Currently (2005), most persons who attend holy Mass and who receive holy Communion do not believe and practice the Catholic faith as it is taught by the Church. This is true at the present time in the United States, as well as in most or all other countries where modern culture predominates. Most Catholics who attend Mass do not believe that the Eucharist is Christ. Most married Catholics use artificial contraception on a regular basis. Most single Catholics have sexual relations outside of marriage. Most Catholics do not believe that abortion is always gravely immoral. Most Catholics do not believe that Tradition and Scripture are infallible, nor that the Magisterium can teach infallibly. Most Catholics do not believe the most basic and important teachings of the Faith, nor do they live according to those teachings.
This particular problem is not merely that we are all sinners, such that we never fully live up to everything that Christ taught. Sinners may receive holy Communion, if they believe and practice the Catholic faith, and if they regularly receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation for those times when they fail to fully live up to the Faith.
Instead, the problem is that a majority of persons who call themselves Catholic and who receive the Eucharist do not go to Confession at all. They do not admit that they have sinned. They do not admit that they are wrong to obstinately doubt or to obstinately deny the teachings of the Church on essential matters of faith and morals. They are unrepentant from this refusal to believe and practice what the Church teaches. And yet they receive holy Communion.
The Root of the Problem
The root of this problem is found in modern society. The current social ideas, which prevail within Western society, are secular and sinful. Modern sinful society has teachings on what to believe and how to act, just as the Church has teachings on faith and morals. When Catholics grow up and live their whole lives within a culture that teaches the opposite of what the Church teaches, many end-up believing and acting in accordance with the teachings of their culture, in contradiction to the teachings of their Savior.
The extent of this influence can be seen by a simple example. Currently, in the United States, there are many Catholics who rebel against Church teaching on any and all topics where their culture has an opposing point of view. They even form groups which openly argue against Church teaching on issues such as abortion and women's ordination. But there are no such groups, nor any significant opposition, to the Church's teaching on monogamy because, at the present time, the culture also teaches monogamy. In fact, bigamy (having more than one spouse) is illegal in many countries. Yet compare this to the problem faced by the Church in Africa, where there are currently some cultures that support and practice polygamy. Within such cultures, there are Catholics who oppose Church teaching on monogamy, because they are listening to their culture, instead of listening to Christ.
Catholics who oppose Church teaching, because their culture has taught them the opposite of what the Church teaches, generally do not seem to realize that they are choosing to follow one teacher (secular society) over another teacher (the Church). They think that they are following their own ideas and their own understanding. Many conclude that the Church must be wrong, not to understand as they understand. They attribute these supposed errors in Church teaching to the influence of past cultures on the Church, all the while not realizing that they are the ones who are influenced into error by the current culture. In every case, where the culture teaches one thing and the Church teaches another, many will side with their culture and conclude that the Church must be wrong.
But It Doesn't Feel Right
Suppose that someone is raised, grows up, and lives their whole live within a culture that teaches "A." Such a person is so immersed in their own culture and society that the teachings of their culture will seem natural and right. Then, when the Church teaches that the truth is "B," this teaching will not seem right. It will not feel right to accept "B" and reject "A." In fact, choosing to believe and practice "A" will be easy to do and will seem fitting and right. But choosing to believe and practice "B" will be difficult to do and will result in obstacles and conflict. Yet "B" is the path of true faith and righteousness, and "A" is not.
Consider this analogy. Someone who is raised, grows up, and lives their whole live within a particular culture is like a fish, and their culture is like the ocean. The fish is used to swimming in the ocean. Leaving the ocean would seem to the fish like a foolish and dangerous path. It is much safer and easier to stay in the ocean. However, in this analogy, the culture, which is like an ocean, is filled with many dangers, and the person, who is like a fish in the ocean, is able to leave the water safely. The fish must be willing to die to selfishness and to his old way of living, and then the fish himself will thrive and prosper, and will go on to eternal life.
For many Catholics, the teaching of their own Church seems foreign and strange, even though it is truth. Accepting that teaching seems like a fish deciding to leave the water, and living according to that teaching seems like a kind of death. But if you live faithfully according to teachings of the Church, though you may feel at times like a fish out of water, your soul will live and grow, and you will secure an eternal reward.
Requirements to Receive Holy Communion
It has always been the practice of the Church to restrict the reception of the Holy Eucharist to those who are in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Furthermore, apostates, heretics, and schismatics are prohibited by Canon Law from receiving the Eucharist, since they are automatically excommunicated under Canons 751 and 1364. The teaching of the Church has never permitted those Catholics who have fallen away from the full belief and practice of the Catholic Faith to receive the Eucharist.
