Thursday, December 17, 2015

Abp. Blase Cupich: Choose your own eucharistic adventure

One of the many reasons I oppose so-called extraordinary ministers is that a Catholic bishop can say “It’s not up to any minister who is distributing the Eucharist to make a decision about a person’s worthiness or lack of worthiness. That’s on the conscience of those individuals” and it would be hard to disagree with him. Can Steve the pizza delivery guy who distributes communion on Sundays tell me if I can receive or not? Of course not. At the same time this entire argument as presented below is ridiculous. And I mean that in the "subject to ridicule" way.

CHICAGO, December 11, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich has proved himself again the leading American exponent of the German school of theology, telling an ABC interviewer that it was up to divorced and remarried Catholics and homosexuals to decide for themselves if they took Holy Communion, not their priests or bishops.

The archbishop also reaffirmed his general opposition to Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law, which requires ministers of the Eucharist to withhold Communion from those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin." The canon has been relevant most prominently in relation to pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

Cupich first outlined his views on Communion for active homosexuals at a press conference during the recent Synod where he insisted such matters were for the individual to decide using his or her own conscience.

Now, back from that event, he told Alex Krashesky of ABC Eyewitness News the same thing, modifying his previous remarks only slightly to reflect conditions attached to the Synod’s Final Report – that every person’s conscience must be formed “according to the teaching of the Church.”

Krashesky asked for an explanation of the archbishop’s comments during the Synod. Cupich responded, “We expressed an aspiration that people who are stuck in a system who need to be reconciled to the Church … might have another opportunity to have their case considered through what we would call an internal forum rather than the external forum of the annulment process. That was presented to the Holy Father. The mechanism for that has not been defined yet.”

When asked if the same “internal forum” could be used to secure Communion for sexually active homosexuals, he said that it could. “When people who are in good conscience working with a spiritual director come to a decision, then they need to follow that conscience. That’s the teaching of the Church. So in the case of people receiving Communion in situations that are irregular that also applies. The question then was: Does that apply to gay people? My answer was: they’re human beings too. They have a conscience. Thy have to follow their conscience.”

He continued: “They have to be able to have a formed conscience, understand the teaching of the Church, and work with a spiritual director and come to those decisions. And we have to respect that.”

“It’s not up to any minister who is distributing the Eucharist to make a decision about a person’s worthiness or lack of worthiness. That’s on the conscience of those individuals,” he added.

George Weigel, in a 6,000-word account of the Synod in First Things, presents the “internal forum” idea as a last-minute, face-saving effort by the German party to get something in the Final Report of their hoped-for rapprochement with the sexual revolution. In the main, said Weigel, “the Relatio Finalis affirms that there can be no wedge driven here between ‘doctrine’ and ‘pastoral practice’… In other words, worthiness to receive Holy Communion is a matter of living in the truth.”

But the Synod had to vote down three arguments from the Germans. The first was that as long as lip service was paid to the doctrine that marriage was indissoluble, the Church could give permission to those openly flouting it through remarriage or homosexuality to take Communion. This, noted Weigel, was demolished in the introductory remarks of Cardinal Peter Erdo of Hungary, who declared it utterly inconsistent with what the Gospels, St. Paul, and the teachings of recent Popes, especially John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio, all taught about marriage. Those in irregular marriages could stay in them for the sake of their children, but could be admitted to Communion only if they committed to refrain from sexual relations.

Then the Germans tried what Weigel dubbed “Plan B”: this was “local option Catholicism,” whereby each national church would decide the matter for itself. This was rejected as an anti-Catholic absurdity, said Weigel. “Plan C” is recognizable as Cupich’s basic premise: that conscience is supreme, “as acknowledged by Vatican II in its Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae.” But opponents led by Toronto’s Cardinal Thomas Collins quickly countered, in Weigel’s words, that “The Catholic Church (and Dignitatis Humanae) had never considered ‘conscience’ a free-floating faculty of choice detached from religious and moral truth.” Plan C too was voted down.

The last resort Weigel calls “Plan D” – to leave the matter to be resolved by the “internal forum” of the confessional, actually a reiteration of the conscience argument. It was allowed to be put into the Final Report, but much circumscribed by the condition that a good conscience was one which not only was based on, as Cupich put it, “an understanding” of Church teaching, but conformed to it.


  1. Papalism and Orthodoxy are too different religions. To an Orthodox Christian papalism comes across as Renovationism allowed to run amuck for centuries until it totally defaced almost all affinities it had with Orthodoxy, the Catholic Church.

