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Pope reaffirms ban on sharing communion with non-Catholics

Pope Benedict XVI reaffirms strict rules on eucharist
Pope Benedict XVI has reaffirmed a strict ruling forbidding eucharistic concelebration with ministries of non-Roman Catholic churches, while at the same time giving priests the go-ahead to revive Latin as the main language used during the church service known as the Mass.

"The celebration and worship of the Eucharist enable us to draw near to God’s love and to persevere in that love," Benedict said in an apostolic exhortation entitled "Sacramentum Caritatis" ("The Sacrament of Charity"). The 131-page document, released by the Vatican on 13 March, is a summary of papal reflections on discussions at the 2005 World Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist.

In his summary, the Pope restates his strong opposition to Catholics remarrying, and also asks priests to refrain from celebrating the Mass during weddings or funerals attended by non-practising Catholics.

"The Eucharist," Pope Benedict wrote, "implies full communion with the Church. This is the reason why, sadly, albeit not without hope, we ask Christians who are not Catholic to understand and respect our conviction, which is grounded in the Bible and tradition. We hold that eucharistic communion and ecclesial communion are so linked as to make it generally impossible for non-Catholic Christians to receive the former without enjoying the latter.

"Only in exceptional situations, for the sake of their eternal salvation, can individual non-Catholic Christians be admitted to the Eucharist, the sacrament of reconciliation and the anointing of the sick," said the 79-year-old pontiff.

Quoting from "Sacramentum Caritatis", the Pope confirmed "the Church’s practice, based on sacred scripture, of not admitting the divorced and remarried to the sacraments, since their state and their condition of life objectively contradict the loving union of Christ and the Church, signified and made present in the Eucharist."

The Pope also reaffirmed, "the beauty and the importance of a priestly life in celibacy as a sign expressing total and exclusive devotion to Christ and to the Church. Therefore I confirm that it remains obligatory in the Latin tradition." He added, "’I ask that future priests … be trained to understand and celebrate Holy Mass in Latin, use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chants."

Church rules adopted after the Second Vatican Council of 1965 said that congregations wishing to celebrate Mass in Latin had to seek permission from Rome or their local bishops.

The Second Vatican Council and the abandonment of the traditional Latin rite led to a schism within the church led by Marcel Lefebvre, a French archbishop who was later excommunicated by the late Pope John Paul II for consecrating four bishops in violation of canon law.

(c) Ecumenical News International

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