Pope hints at Lutherans having Catholic communion

Pope Lutherans resized

Pope Francis has suggested a Lutheran spouse of a Catholic should “talk to the Lord” in discerning whether or not to receive Communion with her husband.

Francis made the remark during a Q&A at a visit to Rome’s Evangelical Lutheran church on Sunday.

A Lutheran woman said she is married to a Catholic man and that the current prohibition on Lutherans receiving Communion in the Catholic Church causes them sadness.

The Pope stressed the role of personal discernment.

He 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.”

Pope Francis said he asked himself: “Is sharing the Lord’s Supper the end of a path or is it the viaticum for walking together?”

“It is true that in a certain sense sharing is to say that there are not differences among us, that we have the same doctrine – I underline the word, a word difficult to understand – but I ask myself: Don’t we have the same Baptism?” he continued.

“And if we have the same Baptism, we must walk together,” he said.

He told the couple: “You are a witness of an even [more]profound path because it is a conjugal path, a path truly of family, of human love, and of shared faith. We have the same Baptism.”

Francis referred to a pastor friend of his telling him:  “We believe that the Lord is present there. He is present. You believe that the Lord is present. And what is the difference?”

“There are explanations, interpretations,” said the Pope.

“Life is bigger than explanations and interpretations. Always make reference to Baptism.”

“‘One faith, one baptism, one Lord,’ Paul tells us,” Francis continued. “From there, grab hold of the consequences.”

“I will not ever dare to give permission to do this because it is not my competence,” he said.

“One Baptism, one Lord, one faith. Speak with the Lord and go forward. I do not dare to say more.”

Church law on the subject is covered in Canon 844.

Sources

‘Pope Francis has suggested a Lutheran spouse of a Catholic should “talk to the Lord” in discerning whether or not to receive Communion with her husband. Pope Francis made the remark during a Q&A at a visit to Rome’s Evangelical Lutheran church on Sunday.’

This latest news clip from ‘CATHNEWS’ indicates a willingness by Pope Francis to place the question – of whether or not the Lutheran spouse of a Roman Catholic could be allowed to share in the Eucharist with her husband at the Mass – into the context of the individual’s conscience, rather than strict obedience to the current embargo on reception of Holy Communion in the Roman Catholic Church by a non-Catholic.

Here again, in the wake of the Pope’s advocacy of making reception of the Eucharist a more open possibility for divorced  and remarried Catholics; this news comes as a welcome move of the possibility of eucharistic hospitality towards non-Catholics – people whose relationship to the Roman Catholic Church may be through their spouse’s membership.

The very fact that Pope Francis has taken time out of his busy schedule to visit a local Lutheran Church in Rome, and agreed to enter into open dialogue with  a lay Lutheran on this tricky subject, is plain evidence of his desire to bridge the gap between his own Church and other Churches of the Christian community.

However, in the article, the Pope makes it clear that he, himself, cannot give explicit permission for a non-Roman Catholic to receive the Holy Communion in a Catholic Church:

“I will not ever dare to give permission to do this because it is not my competence,” he said. “One Baptism, one Lord, one faith. Speak with the Lord and go forward. I do not dare to say more.”

In this admission, Pope Francis is proposing that – in the great scheme of things in the Roman Catholic Church – even the Pope is limited to what the doctrine of the Church currently allows. However, in this instance, Pope Francis is indicating that – at least in his own opinion – the primary relationship of all Christians is through their baptism into Christ. It is in this understanding that some of us – who believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Mass – already feel able to share in the sacrament of God’s Love for us as exemplified in the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

This has to be my favourite sentence spoken by Pope Francis:

“‘One faith, one baptism, one Lord,’ Paul tells us,” Francis continued. “From there, grab hold of the consequences.”

Here is a link from this week’s ‘Tablet’:

http://www.thetablet.co.uk/blogs/1/877/has-pope-francis-just-opened-a-door-for-non-catholics-to-receive-communion- 

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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