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  3. To a degree, Archbishop Cupich is correct. Whether or not to receive Holy Communion is a question for personal conscience and is not the call of the minister. No one can force me to receive Holy Communion and no one should, under ordinary circumstance, deny me Holy Communion. This is so even when the minister is a priest.

    At the same time. there are situations in which the minster of Holy Communion--be he a priest or deacon (as is the Orthodox practice) or a layperson (as is the Catholic practice) can--and indeed, must--refuse Holy Communion to someone.

    For example, suppose someone comes up the the chalice and tells me that he is not an Orthodox Christian. Maybe he does this spontaneously or maybe he does so in response to my asking him if he is an Orthodox Christian (I've had both happen). In this situation I not only MAY withhold Communion I MUST do so since the individual is not an Orthodox Christian.

    Because of recent the recent Supreme Court decision same sex couples can now contract a civil marriage. If one or both partners are Orthodox Christians and I know they are in a civil union then I must deny them Holy Communion. Why?

    The short answer is this. Marriage, by its very nature, is a PUBLIC matter. It isn't about how two people feel about each other or whether or not they are sexually active. Enter a civil union, whether you are gay or straight, and you are publicly holding yourself out (rightly or wrongly) as married.

    By entering into a same-sex civil union a couple is not only declaring themselves married but do so in a manner that PUBLICLY rejects the Tradition of the Church as it pertains to marriage. The key here is that civil unions, like natural and sacramental marriages, are PUBLIC events.

    When someone publicly separates himself from the Church, as when he publicly declares he is not an Orthodox Christian, I must withhold Holy Communion.

    This is why, to take another example, I must withhold Communion from a couple (gay or straight) who are living together and who present themselves as a couple. Because their actions are publicly at odds with the Gospel and this is so even if their situation is known to only a few individuals.

    Holy Communion, like marriage, like same-sex unions, like cohabitation, are all public events.

    When the sin is hidden (not public) the priest has I think a greater degree of latitude to give Holy Communion or not. If, for example, a person comes to confession and says that he is struggling--and failing--to abstain from masturbation (or gluttony) then I can (depending on circumstances, i.e., repentance) admit him to Holy Communion. I can do this not because the sin isn't serious but because the sin is hidden.

    But other sins, like fornication, adultery and sodomy, are by their very nature public--they always involve another individual and so ALWAYS harm at least two parties. I can't give Holy Communion to someone who actively harms his neighbor even if the harm is by "mutual" consent.

    The moral problem is that some public actions are, by their very nature, mutually exclusive. "And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?" (2 Cor 6:15, NKJV)

    I think Archbishop Cupich's analysis is inaccurate on a more fundamental level. While we must obey our conscience we must first form our conscience according to the Tradition of the Church. It is this conscience, the well and rightly formed conscience, that I am obligated to obey. The primacy of conscience is not subjectivism or emotivism. It is rather a matter of my free and willing obedience to the Tradition of the Church. This is especially important when that Tradition conflicts with my own desires however sincere they may be.

    Finally, it may very well be that a person sincerely (if wrongly) believes he should receive Holy Communion. But I too have a conscience and my conscience tells me that I cannot, and must not, give Holy Communion to those who publicly reject the moral or dogmatic tradition of the Church.

    1. Father Jensen-

      You rightly focus on the public nature of both the sin and the reception of communion. Please correct me if I am wrong, the idea that encapsulates your concern is scandal. For sinful acts that are notorious (known to the community), giving communion to those who engage in such acts might be seen by others as a sign of the Church's approval for those acts, thus leading others to do the same.

    2. Scandal is EXACTLY the concern. I avoid the word because it is often, wrongly, equated with emotional distress. While feelings can be important, the sin of scandal is anything that causes the faithful to assume (as you rightly point out) that (1) the Church approves of sinful acts and (2) so tempts others to engage in them.

      Basically by communing a same-sex couple in a civil union or a opposite sex couple who are cohabiting is to tempt others to engage in the same sins.

      I think the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2285) does an especially good job of summing up while the Archbishop's policy is gravely misguided: "Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: 'Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.'" It goes on to say that "Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep's clothing."

      Orthodox clergy who commune notorious (that is, public) sinners are guilty of the sin of scandal and of leading the faithful astray.

      Thanks for the response!

      In Christ,

      +Fr Gregory

  4. The Priest in the Orthodox Church is entrusted with the care of the Mysteries and that they not be shared with people either secretly reviling them or publicly doing so. That is why Confession preceding Holy Communion really should be normative everywhere.

