A Child Pops A Balloon

I am nearly certain that conservative Catholics will “win” on the Amoris Laetitia controversy. Eventually, probably under the successor to Pope Francis, they will succeed in obtaining, from the Holy See, a clear discipline that forbids the divorced and remarried from receiving Communion, unless they repent and confess and reform their lives. And the reason is that sexual relations outside a valid marriage is an objective mortal sin and is intrinsically evil.

But what amazes me is the shortsightedness of this goal. How do you not see this!?!

If the divorced and remarried cannot receive Communion, due to objective mortal sin, then neither can ANYONE else who commits objective mortal sin, until they repent, confess, and reform their lives. All objective mortal sins would fall under this consistent and holy discipline. All mortal sins.

It would be a case of whitewashing of tombs, IF the divorced and remarried could not receive Communion, due to their sins being, in some sense, public, AND IF persons unrepentant from other mortal sins, ones that are not public, could receive. The argument against Communion for the divorced and remarried is based on their failure to repent and confess after mortal sin, not merely or mainly based on the scandal of giving Communion to public sinners.

Therefore, a consistent discipline would deny Communion to EVERYONE guilty (and unrepentant) of ANY objective mortal sin, including: contraception, abortifacient contraception, abortion, every kind of sexual sin (EVERY kind!!!), and also the various common heresies. The inconsistent discipline of only prohibiting the divorced and remarried from Communion would not be able to stand, for that would be a massive public hypocrisy.

So, when conservatives WIN, the Church (probably under the very next Pope) will prohibit from Communion everyone guilty of objective mortal sin, even if the sin is not also an actual mortal sin, until they repent and confess. And of course, they are also required to reform their lives.

What will happen next? Do you think that most Catholics using contraception will repent, go to Confession, and reform their lives, in order to receive Communion? Do you think that most Catholics committing sexual sins will repent, confess, and reform? Here’s what I think will happen. Instead of long lines for Communion, and short lines for Confession, there will be short lines for Communion and shorter lines for Confession.

The vast majority of Catholics will stop receiving Communion, stop going to Mass, and stop participating in their parishes. They will also stop donating money. Most parish money is collected at Mass. People who are told, “You will not receive Communion, until you repent and confess,” will say in reply, “You will not receive money from me.”

The churches will quickly be empty, and so will the coffers. You have heard of the shortage of priests. This will be the shortage of parishioners. And a shortage of money. No Communion, no donations. Attending Mass is the main way that most Catholics interact with their parishes. No attendance at Mass means no donations. Parishes will be forced to close, for lack of parishioners and lack of money. And after a while, the Catholics who stop going to Mass will stop calling themselves Catholic.

By the grace and providence of God, Pope Francis is delaying this great departure from Mass and from the Church. But his conservative critics are unknowingly pushing the Church into this crisis, into this great apostasy.

How do you not see this!?! It’s like a child who sticks a pin into a balloon, and then is surprised when it pops.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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16 Responses to A Child Pops A Balloon

  1. Paul says:

    Ron, I’ve always liked your thinking, and yet I agree with the conservative position in this case. Yet I don’t agree with their approach. Nothing warrants disobedience to the Holy Father, but neither does anything warrant ignoring the truth, even if the truth leads to mass apostasy. Besides, their apostasy would merely be made visible.

    • Ron Conte says:

      I think this whole course is God’s will. The conservatives confronted about their failings by a liberal Pope. Pulling on the thread of Communion for the divorced and remarried to get to the massive problem of most Catholics ignoring grave sin. And even the falling away that occurs subsequently. It’s all part of the plan.

  2. Matt Z. says:

    Instead, maybe it will be a reinforcement that to be divorced and remarried and having relations is a grave matter. If done knowingly and with full consent, then it is an actual mortal sin. Then it can be stated that ALL actual mortals sins forbid one to go to communion. From what I understand there are Bishops in some places who are teaching that divorced and remarriage is not a grave matter or even a sin at all. That is why some Bishops and Cardinals want clarification. Although we dont know everything, maybe Pope Francis already chastised these Bishops that are distorting the truth about divorced and remarriage.

  3. domzerchi says:

    I don’t understand what you are saying. It is already true that those guilty of mortal sin, any mortal sin, may not ordinarily receive communion until they have repented and received sacramental absolution, with some limited exceptions. Has there ever been a time when that wasn’t true, when doing that was anything but sacrilege?

    You seem to be saying that one now MAY receive communion while not in a state of grace, that but during the reign of a future pope, by church law that practice will be forbidden. I am sure I must be misunderstanding you. Can you explain in a different way what you mean? Surely it is and always has been objectively and intrinsically wrong to commit sacrilege, and no future additional church law is needed to make it wrong! What am I missing?

    Also, you talk about people leaving the church if they are told that if they commit a mortal sin they must be sacramentally absolved before receiving communion, but people are already being told that in sermons, and it is precisely the parishes where those and other eternal catholic truths are preached where people drive great distances to visit, where there are lines whenever confession is scheduled, where many priestly vocations are fostered, and which are less likely to be struggling financially. At least I have observed that to be true in my country (Minnesota), and have read that similar things are happening elsewhere.

    • Ron Conte says:

      It has always been true that actual mortal sin prohibits from communion, except in some cases (which still require perfect contrition and later confession). But, in my view, the Church can permit persons guilty of mere objective mortal sin, who find themselves to be in good conscience, to receive — which is what Pope Francis is saying. I would prefer a discipline where even mere objective mortal sin, without full culpability, requires confession (ordinarily) first. And I would also like the Church to very clearly teach that one may not routinely receive Communion without considering one’s own worthiness.

