your connection to The Boston Globe

Vatican issues Eucharist draft

Faults reception by those seen in state of mortal sin

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican singled out divorced people who remarry and Roman Catholic politicians who support abortion yesterday, in criticizing church members who continue to receive Holy Communion while in a state the church describes as mortal sin.

A document on the Eucharist, issued yesterday by the Holy See, details what it describes as abuses of the sacrament and the need for better instruction to ensure that Communion remains sacred. The 85-page text is the working draft of a document that will be developed during the global synod of bishops from Oct. 2 to 23 in Rome.

The paper covers a range of issues related to the eucharistic celebration. It suggests, for example, that Latin be used at Mass in international liturgical gatherings, so that all priests involved can understand the proceedings. It also suggests that parishes consider using more Gregorian chants in the liturgy to prevent more ''profane" types of music from being played.

The document laments the fact that fewer Catholics are going to Mass on Sundays; in some countries, only about 5 percent of the faithful attend. It also deplores the lack of confessions.

As a result, many Catholics are in a state of mortal sin when they receive Communion, the text said. The church defines sin as a free and deliberate violation of God's law; a mortal sin is one that involves a ''grave violation of God's law" and ''deliberate consent." Catholics can repent their sins by confessing them to a priest; absolution, however, is not automatic.

''The faithful frequently receive Holy Communion without even thinking that they might be in a state of mortal sin," the document said. ''As a result, the receiving of Holy Communion by those who are divorced and civilly remarried is a common occurrence."

Drafting of the document, ''The Eucharist: source and summit of the life and mission of the church," began in 2004, based on responses received by bishops reporting on their experiences.

In one section, for example, the document criticized the faithful who support Catholic politicians who back abortion and other policies, contrary to church teaching.

''Some receive Communion while denying the teachings of the church or publicly supporting immoral choices in life, such as abortion, without thinking that they are committing an act of grave personal dishonesty and causing scandal," it said. ''Some Catholics do not understand why it might be a sin to support a political candidate who is openly in favor of abortion or other serious acts against life, justice and peace."

The issue was highlighted during the US presidential election campaign, after Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis said he would deny the Eucharist to Senator John F. Kerry, a Catholic who supports abortion rights.

Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives