the birthright of the baptized

May 6, 2018
on the Sixth Sunday of Easter

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, President, et al.
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
1700 San Jacinto
Houston, TX 77001-0907

Dear Brothers,

Then Peter proceeded to speak and said, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.” (Acts 1:34-35)

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. (John 15:11-13,16)

My Godson Andrew made his first communion today. He has been preparing for this all year and looking forward to it with great anticipation. As happy as he is to receive the body and blood of Christ, my joy is not complete. And I need your help on account of a very grave matter.

Andrew’s mother, Sandra, is my sister and she is Catholic. Her husband Christopher is also baptized according to the tradition of his parents, but he is not Catholic. They often worship together with their two children who are now 4 and 8 years old. Yet, Christ is not welcome at the one table, to share in the one bread and to drink from the one cup. During communion, he remains seated, like a homeless man begging for food turned away empty handed, as everyone else participates in this ritual which is the source and summit of our faith. Why exactly should he be made to feel like a second class Christian?

This is a source of great dissonance and desolation to me. My heart is troubled knowing that the church is creating a needless division in their family, and many others, on account of absolutely no good reason, having nothing to do with the gospel or biblical witness. In fact, our tradition of requiring agreement with Peter, practically ignoring belief in Christ and the sacrament of baptism, is growing all the more repulsive to me as I see the pain it is causing in the lives of these good Christian men, like Christ.

If God shows no partiality, why does the church? I do not understand how the bishops can dare to use the Eucharist to bribe good people into agreement with everything taught from Peter’s chair. The laity is not a vending machine, fed with bread, for the purpose of building up the influence of the magisterium. We are not at your disposal, you work for us! You are servants of the Word.

According to the law of the Church I am free, and perhaps even duty bound, to make my spiritual needs and desires known to pastors, and to share my opinion for the good of the church with its leadership and also the entire Christian faithful, while also being attentive to the common advantage and the dignity of persons. (Canon 212)

You should know that I am praying with Jesus for Christian unity. As part of my commitment to doing the will of God on earth as it is in heaven, I have elected to fast from the Eucharist until all of the baptized believers are welcome at the one table. Since I am only obligated to receive once annually, I will continue to do that at Easter. However, I want you to know that I am glad to lay down my participation in our sacramental life until all the baptized believers are welcome. Peter tries to be, be the real principle of unity for Christians is the Eucharist, it is Christ!

Eucharistic hospitality, as some call it, even though it is actually the birthright of the baptized, is absolutely essential to the health of our families and to our society. I would pay any price, even with my entire life, to bring this to completion. The magisterium is tearing apart the fabric of Christianity which should be marked with glory and splendor, not discrimination and dis-grace. If some of the baptized struggle with a poverty of theology, they are nonetheless just as baptized as the bishops, just as worthy as I am. The most heinous dividing walls are not built on nation’s borders; they are built by the magisterium. We need to tear them down. We need to show our nation and indeed the entire world what it means to be Christian, not with our words, with our deeds!

You should also know that God has chosen me to relay this message to you, and that God will grant my prayer; I am absolutely certain. I hope that you are also part of the solution.

Please let me know if you are not able to accomplish this small favor before the feast of Corpus Christi, in 2019.

Amy F Fielder
MA Biblical Languages, 2006
The Graduate Theological Union & The Jesuit School of Theology

cc: Cardinals Cupich, Dolan, O’Malley, Tobin, Wurel