ROME, November 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — The Vatican’s cardinal in charge of liturgy and the sacraments has strongly defended the Church’s tradition on reception of Communion in the wake of Pope Francis’ comments to a Lutheran woman suggesting she could choose in conscience to receive.
Speaking with Aleteia reporter Diane Montagna, Cardinal Robert Sarah said, “Intercommunion is not permitted between Catholics and non-Catholics. You must confess the Catholic Faith. A non-Catholic cannot receive Communion. That is very, very clear. It’s not a matter of following your conscience.”
In responding to a Lutheran woman seeking to go to communion with her Catholic husband, Pope Francis said, “There are questions that only if one is sincere with oneself and the little theological light one has, must be responded to on one’s own. See for yourself.” The pope, who was speaking to a Lutheran community in Rome November 15, added that both Lutherans and Catholics believe the Lord is present in Holy Communion, and that while there are “explanations and interpretations” that may differ, “life is bigger than explanations and interpretations.”
Pope Francis concluded it was not within his competence to allow a Lutheran woman to receive Holy Communion with her Catholic husband, but to answer her question, she should, “Talk to the Lord and then go forward.”
“A person cannot decide if he is able to receive Communion. He has to have the rule of the Church.”
But Cardinal Sarah, who serves as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, contradicted this suggestion. “It’s not that I have to talk to the Lord in order to know if I should go to Communion,” he said. “No, I have to know if I’m in accord with the rule of the Church.”
“It’s not a personal desire or a personal dialogue with Jesus that determines if I can receive Communion in the Catholic Church. How can I know that the Lord has really said: ‘Come and receive My Body.’ No. A person cannot decide if he is able to receive Communion. He has to have the rule of the Church: i.e., being a Catholic, being in a state of grace, properly married [if married].
The cardinal warned that if Holy Communion is not received correctly it would not be a benefit to unity, but quoting St. Paul he said, “We will eat our condemnation.”
See the full interview at Aleteia here.
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