Sacramentum Caritatis: Politicians and the Eucharist

Sacramentum Caritatis: Politicians and the Eucharist

In article 83 of Sacramentum Caritatis the Holy Father addresses the concept of “Eucharistic consistency,” meaning that we are to live our lives outside of Mass consistently with the values we profess in it. Our public lives must reflect our inner lives. He says that politicians and public leaders have an especial duty in this regard.

Here it is important to consider what the Synod Fathers described as eucharistic consistency, a quality which our lives are objectively called to embody. Worship pleasing to God can never be a purely private matter, without consequences for our relationships with others: it demands a public witness to our faith. Evidently, this is true for all the baptized, yet it is especially incumbent upon those who, by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defence from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one’s children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms (230). These values are not negotiable. Consequently, Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce and support laws inspired by values grounded in human nature (231). There is an objective connection here with the Eucharist (cf. 1 Cor 11:27-29). Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them (232).

What are we to conclude, especially when we consider previous guidance from canon law and its interpretation by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts? Let’s look at the scriptural reference of 1 Cor. 11:27-29:

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.

So what is the objective connection we’re supposed to make? That if Catholic politicians and legislators violate the binding duty to support laws that respect the natural law and the dignity of the human person, they are in danger of receiving Communion unworthily. Hence the provisions of Canon 915 are in effect:

“Those who are excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli