Q: I am old enough to remember in the U.S. when everyone went to confession before communion, because none of us were worthy. That changed after Vatican II here in the U.S. but the Hispanics I work with still have this attitude. They think it is church law and when I teach differently at parent meetings some respond joyfully and others don’t believe me.
First question: What are the best church documents for stating that we can all go to communion unless in a state of mortal sin? Or simply that all of us should take advantage of the great gift of Eucharist?
Secondly, why did the U.S. change after Vatican II, but apparently Mexico and points south haven’t changed their teaching? Is one of us wrong?
All help is appreciated!
A: This is an important topic that reaches at the heart of what we do when we gather for the Eucharist. However, I think the problem is not with liturgical theology, but moral theology. Many members of the Hispanic community have a heightened sense of mortal sin. I think the answer is more in helping people evaluate what kind of sin would keep them from communion, and what kind of sin communion will help them overcome.
As to why Latin America has a different view on this than the US, that is a highly complex question that I think has to do with the innate humbleness among Hispanics, along with the attraction to a demeanor of servitude in the face of authority. Priests have certainly contributed to this because authority feels so good.