A memo from the Archbishop of Newark to his priests on the reception of the Eucharist aimed to provide guidance amid the challenges of modern life, but was “taken wildly out of context” in media reports.
James Goodness, the Newark archdiocese’s communications director, told CNA Oct. 15 that the memo is about principles, not rules or particular law. He said these principles aim to call on priests to “walk with the people” in their situations and “to cherish and welcome them to participate as they can, according to the faith.”
“This direction is very much in line with the thinking and actions of Pope Francis,” Goodness said.
He added that the Pope is “reminding priests today that Church teaching will not change, but that we are all called to help people to understand the teaching, resolve differences, and bring about conversion.”
Archbishop John Myers of Newark’s Sept. 22 memo provided principles to help preserve and protect the Catholic faith “in the midst of an increasingly secular culture.”
Archbishop Myers said the Church will “continue to cherish and welcome her members” and “invite them to participate in her life to the degree that their personal situation permits them honestly to do so.”
The memo explained that non-Catholics should not receive Holy Communion nor should “any Catholic who publically rejects Church teaching or discipline” in public statements or by joining or supporting organizations that reject Church teaching.
“They are asked to be honest to themselves and to the Church community,” the memo continued.
The memo said that the archdiocese’s parishes and other institutions should allow their facilities to be used only by persons and organizations which agree with Catholic teaching “or, at least, not oppose them.”
“Catholics, especially ministers and others who represent the Church, should not participate in or be present at religious events or events intended to endorse or support those who reject or ignore Church teaching and canon law,” the archbishop’s memo said.
The memo drew hostile coverage from several news outlets and speculation about its motives.
Goodness said there was no special reason for the document to be sent now except as a response to “confusion and misunderstanding on the teachings of the Church with regard to marriage.”
“Archbishop Myers felt that, in his role as teacher of the faith in this archdiocese, it would be appropriate for him to give some advice and direction to priests and others involved in parish ministry as they deal directly with people who are facing some of the challenges about married life and living
according to the faith,” Goodness told CNA.
By Kevin J. Jones