    We have gone from Holy Communion a handful of times a year to Holy Communion anytime, anywhere, to anyone. Both practices are extreme and sectarian.

    The Holy Apostle Paul counsels against communing unworthily. His epistles are a textbook in moral theology. His admonitions are administered by Priests and Bishops. End of the story. No need for Renovationist revisions.

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  6. This is a good example of why I have lost all respect for most Roman Rite Catholic Archbishops, Cardinals, and Bishops. With the exception of a small few (Cardinal Burke, Bishop Athanasious Schneider, etc..). This also shows the deficiency of the Roman rite (Ordinary Form), vs the much better, and like the Holy Divine Liturgies, the more traditional, Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite. In the Extraordinary form the rubrics are to be strictly followed. No protestant innovation, like there is in the Ordinary Form (Altar Girls, Lay people handing out Holy Communion, folk songs, etc...). And last but not least the priest "TURNING HIS BACK" on God in the tabernacle. So the focus is not on God but him the priest. Like a bus driver facing his passengers, and not facing the road. Bound to be a disaster waiting to happen. My two cents!!.

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  8. Not a problem of rites so much as a problem of heresy. Heresy darkens the intellect and soul through pride to the point of demonization. This is a demonized rant.

    The Novus Ordo vs the Trent Rite vs. The Anglican vicariate can all be cleaned up with minor work in the Orthodox Church. It is the ecclesiology and the moral theology which here is astoundingly blatent and fallen. Moreover, Uniate rites are no better in their views generally. Outside of Orthodoxy, there is no Catholic Truth. This is all fakery and a religious counterfeit.

    1. You've over stated your case.

      Either the various rites "can all be cleaned up with minor work in the Orthodox Church" or else "Outside of Orthodoxy, there is no Catholic Truth." If the latter, than the former is not simply not possible since, as you assert (and contrary to what the Orthodox Church teaches) "all is fakery and a religious counterfeit." Aquinas, to take but one example, has a sound moral theology.

  9. Seems the papists themselves don't agree with Aquinas, then do they? So that's neither here nor there.

    A rite outside of the Church is theatrics, true enough. But within the Church it gains mystagogical significance and imparts grace by the HOLY SPIRIT.

    Only sedevacantists and Old Believers believe a rite in and of itself has Grace. And you impress us as neither.

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  11. "can all be cleaned up with minor work".
    After 50 years it has gotten worse in terms of the Novus Ordo Mass. But more importantly, the theology of the Mass of the Roman Rite, has changed drastically. From a sacrifice to a celebration. An altar to a table. Consider what Byzantines suffered during the time of the iconoclasts. For the Byzantines, both Orthodox and Uniates, of today, it was not on our watch. But for Latin Catholics, it is on their watch today. So seeing the state of the Latin church, through the eyes, searching for tradition. It is all but confusing and hope seems lost. Remove the icons, let the laity distribute, any lay person hold the chalice and spoon. Replace the byzantine chant with folk music. Forget the incense. Than and only then would you understand what many Roman Rite Catholics, who choose only to express their worship of God, through the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, feels. With no support from most in the Latin Hierarchy. Just except the post Vatican 2 changes, or else leave. Cupich is that kind of Archbishop. Forget the rules and rubrics. Use your conscience. Will the Orthodox have a "Year of Mercy" and allow Roman Catholics to receive communion in an Orthodox Church. Just to show "Mercy". I highly doubt it!

    1. So, yes, you write of things we Orthodox began writing about already in the Eighth century. There shouldn't be azymes, no musical instruments in worship, venerate icons don't deprive the people of them, clerics should have beards as alter christae, there should be no filioque, a pronounced, definite epiklesis is a defense against nominalism, Rasa damnata, predestination, created Grace are things the Scriptures don't recognize: CHRIST's Beatitudes contradict the attitude toward "semi-pelaginism." ST. Paul condemned works of the law but called upon faithfulness in works and life in CHRIST. Tradition is not a legal code, but a way of life. Scripture is not a mythological narrative but GOD speaking with us. We are not responsible for Holy Father Adam's sin but through the fall we inherit mortality as a consequence of original sin.

