My mother-in-law died a slow, excruciating death from emphysema way back in the early 1980s. I had accepted Christ about one year prior to her death and was able to witness to her several times before she accepted Jesus as her Savior. But the funeral services had already been arranged by members of the family including a Catholic mass. When it came time during the mass to receive communion, the priest invited everyone in attendance, Catholics AND Protestants, to participate. That was radical stuff back in 1984! The bishop of Rochester at the time, Matthew Clark, was a very liberal fellow who often turned a blind eye to deviations from Catholic orthodoxy (and perhaps encouraged them).
Roman Catholicism teaches its priests change bread wafers into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ at the mass. The priest then offers up the Jesus wafers to God the Father as a sacrifice for the sins of the congregants. People then line up to consume the Jesus wafer, believing it will impart grace so that the recipient will be better able to avoid sin and thereby merit Heaven. Rome teaches that only Catholics and members of Eastern Orthodox churches may receive its communion.
The church also theoretically only allows communion to those in a “state of grace” (without any mortal sin on their soul). Catholics who have divorced and remarried without an annulment of the first marriage were considered to be living in an ongoing adulterous relationship, a mortal sin, and were prohibited from receiving communion. That was the infallible teaching of the church for a millennia. But with divorce rates soaring among Catholics, and many divorced-and-remarried Catholics feeling alienated and falling away from the church, Pope Francis issued his Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) encyclical last April, which seems to pragmatically allow priests the ability to decide if remarried Catholics can receive communion on a case-by-case basis.
Traditionalists rightly see Amoris Laetitia as an assault on the infallible teaching of all previous popes and hence the current standoff between conservative cardinals and Francis. But Amoris Laetitia is only the first crack in the dam. Liberal Catholic prelates such as German cardinal, Walter Kasper, mentioned in the articles below, anticipate the day when Catholics will share communion with Protestants as official practice. Kasper and others are like sharks who smell blood in the water with the publication of Amoris Laetitia and will be relentless in their demand for open communion, which will be a major step in recovering the “separated brethren” under the wings of Rome.
But what about Rome’s claim that its infallible teachings can’t be abrogated? Pope Francis winks at that dogma. He “bent” the rule for divorced remarrieds by using ambiguous language in this encyclical. How will he (or his successor) specifically get around no-communion for Protestants? I don’t know but rest assured it’s coming.