Therefore, the following persons should not be permitted to receive holy Communion, until and unless they have repented, received the Sacrament of Confession, and returned to the belief and practice of the Catholic Faith:
1. Anyone who does not believe what the Roman Catholic Church teaches on matters of morals, including, but not limited to, the following:
a. Abortion is always gravely immoral.
b. The use of artificial contraception is always gravely immoral.
c. Homosexuality is intrinsically disordered and homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity.
d. All sexual acts outside of marriage are always gravely immoral, including: masturbation, pre-marital sex, adultery, prostitution, homosexual acts, rape, and all sexual acts with children.
e. All unnatural sexual acts are always gravely immoral, even within marriage.
f. The use of pornography is always gravely immoral.
2. Anyone who does not believe what the Roman Catholic Church teaches on matters of faith, including, but not limited to, the following:
a. The Eucharist is Jesus Christ, fully present in body, blood, soul, and Divinity, under the appearance of bread or wine.
b. Everything asserted by Sacred Tradition, on faith and morals and all other matters, is true and infallible.
c. Everything asserted by Sacred Scripture, on faith and morals and all other matters, is true and infallible.
d. The Pope by himself, as well as the body of Bishops led by the Pope, has the ability and authority to teach infallibly on faith and morals, and on any other questions whose answers are found in Tradition or Scripture.
e. The Pope is the supreme leader and teacher of the Roman Catholic faith.
f. The Ecumenical Councils of the Church from the earliest Councils to the most recent Councils, including the First and Second Vatican Councils, have the ability and authority to teach and to act definitively.
g. Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory exist and were created by God.
h. The one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church has both spiritual authority and temporal authority.
i. Although other religions contain truth, the fullness of truth on faith and morals is found only in the Roman Catholic Church.
3. Anyone who does not live according to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals, including, but not limited to the following:
a. those who do not regularly receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (monthly, or at least four times per year)
b. those who do not pray daily
c. those who do not practice self-denial
d. those who do not practice mercy towards others
e. those who have procured an abortion, or have assisted someone in procuring an abortion, or have performed an abortion, or have promoted abortion publicly or privately
f. those who use artificial contraception, whether regularly or irregularly
g. those who have sexual relations with someone known to be using contraception
h. those who have committed any sexual act outside of marriage
i. those who have committed any unnatural sexual act, even within marriage
4. Any Catholic who has sinned seriously or who has departed from the Faith in some serious way, no matter how many or how serious the sins, may again receive holy Communion and may again return to unity with the Church, after having: a. repented, b. received the Sacrament of Confession, c. returned to the full belief and practice of the Catholic Faith.
5. For some persons, this process of repentance may require some length of time, more than one act of repentance and more than one Confession. Such persons who are on the path to repentance, but who have not yet returned to the full belief and practice of the Catholic Faith, are generally required to refrain from receiving the Eucharist (unless they are near death).
However, these same persons should be permitted to receive the Eucharist once soon after each sincerely repentant reception of the Sacrament of holy Confession, even though they have not yet returned to the full belief and practice of the Catholic Faith, provided that they at least have refrained from the objective mortal sins of contraception, of abortion, and of all sexual acts (other than natural sexual relations within marriage).
Their reception of the Eucharist should be on the Christian Sabbath, or its vigil, or on any holy day of obligation, when one of these falls within a week or so of their last Confession. These same persons should not receive holy Communion on any other days, not even on the Sabbath, or its vigil, or a holy day of obligation, except for one reception of the Sacrament of holy Communion for each sincerely repentant reception of the Sacrament of holy Confession.
Because these same persons are not fully in communion with the belief and practice of the Catholic Faith, they should not be permitted to receive the Eucharist whenever they wish, nor on every Sabbath, vigil, or holy day of obligation, and nor at daily Mass, until they have completed the process of repentance and Confession, and have arrived at the full belief and practice of the Catholic Faith.
The above rules are my suggestion to the temporal authority of the Church. However, it is already the case that, under Canon Law, all apostates, heretics, and schismatics are automatically excommunicated and are therefore not permitted to receive the Eucharist. It is also the teaching of the Magisterium that Catholics must form their conscience in agreement with the teaching of the Church, and that anyone who is conscious of having committed an actual mortal sin is not permitted to receive the Eucharist until after a sincerely repentant reception of the Sacrament of holy Confession (with some exception for grave circumstances).
I understand that the next Pope after Pope Benedict XVI, who is called Peter the Roman by Saint Malachy, will require Catholics to believe and practice the Catholic Faith in order to be permitted to receive the Eucharist. This requirement will cause many unfaithful Catholics to leave the Church. I do not know what the exact conditions will be that the Pope will require. However, I submit to the authority of the Roman Catholic Pontiff in all matters of faith and morals. Let no one ever use any of my writings to undermine or to contradict anything taught or decided by that one man who is both the Bishop of Rome and the Supreme Pontiff of the one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
by Ronald L. Conte Jr.
December 23, 2005