(ZENIT News / Londrina, 01.09.2023).- Last Wednesday, August 30, Mass was celebrated in the Cathedral of Londrina, Brazil, on the occasion of the funeral of Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo. Present in the Eucharistic concelebration, presided over by Monsignor Geremias Steinmetz, was Muslim Sheikh Ahmad Saleh Mahairi.
According to what some of those attending reported, and also because it can be seen in a video of the funeral, the Bishop distributed the Sacred Eucharist to the Sheikh.
The event aroused perplexity among Catholics due to three things: that Muslims do not believe in Jesus Christ as God, even less so in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and that the Sheikh received Communion but, in so far as can be seen in the video, did not consume it.
As the controversy grew, the Archbishop of Londrina issued a press release addressing the matter.
Obispo de Londrina da la Sagrada Comunión a un musulmán…
Más allá de ir contra el Derecho Canónico (cc. 912 y 1379) o Catecismo de la Iglesia Católica (n. 1401), esto es ir contra la lógica de la fe: ¿cómo se puede dar deliberadamente la Eucaristía a alguien cuya fe islámica… pic.twitter.com/6Tdej9jpMH
— P. Jorge Enrique Mújica, LC (@web_pastor) September 1, 2023
After explaining that the Muslim Sheikh was at the funeral because he knew the deceased Cardinal since 1980, and because he has good relations with the Catholic Church, the Bishop acknowledges the fact: “The images of the re-transmission of the Holy Mass show Sheikh Mahairi receiving the Eucharist from my hands, but do not show him consuming it. In face of the repercussion of these images, I asked the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Londrina, Father Rafael Solano, to speak with the Sheikh to clarify the situation. Sheikh Mahairi lamented profoundly what happened, as his desire was not to lack respect to the Catholic Church. He told the Vicar General that he received Jesus, went to his pew, sat down and consumed the Eucharist. According to him, Monsignor Albano had explained to him many years ago that the Eucharist is Jesus’ Body, considered a prophet by Islam.”
Then the Bishop makes a speech of justification: quoting Vatican Council II he says that Muslims acknowledge Jesus as prophet. Subsequently, he instrumentalizes a document of Pope Francis (Desiderio Desideravi) to finally say: “The Eucharist that is raised, true Body and Blood of Jesus, is received by the people gathered around the altar also as sign of charity, of that unrepeatable love of God that is manifested in Jesus’ Cross. Therefore, “let us abandon the controversies to listen together to what the Spirit says to the Church, let us preserve communion, let us continue to be amazed before the beauty of the Liturgy. Passover has been given to us, let us be guarded by the desire that the Lord continues having to be able to eat it with us, under the gaze of Mary, Mother of the Church.” (Pope Francis – Desiderio Desideravi, n. 65). The Eucharistic celebration teaches us the noble exercise of charity, nourishes meekness, leads us to fraternity and respect of all. May the Eucharist, mystery of love, be for all source of grace and light that illumines the paths of life.”
Number 912 of the Code of Canon Law specifies that only “Every baptized person to whom the law does not ban him, can and must be admitted to Sacred Communion.” For its part, canon 1379 states that “He who administers deliberately a Sacrament to those that are banned from receiving it must be punished with suspension, to which other penalties can be added of those enumerated in c. 1336, §§ 2-4.