So many of the tensions in the Church today relate to a single theme. Consider some of the developments in the past week.

• Last Thursday, German bishops announced that they had “overwhelmingly” backed the creation of a guide advising non-Catholic spouses when they can receive Holy Communion.

• On the same day, Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship, said we were witnessing an “insidious diabolical attack” on the Sacrament. Writing in the preface of a new book, he also denounced “certain forms” of “intercommunion” as outrages.

• On Saturday, the American theologian Fr Thomas Weinandy argued in a lecture in Sydney that the Church’s holiness was “under siege”, especially regarding the Eucharist. He said that churchmen who reduced commandments to mere “ideals” were engaged in an “overt public attack on the holiness of

what John Paul termed ‘the Most Holy Sacrament’ ”.

Each of these news items provoked uproar, especially on Twitter. What they have in common, of course, is the Eucharist. Why is this Sacrament the subject of so many disputes in the Church today? At one level, that’s easy to answer. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. It matters so much to Catholics that it is not surprising that it is the focus of the fiercest arguments. Yet the disagreements today seem especially dramatic. They are so ferocious that they seem at times to threaten Church unity.

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