God Help UsIt seems the Catholic Church in its infinite wisdom is doing its best to alienate even more of its dwindling flock. It's not enough that attendance at Sunday mass is at an all time low across America, that there is a shortage of priests or that diocese left and right are filing for bankruptcy protection what with all those pesky sex abuse suits pending, but now the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is voting on "Guidelines for Helping Catholics Prepare for Receiving Communion."
"Helping"--isn't that nice of them?
At the conference the bishops will be discussing how to teach core (read archaic) Catholic values to the otherwise uninvolved of the faith. In other words they will be making sure that marriage is restricted to one man and one woman and teaching people to use the rhythm method of birth control (or "Vatican Roulette" as my mother's OB/GYN used to call it). Sure boys, that'll pack 'em in!
In terms of who is "eligible" to receive communion, there are no surprises here:
The statement reiterates Church teaching that with few exceptions, only those who are members of the Catholic Church may receive Holy Communion at a Catholic Eucharist...but should refrain from the sacrament when they find themselves no longer in a state of grace because of mortal sin...Catholics who are conscious of committing any mortal sin must receive the Sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion. Catholics should also refrain from Holy Communion...when they lack adherence to what the Church authoritatively teaches on matters of faith and morals...
Now, what is a mortal sin exactly? As I recall from my Catholic upbringing that's the big stuff. You know, murder, birth control, etc. I'm not sure if "sins of the flesh" are venial or mortal, but certainly gay sex is a no-no. So basically even though none of us are murderers no one in my family with the possible exception of my parents will be going up for communion at midnight mass this year.
I also recall from my Catholic upbringing the mass already takes into account those souls who may not be in a state of grace upon receiving communion by having the congregation say "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed." As I understand it, this acts as a green light for pretty much anyone in the church. I also recall that in a pinch saying a quick Act of Contrition will clear your soul for a direct flight to heaven in the event of any life threatening situation. So I imagine it would work for communion, too. (By the way, did you know that anyone can perform an emergency baptism? Well, it's true.)
Also on the agenda at the conference: Guidelines for Ministry to Persons with Homosexual Inclination. When I first started reading this article I was actually pretty encouraged by things like this:
The document says the Church teaches that persons with a homosexual inclination must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity, and it condemns all forms of violence, scorn, and hatred, whether subtle or overt. Those who would minister in the name of the Church must in no way contribute to such injustice, the guidelines state.But alas, a few paragraphs down they hit you with this:
The guidelines state that while the Church teaches that homosexual acts are immoral, there is a distinction between engaging in homosexual acts and having a homosexual orientation. While the former is always sinful, the latter is not.So, go ahead, Mary--be gay as a clutch purse on Tony night! Just don't have any sex. Or better yet, join the priesthood, be celebate and pretend you don't have a sexuality at all. We all know how well that works.