A proposed outline of the Eucharistic document reveals a comprehensive catechesis on the Eucharist, covering both the sacrament itself and how Catholics must live in accord with the Commandments in their daily lives.
The outline covers teachings such as the “Real Presence” of Christ in the Eucharist, a “recovery of understanding the Eucharist as sacrifice,” “the importance of Sunday as a day of obligation,” the need for beautiful liturgies, Catholics living as a “Eucharistic people” in daily life, the Eucharist as a “call to conversion,” and the importance of practicing the works of mercy.
The third part of the document also includes a section on “Eucharistic consistency,” and “the nature of eucharistic communion and the problem of serious sin.” It cites the teaching of St. Paul in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, “A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.”
Some bishops had recently moved to delay the discussion on the Eucharist, citing a Vatican letter to argue against a virtual discussion of such a serious topic.
Archbishop Gomez had written to the Vatican in March, informing them of the plans for the spring meeting. On May 7, Cardinal Ladaria responded to Gomez, addressing the topic of Communion for public officials who support permissive legislation on grave evils such as abortion.
If the bishops were to issue any “national policy” on Communion in these situations, he said, they would first need “serene” dialogue among themselves to ensure unity on Church teaching. Then individual bishops should dialogue with the Catholic politicians in their jurisdictions, to better understand their positions and their “comprehension of Catholic teaching.”
Only after that, he said, should the bishops discern how best to move forward on the matter. Any action they take should ensure consensus, respect the authority of individual bishops in their own dioceses, be framed within the broader context of general worthiness to receive Communion among all Catholics, and must not appear to list abortion or euthanasia as the only grave moral issues, he said.
After the Vatican sent its letter to the bishops, Cardinal Blasé Cupich of Chicago led a letter by some bishops to Gomez, asking that the planned discussion on the Eucharist be delayed. The gravity of the issue necessitated an in-person discourse, Cupich argued, and should first be addressed by provinces or regional groups of bishops before the entire conference deliberated on it.
Gomez, in his May 22 memo, said that the discussion will take place as planned at next week’s meeting. Such a motion is in line with the administrative procedures of the conference and the requests in Cardinal Ladaria’s letter, he said.
Matt Hadro was the political editor at Catholic News Agency through October 2021. He previously worked as CNA senior D.C. correspondent and as a press secretary for U.S. Congressman Chris Smith.