Sandro Magister: Lutherans Given Communion in Rome after Papal Audience

Sandro Magister: Lutherans Given Communion in Rome after Papal Audience

BY STEVE SKOJEC ON JANUARY 20, 2016 @ OnePeterFive.com/magister-lutherans-given-communion-in-rome-after-papal-audience/

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On his blog at l’Espresso, Vatican-watcher Sandro Magister relates the events of an ecumenical gathering happening in Rome this week. We’re still working on getting an official translation, but Google translate (with a little grammatical assistance from your editor) provides us with this:

“I ask myself: but we have the same baptism? If we have the same baptism we must walk together.”

That said, by the way, by Pope Francis, in a reply on 16 November to a Lutheran who had asked if she could take communion at Mass with her Catholic husband.

In a general audience on Wednesday, 20 January, the Pope has taken the same concept:

“At the center of the Lutheran Cathedral in Riga there is a baptismal font dating back to the twelfth century, to the time when Latvia was evangelized by St. Maynard. That font is an eloquent sign of a source of faith recognized by all Christians of Latvia, Catholics Lutherans and Orthodox. This origin is our common baptism … Sharing this grace creates an unbreakable bond between us Christians, so that, by virtue of baptism, we can be really all brothers … All, Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants, we form a a royal priesthood and a holy nation. ”

Francis this time took it further. Meanwhile, however, the Lutheran pastor from Rome, Jens-Martin Kruse, who had welcomed the visit of the Pope in his church on Nov. 16 and had heard the words, has already come to these conclusions:

“The pope has invited all the faithful to take responsibility before God, to decide according to their conscience if it is possible joint participation, between Catholics and Protestants, the Eucharist. There are no theological reasons why this is not so.”

Pastor Kruse said that in an interview to Zenit on 19 January. And on this very day in Rome, there are those who have gone from words to deeds.

On the morning of January 19, Francis gave an audience in the Vatican to a delegation from the Lutheran Church of Finland, led by a woman, Irja Askola, Bishop of Helsinki, accompanied by representatives of the minority Orthodox and Catholic bishops Ambrosius and Teemu Sippo.

But after the audience with the Pope, in the course of the liturgical celebrations that the delegation has officiated in Rome along with groups of faithful who came also from Finland, it happened during a Catholic Mass that communion was also given to the Lutherans.

This, at least, is what was reported by the Finnish Lutheran weekly “Kotimaa”, signaling the surprise of a member of the delegation, Samuel Salmi, bishop of Oulu, according to which the Catholic officiants knew very well to give communion to the Lutherans…

So, taking all that is said here, what do we know?

Magister begins by reaching back to the ecumenical event in November, wherein he strongly insinuated that a Lutheran woman could receive Holy Communion with her Catholic husband if her conscience and prayer led her to do so. You may recall that I wrote about this at the time it took place:

[T]he final paragraph gives us cause for much deeper concern, inasmuch as it indicates not just the pope’s thinking, but a program of action. Let’s look at the relevant section again:

I wouldn’t ever dare to allow this, because it’s not my competence. One baptism, one Lord, one faith. Talk to the Lord and then go forward. I don’t dare to say anything more.

In much of the commentary I’m seeing — commentary trying desperately to square the papal circle — the focus is on the first “dare”. The pope says he wouldn’t dare “allow this.” What is “this”? Permission for Lutherans to receive the Eucharist in Catholic churches. He says that it is “not my competence.”

[…]

The pope has not explicitly given permission to Lutherans to receive Communion. But — and this is a supersized “but” — he’s not telling them not to, either. In fact, he’s insinuating that it’s up to them. The final three sentences give the implicit permission to do just that:

“One baptism, one Lord, one faith.” Talk to the Lord and then go forward. I don’t dare to say anything more.”

Oh, but you must say something more, Holy Father! It is your solemn duty to do so. Good parents, whether they like it or not, have to say “no” to their children when they are doing something that will harm themselves. Even if the child really, really wants to do it.

