Pope Francis stirs debate on Lutheran spouses of Catholics receiving Communion [CH-UK]

The Pope tells Lutheran woman to ‘talk to the Lord’ in discerning whether or not to participate in Communion


They can not receive the Eucharist. They should not.

This is interesting. The Pope used the typically Lutheran title of ‘Lord’s Supper’ when referring to the Sacrament of the Altar instead of the generally Roman ‘Eucharist.’ Granted, both terms are used by both Lutherans and Catholics, but an interesting choice.

The entirety of the transcript can be found here: whispersintheloggia.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/life-is-bigger-than-explanations-to.html?m=1

It was a very very remarkable moment yesterday when this happened.

  • When Francis says “talk to the Lord” he is saying the same as when he spoke on the plane of those who “are seeking the Lord” and when in the square he said “listen to the Holy Spirit”. He always means through the appropriate authority.

  • I used to be told that a priest could discern whether a person discerns the Body of Christ properly (particularly if they are away from home).

  • Apparently Lutherans were a bit closer to the Catholic than other Protestants re. Communion, and reportedly there have recently been talks bringing them a bit closer (I don’t know how much closer).

  • Inheriting as it were a different church membership is different from something that has cropped up in personal history e.g remarrying (I don’t know if that is a stronger or weaker issue here).

  • Saying he is scared of Cdl Kasper is intended as a bit of a leg pull (even if Cdl Kasper may have said to him quietly beforehand that he is in a bit of a tight spot - I hope we will all appreciate Popes are not Great Dictators).

  • I suppose one discussion that will come out of this is, how formal does bringing-into-communion have to be? I like to think of these things being reasonably clear cut and definitely accompanied by copious instruction (also post-sacramental) and am not in favour of a campaign of silence being waged as it too often is about the ways one can participate in Catholic grace without partaking in the Communion species.

That was my first thought, too, which is why I checked out the whole transcript. I was taken aback by his unwillingness to outright say “no” or to clearly point to the Catholic Church as the authority.

I have personal anecdotal evidence in favor of this. This Lutheran has been permitted to commune at a Catholic altar, but did not.

We both profess the Real Presence of Christ from the Bread and Wine. Where Catholics use Transubstantiation to better explain it, Lutherans cover their eyes with their bibles and say it’s a mystical “Sacramental Union” that can’t be understood - yet Lutherans would obviously understand a change to have occurred in the Bread and Wine when the Verba are spoken. I’m wondering more and more if it’s a distinction without difference.

Does this mean the Catholic Church is moving closer to understanding some Protestant communions as right churches (even in a heavily qualified sense)? Or is it --and this is a scary thought-- a product of the post-modern, universalist, pluralist stuff?

:smiley: It was a welcome moment of levity. And it also eases the minds of Christians like me who are averse to concepts like Papal Infallibility or Universal Immediate Jurisdiction by Divine Right.

This is a question common to all traditional, liturgical Christian communions. My Lutheran communion, like yours, practices closed communion. Other Christians are welcome to come forward for a blessing and participate in other aspects of the liturgy. Perhaps that is enough to be thankful for until further doctrinal agreement can be reached.

I’d wait for an official translation before anything else.

I thought that the Church made Herself clear on this, and for centuries at that.

Non-Catholics cannot receive Communion; as not only may they be lacking the correct instruction on receiving communion (disposition of the soul and mind), they may not fully understand the doctrines on Transubstantiation and the fact that “Communion” isn’t just some bread and wine passed around, rather it IS the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Communion, rather,

CCC1324 The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” “The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.”

The other issue, which I touched on, is also the state of one’s soul.
As I understand it, a number of Lutheran denominations do not have Sacramental Confession, while some do. There is no doubt that all of us are sinners, and some of us will have committed mortal sins during our life.
One cannot risk Sacrilege by allowing ‘any old person’ to receive communion, unless they are fully aware of Church teachings, not practicing and/or teaching heresy and actively adhering to them.

It seems as though Francis has completely missed the mark here.

Some further, (scholarly) analysis from Fr. Z’s Blog

The way I read this is he’s trying to appeal to those who believe that all Christians should be able to receive. I think he’s trying to explain in a non-confrontational way that if they truly listen to the Lord, they will know that they should not receive.

But regardless… to me this shows that Bishops really should be Theologians. If they were, we wouldn’t have all this descent against the Bishops from the lay and priest level theologians… plus we would have more Bishops armed to fight heresy from heretical Bishops.

God Bless!

