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 CNS Story:

CHAPUT-COMMUNION Aug-17-2004 (480 words) xxxn

Chaput: Don't take Communion if not in full communion with church

By Samuel Morehead
Catholic News Service

DENVER (CNS) -- "If we're not really in communion" with the Catholic Church, "we shouldn't be going to Communion. It's a lie!" Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput told an audience of more than 200 young adults at a Denver sports bar Aug. 13.

The archbishop, speaking to a Theology on Tap gathering for those in their 20s and 30s, addressed the question "What does it mean to be in full communion with the Catholic Church?"

He opened his remarks by discussing the ongoing debate on whether a priest or bishop should deny Communion to a Catholic politician who supports public policies that stand in opposition to church teachings -- particularly on right-to-life issues.

"For us to understand where the church stands" on the Communion issue, said the archbishop, "we need to understand what is full communion."

Recalling the Gospel story of the vine and the branches, the archbishop said the Catholic faithful must be like branches, faithfully attached to Jesus, the vine, the source of life and unity for all the branches.

The archbishop suggested that there are two considerations each Catholic must make in trying to live a genuinely Christian life. He argued, first, that each should be concerned about developing an authentic, personal relationship with Christ and, second, that the faithful need to strive for unity.

"This notion of union or communion is about a relationship, not only a sacrament," the archbishop said.

Reception of holy Communion is the greatest sign of being in true communion with the church as a body of believers, he said. Receiving the Eucharist is a profound opportunity for oneness through Christ, with Christ and in Christ for all the faithful, he said.

"If we're going to reject, either intellectually or practically, the teachings of the church, then we shouldn't go to Communion," Archbishop Chaput explained.

With regard to abortion, he said, "If you believe that it's all right to kill the unborn or think that it is OK for others to do so, then you're out of communion with the church."

He touched on other issues, such as capital punishment and war but highlighted the immorality of abortion, saying, "Not all issues are the same."

Afterward he fielded questions from the audience, including several on the candidates in the presidential election and how their stands on issues square with Catholic teaching, the Vatican's response to Catholic politicians who disregard church teaching and the role of the voter.

"Personally, I could never vote for somebody who is 'pro-choice,'" the archbishop said.

As the evening came to a close, he said, "You can't believe anything you want and be a Catholic."

"The real Catholic," he said, "is willing to submit himself to the church."

He later added, "For we don't believe that the church has erred or can err in her teachings on matters of faith and morals."


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