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25 January 2017 Changing the Conversation (170509) Celebrating More Than 50 Years (170509) Conscience-Based Moral Judgments (170509) Dignitaries Humanae (170509) False Views on Jesus' Views on Divorce (170509) Mission and Human Rights (170509) Jesus and the Ordination of Women (170516) 29 May 2017 How much of Church Doctrine do we really believe? (170602) Trump Pulls Out of Paris Agreement (170602) 05 June 2017 Thoughts on Religious Vocations: An Open Letter to Pope Francis (170605) I can't get the institutional church out of my system (170618) 25 June 2017 Just War? Enough Already (170703) What would Teilhard say? Evolve or be annihilated (170710) Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (170719) Religion's Wax Nose (170726) American Civil Religion (170731) A Heresy of the Times (170807) Cardinal Calls for Global Church (170818) The Price of Being a Prophet (170821) The Implosion of the Roman Catholic Church (170902) Reflection on Racism in America (170913) Who am I? Where am I going? (170918) One Priest's Hopes for the Mass Translation (170925) The Edge of the Inside (171002) Selective Christianity (171016) Theology at the Cutting Edge: Healing the Political and Social Divide in America (171016) Resisting Islamophobia Is The Catholic Thing To Do. (171023) It Started With a Letter to the Archbishop (171030) Why Do We Still Tolerate Mass Stipends? (171106) Their Cross to Bear: Catholic Women Told to Forgive (171113) Papal loyalists become dissidents (171120) Echoes of Theocracy (171127) Will Pope Francis Remove the 'Warning'? (171204) Gumbleton on Nuclear Deterrence (171211) The Scandal of the 2011 Missal (171218)
ARCC News 2018
Prophets of a Future Not Our Own (20180101) 2018: Time to Become Ultra-Human? (20180118) Time for a Bonfire of Their Vanities? (20180122) Until All Are Welcome My House, My Rules: 3 Women "Rejected" (20180208) Policing the Communion Line (20180205) A Time to Judge (20180212) Mary McAleese Being Banned is Embarrassing (20180219) Correct, Don't Complicate Excommunication (20180226) Catholic Tradition, Labour, and Organizing Workers (20180305) Misogyny in the Vatican (20180312) The Unofficial Saint of the Internet (20180318) Francis Invites Change, But We Are the Change (20180325) Rediscovering the Role of Mary Magdalene as Apostle of the Apostles (20180401) Synodality and its Perils (20180409) Get rid of the clergy - But keep Holy Orders (20180415) Renewing the Program of Priestly Formation (20180429) Male and Female, in the image and likeness of God (20180506) Wedding Bans: Why Do Parishes Turn Young Couples Away? (20180513) Christian Humanism, the Path to the Divine (20180520) Mary - Prophet and Priest (20180527) A Wake-Up Call to Liberal Theologians (20160603) Canonization is right for Oscar Romero (20180610) Could the Church take a risk? (20180618) AJC expresses "Profound Concern" over beatification (20180624) The Bible's #MeToo Problem (20180701) 'Humanae Vitae' and the census fidelium (20180715) The Catholic Church wasn't always so against contraception (20180722) 50 years later, scientist's findings on birth control... (20180729) #MeToo, Your Excellency The Catholic Church needs a way to deal with bad bishops (20180812) The Catholic Church is tempted by power and obsessed with sex (20180819) Real change against abuse... (20180826) Pope Francis is facing a crisis of justice (20180829) Catholics Are Facing a Very Real Emergency (20180902) Truth and its violent consequences (20180909) The Third Millennial Catholic Reformation (20180917) Reality in an Historical-Critical Perspective (20180923) Both Prudential & Indisputable (20180930) Catholic Crossroads and Catholic Conflict (20181007) Schism or Evolution? (20181015) Theology: Stones or Bread? (20181028) White Christian America (20181102) Stone Throwing. Or Not. (20181104) Young People, Hope for the Church(es) (20181112) Who Represents the Laity? (20181118) Open Letter to the US Catholic Bishops: It's Over (20181125) From Collegiality to Synodality (20181203) The Birth of the Messiah (20181217) A Non-traditional Blessing for 2019 (20181231)
ARCC News 2019 Changing Power Relationships


