Pope Benedict said only the pure of heart could receive communion

Pope Benedict said on Sunday only the pure of heart could receive communion, a day after Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi joked that the Church should extend it to those who have divorced and remarried.

Italian newspapers had reported that Berlusconi, attending a ceremony in Sardinia, asked a bishop offering communion when the Church planned to change the rules for people who remarried after divorce, who are barred from receiving communion.

"You should turn to a higher power than me," replied the priest, according to newspapers.

The pope, in a message to a Quebec conference, did not mention Berlusconi or divorce but said communion could only be given to those who were free of major sins.

"We have to do everything that is in our power to receive (communion) in a pure heart, searching without end, through the sacrament of forgiveness, the purity that sin has stained," Pope Benedict said in his message.

"On the other hand, those who cannot take communion because of their situation will find, nevertheless, in the desire to participate in the Eucharist, strength and effect of salvation."

Berlusconi himself is divorced and married a second time.


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