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Berlusconi accused of sacrilege after receiving Communion

CWN - April 22, 2010

A priest in Genoa has accused Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of sacrilege after he received Holy Communion during a televised funeral. The prime minister divorced his first wife in 1985, remarried outside the Church in 1990, and is divorcing his second wife amid allegations of infidelity.

“Berlusconi has committed sacrilege, given that he is divorced and is in the process of getting divorced for a second time,” Father Paolo Farinella told an Italian newspaper. “It seems the ban on divorced people taking communion is imposed on [ordinary Catholics] but not on the powerful Berlusconi, a man without moral scruples who is corrupt and corrupts others.”

Retired Archbishop Giuseppe Casale of Foggia-Bovino agreed that Berlusconi should not receive Holy Communion “because his behavior is not coherently Christian.”

However, Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, the regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary (and not the head of the dicastery, as The Times of London reported), said that “the condition of being divorced does not necessarily preclude Communion, provided the person in question has not remarried, does not cohabit, and has done penance. I hope the prime minister was aware of this.”

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  • Posted by: tmsharel5764 - Apr. 22, 2010 7:56 PM ET USA

    I think that the fact that Berlusconi is divorcing his second wife is not relevant to his receiving or not receiving Holy Communion. Since he was not married to her in the Church, the second divorce should happen. However, regarding his first wife, if he did marry her in the Church, it would be nice if they would give a good example and reconcile. Canon 1153.2 urges reconciliation of separated couples. How many children would rejoice at their parents' healing the family.

  • Posted by: alencon - Apr. 22, 2010 6:45 PM ET USA

    In relation to Bishop Girotti's statement (which I'm sure the vast majority of Catholic's believe). I'm sure I remember Christ preaching in the Bible that as long as you're between spouses, then you're OK and I'm OK, and oh yeah what was that other quote in the Bible, "God doesn't mind divorce" and "a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, let man not separate what God has joined together, unless things aren't going too well, then well never mind and good luck with #2".

  • Posted by: Don Vicente - Apr. 22, 2010 9:47 AM ET USA

    Yes, Bishop Girotti is correct. If, as it seems, Berlusconi is between significant others at the moment, he may well have gone to Confession (which is none of anybody's business) and be well-disposed. In charity, we must give him the benefit of the doubt -- not because he is rich and powerful, but because he is a fellow Catholic sinner like the rest of us.

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