Until All Are Welcome

Until All Are Welcome


Contemporary Catholic Belief and Action


Until All Are Welcome
Cristina L. H. Traina
In October a eucharistic minister at St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church in Evanston, Illinois, crossed her arms over her chest to request a blessing rather than receive Communion. I was that minister, and my decision was a spur-of-the-moment response to the presence of a Lutheran pastor who had joined us in our very first commemoration of Reformation Sunday. If she could not receive the body and blood of Christ, neither would I.
The decision was spontaneous, but the thinking that led naturally to it was not. Since our marriage, my Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) pastor husband and I have been on a thirty-five-year ecumenical journey that has yielded great richness-religious life in stereo, we like to call it-and much hope. 
Some of the hopeful moments have included the covenant struck between the Metropolitan Chicago Synod and the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1989 and renewed with great pomp on this past October 31, the five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation. Even more meaningful to us was the eighteen-month process of gathering with all the 
ELCA and Roman Catholic faith communities in Evanston to pray, discuss history and theology, bust myths, serve the community, partake in hymns and beer, and most importantly to create our own blueprint for ongoing collaboration, covenanted with the blessing of our bishops on Reformation Sunday.
Our ecumenical marriage has also contained many moments of pain. Some of them have come from the Lutheran side, as when my husband's candidacy committee threatened not to approve him for ordination because they believed a Catholic wife could not adequately support a Lutheran pastor in his congregational work. 
But the overwhelming majority have come from the Catholic side, and the overwhelming majority of these have to do with the Eucharist. Quite simply, Catholic teaching forbids us to receive the Eucharist together. And this particular pain surprised my husband and me by intensifying, rather than abating, during the crescendo of ecumenical progress and hopefulness that led up to Reformation Day, 2017.
ELCA Lutherans and Catholics agree that the Eucharist is a sacrament. We agree that it is both a remembrance and memorial of Jesus's death and a moment of Christ's Real Presence in bread and wine. Although the documents of agreement have not yet been edited to reflect this, Pope Francis himself has made clear that the Eucharist is food for sinners, not a reward for spiritual perfection, another important point of convergence with Lutheran eucharistic theology. Catholics and Lutherans alike insist that only a validly ordained member of the clergy may celebrate the Eucharist.  
The real disagreement is not over eucharistic theology but over that last point, valid ordination. As the USCCB and ELCA's joint Declaration on the Way laments, "an important asymmetry remains: Lutherans recognize the apostolic character of Roman Catholic ministry, but Catholics do not so recognize Lutheran ministry." 
What this yields on the ground is an excruciating encounter of open hospitality on the Lutheran side with fundamental inhospitality on the Catholic side. Lutherans recognize the Catholic clergy as true celebrants of the sacrament, and they welcome Catholics to share in the sacrament in Lutheran churches. But in ordinary situations Catholics cannot recognize the legitimacy of Lutheran ordination or eucharistic celebration, must decline the Eucharist in Lutheran settings, and may not invite Lutherans to share in the Eucharist.
This fact makes ecumenical relations at the personal and congregational level painful enough. But shoulder shrugging on the Catholic side, intended to express frustration and regret, only makes matters worse: "I'm sorry, there's nothing I can do, we're not allowed to inter-commune yet." Such a response may calm Catholic discomfort, but it does 
nothing to prevent the ongoing wounds Lutherans suffer whenever they come together with Catholics in ecumenical good will.
What can we do instead? From Conflict to Communion, the report by the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity, insists that Catholics too embrace the priesthood of all believers in Christ. What can we do with this? In the long term, Catholic clergy and theologians need to rededicate ourselves to aligning our convergent theology with our divergent ecclesiologies, working the kinks out of theology and practice. But in the short term, lay Catholics can impose a discipline of penance and regret on ourselves, in public lament of our own church's failure to work out ways of sharing a sacrament on whose nature and meaning we agree.
The decision to forgo Eucharist on Reformation Sunday was easy for me because I've already begun fasting publicly from it during our church's two seasons of penance and preparation. During Advent and Lent I attend Mass. I serve as a eucharistic minister. And I continue in my role as sacristan. But in solidarity with my Lutheran brothers and sisters in Christ, I do not receive the Eucharist.
Eucharistic theology and the priesthood of all believers are two of the most important agreements arising out of the past five decades of Lutheran-Catholic ecumenical dialogue. Your response to Eucharist and priesthood may take a different shape than mine. To be sure, one-by-one changes to the sensus fidelium won't produce instant results. But no major change at the top can be successful that isn't preceded by a significant, visible shift among the laity. 
Be part of that shift: exercise your priesthood in support of a eucharistic table where all are welcome.
Cristina L. H. Traina is chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Northwestern University.