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Bishop Paprocki On Communion Debate . . . “There Should Be No Unity With Iniquity”

June 30, 2021 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By ALEJANDRO BERMUDEZ

DENVER (CNA) — In a statement published on Wednesday, June 23, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois lambasted recent media coverage of the USCCB vote to draft a document on the Eucharist.
Among the errors pointed out in the statement were claims by several media outlets that the “Vatican had warned the Catholic bishops of the United States not to pass this proposal.”
Said Bishop Paprocki, “That is simply false.”
To clarify the issue, the bishop continued, “In fact, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, SJ, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had written to the president of the USCCB calling for ‘dialogue . . . first among the bishops themselves, and then between bishops and Catholic pro-choice politicians within their jurisdictions.’ In fact, bishops and politicians have been dialoguing about this issue for many years.”
He argued that the draft document was “precisely” the impetus needed to give the dialogue form and substance. USCCB procedures will now allow for regional bishops’ meetings to discuss the document and a formal debate and vote on the document — with the ability to propose amendments — at the November meeting.
Additionally, he noted that one of the “misleading arguments” was voiced by bishops and cardinals inside the USCCB. These bishops and cardinals argued that “drafting this document…would be divisive and would harm the unity of the bishops’ conference,” according to the statement.
However, Bishop Paprocki countered: “There should be no unity with iniquity.”
“Yes, we should strive for unity, but our unity should be based on the truths of our faith as found in Sacred Scripture and the constant Tradition of the Church. No one should want to be united on the path to perdition.”
The bishop stressed that other members of the hierarchy in Latin America united in the teaching on “Eucharistic coherence” — “including Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis).”
The Latin American bishops were the first to use the term “Eucharistic coherence,” though they were building off of the term “Eucharistic consistency” used in Sacramentum Caritatis by Pope Benedict XVI. The term has been explosive in the American context, though it has been a feature of theological and papal thought with little controversy before immersion into its current context.
Addressing yet another inaccuracy, he asserted that Eucharistic consistency isn’t simply about “abortion and euthanasia,” but the problem of grave sin “of any kind.”
While mainstream reporting has often given the impression that the bishops recently decided only one sin will prevent someone from reception of the Eucharist, “It has been the constant teaching of the Catholic Church for the past two thousand years that those persons conscious of grave sin must first repent, confess their sins to a priest, and receive sacramental absolution before receiving holy Communion,” said the bishop.
“This teaching is reflected in the Church’s canon law and sacramental discipline,” he noted.
Finally, Bishop Paprocki concluded with a description of the oath taken by a bishop at his Ordination and an exhortation to his brother bishops to “have the courage to fulfill their solemn oath.”
The oath reads: “In fulfilling the charge entrusted to me in the name of the Church, I shall hold fast to the deposit of faith in its entirety; I shall faithfully hand it on and explain it, and I shall avoid any teachings contrary to it. I shall follow and foster the common discipline of the entire Church and I shall maintain the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those contained in the Code of Canon Law.”

  • + + (Editor’s Note: With the kind permission of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., we reprint below the entire text of Bishop Paprocki’s statement, which is dated June 27 and first appeared in the Catholic Times.)
  • + +

Lex Cordis Caritas. . .

The Law Of The Heart Is Love

Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki
Bishop of Springfield in Illinois

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

When I was named a bishop by Pope John Paul II in 2003, my family gave me a framed picture depicting Jesus standing in a boat calming the storm. It is based on the Gospel passage that relates this story (cf. Matt. 8:23–27, Mark 4:35-41, and Luke 8:22-25). The picture hangs in my office at the Catholic Pastoral Center here in Springfield and serves to remind me that Jesus is with us in the ship that is the Church, and we should turn to Him when the boat is battered by various storms.
We live indeed in stormy times. Good news this month brought some relief to the storms that have afflicted the Church recently. The first was the unanimous decision of the United States Supreme Court in favor of Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which had been prevented by the City of Philadelphia from providing foster care services because they would not place children in homes of same-sex couples.
This case was decided on narrow grounds specific to the facts in Philadelphia, so it remains to be seen what effect this will have in other places, such as here in Illinois where our Catholic Charities were forced out of foster care and adoption services 10 years ago because we would not agree to the State’s demands that we act contrary to our religious beliefs.
The other hopeful sign earlier this month was the affirmative vote of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) authorizing the drafting of a document on the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church. This measure was approved by a majority of 73 percent of the bishops who voted. Unfortunately, the minority of bishops who are opposed to drafting this document were very vocal in their opposition, so the path ahead to final approval of a clear statement of the Church’s teaching and discipline in this important matter will not be easy. Please pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us through these storms.
There are some false narratives and misleading arguments that are being promoted with regard to the proposed USCCB document. Several media outlets, for example, reported that the Vatican had warned the Catholic Bishops of the United States not to pass this proposal. That is simply false. In fact, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, SJ, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had written to the president of the USCCB calling for “dialogue…first among the bishops themselves, and then between bishops and Catholic pro-choice politicians within their jurisdictions.” In fact, bishops and politicians have been dialoguing about this issue for many years.
Approving the drafting of a document is precisely how the dialogue will continue to move forward. The plan is for bishops to discuss this in regional meetings across the country during the summer before it is presented to the full body of bishops at our in-person meeting in November, which will be subject to the usual process of proposing amendments and debate before a final vote is taken. The draft document is precisely what is needed to focus and continue the dialogue.
One of the misleading arguments voiced by some bishops and cardinals opposed to drafting this document was that doing so would be divisive and would harm the unity of the bishops’ conference. Yes, we should strive for unity, but our unity should be based on the truths of our faith as found in Sacred Scripture and the constant Tradition of the Church.
No one should want to be united on the path to perdition. There should be no unity with iniquity. If there is division among the bishops, which it appears sadly that there is, unity will not be achieved by everyone keeping silent about the issues that divide us. The only way to heal division is to confront it and dialogue about it until there is consensus about the truth of the matter. One bishop summed it up well when he said we should be united on “Eucharistic consistency” the same way the bishops of Latin America, including Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis), were united around what they called “Eucharistic coherence.”
In this regard, the outline for the proposed USCCB document includes a section on “Eucharistic consistency” to address the obstacles to Eucharistic communion posed by “the problem of serious sin” of any kind, not just abortion and euthanasia. It has been the constant teaching of the Catholic Church for the past two thousand years that those persons conscious of grave sin must first repent, confess their sins to a priest, and receive sacramental absolution before receiving holy Communion. This teaching is reflected in the Church’s canon law and sacramental discipline.
Before a bishop is ordained, he takes the following oath of office with his hand upon the Book of the Gospels: “In fulfilling the charge entrusted to me in the name of the Church, I shall hold fast to the deposit of faith in its entirety; I shall faithfully hand it on and explain it, and I shall avoid any teachings contrary to it. I shall follow and foster the common discipline of the entire Church and I shall maintain the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those contained in the Code of Canon Law.”
St. Thomas More is quoted as saying to his daughter Margaret, “What is an oath then but words we say to God?…When a man takes an oath, Meg, he’s holding his own self in his own hands. Like water. And if he opens his fingers then — he needn’t hope to find himself again.”
We must pray for all bishops to have the courage to fulfill their solemn oath.
May God give us this grace. Amen.

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