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Newark Archbishop's Letter Highlights Debate Between Traditional, Progressive Catholics

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- The Archbishop of Newark is telling Catholics not to take communion or other sacraments if they publicly reject church teachings.

He's also told the faithful to avoid events that clash with church teachings.

As CBS2's Dick Brennan explained, critics might suggest that this seems like contrast to the message of inclusion that was heard from Pope Francis during his trip to the U.S.

The Archdiocese said it was not a significant change and they are in step with the pope's message.

"Any Catholic who publicly rejects church teaching or discipline... are not to receive the sacraments," Newark Archbishop John Myers wrote in a letter to priests.

The letter also instructs that "Catholics should not participate in or be present at public religious events intended to endorse or support those who reject or ignore church teaching."

The letter came just a week after Pope Francis visited the U.S. and preached a gospel of tolerance.

"What we are saying is that you, and this is part of the guidelines and the principles, if someone does not believe in what we teach, does not believe in the sacraments then why should the person bring himself to receive them," Jim Goodness said.

Some Catholics told CBS2 that the so-called Pope Francis effect has included a debate between traditionalists and progressives.

"I think there is still a split there, there are people who say the world has evolved and maybe the Catholic faith hasn't evolved when it comes to topics like that," Jim Gagne said.

Newark Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness said priests would not deny people who were on line for communion, but that parishioners should have a conversation with their pastor if they, for example, attended a gay wedding.

"A parent who is going to a gay son's ceremony because she loves her son and wants to express their love, there is nothing wrong with that," Goodness said.

Goodness said the Archbishop has never singled out a politician or anyone else about taking communion.

They say that parishioners should have a conversation with their priest, and not take part if they feel they can't.



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