The following is a transcript of a Raised Catholic Podcast episode. To listen to the episode, click here.
Hi friends. As you may remember, last year the US Conference of Catholic Bishops were working to draft a policy that would bar the distribution of the Eucharist to public officials who supported access to abortion. It was a huge story at the time, maybe you remember it. Ultimately, Pope Francis weighed in and so did I, in an episode I’ve reposted for you this week called “Holy Communion.”
Well, the topic is in the news again, unfortunately, as the Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, has sent a letter to the faithful denying Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi communion in that Diocese based on her pro-choice stance.
Now, last year, the Vatican’s top doctrinal official, Cardinal Luis Ladaria said that this kind of politicization would, “become a source of discord rather than unity within the episcopate and the larger church in the United States.” Well, boy was he right.
Pope Francis, who has publicly stated that he has never denied the Eucharist to anyone, emphasized not a political but a pastoral approach. He said, “What should a shepherd do? Be a shepherd and not going around condemning or not condemning,” the pope said. “They must be a shepherd with God’s style. And God’s style is closeness, compassion and tenderness.” And he warned that one must distinguish between theological questions and pastoral ones, saying that: “As a pastor, you have to be a neighbor, and if you get this pastoral care out of the church, you become a politician.”
Well, this week’s episode is a primer on all things Eucharist, and I hope you willgive it a listen at this critical time in our Church. As we say at literally every mass, not one of us is worthy to receive the great gift of Jesus in the Eucharist – no priest or cleric, not your sweet grandma, no one, and our unworthiness is kind of the whole reason that He came here in the first place, so let that be the place from which we approach this important issue, friends. I’d like to leave you today with the wise and timely words of Fr. John D. Whitney, who said,
“I want to write a longer piece about those bishops who seek to keep some from the table of Christ, but for now I will say this: it is not your table (nor mine). Bishops, priests, etc. are neither the hosts nor the bouncers nor the ones who wrote the guest list. The Eucharist is the resurrected body of Christ given for the life of the world. Jesus Christ is the one who invites the guests (“all you who labor”); he is the host of those who come; he is the setter of the table; and he is the feast which is shared (“Take this, all of you. . .this is my body, this is my blood”). We are guests at the meal, and sometimes (by his calling) servers. So stay in your lane, please. The wait staff doesn’t get to exclude those who want to come. If you don’t like the company Christ calls (and, admittedly, it is a rag tag bunch of sinners, one and all), it’s you who need to leave the table, not them.”
Okay friends, here’s episode 27, originally recorded in June of 2021 but very relevant today: Holy Communion.
Find episode 27 and its transcript here.
Show Notes from the Original Episode
Show Notes from the Original EpisodeIn the wake of this week’s overwhelming decision by the USCCB to pursue a document on the Eucharist which may include guidelines for reception by Catholic public officials, our conversation this week is a primer on the Eucharist: what it is, its value and history, and precisely what Jesus had to say about both it and the priesthood as He instituted both on Holy Thursday. I hope these resources are helpful to you!
What Jesus had to say:1. Last Supper narrative from the Book of Matthew
Coverage of the Bishops’ decision:
7. from National Catholic ReporterWords from clergy:
8. from Fr. John Unni in his homily this past week at St. Cecilia’s Boston
9. from Pope Francis from his homily this year celebrating the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
10. from Pope Francis on this topic from St. Peter’s Square
11. ‘I Am The Bread of Life‘ discourse from Jesus on the Road to Emmaus
12. On Holy See envoy Archbishop Pierre’s words to the conference of bishops by Gabe Lewis from Where Peter Is: loving challenges about the Christian way of encounter and dialogue, and whether the church is meeting the true needs of the people at this time
13. Eat This Bread: A Radical Conversion, by Sara Miles
14. Rachel Held Evans on communion – whose table is it?