Tuesday, April 28, 2015
TO COMMUNION OR NOT TO COMMUNION: THAT IS THE QUESTION?
I've given Holy Communion to non-Catholics, not on purpose, but because they approached me and I thought they were Catholic or I didn't want to cause a scene in public by taking the Host back once the person received.
I know that President Bill Clinton received Holy Communion in Africa once.
I also know that Cardinal Ratzinger at Pope St. John Paul's funeral Mass gave Holy Communion to the non-Catholic founder and religious head of the Taize Community. This was no accident it was planned and with permission of the then cardinal.
Baptized non-Catholics may be given Holy Communion is the following three criteria are scrupulously followed:
1. The non-Catholic believes what the Catholic Church believes about the Eucharist (to include the broader implications of being in communion with other Catholics, to include the pope and bishops). While they may not grasp the meaning of transubstantiation, in reality this is what they believe.
2. The non-Catholic is unable to attend their own church for the Eucharist (maybe there isn't that particular denomination in town). Or the non-Catholic has a particular spiritual need that they feel they need to receive Holy Communion.
3. The bishop has to give permission when presented with the case and the above criteria are present.
The third point makes it clear that the bishop is the final arbiter of the is decision not local priests.
I think it would be appropriate for Archbishop Cupich to explain what happened to the lay faithful especially since he is being vilified in some quarters for having given Holy Communion to the non Catholic governor. Who knows? It might have simply been an awkward moment and the Archbishop didn't want to make the governor uncomfortable by refusing hims on national TV or the Archbishop had given him permission ahead of time based on the criteria above. An explanation would go a long way in this case.
Our Emeritus bishop gave me permission to allow an Episcopalian nun in her late 80's to receive Holy Communion at my parish in Augusta. She attended our Saturday vigil Mass each week and was more Catholic than most Catholics in my parish. Eventually she became a Catholic about three years before her death (and remained a member of her Episcopal convent!). She opposed women's ordination which was truly a stumbling block for her and a number of other issues that evolved in the Episcopal Church.
At weddings and funerals, I always state that only those Roman Catholics in a state of grace or having made use of sacramental confession may receive Holy Communion. All others should make a spiritual communion at their place in the pew as their faith allows. If you wish, you may come forward for a blessing by crossing your arms over your chest to indicate this (or wording close to this).
Even when I say this, though, I still have some non-Catholics who weren't listening or simply think they have a right come forward and receive. If they know how to receive as a Catholic how am I suppose to know they aren't?