The Bishop of Elphin has said neither he as a bishop nor any member of the catholic faithful have “any business in classifying any group of people as unworthy” of receiving communion.
In his homily in Knock on Sunday, Bishop Kevin Doran said he would “seriously question” the “cancelling” of an invitation to communion.
“When the Eucharist is thought of as a prize, there seem to be winners and losers; there are some who quite comfortably think of themselves as worthy, while judging others to be unworthy,” he acknowledged.
His stance would appear to be at odds with a number of US bishops who have targeted pro-choice catholic politicians like President Joe Biden and US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.
In May Ms Pelosi was barred from receiving communion in her home diocese of San Francisco by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.
However, a month later she received communion at a papal Mass while in Rome to meet Pope Francis.
The Pontiff has said he has never denied the Eucharist to anyone.
In Knock at a Mass to mark the anniversary of the Marian apparition of 21 August 1879, Dr Doran acknowledged that the Synodal discussions in the Church had made it clear that “many Catholics for various reasons, feel uncomfortable or unwelcome at the Eucharist”.He said this was not just a problem for those people but “a problem for all of us”.
Nevertheless, the outspoken bishop said there are times when a person “cannot honestly accept the invitation to come to Holy Communion, because he or she has done something gravely wrong with full knowledge and full consent”.
But he added even then the invitation is not cancelled. Nobody, he said, “should receive the body and blood of the Lord unworthily. But nobody should stay away unnecessarily”.
“In the final analysis, it is the responsibility of each woman or man, to follow his or her well-formed conscience in deciding whether or not to come to Holy Communion.”
Speaking about the Catholic Church’s synodal process and efforts to hear a diversity of views, Dr Doran said the Church is not just what happens around the altar.
Acknowledging that the reality of church in Ireland “is of people walking away and the rest of us taking it for granted, or worse still, not even noticing,” he prayed the Church would become a place where “everyone is truly welcome”, supported and nobody feels excluded.