In this blog, I have agonized a number of times over my inability as an Anglican to receive communion in the Roman Catholic Church. I have speculated, some would say fantasized, about the possibility Pope Francis might be set to loosen up the restrictions that forbid non-Roman Catholics from sharing fully in the Mass.

It seems I may be a bit naive. Apparently my concern about Anglican reception of Eucharist in the Roman Catholic Church is not even close to the top of the list when it comes to who can, or cannot, receive the host in the Roman Mass.

On October 5-19, Pope Francis is scheduled to hold at the Vatican an “extraordinary” Synod of Bishops on the family “to re-examine the Church’s role in reaching out to families.”

In preparation for this episcopal gathering five prominent cardinals are set to release a jointly authored book on October 1 called Remaining in the Truth of Christ on Marriage and the Catholic Church.

In the Introduction to the book, Australian Cardinal George Pell apparently writes,

Doctrine and pastoral practice cannot be contradictory. One cannot maintain the indissolubility of marriage by allowing the ‘remarried’ to receive communion. … the sooner the wounded, the lukewarm, and the outsiders realize that substantial doctrinal and pastoral changes are impossible, the more the hostile disappointment (which must follow the reassertion of the doctrine) will be anticipated and dissipated.

In a disturbing piece at the Daily Beast Barbie Latza Nadeau, discusses the problem for the Roman Church and the place of divorced Catholics at Mass. She writes,

Communion in the Catholic Church is extremely important, but it is rife with hypocrisy. In some Catholic communities, eyebrows are raised when certain members of the congregation join the queue to take communion; in others, nobody balks because everybody’s straddling the same thin sinner-saint line. Many Catholics who stand up for communion know they are unworthy, but they are far too worried what the neighbors might think if they sit out a Sunday, speculating on what sins weren’t forgiven in time.

The sin-free checklist is no joke: no birth control, no premarital sex, no masturbation, no homosexual acts, no fertility treatments, no taking the name of God in vain, the list goes on. Oddly, perhaps, the Catholics who generally do follow the rules to the letter and abstain from communion, proudly confined to the pew, are those who are divorced. For them, abstaining is a cross to bear, never mind that worshiping in a seemingly unforgiving Church at all is a major hurdle for many.

The Roman Church’s challenge in dealing with their devout divorced and remarried faithful, makes my angst about Anglicans receiving communion seem a minor concern. Pope Francis clearly has larger issues at hand within his own church than my desire to be able to share fully in the Mass when I worship with my Roman Catholic brothers and sisters.

It would seem that the likelihood of my ever being fully welcome at a Roman Mass is an unlikely pipe dream I would do well to forget.