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US Cardinal says "right to receive Communion" does not exist

Cardinal Bernard Law has told pilgrims at the 48th International Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, that attendance at Mass and the desire for the Eucharist does not add up to a "right" to take Communion.

He said that a growing number of Catholics have developed the erroneous belief that they have the right to receive Communion even if they have not confessed their sins and reconciled with God.

"It appears to me that (this) has developed especially since the Second Vatican Council," said Cardinal Law, who is the former Archbishop of Boston who resigned in disgrace after being accused of protecting sex abusers among his priests. He is now serving as archpriest of the Basilica of St Mary Major in Rome.

"Unfortunately, a point of view has developed that just by being present at Mass and having the desire to take Communion, one has the right to receive holy Communion," Cardinal Law said.

This view has taken hold among those who attend Mass on social occasions like funerals or weddings, but also among those who regularly attend Sunday Mass, he said.

"We must remember an important truth: The Eucharist intensifies the love in the heart of one who has been converted to the Lord. It does not effect the conversion of the heart," Cardinal Law said.

Catholic News Service reports that the Congress has gathered some 14,000 participants from 87 countries for a full week of prayer and discussion aimed at promoting devotion to the Eucharist. 35 cardinals, some 250 bishops and hundreds of priests from six continents attended the week-long congress which concludes on Sunday.

In Mexico, Cardinal Law cites erroneous belief on receiving Communion (Catholic News Service 12/10/04)

Eucharistic conference of Guadalajara gives voice to the five continents (Missionary Service News Agency 12/10/04)
Mexico's "Eucharistic Culture" Stirs Hopes for Church (Zenit 11/10/04)
International Eucharistic Congress opens in Guadalajara, Mexico (Catholic News Agency 12/10/04)
Pope's Apostolic Letter for the Year of the Eucharist now available in English (Catholic News Agency 12/10/04)
The Eucharist, light and life of the new millennium (Vatican Information Service 12/10/04)
Congress papal envoy says 'Ask who the Eucharist is' (CathNews 12/10/04)
Eucharistic Congress Opening in Guadalajara (Zenit 10/10/04)
48th International Eucharistic Congress, Guadalajara

13 Oct 2004