(Where are you going, Oh you modernists? )
By Fr. C. Daniels
Renewing their directives in the "Directory on Ecumenism for Southern Africa", the Southern African Bishop's Conference (SACBC) released a new document "after intensive consultation" with both the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian Unity, as claimed by Fr. Laubscher of Pretoria. This revision was considered necessary because in 1998 the officiating priest in Soweto's Regina Mundi Church, interpreted it as his right to give the former US President, Bill Clinton, a Southern Baptist, Holy Communion when he attended Mass there.
The New directives confusedly step a little back, giving an equally confusing "permission for Non-Catholics to make a spiritual communion when they participate in the celebration of Mass." We could indeed say much abut this, but, for brevity sake, let us consider the counter example given by the Pope himself.
On his visit to Rome, on 22nd February, Tony Blair assisted at the Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II and received Holy Communion from his hand. If Mrs. Blair and their children – who accompanied him on the trip – are baptized Catholics, this is not the case for Her Gracious Majesty’s Prime Minister. The Secretary of State justified the Pope’s gesture, saying there was no Anglican church to which Mr. Blair could go in the Vatican…. However, there are in fact three Anglican churches in the center of Rome. The Revd Jonathan Boardman, Chaplain of All Saints’, an Anglican church in Rome, said on Wednesday: "It could be significant. This little stone could start an avalanche. The granting of dispensations becomes highly charged to those of us to whom they aren’t granted."
In Britain, it is permissible for a non-Roman Catholic in a mixed marriage to receive communion under guidelines set down in "One Bread One Body", a 1998 Roman Catholic teaching document. Nevertheless, it states that, even in mixed marriages, "eucharistic sharing can only be exceptional." Circumstances for receiving communion might include the baptism or confirmation of the couple’s child.
Of course this can of worms was already opened in 1983 with the publication of the new Canon law. In particular, the new Canon 844, which is so contrary to what the Church has always taught, opened wide the doors to world wide sacrilege. This may be seen in the fourth paragraph of the said law:
What does "other grave necessity" mean, or how can a Protestant "manifest Catholic faith" or be "properly disposed?" The weakness in any law is found in the diversity of its interpretation. Yet the lawgiver, who is the Pope in the case of Canon Law, gives the official interpretation by his own acts.
Added to this merry-go-round, the case of Tony Blair produces yet more problems. He is Prime Minister of a country which kills around 250,000 babies per year. Moreover, he is partly responsible for new legislation, damaging to souls and to the whole population. By way of example, and only citing recent events:
• Homosexual relations are legal from the age of 16 (2002).
• New legislation against the "discrimination" of homosexuals, which in theory could lead to a summons of the English bishops before a tribunal, if they refuse Holy Orders to homosexuals (March 2003).
• Adoption legalized for homosexual couples (November 2002)
Even if Tony Blair were a Catholic, there are too many objective reasons for refusing him Holy Communion. The Church has always taught that the sacraments are to be refused to public sinners and that the priest who dares to administer them is guilty of grave sin, even punishable with ecclesiastical censures.
We are a long way from the time when a Pope had the courage to offend the King of England in order not to offend the King of Kings.
Finally let us note that this single act says more than a whole dossier on intercommunion ever could. As another Anglican source in Rome said: "There are too many exceptions being made. It’s a rising tide. This demonstrates the Pope’s keenness to get on - doing the little things that can be done rather than the big things."
Then again, what shall we say when the Pope contradicts his own writings. Following is an extract of his letter to the German Cardinals, 22nd February 2001:
Confusion and Contradiction are indeed the yeast in the modernist bread!