      A person can commit an objectively grave sin and still be in the state of grace, if they did not commit that sin with full knowledge or full deliberation. Some factors reduce culpability as AL and the CCC state. Can such persons receive? They do receive now, but I think the Church will eventually decide that they should not.

  4. domzerchi says:

    Canon 916 bans communion for anyone guilty of mortal sin who has not repented and sacramentally been absolved, except for cases of necessity (presumably in the case of priests who must celebrate mass for the good of the faithful they serve). This law is in effect NOW.

  5. Dora says:

    Our parishes are large and most are strangers, our priests are few and unfaithful, and I don’t see eucharistic ministers taking on the role of priestly discernment. For many, a new decree would be just one more direction from Rome they would ignore. A great many mortal sins like the sin of contraception are “private” sins and people are hiding and rationalizing them right now. Unless there was something else (an alternate church being formed… or perhaps the warning…two very real possibilities) it seems likely to me the present situation would simply continue.

  6. Matt Z. says:

    Is the teaching that those in a state of actual mortal sin not be able to receive Holy Communion infallible Church dogma(De Fide)? If so should not the priests who are dealing with the divorced and remarried explain to the divorced and remarried that they should consent to the faith and the teaching on Holy Communion even if they totally do not understand it? Would that not clear up the confusion of AL so parish priests do not give leeway to allow the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Many Catholics do not accept what the Church teaches, but they still go to Communion. I heard a sermon once where a priest was talking about conversations he had with the divorced and remarried. He explained Church teaching, but they still would not change their behavior. But we also have to consider whether everyone who commit objective grave sin is guilty of actual mortal sin. Perhaps not.

    • Marco says:

      One question, Ron: are the ortodox christians just as likely of being guilty of actual mortal sins as catholics when it comes to sexual acts?

    • Ron Conte says:

      The natural law is written on people’s hearts. So the difference in teachings from one religion to another does not entirely excuse non-Catholics. But God only knows if that makes us or them more likely to fall into actual sin.

    • Marco says:


      “The natural law is written on people’s hearts. ”

      Of course. Everybody knows that killing, stealing, calumniation, pedophily, incest, betraying one’s spouse ecc are most grievous sins.

      But when it comes to non abortifacient contraception, remarriage after a marriage is irreparably broken ecc i don’t think that these sins are easily recognized as such by consciences.

      So it seems likely that if the other christians have to do really horrible things to be guilty of actual mortal sins, for us catholics falling into actual mortal sin is a lot easier.

      I mean, mortal sin is the breaking of one’s relationship with God, and it seems to me that Catholics have far more “strings attached” to this relationship, because we can lose the state of grace for acts that, if committed by other christians, would be only actual venial sins, even if the grave matter is still there.

      I think that what saves us are the devotions with beutiful promised attached (see the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the Fifteen prayers of Saint Bridget ecc) otherwise i’d have to think that being catholic makes one more likely to be lost.

      I think that Jesus gave us those devotions because He knows that the path for our Catholics is harder.

    • Marco says:

      I hope I’ve been clear enough, as I said in a previous post I’m Italian and I do not live in the Usa or in an another anglosaxon country, so i hope you’ll forgive my grammar errors.😅

  7. Mark P. says:

    Dr. Peters had a link to the Argentine bishops’ letter and I read it for the first time. It does not strike me as a “free for all” for whomever wants Communion. As Ron has said many times before, a great number of divorced and remarried (without an annulment) Catholics are already receiving Communion. Not that it makes their actions correct, but many of them are probably oblivious to the true teachings of the Church. So the Church can just continue with the way things are, and have people continue to receive the Eucharist in this state as if it were no big deal, or not aware of the truth. And the priests can rest comfortably, knowing that (but perhaps not knowing “who” – plausible deniability) divorced and remarried folks are receiving Communion from their hand. So it’s easy that way, the clergy can just wave the rules in people’s faces and expect them to comply, putting it on the conscience of the sinning sheep. Or, the Church can try the Holy Father’s approach and have these people seek pastoral guidance along the way of receiving our Lord’s body as intended. If the Pope’s proposal is outright rejected, the invitation will effectively be closed off. The priests and bishops can then take it easy, knowing that the rule has been enforced and that a pastoral approach is unnecessary…they can just wave the rules over the heads of the flock and tell them to take it or leave it. But when the invitation is there, the pastor is obligated to listen to the person and try to help them correct their situation. And the Church has to deal with this worldwide problem. The Church at Corinth was tiny by comparison, and the sins described by St. Paul make this issue seem like a cakewalk, e.g. people eating before Mass while others were starving, folks coming to the Eucharist drunk, infighting amongst parishioners, etc.
    Imagine if your young child ran into the street and was hit by a car and suffered a broken leg, and instead of trying to heal him the first thing the doctor did was yell at him for going in the street!

    • Matt Z. says:

      Very good post Mark. Im starting understand more what this issue is all about. Its more about the concrete act of giving the Sacrament instead of redefining Church Teaching!? If thats the case both sides are misinterpreting this. One side says the Pope is redifining Church teaching while the other side Bishops are misinterpreting the Pope and redifining Church teaching to pastor souls incorrectly. In Cardinal Burkes defense, all he wants is a reinstatement of faith by Pope Francis on the reception of Holy Communion to help correct the problem of the Bishops that are redifining Church teaching. On another note, one thing I learned the hard way very recently is that we cant judge until we have all the facts. Someone very close to me is divorced and remarried and for years I suspected they were having adulterous relations to find out they havent had relations in over 10 years. So correct me if Im wrong, in that 10 year span since they were not having relations, they were not living in sin?

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