      We are different religions. What was once different emphases of Chalcedonian theology has developed into a totally different religious system much like Lutheranism or Calvinism is from Papalism. You write of modernism introducing Rome to Reformation. We wrote of this long ago when we condemned the use of azymes. So, yes, I understand your point of view. Yes, pre-Trent papalism was still in many ways closer to Orthodoxy, but we are long estranged. And to us all of these Reformations in the West from azymes and filioque to Protestantism to counter reformation and unia to ultramontanism to Vatican II are all a generational process of deepening estrangement and alternative theology to the Truth of the Catholic Church, Orthodoxy. This Bishop's departure from Christian morality is the natural conclusion of that process

    2. But all that being said, the reason why some optimistic but sober Orthodox churchmen greeted Vatican II positively is because it made the point of emphasizing that the papal church could and would reassess and attempt to arrive at a more Catholic form of worship, theology, ontology by being ready to jettison accretions of centuries. But unfortunately it turned into a liberal triumph and an orgy of modernism, despite such things as EWTN. Even in the papal openess to Orthodoxy, the requirement still is Unia with a silent "grow up and get modern" imparted to it.

      Let's say one last thing there. Papal use of rites other than the Roman is not so much an issue if other rites are used to evangelize Western Christian or pagan, non Christian lands. But the use of Unia is predicated on open rebellion from Orthodox Bishops, apostasy from the Orthodox Faith, acceptance of all these innovations you have decried plus those condemned in Orthodoxy to ratify a papal ecclesiology and the cult of personality of the pope. Unia is not used to evangelize anyone but the Orthodox in historically Orthodox lands to claim them for Rome. The knights of fatima and the blue scapular are very much in the mainstream of papal thought vis a vis Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy would be glad to work with Rome in the understanding and development of Byzantine missions in theory, but the existence of an open religious counterfeit like Unia as a vehicle of apostasy from Orthodoxy slams the door on such possible collaboration or any, real lasting rapproachment: the existence of unia screams Rome's goal is conversion of Orthodox to its religious system and that that is the reality Rome sees in reunion of the Orthodox. Nothing smacking of papal monarchy and universal jurisdiction will ever be ratified by the Orthodox.

      The optimism left then is that Rome with Vatican II opened the door to a restoration of Catholicism in the papal church by acting to jettison innovations and restore (at least in a sense) pre schism practices. A future council could act to restore Orthodox Faith and practice, reflecting perhaps more local western flavors, in the papal church. And this would be the necessary overture to reunion with Orthodoxy. But firstly Rome must act responsibly with its Uniates and bid them to either return to Orthodoxy or to become full blown papal Christians with the understanding that Rome can restructure its understandings of ecclesiology and papal jurisdiction.

  12. A novus ordo mass with an, to use the Roman word, ordo reflecting a traditional Latin ordo or Sarum or even Byzantine ordo with minor changes in the Canon like a direct epiklesis following the words of institution, is really not that much different from Western Rite Orthodox liturgy, even with the mass said facing the people ala the Liturgy of St. James Byzantine as celebrated by the Orthodox in Jerusalem.

    The Uniates have had their own liturgical vandalisms from the the Maronite rite to the latinizations following Zamosc to the war on iconostasions and the sacral nature of the altar following Vatican II to placate hierofeminists, Orthodoxophobes and various modernists to the new rites Ruthenians and "Ukrainians" have concocted. In a word, all rites, even the venerable Carthusian, have fallen to what Pius X called the "heresy of modernism."

    In general, I think the new papal catechism is better than old counter reformation formulations, than say the Baltimore Catechism. But from an Orthodox perspective, irregardless of rite, papalism through innovations and doctrinal development morphed into another religion from Orthodoxy, irregardless of rite. Why the divine spark thesis of Thomas Aquinas and the subsequent scholastic method of deduction nominalized faith and worship and turned it into a rational formula. For us Orthodox concepts like Tradition, Scriptureus, magisterium (which we term the Patristic Mind open to all believers), theology, worship, stewardship are all an ontological reality, real, direct, participatory in the Uncreated Energies of GOD, personal, personalization in CHRIST. What Elder Sophrony called "christification." It isn't a matter of "newer rites prevailing and the older passing away" as Aquinas posits in his hymn, pange lingua. It is a matter of living in CHRIST in faith and love.

  13. To partake of Communion within the Church, that is to constitute the BODY and BLOOD of CHRIST, you must first become a member of the BODY of CHRIST, the Church. Outside of CHRIST the Eucharist is impossible. The Eucharistic Mystery is not only profaned by administration to a person who has not accepted the capability of living in the BODY and BLOOD in HIS Church but also a heretical act affirming that outside of CHRIST participation in the LIFE of HIS BODY and BLOOD is possible. We Orthodox can't have open Communion without denying salvation in CHRIST.

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