Because, he says, unrepentant public sinners could slip in among the faithful, and he does not want to back up their hypocrisy. The case of Catholic politicians who support abortion
There is one particular in the Masses celebrated by Pope Francis that raises questions that have so far gone unanswered.
the moment of communion, pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio does not administer
it himself, but allows others to give the consecrated host to the
faithful. He sits down and waits for the distribution of the sacrament
to be completed.
The exceptions are very few. At solemn Masses
the pope, before sitting down, gives communion to those assisting him at
the altar. And at the Mass last Holy Thursday, at the juvenile
detention facility of Casal del Marmo, he wanted to give communion
himself to the young detainees who approached to receive it.
Bergoglio has given no explicit explanation of this behavior since becoming pope.
But there is one page in a book he published in 2010 that allows one to infer the motives at the origin of this practice.
The book is a collection of conversations with the rabbi of Buenos Aires, Abraham Skorka.
At the end of the chapter dedicated prayer, the then-archbishop Bergoglio says:
had been an adulterer and had ordered a murder, and nonetheless we
venerate him as a saint because he had the courage to say: 'I have
sinned.' He humbled himself before God. One can commit enormous
mistakes, but one can also acknowledge them, change one's life and make
reparation for what one has done. It is true that among parishioners
there are persons who have killed not only intellectually or physically
but indirectly, with improper management of capital, paying unjust
wages. There are members of charitable organizations who do not pay
their employees what they deserve, or make them work off the books. [. .
.] With some of them we know their whole résumé, we know that they pass
themselves off as Catholics but practice indecent behaviors of which
they do not repent. For this reason, on some occasions I do not give
communion, I stay back and let the assistants do it, because I do not
want these persons to approach me for a photo. One may also deny
communion to a known sinner who has not repented, but it is very
difficult to prove these things. Receiving communion means receiving the
body of the Lord, with the awareness of forming a community. But if a
man, rather than uniting the people of God, has devastated the lives of
many persons, he cannot receive communion, it would be a total
contradiction. Such cases of spiritual hypocrisy present themselves in
many who take refuge in the Church and do not live according to the
justice that God preaches. And they do not demonstrate repentance. This
is what we commonly call leading a double life.”
As can be noted,
Bergoglio explained in 2010 his abstaining from giving communion
personally with a very practical reason: "I do not want these persons to
approach me for a photo."
As an experienced pastor and a good
Jesuit, he knew that among those who receive communion there could be
unrepentant public sinners who nonetheless professed themselves to be
Catholics. He knew that at that point it would be difficult to deny them
the sacrament. And he knew the public effects that that communion could
have, if received from the hands of the archbishop of the Argentine
One could infer that Bergoglio may sense the same danger
as pope, indeed even more so. And for this reason he would be adopting
the same prudential conduct: “I do not give communion, I stay back and
let the assistants do it.”
The public sins that Bergoglio gave as
examples in his conversation with the rabbi are the oppression of the
poor and the withholding of just wages from the worker. Two sins
traditionally listed among the four that “cry out to heaven for
But the reasoning is the same that in recent years
has been applied by other bishops to another sin: public support for
pro-abortion laws on the part of politicians who profess themselves to
This latter controversy has had its epicenter in the United States.
2004, then-cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the congregation for
the doctrine of the faith, sent to the episcopal conference of the
United States a note with the “general principles” on the question.
episcopal conference decided to “apply” on a case-by-case basis the
principles recalled by Ratzinger, leaving it up to the "individual
bishops to make prudent pastoral judgments in [their] own circumstance.”
From Rome, Cardinal Ratzinger accepted this solution and called it “in harmony” with the general principles of his note.
reality, the bishops of the United States are not unanimous. Some of
them, including among the conservatives, like cardinals Francis George
and Patrick O'Malley, are reluctant to “make the Eucharist a political
battleground.” Others are more intransigent. When the Catholic Joe Biden
was chosen as vice-presidential running mate by Barack Obama, the
archbishop of Denver at the time, Charles J. Chaput, now in
Philadelphia, said that Biden's support for the so-called “right” to
abortion was a grave public fault and “I presume that his integrity will
lead him to refrain from presenting himself for communion."
fact remains that last March 19, at the Mass for the inauguration of the
pontificate of Francis, vice-president Biden and the leader of the
House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, she too a pro-abortion Catholic, were
part of the official delegation of the United States.
And both received communion. But not from the hands of pope Bergoglio, who was seated behind the altar.
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