Nigerian cardinal: Receive Eucharist worthily… or else

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Cebu hosted the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) from Jan. 24 to 31, 2016. (Photo: Johann Mangussad)

CEBU City, Jan. 29, 2016 – Where others prefer to tiptoe and use couched language, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja in Nigeria, minced no words in talking about the proper disposition for the reception of the Holy Eucharist, which many Catholics seem to take for granted nowadays.

“Those who freely offer or accept what is inappropriately called ‘Eucharistic hospitality’ to whoever cares to come to the communion rails seem to me to be inflicting serious damage on the sanctity of the Holy Eucharist,” said the prelate.

Delivering this morning’s catechesis, Onaiyekan said that while no one is really worthy to receive Holy Communion with everyone under God’s “loving compassion, the Church has guidelines that set limits to the level of “unworthiness” compatible with a fruitful reception of Holy Communion.

“The traditional requirement of being ‘in a state of grace’ cannot be jettisoned without spiritual negative consequence at both personal and ecclesial levels.”

No to ‘Eucharistic hospitality’

Allowing just anyone to receive communion during Mass will inflict “serious damage on the sanctity of the Holy Eucharist,” and harm both the individual and the wider Church.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that those who have mortal sins cannot receive communion without first going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

In Nigeria, he said, it is pastoral practice during public Masses to announce clearly before communion that “only Catholics that are properly prepared should come forward to receive communion.”


“We do not believe that this is a place for any kind of false ‘political correctness.’ It seems that in many places today, there is a need to recover the sense of outrage about whatever may be tantamount to ‘sacrilege.’”

Onaiyekan’s catechesis was on “The Eucharist: Dialogue with the Poor and the Suffering.”

“Here we might consider how much we do to make the Eucharist available to the poor living in slums or in remote villages. What about those who live in prisons and detention camps? Wherever possible, those who are suffering should be able to contemplate the face of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist,” he said. (Felipe Francisco / CBCP News)

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