This is the first Pope I’ve ever lived under that makes me nervous nearly every time he opens his mouth. Its disconcerting. Couldn’t he just say “No!” it would be straight to the point and not confusing at all, and the truth.

Wouldn’t that mean that baptized Christians wouldn’t have to go through RCIA before receiving communion? So confusing.

I read the “I’m not competent to allow it” line and thought “if you’re not competent, then who is?” Then, the light when on: if the Pope isn’t competent, nobody is.


Yes, isn’t this interesting. :eek:

I read it as evidence that the Pope supports the Kasper proposal and the argument about following one’s conscience when taking the Eucharist. I expect more of the same. I am not sure how much of this is about reaching out to Lutherans in terms of resolving doctrinal differences.

I have said this before, but if we are heading toward incorporating the Kasper proposal and conscience arguments why not just allow everyone to take communion as some other denominations do.

I personally am getting really tired of this whole argument, this whole issue.

(I will also say re the consubstantiation and transubstantiation spat, I am fine with either one and actually kind of prefer consubstantiation. I settle for belief in the Real Presence and do not want to get lost in these kinds of squabbles about how God makes his Real Presence happen. Tempest in a teapot. Same goes for how one “accepts” in faith God’s grace and the subsequent transformation or lack thereof in humanity for that matter - IMHO so many angels on the head of a pin…:o) But I digress. I don’t think the Pope is focusing on these issues - it is about expanding communion in the Catholic Church. I can’t see him backing down on that issue.

I’m not Roman Catholic, but doesn’t Canon 844 come in to play here?

But what to do about those Lutherans and Anglicans who do profess the doctrine of the Real Presence? Those who do believe they are receiving Christ’s true and actual Body and Blood?

You misunderstand. All Lutherans teach that receiving Holy Absolution is necessary before communing. This is one reason why the Lutheran Divine Service always has public Confession and Absolution. From the Augsburg Confession (to which all Lutherans are bound):


Confession has not been abolished by the preachers on our side. The custom has been retained among us of not administering the sacrament to those who have not previously been examined and absolved.


And from the Apology:

…we also keep confession, especially because of absolution, which is the Word of God that the power of the keys proclaims to individuals by divine authority. It would therefore be wicked to remove private absolution from the church. And those who despise private absolution understand neither the forgiveness of sins nor the power of the keys.


Now, we can cite examples where Lutherans have been bad at being Lutherans, but we could do the same for Catholics.

What if it’s not ‘any old person?’ What if it’s someone who understands perfectly what Communion is, has attained Holy Absolution beforehand, and seeks to commune?

Please note that Lutherans do not believe in Consubstantiation (in fact, I’m not sure any Christian body actually does). Lutherans actually profess Sacramental Union. To the Lutheran, both Consubstantiation and Transubstantiation are incapable of describing the Divine Mystery that is the Lord’s Supper.

It’s interesting that you prefer Consubstantiation. If someone backed this Lutheran into a corner and made him pick an Aristotelian explanation, I’d probably lean toward Transubstantiation.

Well, that’s news to me. I thought consubstantiation was a Lutheran term. Obviously not. I am also no expert on the Orthodox here, but I think it is left to ‘mystery.’

As I understand it, consubstantiation means that the body and blood *coexist *with the substance of bread and wine. Transubstantiation says that the bread and wine become body and blood in all but “accidents” or appearance (I think the Orthodox end up here too.). Either way is fine. I like the idea of co-existence because it reminds me of the incarnation - God infuses Man - it’s not an annihilation of man’s substance. Personal preference. :wink: As stated above, as long as it’s a Real Presence, I am content to leave the details to God. I honestly think we are all quite close and I do not believe the minor differences justify arguing.

Yeah Cosubstantiation seems closer to the Anglican Receptionism view of the Eucharist.

I thought I actually read in Luther’s works where he said something to the effect that ‘the Church got along just fine without transubstantiation for centuries…’ clearly implying one was not obligated to believe that the substance of the bread and wine was annihilated. Jonathan Swift (Anglican) says the same thing so, yes, that made me think the Anglicans thought the same way.

Sorry to sound like a broken record, but I don’t think it matters as long as you believe Christ is present. Not a sign. It is easier for me to think of it as bread and wine and body and blood…helps me to really believe in his Real Presence.

Well , this is interesting, and possibly concerning

Most Lutherans I know (granted, I know more ELCA and LCMC than I know LCMS or WELS) don’t believe that the communion elements remain Body and Blood after the end of the service… so that’s one difference.

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