By John-Henry Westen

WASHINGTON, October 20, 2006 ( – The U.S. bishops will vote on a proposed document, “Happy Are Those Who Are Called To His Supper: On Preparing To Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist” during their annual November meeting in Baltimore, Nov. 13-16.

The document, addressed to all the faithful, points out that Catholics may not receive communion if they do not accept Church teaching on matters such as abortion and homosexuality. Catholics should refrain from Holy Communion, says the document, “when they lack adherence to what the Church authoritatively teaches on matters of faith and morals.”

The document is designed to help Catholics properly prepare to receive Holy Communion. It is organized as a series of questions and answers, and explores topics such as what the Catholic Church believes about the Eucharist, who may receive Holy Communion, and how Catholics can prepare to receive the sacrament more worthily

The statement reiterates Church teaching that with “few exceptions, only those who are members of the Catholic Church may receive Holy Communion at a Catholic Eucharist.” Catholics should strive “to receive Holy Communion regularly, gratefully, and worthily,” but should refrain from the sacrament when they find themselves no longer in a state of grace because of mortal sin, which is an act violating God’s law that involves grave matter and that is performed with both full knowledge and complete consent of the will. Catholics who are conscious of committing any mortal sin must receive the Sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion, it says.

In addition to preparations by prayer and scripture reading, confession and fasting, the document also suggests that Catholics should prepare for communion by “wearing modest and tasteful dress during the liturgy.”

While this document to the faithful did not address it, the current Pope Benedict XVI while still as Cardinal Ratzinger the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told the US Bishops that “Apart from an individual’s judgement about his worthiness to present himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone.”Â

The letter from Cardinal Ratzinger to the US Bishops continued, “Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.”

“When these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible,” concluded the Cardinal “and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it.” (see the full letter from Cardinal Ratzinger: )