to Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, the president of the USCCB, warning against any decision to limit the distribution of Communion to such people, describing such a policy as “a source of discord.” Instead, Ladaria suggested that the conference engage in “extensive and serene dialogue.”
In the midst of the letter, Ladaria referred to pro-abortion politicians and the related legislation as “pro-choice,” acquiescing to the euphemistic language of the political Left. He also lamented the possibility that enacting a policy against pro-choice politicians receiving Holy Communion might target “only one category of Catholics.” Despite the murmurings, Gomez issued a May 22 letter confirming that the proposed “document on the Eucharist” will be discussed at the June assembly.