Pope Benedict has once again reafirmed his position that reception of the Eucharist requires adherence to Church doctrine. There must be “eucharistic consistency,” especially from those who are in the public square.
Yesterday (March 13) Benedict XVI released a 131 page apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist, Sacramentum Caritatis (“The Sacrament of Charity”). The document is the fruit of the Holy Father’s reflections on what was suggested by the bishops at the 2005 world Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist.
But will politicians and other public persons listen to the truth? The Holy Father states that reception of Holy Communion is not merely a private matter. It is a public witness that must be consistent with the profession of the whole truth of Christ:
Worship pleasing to God can never be a purely private matter, without consequences for our relationships with others: it demands a public witness to our faith. Evidently, this is true for all the baptized, yet it is especially incumbent upon those who, by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defense from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one’s children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms. These values are not negotiable. Consequently, Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce and support laws inspired by values grounded in human nature (83).
The Holy Father’s statement is consistent with his memo, promulgated while he was still prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, concerning “worthiness to receive Holy Communion.” Unfortunately, this memo was largely ignored by prelates and politicians during the 2004 election year. We shall see if these standards are upheld in 2008. At least one priest has decided enough is enough.