Archbishop's message to Catholics who don't agree with teachings

My question will focus on the spiritual welfare of people in disagreement with Church teachings.

Last year, Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark issued the following instructions to Catholics in disagreement with key Church teachings.

I urge those not in communion with the Church regarding her teaching on marriage and family (or any other grave matter of faith) sincerely to re-examine their consciences, asking God for the grace of the Holy Spirit which “guide [us] to all truth” (John 16:13). If they continue to be unable to assent to or live the Church’s teaching in these matters, they must in all honesty and humility refrain from receiving Holy Communion until they can do so with integrity; to continue to receive Holy Communion while so dissenting would be objectively dishonest.

I wonder whether people who cannot or will not agree with these teachings would be better off finding a sympathetic parish (either within or outside of their archdiocese) or to worship in a more liberal denomination. The archbishop’s statement seems clear to me.

Please note: I am not being judgmental about people with these views. I am asking for your opinions about the spiritual welfare of such people.

I would say neither. Going to a more sympathetic catholic church or a non catholic church will not help them but only do them more harm. Doing this is only attempting to make truth conform to their desires rather than accept the truth as it is. Hopping around will not take the spiritual cancer away. And receiving Communion as they are will only make it worse.

The Archbishop said it very kindly for their own good.

I’m not sure how relevant this is, but the Archbishop’s pastoral letter (which came out in September 2012) also instructed Catholics not to vote for politicians who support same-sex unions. He also instructed Catholic politicians to oppose same-sex marriage. He seemed to be attaching a spiritual penalty for political views – thus attempting to sway the outcome of elections.

I’m not saying that’s good or bad. I’m just making an observation.

The views may be political on one level, but more fundamentally they concern morals; and on morals the Church has the authority and obligation to speak out.

As far as I am aware, there is indeed a “spiritual penalty” if we knowingly vote for a politician who supports what the Church teaches is morally wrong. Sometimes, we do have the obligation to choose the lesser evil, so to speak, between candidates, but we are obliged to do our best to be well-informed so as not to vote for a politician who supports abortion, euthanasia, etc. if at all possible.

I believe CAF may have released a pamphlet on the matter, but I can’t remember exactly where it came from. However, as Catholics we are obliged to live our faith in every aspect of life. This includes opposing candidates whose views are considered immoral by the Church. Or, as you put it, to sway elections.

And we are obliged to refuse communion in we are in a state of mortal sin. The people in disagreement with the Church will not be better off outside of the Body of Christ. To have a relationship with Jesus is to have a relationship with the Church he founded. Let’s pray they will see their errors and come back to the fullness of faith.

I’m greatly saddened by this whole situation. It’s not up to me to question the Archbishop’s authority. But I wish that sinners of a certain stripe weren’t completely cut off from Holy Communion. I suppose it is their choice. And as you noted, this prohibition exists for all those in mortal sin. The Archbishop chose to focus on this one matter in his pastoral letter, which specifically dealt with marriage and the family.

By way of interest, Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson took a different tone when he exhorted the faithful to vote according to the Church’s teachings. And he listed many different issues.

It is their choice. No one forces them to commit a mortal sin. If they are unsure about Church teaching, while it is indeed the Church’s responsibility to teach the faithful, they too have an obligation to educate themselves. There is no reason why people shouldn’t know their faith; the Catechism is available to all, but it’s their choice to read it or not.

Why shouldn’t they be cut off from Communion? It is deeply saddening that our brothers and sisters a in disagreement with their Mother, but that does not change the reality that to take Communion in a state of mortal sin is a sacrilege and a grievous sin against Our Lord.

So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. — 1 Cor. 11:27

In fact, Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 11:29 that whoever takes the Eucharist unworthily “eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” It’s not as if it’s a light matter. The Archbishop has to say something; taking Communion in a state of mortal sin is not only an affront to Our Eucharistic Lord, it is dangerous for the communicant.

The most compassionate thing anyone could do is politely but firmly refuse the person communion, while at the same time gently correcting error and encouraging repentance. It would be wrong of us to allow our brothers and sisters to continue hurting themselves and their souls. After all, we want people to get to Heaven, don’t we?

