Communion for non-Catholics issue
Francis Boulle, Cape Town – Michael Shackleton’s column is always worth reading and the column Communion for non-Catholics? (October 1) needs further examination as the final comment is legalistic.
Two cases come to mind and need to be considered.
The first concerns a family of six, mother, father and four smallish children who arrived at a chapel for 7am Holy Mass on Christmas day some time ago. A relatively stern admonition was issued that you had to be a Catholic to receive Holy Communion. One parent was not a Catholic, but had bestirred himself to make Mass-going a family affair at an early hour on Christmas Day.
Surely latitude is needed to be inclusive and not exclusive, and who knows but a feeling of belonging (inclusive) might have encouraged this father of four to think of becoming a Catholic. I venture the opinion that he went away feeling excluded, perhaps even unwelcome. A lost opportunity?
The second occurred at the end of a person’s pilgrimage on the Camino in Spain.
The pilgrim, a minister of a non-Catholic church, joyfully went up to the altar during Mass at the end of the journey and received Our Lord’s body in her hand. She was in awe at the gift she had received. She went back to her seat and knelt adoring the greatness of Holy Communion, knowing that it was truly Jesus Christ that she had received and was about to consume.
A local custodian berated her in a language she did not understand, so did not know of her sin. The consecrated host was taken from her and returned to the ciborium. She literally wept at being denied the gift she truly believed she had received. Her belief in the true presence was at least as strong as that of any Catholic.
I know that there are dangers attached to the reception of Communion and possible desecration.
The numbers who go up to receive Communion at the end of the Camino are huge and a large number just have to be non-Catholic.
How does anyone judge the beliefs of the recipients, except to leave it to the conscience of each person?
Hooray for the majority of the hierarchy at the recent Family Life synod at the Vatican who voted in favour of introspection regarding stumbling blocks such as I have listed above. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may there be a new openness to inclusivity and away from exclusivity.