Have we at last got a pope who can think outside the conservatism of centuries of the Church?
In April, the Pope reportedly telephoned a woman, divorced and remarried, and told her that she should be allowed to have Holy Communion.
“Oh no!” said the conservatives.
But why not? “Because the Church says that only Catholics in a ‘state of grace’ can receive Communion.”
But this is surely a rule made up by our conservative forebears. Certainly not Jesus, who upbraided the Pharisees for such an outlook, where the “law” became more important than God’s
teaching (Mark:10).
I went a few weeks ago to a beautiful Easter service in our parish. The church was full of people of many nations, all praising as one the risen Christ. Everyone was happy and smiling, and our parish priest was terrific. But about 15-20 per cent of the congregation did not go
to Communion, and missed out on the most important part of Mass.
If Jesus had been in charge he would have invited everyone to partake. This was his celebration party, and who runs a celebration but says to some of the partygoers, “No food or drink for you. You’re not quite in the top league!”
Jesus fed everyone at the Last Supper, including Judas. And no one missed out on the loaves and fishes bunfight. The Prodigal Son got the seat of honour!
I have a particular difficulty with this. When I wanted to get married, my parents and the parish priest were concerned about this “mixed marriage” and wanted us even to go to a (Catholic) marriage counsellor.
We had the wedding eventually, but my wife was the pariah, and was not permitted to participate in the feast — in the church, at least.
At a particularly traumatic time, after a childbirth went wrong and my wife and child were not expected to live more than a few hours, a nurse asked me if they could call someone. I asked
for a Catholic priest. When he arrived I asked him to baptise the child and give my wife the last sacraments. He asked if my wife was a Catholic. I said she was, for fear he would not continue. He gave her the sacrament, and we prayed beside her and, thanks be to God, she
lived. I never regretted the lie.
My wife attended Mass, but not Communion, every Sunday as the children grew up. But she was never invited to help with flowers, cleaning, etc. in the church like the other ladies. When the children left home she stopped going, and now occasionally attends at Easter or Christmas. On those occasions I make sure she goes to Communion and I am sure Jesus is happy to visit her in person.
Funnily enough, her background is strong Irish Catholic. But when her father approached his parish priest about marrying his Church of England lady, the priest replied, “Not in my Church, you won’t”. The Church of England welcomed them both.
I also gave changing serious consideration, but I love going to Mass and receiving Communion. God has been really good to me when it really counted.
My wife and her mother have been wonderful. The Church has missed out on their contribution and they have missed out taking part in the family of the Church.
I am sure Jesus is happy to share his body and blood with all his children, not just us self-righteous ones.
Let’s share the love! Much as we hate to admit it, we Catholics are not the only children God has. And don’t we love all our children equally, even the not so good ones! They should get to
eat too. Didn’t Jesus mention that there was more rejoicing in heaven over one reformed sinner. Let’s make them feel part of our community from day one!
And perhaps if you feel I am wrong, ask yourself, “Am I worthy to receive Christ’s Body and Blood?” Deep down you know you probably are not worthy, because we are all sinners. My wife is
certainly a much better person than me.
Let Jesus have the last word. “Love your Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole mind, and your whole body, and your neighbour as yourself”.
Miles Cardale is a family man from Auckland.
We do not know what the Pope told Jacqui Sabetta in his phone call. All we know is what she and her husband said he said. — Editor