Thursday, March 1, 2012
OPENINGLY DENYING CATHOLICS HOLY COMMUNION--GUESS WHAT? I HAVE MY OPINIONS ON IT!
Only in the rarest of situations should a Catholic be denied Holy Communion. In that case it should be for someone who has publicly been asked not to receive Holy Communion because an "interdict" or "public excommunication" has occurred. Katherine Sebelious would be a good example. I also believe that the former bishop of Pensacola reminded priests and candidate for vice-presidency Joe Biden, not to receive Holy Communion in his diocese.
All priests know Catholics who are married outside the Church and should not be receiving Holy Communion. Mass isn't the place to deny them the sacrament if they come forward, they should be counseled outside of Mass about that. If they persist, it's their immortal soul that is in jeopardy. I just don't think there should be scenes created at Mass except in the rarest of situations.
I have denied non-Catholics Holy Communion but only when I realized that they were not Catholic because they were clueless about how to receive Holy Communion. I simply give them a blessing. However, some of you may recall that last year at our Confirmation our bishop denied a Protestant Holy Communion and he responded on this blog with great indignation and continued to do so even after it was explained to him why he isn't in full communion with the Catholic Church--we are dealing now with a culture of "entitlement."
This brings me to the story of a priest in the Washington, DC Archdiocese who denied Holy Communion at a funeral to the lesbian daughter of the women who had died. You can read about it by pressing here and the rage and apology that ensued.
I don't think that it is anyone's business at a funeral to judge family members who are grieving and come forward to receive Holy Communion. Let God be the judge and if the person is receiving Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin, then that person will need to answer to God. I know many will disagree with me about this, but I know for a fact that a great number of people who present themselves for Holy Communion each and every Sunday more than likely haven't been to confession in years. Do priests really want to be detectives about this? And do we want extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion being detectives about this. I've know some EM's who would be even more rigid than the priest in Maryland about denying someone Holy Communion.
Those who are known to have been publicly asked by their bishop not to receive Holy Communion is another story. Ultimately, I think it is the bishop's responsibility to have a very clear policy in place. I understand canon law has it already, but each bishop is responsible for its enforcement and should make it known in the most public of ways if he thinks it is important for the general Church to do in these days when so few people actually make use of the Sacrament of Penance and thus more than likely shouldn't be receiving Holy Communion anyway.
This is canon 915: "Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion."
But this canon doesn't describe what measures should be in place before a priest or an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion denies someone Holy Communion although the presumption is that a "public" excommunication or interdict has been imposed--that means only a bishop can impose that--we're not talking about general sinners here. That's my interpretation any way.