Friday, April 28, 2023


Before I answer my question above, let me be clear. The institutional Church needs to have clear moral teachings and clear teachings on what is venial and mortal sins and how to determine what causes any sin to be mortal. Catholics need to know that they should not present themselves for Holy Communion if they are in a state of unforgiven mortal sin.

Not all serious matter considered a mortal sin is a mortal sin for the person acting out. If they don’t know it is a mortal sin or a sin at all, it is still a venial sin but not a mortal sin. If they commit the serious sin without full consent of the will, it is a venial sin. 

But should Ministers of Holy Communion act as policemen at Communion time? No. Just think of every Mass where people receive Holy Communion who are not in a state of grace. Maybe they never go to Confession. They’re racists, sexists, xenophobic, adulterers, fornicators, in illicit sexual unions, have killed people, born and unborn, and are members of crime syndicates.   Normally most at Mass if not everyone doesn’t know the facts of their personal lives and if they know, they don’t care. 

Are we to be flexible with only mortal sins of the flesh or should we be flexible with all mortal sins and give people a pass since Holy Communion isn’t a prize for the innocent but medicine for the guilty? 

Personally, I think it should be very rare that someone be refused Holy Communion. Clearly, those who are publicly making an ideological statement and using our Lord to do it should be denied. I would say that a man, clearly a man, both in looks and in science (DNA proof) who dresses in drag should be denied Holy Communion. Couples of whatever sexual delight who are legally married but that isn’t recognized as a Sacrament by the Church, should be denied. They should be told by their pastor that they should not present themselves for Holy Communion prior to denying them. 

If one is a public racist, crime family member, and belongs to hate groups, like the satanic church, they should be denied. 

If one group is given flexibility, meaning exclusively the LGBTQ+++++ ideologues, then everyone should be given a pass. That is why this current discussion is so pernicious. It is only about narcissistic LGBTQ+++ people, or whatever noun they choose to describe themselves, and not about everyone in general. 

Here’s a good article from “Where Peter Is”:

At the Intersection of Culpability and Inclusivity

The synodal process and the recent remarks of Cardinal McElroy in America Magazine have generated a lot of good discussion within the Church about a critical and vital issue at the heart of pastoral care. His Eminence followed his original piece with a clarification of his previous remarks to which I would like...


ByzRus said...

EMHC aren't likely equipped to make such decisions on the fly.

Even if they were, is their role such that those being denied would be accepting and not create a scene during communion, or mass more broadly?

Often EMHC are physically distant from the priest during communion. Again, is enforcement even possible?

At some level, this again calls into question the appropriateness of the role? I'm sure some would say, communion would be unduly lengthened without EMHC, the laity should be engaged, the Church has allowed this for decades etc. Given the current state of affairs, the lack of belief in the true presence, everyone/anyone lining up, how could this role not have contributed in some way. Viaticum, fine, during divine worship, I just don't know. Mostly, EMHC seem incapable of distributing on the tongue and when attending there, I feel profoundly awkward receiving from a lay person in that way. I suppose that is my problem to deal with however, I mostly try to locate myself where a priest/deacon would be.

At the end of the day, are EMHC distributing our Lord, God and Savior made present under the form of bread, or simply handing out crackers?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

EMHCs are not usually in a pastoral role. Do we need many EMHCs distributing Holy Communion simply for the sake of a personal ministry they feel privileged to do but apart from that there is no real link to pastoral ministry in the parish? That question hasn’t been addressed because now this ministry is seen as ordinary and not extraordinary and no longer linked to general pastoral ministry. I personally feel that now the formal ministry is opened to male and females, that they should go through training on the diocesan level, like a minor seminary training and expected to help with pastoral ministry apart from distributing Holy Communion. They should be considered staff and included in decisions about denying anyone Holy Communion. They should not determine the moral character of communicants only the pastor. However certainly they should deny Holy Communion to anyone who is ignorant of how to receive and may not be Catholic. They should be trained to the skill on how to figure this out and to deny politely.

Jerome Merwick said...

I was once asked by the pastor where I attended Mass to become an EMHC. I was rather surprised that he asked me, but I acquiesced. The training was a joke and almost all of the emphasis was about giving EVERYONE who comes forward Communion, no matter what.

So at the first Mass I am assigned, someone I KNEW was not Catholic came forward first for Communion. After knowing that enabled a sacrilege, I stopped. I wasn't necessary in the first place, as are a large number of these EMHC's. I also did not feel right putting my dirty, unconsecrated hands on the Blessed Sacrament.

But let's face it, reverence for the Blessed Sacrament hasn't been one of the hallmarks of the postconciliar Church. Erasing all reverence HAS.

ByzRus said...

Agree, Fr. AJM.

I know of a parish where EMHCs vest in albs for mass. I'm torn on this one as, currently, their state is mostly as you described, so "turning on" the appearance of an actual ministry through vesting seems questionable. If a diocese took ownership of EMHCs such that training and their mandate, generally, was more formalized, vesting could potentially add authenticity to a role executed by those without consecrated hands.

In current form, it just doesn't add up somehow. At the altar, consecrated hands handle the elements, consecrated hands are responsible for safeguarding particles, those not ordained to major orders kneel during the consecration yet, when communing the faithful, those rules seem to be put aside and those in street clothes who, as you said, exercise no formal ministry, take over.

Православный физик said...

I do not think that EMHC's should be placed in that positions, as they're not pastors of souls.

I question whether EMHC's should be used during Mass at all. Would it significantly add to time if just the priest or deacon distributed Holy Communion? (Save a mega parish, I don't think the time that would be added would be significant enough in my opinion)

Only in the case where the sin is public knowledge should Communion be denied...

OMHC's have the duty to deny if the circumstances are known.

Louis Gasper said...

An EMHC must presume that one who presents himself for the Holy Communion is worthy of receiving. That presumption must be a strong one and can be overcome only in those (very rare) instances in which communicating the person is likely to result in a public scandal. A mere EMHC should not have to bear that responsibility. Were I to find myself in that situation, I would, sotto voce, tell the person he must receive from a priest and direct him to the celebrant.

TJM said...

EMHC's should be rare and seldom used. They just clutter up the sanctuary. If people knelt at a Communion Railing, there would be little or no need except in very large parishes.

ByzRus said...

Православный физик said...

"I do not think that EMHC's should be placed in that positions, as they're not pastors of souls."


"I question whether EMHC's should be used during Mass at all. Would it significantly add to time if just the priest or deacon distributed Holy Communion? (Save a mega parish, I don't think the time that would be added would be significant enough in my opinion)"

Agree to both points. Divine Liturgy averages 1 hr 10 minutes. Granted, our parishes are smaller, however, communion on a spoon with the "Servant of God/handmaiden of God etc." takes time to repeat and then, it isn't that much time in aggregate. We chant the psalms during communion as is proper. With panachida, and in aggregate, it might be 1 hr 30 minutes.

"Only in the case where the sin is public knowledge should Communion be denied..."


"OMHC's have the duty to deny if the circumstances are known."


To me, the "genie" is out of the bottle and not likely to be put back. The question is how to operate and safeguard the eucharist which I'm not confident is well known or enforced. Fr. AJM's suggestion of a given diocese taking ownership and providing structure and training is the best suggestion I've heard to date.

Hope you are doing well during this paschal season!

rcg said...

It is helpful for lower level operators, such as EMHC, to be given better guidance. If a known supporter of abortion presents himself to the EMCH he could be directed to the priest’s queue for communion so the proper authority could act on the specific case. The same could go for any questionable person or situation, such as a Protestant attending Mass and unaware of any restrictions.