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The television version of Hilary Mantel’s novel Wolf Hall is the latest account to challenge St Thomas More’s reputation as a courageous defender of the rights of conscience. Was he, in truth, a liberal icon, a religious fanatic or something in between?
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Cardinal Vincent Nichols has argued that one can be a faithful Catholic without receiving Communion, saying the Eucharist is not the “sum total” of church life.
“There’s a whole need to explore more what role the Eucharist plays, whether the Eucharist is, as this sense suggests, the sum total of Catholic life, and it isn’t,” the cardinal said on Monday in a reference to the Church’s exclusion of remarried divorcees from receiving Communion.
Speaking at his first press conference since being made a cardinal by Pope Francis last weekend, he added: “We have to go back and look again at the place of the Eucharist in relation to the whole life of the Church and spiritual life of any person or couple. And make it possible that somehow the identification between receiving the Eucharist and being a faithful Catholic isn’t as important as it is now,” he said.
Cardinal Nichols, 68, noted that there was “a more reserved approach to the Eucharist” when he was a youth.
He called it the “high point” of being a Catholic, but he said we needed to find “ways in which people can live a very fruitful life in the Church even if for the public reasons we all understand they might not have access to the Eucharist.”
When asked later if Catholics could live a full life in the Church without the frequent reception of the sacraments, the cardinal said one could attend the Eucharist faithfully and make a “spiritual communion”. He also suggested they could receive a “blessing”.
Above: Pope Francis greets Cardinal Nichols and the choir of Westminster Cathedral after Saturday's consistory. The choir sang at the event. Photo: CBCEW