I think we all forget the immense grace we receive from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass…being present…praying/assisting in the Celebration of the Sacrifice at Calvary and the Heavenly Banquet. Take note of this:


2041 The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor:

2042 The **first precept **(“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor”) requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.82

The second precept (“You shall confess your sins at least once a year”) ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness.83

The third precept (“You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season”) guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy.84

2043 The fourth precept (“You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church”) ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.85

The** fifth precept** (“You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church”) means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.86

The faithful also have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to his own abilities.87

This is the way I was taught—Mass…must be weekly…Eucharist…must be once a year…both are the minimum requirements…So attendance at Mass weekly is paramount and imperative to sustain our Faith, Hope and Charity…the Theological virtues. As great a gift and Source and Summit of our Faith…as the Holy Eucharist is…we can get to heaven just receiving once per year…but if we miss Sunday Mass…and Holy Days of Obligation…by our own free will…we gravely and severely jeopardize our salvation. It was not until Pope Saint Pius X (1903-1910)…in 1905 who exhorted all the fiathful to receive Holy communion frequently…daily if possible. So for @ 1,915 years…the faithful sanctified their lives and attained entrance into the Beatific Vision of Heaven…by Sunday Holy Mass, Reading the bible, and other Liturgical celebrations and personal prayer devotions…and receiving the Eucharist very infrequently.

So, no Catholic who disagrees with the Church’s Faith and Moral teachings…would be well advised to go to a more faith and morally accommodating community faith group…a community where he/she will certainly not be participating in the one true sacrifice of Calvary.

Lastly, the Catholic Moral issues of today…have been the Church’s teachings consistently…for 2000+ years…the fact that they have been politicized…become “political footballs”…is not the Church’s fault…and the Church/Bishops’ exhortation/admonitions…is focused on the Souls entrusted to them…and their salvation. This particular bishop is simply saying to his flock…“I will die for you…but I won’t go to hell for you…”! Ignorance will not be a defense at our Particular Judgment at the moment of death…when we have bishops who fulfill their role as teachers of the Faith and protectors of the Deposit of faith…the Faith that is Apostolic…handed down from Christ, in the Holy Spirit, and through the Twelve (the apostles selected by Christ himself) and their successors…especially the current Pope…in any day and age.

Pax Christi

Ditto to Lancer. And let’s not forget how often Our Lord and many saints have taught that obedience is a virtue. Certainly attending Sunday Mass and other Holy Days of Obligation while, if necessary, refraining from receiving Communion in obedience to Christ and Holy Mother Church is far more pleasing to God than committing a sacrilege for the sake of our own feelings or prejudices.

That’s an excellent point.

Archbishop Vigneron of Detroit made a similar statement this year.

Starting in the late 1960s, like chipping apart a great wall, Church teaching about real human sexuality and the family were under constant assault. Killing a baby in the womb became legal in 1973. After that, the media gradually began to model anti-family behavior in movies, TV and other media.

And gay marriage? That is against Church teaching, even though there are some places, some other churches that will perform the ceremony.

The Church is drawing a line in people’s minds - be clear, understand and obey or do not present yourself for Communion - the Body of Christ.

The Church is basically saying: “Why are you a Catholic if you don’t follow Catholic teaching?” I have read nothing that tells people to skip Mass, but now, today, is the time to answer that question.

  1. Should I really get to know the person I’m about to marry or just make sure the sex part is OK? Too many Catholics know almost nothing about the person they’re about to marry until after the ceremony.

  2. Cohabitation with sex. The Church is telling us the odds of your getting divorced are greater, not less, because you cohabitated. And it’s a sin. And it’s just make-believe.

  3. Divorce. Real relationships can go through tough times. But instead of trying to deal with it, divorce is quicker. I’m not saying divorce is easy, but come on. I know way too many women with two or sometimes three divorces.

  4. Who needs a piece of paper? I’ll just shack up with some girl. That’s a sin.

And all the profanity and sex in the media? That’s healthy? No way.

The time to stop is now. The time to renew our minds is now. We might not be around tomorrow - yeah, fat chance! - ??? I heard that! Don’t fool yourself. Don’t be fooled. Make a list of “other things I can be doing that are Godly and fun.” Now.

And if you’re thinking, "I’ll catch a lot of negative comments if I stop watching - fill in the blank - or if I say no to gay marriage or abortion or cohabitation. All I can say is, we, including me, have been warned.


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