This is monumentally bad. Heaven weeps.
According to many reliable reports (National Catholic Register, LifeSiteNews, Christian Today) visiting Lutheran dignitaries were purposely given the Most Holy Eucharist at a Vatican Mass following ecumenical talks. The Lutherans approached with their arm crossed — even THEY knew that they were not properly disposed to receive (see my piece: The Body of Christ).
Sacrilege is in general the violation or injurious treatment of a sacred object. (The Catholic Encyclopedia calls this real sacrilege “the worst of all sacrileges”). IF priests knowingly gave the Eucharist to non-Catholics who could not possibly have been in a proper disposition to receive the Blessed Sacrament – then they profaned the Body of Christ, possibly incurred a latae sententiae excommunication and would be subject to possible dismissal:
A person who throws away the consecrated species or takes or retains them for a sacrilegious purpose incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; moreover, a cleric can be punished with another penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state.
This is more serious than attempting to “marry” gays or attempting to ordain a woman. This is hugely scandalous to the faithful, a threat to unity and worse of all – a direct crime against God Almighty. We must not sugar-coat this.
There are many sects of Lutherans (they call synods) who, like many other Protestant denominations, believe different things from each other. This was a Finnish synod with which I am not familiar. In the United States, most Lutherans are in the largest synod here which is the ELCA. Among other things, they:
- do NOT have apostolic succession and thus no valid holy orders
- their worship service, while superficially similar those times when communion is offered, is not sacrificial as is our Mass
- their understanding of the real presence is very different than ours
- regardless of their belief, lacking valid holy orders, their hosts are unchanged
- there is no tabernacle or reservation of consecrated hosts
- all baptized may receive (Lutheran or non-Lutheran; state of grace only loosely)
- they do not recognize sacraments as Catholics or Orthodox do
- they have many women pastors and “bishops”
- they embrace open homosexuality even among their clergy (who are free to marry)
- divorce and “re-marriage” is completely accepted
- they use the abridged Protestant Bible
- they believe in sola scriptura (rejecting both Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium)
- their clergy health care plans include full abortion coverage
- becoming a Lutheran (like most Protestant denominations) is a snap
- many other differences from Catholicism
I in no way hope to demean Lutherans. My family and many relatives are Lutherans, as was I for almost 60 years. They sincerely hold their beliefs and dearly love the Lord. I pray that they may one day be fully reunited with Christ’s Church. The point is that Lutheran beliefs have become significantly separated from Catholicism. There is no valid analogy between the Orthodox and Lutherans. The Orthodox are very close to Catholicism while Lutherans are far. In fact, Lutherans move further and further away from Catholicism every year (see my piece: Protestantism trainwreck).
So, in what ways were they not properly disposed to receive?
- they are not Catholic or even claim to be
That should completely suffice, but to expand on the obvious:
- they are not in communion with the Church and do not profess all that the holy Catholic Church teaches, believes and proclaims to be revealed by God (not even close)
- in this incident, they acknowledged improper disposition by crossing their arm
- they do not believe the communion species have transformed (only taken on, possibly temporarily, a dual nature)
- not having confession (sacramental or otherwise), they easily may not be in a state of grace
Some have already suggested that this represents a first step in officially recognizing Lutherans as “close enough” for inter-communion. That thought leaves me (and probably all other Lutheran converts) dumbfounded and alarmed. It would herald a very dark time of many serious consequences including to our unity. As a thought experiment, imagine we were to officially welcome Lutherans to communion. Consider, besides the grave, on-going sacrilege:
- there would be little incentive for converts to bother with the RCIA process if their goal is to join us fully at Mass – becoming Lutheran is quick and easy, then come and celebrate the Most Holy Eucharist with us
- “married” gay Lutherans, no problem
- Lutherans on their third or fourth spouse, no problem
- Lutheran and an abortion provider? no problem
- don’t like Sunday obligation? become Lutheran and come when you like
- opposed to Catholic moral theology in other ways? keep your favorite sins and come as a Lutheran (what Lutherans consider sins and what Catholics consider sins are not the same)
- presumably Sacraments of Penance and Anointing the Sick would also be opened too
- such a new “tier 2” Catholicism might appeal to cafeteria Catholics and others with objections to Church teaching
- would Catholics currently unable to receive communion be able to simply become Lutheran?
- if Lutherans, why not Episcopalians and all other Anglicans who are at least as “close”?
Our fervent hopes and prayers are that Lutherans become truly reunited with us at the Eucharistic table of our Lord. That happens when they become Catholic. This is what converts do, what I did, what Anglicans do en masse via the ordinariate. The purpose of true ecumenical dialog is to lead others to the fullness of the Christian faith. Affirming them where they are, with no need to change accomplishes exactly the opposite and fulfills Satan’s desires not God’s.
Also reference this analysis on a previous sacrilege against the Eucharist.