Cleansing Fire

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When and Why Holy Communion is Refused

January 14th, 2013, Promulgated by Hopefull

Christifidelis is the publication of the St. Joseph Foundation in San Antonio, TX, which is committed to assisting the faithful, clergy and laity, in their vindication of rights in the Catholic Church.  In my opinion, the Foundation does an outstanding service in providing such assistance, is credible and worthy of support.  In their publication, they often take on difficult and complex questions which need Canon Law interpretation, and a browse through their archives shows much of value. 

In their first issue of 2013, the cover story and major article is by Dr. Edward Peters on “Participation in Holy Communion by unworthy Catholics” and he separates the questions of the obligation to receive worthily from the obligations of administering the Sacrament.  Toward the conclusion, Dr. Peters comments on the discipline against Kathleen Sebelius and Andrew Cuomo, who have both apparently complied and are said not to be now receiving Communion.  But the case is different with “The Nancy Pelosi Scandal,” he reports.

Dr. Peters writes: “In sum, Catholic ecclesiastical leadership must address four areas of confusion in regard to Communion access by Catholics: first, Church leaders must re-educate Catholics against the irreverent reception of Communion; second, they must resist pressure by some Catholics to enforce in the public forum what are private obligations concerning reception of Communion; third, they must be on guard against improperly withholding the Eucharist from Catholics whose offensive conduct does not qualify canonically as “obstinate” “perseverance in” “manifest” “grave” “sin”‘; and fourth, Church leadership must accept the possibility that , in some concrete cases, the public bad conduct of some Catholics requires Church ministers to withhold Communion from them for the sake of ecclesiastical common good.” 

The full article, the nuances of each condition, and expansion of some points he previously published in First Things, can be found here.

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13 Responses to “When and Why Holy Communion is Refused”

  1. avatar Catinlap1 says:

    When visiting Rochester and also at home, I am usually denied the Precious Blood just for the “crime” of being handicapped.

  2. avatar Scott W. says:

    There are a lot of things to unpack in that testimony Catinlap1. I sometimes get accused of being insensitive, so let me say up front that if the people who denied you did so in the way you imply, you have my sympathy and if it was done to someone close to me, I’d be contacting the bishop and demanding disciplinary action.

    Having said that, I will point out that the topic here is not being barred from communion from one species or another, but being barred from communion altogether. It is important to remember that when one receives either species, they are receive complete communion. Receiving both is in no way superior to receiving one and in fact, maintaining such is a heresy called Utraquism.

    Next, I am no expert, but I am not aware of any canonical “right” to communion under both species, but I could be wrong.

    Naturally, I would need to hear more details and their side of the story, but if we grant that there was an implication of a “crime” of being handicapped (dirty looks, innuendo, etc.) then I’m completely on your side as this is a failure of charity and basic tact.

    Lastly, I’m surprised such happens in the DOR which, after 30+ years of chaos and destruction, I can’t imagine them denying anyone anything (except orthodoxy). I guess we should be thankful they haven’t started using pizza and coke for the Eucharist and giving it to pets, and having mimes in the sanctuary. (Oh wait…)

    P.S. Cards on the table, I lean towards a universal return to one species on the tongue. In my view, both species is a bit of pandering to Protestantism (if fact, if you look at anti-Catholic propaganda from the 19th century, you will see cartoons concluding that witholding the cup leads to drunkeness and alchoholism. ?!), and it encourages the use of a platoon of lay EMHC’s which the world needs less of.

  3. avatar y2kscotty says:

    Scott W., thanks for putting the “cards on the table.” But I’d say you are wrong. Both species is NOT a pandering to Protestantism despite the mistaken propaganda from the 19th century. Receiving both species is the ancient custom of the Church, as exemplified by the practice of our “Eastern” Churches. If the Latin Rite universally withholds reception of the Precious Blood, then I myself will participate in the Eastern Rites (such as at St. Josaphat’s in Rochester, where the liturgy is in English) and receive under both species.

  4. avatar Scott W. says:

    But I’d say you are wrong. Both species is NOT a pandering to Protestantism despite the mistaken propaganda from the 19th century.

    I’m not wrong because while it was ancient custom, single species also existed in this time and frankly, I don’t see much indicating that it was re-introduced recently to harken back to the ancient practices, rather we were still reeling from the ecumenical booze of the age.

  5. avatar Scott W. says:

    P.S. I apologize for responding because it is taking us down a rabbit trail when the subject of the post is denial of communion, not which species should be available to the laity. You can delete my 4:59 response if you wish, and I return you now to your regularly scheduled entry. 🙂

  6. avatar raymondfrice says:

    “I lean towards a universal return to one species on the tongue.”

    What did Jesus do at the Last Supper?? This was the beginning of our liturgical tradition. There have been fluctuations in the practices but this is one of the roots of the first Mass.

  7. avatar militia says:

    I am very surprised with this nationwide flu outbreak that we haven’t seen more restrictions on receiving from the cup and on hand-holding and hand-shaking at the Our Father.

  8. avatar Scott W. says:

    Guys, I’m willing to have a discussion on communion under one or both species, but not here. So you can give me all the WWJD stuff you want and declare victory if that satisfies you, but unless you have something related to the topic at hand, I’m not playing.

  9. avatar JLo says:

    Too bad if you missed Fr. Mitch Pacwa’s program last Wednesday night when he had Bishop Schneider discussing this very thing. At least look at the Holy Father’s example. I wish his priests and bishops would!! Ever since the Holy Father returned home from his visit to America several years ago, a kneeler is placed before him for those who receive from his hand, and always on the tongue. Perhaps you’d like to read Bishop Schneider’s book. The good bishop is on a mission to return the Church to the reverent way of receiving, which is on the tongue. He makes his case well in his book, “Dominus Est—It Is the Lord!” Available at Amazon and inexpensive.

    +JMJ

  10. avatar y2kscotty says:

    Back to the topic: decisions to deny Holy Communion to a Catholic who presents himself or herself should be made only(!) by competent authority (i.e. the bishop of the diocese) and not by a parish priest or any extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.
    I might add, none of us is the judge and jury on this matter.

  11. avatar Scott W. says:

    Back to the topic: decisions to deny Holy Communion to a Catholic who presents himself or herself should be made only(!) by competent authority (i.e. the bishop of the diocese) and not by a parish priest or any extraordinary minister of Holy Communion

    You should read the article linked. In general, it is very pro-administrtion rather than withholding, but there are exceptions. Remember that withholding and excommunication are two different things. For instance if a minister had reasonable suspicion that a recipient intended to desecrate the Eucharist. Surely no one believes that a priest has to secure permission from the bishop before withholding communion.

    I might add, none of us is the judge and jury on this matter.

    As no one here has remotely implied that they are, I’m not sure who this is meant to be addressed to.

  12. avatar raymondfrice says:

    “For instance if a minister had reasonable suspicion that a recipient intended to desecrate the Eucharist. Surely no one believes that a priest has to ask …the bishop’s permission”.

    This was an issue a few years ago when people from Corpus Christ, under Father Dan and after Father Callan, were taking communion and hurling it to the floor in contempt. The extraordinary ministers and the priest had to be on guard at communion and use their discretion in who was to receive. In fact all of us had to be watchful that the Bleesed Sacrament was not desecrated.

  13. avatar raymondfrice says:

    “when people from Corpus Christi”

    Should dead: “some people” (they were usually unbaptized and staff did not think it was necessary to baptize them before thay received communion..)


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