CDF to German Bishops on “Intercommunion” with Protestants: Hey, Fellas, not so fast!

Fatima Perspectives #1205

Sandro Magister has published at his blog the integral text of the letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to the German bishops on the subject of the plan by its episcopal conference to issue a document allowing for the administration of Holy Communion to the Protestant spouses of Catholics, presumably including the Protestant “spouses” of divorced and “remarried” Catholics — a sacrilegious twofer.  Such (with a few noble exceptions) is the corruption of the state-supported German hierarchy, which the Vatican pretends is still in communion with the Holy Catholic Church.

The CDF’s letter, signed by Cardinal Ladaria, the new head of the CDF, was prompted by the objection of seven dissenting German bishops who protested that the proposed sacrilege is contrary to the Faith and the unity of the Church. Magister writes that by approving issuance of the letter Francis has “blocked” the German bishops’ document.  True, but to read the text of the letter is to understand that Francis has said in effect: Don’t rush en masse toward an exit from the Church’s bimillenial discipline, rooted in divine law on the function of Holy Communion as the preeminent sign of the Church’s unity.  Rather, exit one at a time, diocese by diocese! In just the same way the bishops are abandoning the Church’s bimillenial prohibition of Holy Communion for public adulterers even though John Paul II, in line with Tradition, declared that it is “intrinsically impossible” to admit them to Communion.

The CDF’s loophole is found in paragraph 2(c) of its letter, which reads [translation mine]:

“The subject concerns the law of the Church, above all the interpretation of canon 844 CIC. Since in certain sectors of the Church there are in this regard open questions, the competent dicasteries of the Holy See are engaged in producing a timely clarification of such questions at the level of the universal Church.  In particular, it appears opportune to leave to the diocesan bishop the judgment on the existence of an imminent grave necessity.’

Here the CDF refers to Canon 844 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which allows for the administration of Confession, Holy Communion and Extreme Unction to Protestants when there is “the danger of death… [or] some other grave necessity urges it… provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.”

Putting aside the hugely problematic character of the unprecedented innovation involved in this canon as a universal norm, one can imagine a particular situation in which a dying Protestant, who makes an act of Catholic faith and wishes to confess his sins, can make a good confession and be given Holy Communion (the viaticum) on account of what is effectively a deathbed conversion, even if there is no time for formal instruction in the tenets of the Faith. (To be distinguished are cases not involving an emergency in which a Protestant would have to undergo the full process of formal conversion in order to be received into the Church.) Over the centuries, I have no doubt that Catholic priests, zealous for the harvest of souls as they are about to leave this world, have followed just that practice in order to save dying Protestants in hospitals, on battlefields and elsewhere without any need for a change in canon law.

Deathbed conversion aside, however, what constitutes a “grave necessity” for the administration of the Sacraments to a Protestant? Certainly not the mere fact of a Protestant’s marriage to a Catholic.  If that were a “grave necessity,” what wouldn’t be?  Yet, the CDF has clearly just authorized each diocesan bishop to decide for himself that intermarriage indeed constitutes a grave necessity. Nowhere does the CDF’s letter forbid such an “interpretation” of Canon 844.  Rather the letter as a whole is, if not a green light, a yellow light: proceed with caution, but only one bishop at a time.

Cardinal Müller, whom Francis strategically sacked as head of the CDF in favor of the “moderate” Ladaria, has written a devastating critique of the German bishops’ plot, which ought to be read in full.  In pertinent part, he writes:

“Though a denominationally mixed marriage and family is likely to be a great challenge for spouses and their children, it may, at the same time, be an opportunity from the ecumenical point of view. Most certainly, however, it does not represent a situation of ‘grave and pressing need,’ requiring the administration of the Catholic Church’s sacraments to the non-Catholic party for the salvation of his or her soul. If Protestant Christians come to the inner conviction that in their conscience they affirm the whole Catholic faith and its ecclesial form, then they must also seek full visible communion with the Catholic Church….

It is even suggested that bishops’ conferences or individual bishops have a magisterium of their own by which they can interpret Revelation in their own right in a manner that is dogmatically binding without ties to the pope and the universal episcopate. This proposal not only reveals a frightening lack of theological education, but it is nothing more than a monstrous attack on the unity of the Church in Christ.”

But it is precisely Francis — can anyone doubt it at this point? — who is unleashing a monstrous attack on the unity of the Church, as seen already with his explicitly approved fracturing of the universal Eucharistic discipline respecting the divorced and “remarried.” To recall his truly terrifying pronouncement in Amoris Laetitia:

“Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it. This will always be the case as the Spirit guides us towards the entire truth (cf. Jn 16:13), until he leads us fully into the mystery of Christ and enables us to see all things as he does. Each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs.”

Pure double-talk: unity of teaching and practice is necessary, except when it isn’t.  And pure Gnosticism as well: the Holy Spirit has yet to reveal the “entire truth” of Divine Revelation.  Francis, apparently, will issue various bulletins on what “the Spirit” has revealed lately.

May God help His Holy Church in the midst of this incredible debacle.

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