The U.S. bishops are drafting a document on the Eucharist to catechize Catholics, not to score political points, two bishops emphasized this week.
In comments to the Wheeling News-Register published on Tuesday, Bishop Mark Brennan of Wheeling-Charleston and Bishop Jeffrey Monforton of Steubenville said the bishops are answering an apparent lack of belief in the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist.
Bishop Brennan said, “We face a great challenge to reverse (the) weakened faith of many Catholics in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, without that faith, it is questionable whether a Catholic receives the spiritual benefit of the Sacrament.”
Bishops Brennan and Monforton this week argued that a teaching document on the Eucharist is necessary and is not meant to be political. The document, which will be drafted and then voted on by the U.S. Bishops’ conference in November, will be needed in advance of the bishops’ three-year Eucharistic Revival initiative that begins in 2022, Brennan said.
Worthiness to receive Communion
Worthiness to receive Communion is part of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist, Bishop Monforton said. “There are grave sins out there, and they constitute a lack of charity, a break of friendship with God,” he said.
Monforton noted that while other bishops mentioned supporting abortion and euthanasia as grave sins that could prevent worthy reception of Communion, the Church does not focus on simply one or two issues. He said that “racism, and human trafficking” are other grave evils that cannot be supported. Both Brennan and Monforton maintained a teaching document on the Eucharist is necessary for the current environment.
“Back in 2019, there was a Pew (Research Center) report that surveyed Catholics; nearly 70 percent of Catholics in the United States viewed the Eucharist as a symbol, rather than the real body of Christ,” Bishop Brennan said. “It shows that there’s a need for a catechetical moment.”
“On the lighter side of things, the second-graders at the Catholic schools in Steubenville know more about the Eucharist than 70 percent of Catholics,” Bishop Monforton said. “If the children’s parents don’t go to church, sometimes you need to evangelize the parents through the children.”
Salvation of souls and reparation of scandal
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco stated in a June 23 essay published by the journal First Things, “The bishops’ motivation is pastoral: the salvation of souls and reparation of scandal. There is nothing punitive in stating and restating the truth of Catholic belief and its implications for an authentically Catholic life.”
Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver stated in his July 2 column for Denver Catholic that, “instead of accepting their own responsibility to understand and follow Church teaching,” the 60 Catholic U.S. politicians “are the ones who are ‘weaponizing the Eucharist’ by insisting that they remain in good standing despite publicly committing grave sins and continuing to receive Communion. One cannot say one believes something, do the complete opposite and then credibly say that they are in Communion with a Church that believes what they did is evil.”