Print Version    Email to Friend
No communion photo opportunities with pope

HONG KONG (SE): Revealing a new papal practice, Pope Francis has announced that he will not distribute communion when he celebrates Mass in public.

He explains his reason as, “(Some people) take refuge in the Church and do not live according to the justice that God preaches. And they do not demonstrate repentance.”

Vatican-watcher, Sandro Magister, says in L’Espresso that the new practice is to prevent politicians who openly flout Catholic teaching from having their photographs taken with him.

Magister points out that the pope employed this practice as the archbishop of Buenos Aires, specifically to prevent employers who exploit their workers from flashing photographs of themselves receiving communion from Cardinal Bergoglio around.

He quotes him as saying at the time, “I do not want these people to approach me for a photograph.”

Although as Cardinal Bergoglio he also admitted that no one knows if a person has repented in their heart, he says the exceptions are few.

In a book published in 2010, Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio says, “David had been an adulterer and had ordered murder. Nonetheless, we venerate him as a saint because he had the courage to say, ‘I have sinned’… He humbled himself before God. One can commit enormous mistakes… (but) change one’s life and make reparation for what was done.”

The then-archbishop of Buenos Aires then listed off types of people among his congregations in Argentina whom he said have killed intellectually, physically and indirectly, through underpaying staff and other unjust practices.

“We know they pass themselves off as Catholics, but practice indecent behaviour of which they do not repent,” he added.

He also points out that these people are not being denied communion, as they are free to receive from the ministers at the Mass. The only thing they are being denied is a photo opportunity with the archbishop—and now pope.

As Pope Francis, at communion time in his public Masses, he simply sits, while other ministers distribute communion.

He adds that while it is quite legitimate to deny communion to a known sinner, in the long run, God is the judge of whether a person has repented or not.

“But if someone has devastated the lives of many people, he cannot receive communion,” Cardinal Bergoglio wrote in 2010.

In recent years there has also been much debate, especially in the United States of America (US), over whether politicians who vote in favour of abortion laws should be denied communion or not.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger wrote general guidelines back in 2004, saying it was up to bishops’ conferences to decide on a case-by-case basis.

In the event, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has resisted moves by individual bishops to enforce such a penalty on anyone.

Francis Cardinal George commented that he did not want to make the Eucharist a political battleground.

However, Archbishop Charles Chaput said of the vice-president, Joe Biden, that he presumed that he would refrain from presenting himself for communion, because of his pro-abortion attitude.


However, on March 19, both Biden and another high profile Catholic member of the US congress, Nancy Pelosi, both received communion at the inauguration Mass for Pope Francis, but not from the new pope. So there are no photographs!

More from this section