A Lutheran woman, married to a Roman Catholic, asked Pope Francis if she could receive Holy Eucharist with her husband. The pope’s answer has sparked quite a number of headlines.
The very best analysis I have seen is by Jimmy Akin.
I really appreciate Akin’s efforts to help us understand the pontiff’s words in the full context of RCC teaching, because far too many who speak and write about Pope Francis appear to be more interested in using or abusing him to serve their political agendas.
Although I don’t speak Italian, I found it helpful to watch the video, if only to make it clear that Pope Francis was answering a question. He ponders, speaks slowly, rambles a bit; in other words, he is speaking pastorally, not pontifically. Akin takes this into account with his analysis.
Because of the cautions Pope Francis makes during the course of his answer, I don’t view it as the earthquake that some took it for.
Is the pope giving permission to Lutheran spouses to take Communion at Mass? No. He expressly says he’s not.
Is this a portent of an imminent shift in Catholic doctrine or sacramental practice? No.
Is it possible that the current rules regarding when Communion can be given to other Christians could one day be tweaked? Yes. It’s imaginable that a pope might one day decide that any baptized Christians who share the Church’s faith respect to Communion, confession, and anointing could receive those sacraments on the same basis that Orthodox Christians can.
Are the pope’s remarks a sign that this—or anything like it—is going to happen any time in the foreseeable future? No.
Could the pope have answered more clearly? Yes. One might argue that, if the pope were going to struggle with the question as much as he did, he would have been better advised not to take it. But these things happen, and there is no reason to see this as a sign of an impending doctrinal or sacramental earthquake.
Akin’s full article @ http://jimmyakin.com/2015/11/pope-francis-on-intercommunion-with-lutherans.html
English translation of the pope’s words @ http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/pope-tells-lutheran-to-talk-to-the-lord-about-receiving-eucharist/