Even as Pope Francis and Catholic leaders from around the world debate ways to make the Catholic Church more inclusive, Newark Archbishop John Myers has given his priests strict guidelines on refusing Communion to Catholics who, for example, support gay marriage or whose own marriage is not valid in the eyes of the church.
In the two-page memo, Myers also orders parishes and Catholic institutions not to host people or organizations that disagree with church teachings.
According to a spokesperson, the Archbishop issued the document, “Principles to Aid in Preserving and Protecting the Catholic Faith in the Midst of an Increasingly Secular Culture,” this week to priests in response to current conversations within the Catholic Church, and at the same time the church is holding its Synod on the Family (follow coverage at the Catholic News Agency here):
“With so much being generated in the media with regard to issues like same-sex unions and such, this memo about ensuring that Catholic teaching is adhered to in all situations — especially with regard to the use of diocesan properties and facilities — seemed appropriate,” James Goodness, a spokesman for Myers, said in an email.
From the memo:
“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.
“Catholics,” he continues, “must be in a marriage recognized as valid by the Church to receive Holy Communion or the other sacraments. Non-Catholics and any Catholic who publicly rejects Church teaching or discipline, either by public statements or by joining or supporting organizations which do so, are not to receive the Sacraments.”
Myers will retire next year to be replaced by Pope Francis-appointed Coadjutor Archbishop Bernard Hebda following a series of controversies in his term, including:
In one instance, Myers was criticized for allowing a priest — who was under court order to stay away from children — to work with youths, and in another he was criticized for using church funds to pay for pricey renovations to a retirement home.