Of course, we shouldn’t be too surprised by this, even if we find the reality of it rather shocking. We’ve already received plenty of warning that this is what he believes. We saw it in his favor for Kasper throughout the synodal process (and even in the statement above), along with his refusal to distance himself from the so-called “Kasper Proposal”. We saw it in his refusal to reassure the better part of a million Catholics who sent him the filial appeal. We saw it in his latest interview with Eugenio Scalfari, when Francis said, “the de facto appraisals are entrusted to the confessors, but at the end of faster or slower paths, all the divorced who ask [to receive Communion]will be admitted.” We saw yet another signal in the recent article from Fr. Spadaro, close confidant of Pope Francis, in which he indicated that the Synod has left the door open to Communion for the divorced and remarried – an article which Vatican watchers believe is indicative of the mind of Francis on the topic.

Why am I speaking here about Communion for the divorced and remarried when the topic is Communion for Lutherans? Because it’s all of a piece. 1 Corinthians 11:28 makes it clear how we must approach Holy Communion: “Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” What Francis, Kasper, and others have been advocating is the idea that this examination is not necessary. That rather than being fearful that we “eat and drink judgment (or condemnation) against” ourselves if we receive the Eucharist unworthily, we should see it as the very means by which we may be strengthened on our “journey.” This is an outrageous form of utilitarianism, in which we use God — our first beginning and final end — to accomplish some other, lesser thing. If our worthiness to receive Him is treated as a matter of no importance, how can this be viewed as anything other than elevating the concerns of man — and man himself — above God?

Of course, this sort of humanism might produce other indicators – say, excessive concern for the material well-being of the poor, distribution of resources, or care for the environment – over and above concern for the salvation of souls.

Here now, Magister connects the same dots I laid out in November. When the pope gives the impression that it is okay for Lutherans who have a clear conscience about it to receive Holy Communion in a Catholic Church, they reach the conclusion that it’s okay for them to receive Holy Communion in a Catholic Church.

In Internet-speak: obvious conclusion is obvious.

And that’s exactly what we have here. Look at Magister’s text again:

…the Lutheran pastor from Rome, Jens-Martin Kruse, who had welcomed the visit of the Pope in his church on Nov. 16 and had heard the words, has already come to these conclusions:

“The pope has invited all the faithful to take responsibility before God, to decide according to their conscience if it is possible joint participation, between Catholics and Protestants, the Eucharist. There are no theological reasons why this is not so.”

Now, to be clear: Jens-Martin Kruse was not, as far as I can tell from this report, present in Rome this week for the ecumenical gathering in question. He was not at the papal audience earlier today. But other Lutherans were. Lutherans who were under the impression that it was perfectly acceptable for them to receive Holy Communion at a Catholic Mass. Lutherans who received Holy Communion at a Catholic Mass from “officiants” (priests) who “knew very well to give communion to the Lutherans.”

The Holy Father was not there. He did not personally give communion to these Lutherans. The Mass in question was held some time after the papal audience. How connected the two were, in terms of those involved in each, is impossible to say from what has been reported.

But what is not impossible is to connect a line directly from the Holy Father’s remarks on November 16th to the open reception of Holy Communion at a Catholic Mass by Lutherans in Rome today.

Words matter. Implications matter. It is a total fallacy to believe that simply because some error isn’t explicitly stated that its presence, hinted strongly at but never fully proclaimed, it does no damage. Leading people to error even by insinuation is still giving scandal; if one engages in such behavior, the responsibility for the consequences are still theirs.

As a Vatican source told Edward Pentin back in November:

The Holy Father’s words have been causing widespread concern in Rome, leading some to go as far as to describe them as an attack on the sacraments. “The Rubicon has been crossed,” said one source close to the Vatican. “The Pope said it in a charming way, but this is really about mocking doctrine. We have seven sacraments, not one.”

We are on a trajectory that includes an official celebration by the Catholic Church, led by the pope, on the 500th anniversary of the deepest wound the Christian faith has ever suffered. We will jointly commemorate the arch-heresiarch, Martin Luther, along with his ideological descendants. What other ecumenical abuses will we endure as this date approaches?

We’re not in Kansas anymore. We’re not in Rome. Hell, we’re not even in Avignon.

This is almost certainly not the last we’ll hear on this issue. God spare us from what comes next.

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