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Anthony Ozimic

The Pulse,

Cardinal Wuerl confuses faithful about Holy Communion

Anthony Ozimic

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, has given an interview outside the Synod in which he said:

When we talk about doctrinal givens, things that are fixed, we're talking about something such as In what does marriage consist? The reception of Communion is not a doctrinal position. It's a pastoral application of the doctrine.... Just to repeat the practice of the past without any effort to see whether there is some awareness, openness, influence of the Spirit that might be helping us in total continuity with our past practice to find a new direction today.

Cardinal Wuerl's comments will only serve to confuse the faithful about the essential relationship between doctrine and discipline. Cardinal Pell, in his foreword to The Gospel of the Family: Going Beyond Cardinal Kasper’s Proposal in the Debate on Marriage, Civil Re-Marriage, and Communion in the Church, has written:

Lifelong marriage is not simply a burden but a jewel, a life-giving institution. When societies recognize this beauty and goodness, they regularly protect it with effective disciplinary measures. They realize that doctrine and pastoral practice cannot be contradictory, and that one cannot maintain the indissolubility of marriage by allowing the “remarried” to receive Holy Communion.

One insurmountable barrier for those advocating a new doctrinal and pastoral discipline for the reception of Holy Communion is the almost complete unanimity of two thousand years of Catholic history on this point.

Commenting on Cardinal Wuerl's remarks, Dr. Edward Peters, one of the world's leading canon lawyers, has blogged:

I have argued from the outset of this debate that the reception of holy Communion by divorced-and-remarried Catholics raises fundamental questions of doctrine not simply about marriage, but also about the Eucharist and about the sacrament of Confession.

Rather than disturbing faithful Catholics with talk about "openness" to "a new direction," Cardinal Wuerl should instead listen to Dr. Peters, Cardinal Pell, and other cardinals who have a solid understanding of this issue - Cardinal MuellerCardinal Burke, and Cardinal Brandmüller.

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