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Dublin Archbishop warns against politicisation of Eucharist

New Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin expressed concern about interpretations of Vatican instructions that could lead to the Eucharist becoming a "political battleground".

The Irish Times is reporting that Archbishop Martin is in "disagreement" with the Vatican over the issue of refusing Communion to politicians who adopt political postitions on abortion and other issues that are not consistent with Church teaching.

Archbishop Martin said he would "like to see people make a conscientious decision [on the matter] themselves."

He felt it would be "very difficult for priests to make a decision on what was the state of the individual soul" presenting for Communion. "The Eucharist must not become a political battleground," he said.

The issue is particularly contentious in the United States, where likely Democratic Presidential Candidate John Kerry, a Catholic, has taken a pro-abortion stand.

It says that in launching the document Redemptionis Sacramentum in Rome last Friday, Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments head Cardinal Francis Arinze answered with an emphatic "yes" when asked: "If a politician is known to take a pro-abortion stance, should a priest refuse him Communion?"

But Cardinal Arinze stressed the role of local bishops in applying the rule.

"The norm of the church is clear," he said. "The church exists in the United States. There are bishops there, let them interpret it."

US Bishops Conference President Wilton Gregory emhasised that refusing to give Communion to a politician dissenting from Church teaching would be a "last resort".

Meanwhile Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Angelo Amato, criticised the media for encouraging simplistic understanding of Vatican documents such as Redemptionis Sacramentum.

He said that Pope John Paul is concerned that the content of such documents does not "remain as immediate news that communicates and informs, but that it become an ecclesial event of communion and formation".

"The bishops, priests and lay faithful should not be satisfied with immediate opinions or first commentaries," the archbishop said. "They should have the patience and time to read, assimilate and live profoundly the contents of the instruction."

Archbishop Martin disagrees with Vatican over Eucharist (The Irish Times 27/4/04)
Why Vatican Teachings Face a Tough Reception

Denying Communion on abortion is last resort, Bishop Gregory says (Catholic News Service 26/4/04)
Dublin Prelate Would Sell Assets to Pay Abuse Victims (Zenit 27/4/04)
Archbishop of Dublin, Under Fire, Is Replaced (New York Times 27/4/04)
Vatican Replaces Dublin's Archbishop (Associated Press/Yahoo 26/4/04)
DC cardinal caught in Kerry-Communion debate (Catholic World News 28/4/04)
Top US bishop says Eucharist ban for politicians a "last resort" (CathNews 28/4/04)
Redemptionis Sacramentum (US Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy)
David Orr OSB: Nothing new emerges from hype before liturgy instruction (Benedictine Monastery, Arcadia, Sydney)
Vatican insisting on liturgy norms observance (CathNews 27/4/04)
Kerry: Religion Shouldn't Be an Issue (Associated Press/Beliefnet 23/4/04)
Give Kerry Communion--for Now (Beliefnet)
Vatican moving to limit access to Mass (BigNews Network 27/4/04)
Vatican Weighs in as Kerry Backs Abortion Rights (Reuters 23/4/04)
Ministers hope to save lives with organ donation changes (ABC TV Lateline 24/4/04)
Kerry unbowed on abortion issue (BBC 23/4/04)
John L Allen: Kerry and communion; Liturgical abuse document released; The Vatican and terrorism; A talk by Passionist Fr. Donald Senior; 'New movements' congress in Stuttgart; North American College honors (National Catholic Reporter 23/4/04)

29 Apr 2004