Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Distinguishing Priest Believers from Priest Non-Believers

July 14th, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris

In another horrendous abuse of the Eucharist, a priest in Hattiesburg, MS devises a scheme in which families hold their own hosts during the consecration and self-communicate. Father Tommy Conway, pastor of Saint Fabian Catholic Church in the Diocese of Biloxi, apparently has distributed “sacred vessels” to the families in his parish, and unconsecrated hosts in zip-lock bags. The heads of household are to hold hosts during the consecration and then distribute Communion to their families. (The model anticipates all families have two adult parents plus children.) This communion absurdity is what happens when receiving in the hand is ‘no big deal!’

Why is such abuse happening?

One reasonably may speculate that while some churches may be ready to return to Sunday Mass, clearly some pastors are not! Instead of brain-storming ways to make the reception of the Eucharist all the more reverent for the time and sacrament foregone during the shut-down, some pastors seem to be concentrating on engineering clever ways to avoid all germs and lawsuits in case a parishioner does get sick, for any reason. More and more, it looks like spreading the sins of irreverence, sacrilege and scandal to parochial vicars, staff, and to the laity, reducing a congregation to a lifeless Protestant bread scenario. More and more, it looks like obeisance of cowards to a civil government which lacks the ability or right to enforce without such cowardly cooperation. More and more, it looks like protecting the corporate entity of the church, rather than the Sacred Body of Christ.

What is wrong with these pastors?

Perhaps these pastors have been traumatized by the shut-down? Maybe they are fearful of “catching the COVID” themselves? Perhaps they have slipped into so much sin in their machinations against the Eucharist that they no longer know how to recover their belief? But the deeper and greater reason for such failure is more likely to be that those pastors have lost their Faith that the Eucharist really and truly is the Body of Christ. If one truly believed, it would be impossible to put Christ in a bag, to place families between the priest and his confection of the Eucharist, to pinch the precious host with tweezers or any other tool, to drop the consecrated host into the hands of a recipient, to deny the communicant’s right to receive the Eucharist on the tongue.

It’s Really about Unbelieving Priests:

If one truly believed that the consecrated host is the Body of Christ, it would be impossible to act in such an egregious manner. Much commentary has been made on the loss of belief in the Real Presence by the laity, but what about by clerics? These ‘celebrants’ cannot possibly believe they are confecting the true Presence of Christ and then use bags, tools, or ‘intermediaries’ in the consecration. It is a debacle. It is a sin. They are the cause of lost faith in the Real Presence.

Perhaps they truly have forgotten (or are exposing their own ‘never knew’ limitations in) the fundamentals of the Catholic Faith? Those ‘celebrants’ expose their own lack of trust in Christ and His Teachings when it is about protecting themselves rather than the Eucharist or the good of souls.

What can the laity do?

The number one thing which laity can do is to refuse to participate in such sin and disbelief. Stay in the pew, but don’t get up for Communion. Write to the bishop and register your complaint. Warn other souls. Pray for conversions of heart to cherish Christ’s Eucharistic gift to us. Do not compromise just because a priest is compromising himself. Pray for deeper personal faith for self, family and friends.


The Biloxi story can be found here:


The Rochester story can be found here:


And now the ArchDiocese of Minneapolis has joined the shameful plastic bag bandwagon:


4 Responses to “Distinguishing Priest Believers from Priest Non-Believers”

  1. christian says:

    In regard to the Biloxi story, the priest giving a sacred vessel in a plastic bag and unconsecrated hosts to two adults of a family, to lift up during Mass for the consecration, then distribute to family members, seems unusual to say the least. It doesn’t line up with norms of Canon law.

    It seems to be more of an issue of clergy not wanting to contract COVID-19, and also not wanting to be held accountable for the spread of COVID-19 among parishioners in his parish. The priest took the family unit and social distancing public guidelines to a new level by utilizing it in the consecration and distribution of Communion at Mass. (I’m surprised he didn’t have unconsecrated hosts mailed out to parishioners, utilizing their at-home sacred vessel, and holding it up for consecration while watching the Mass livestream, then distributing the Communion to their family unit or just themselves.

    One Catholic parish in Germany made headlines in a Catholic newspaper after their parish board and priests came up with something called “The Lord’s Board” for the distribution of Holy Communion during COVID-19. (Meanwhile, the other Catholic parishes remained closed). This Catholic parish insisted they needed to reopen so they came up with this solution of a long, thin wooden board with thin slots drilled in it to hold consecrated hosts. The priest(s) would place the consecrated hosts in the slots, and this Lord’s Board would then be placed where the parishioners could come by and help themselves. It was obviously designed so the priests would have no exposure to parishioners. The only persons I could see being protected by this set up were the priests.

    Regarding the article in the post: There was a point in the article stating that it was assumed that there were two adults to a family. I’ll go farther and question where do single adults fit in, and where do children or a child that attend Mass without parents or a parent fit in? It’s idyllic to assume that parishioners fall into neat groups of a mother and father with children, but that is not the comprehensive picture, and to exclude others is unchristian.

    The other thing noted in the article is that it stated that the method in which the priest is observing Communion is comparable to Protestants. That’s a pretty big category to reference. I have never been in any Protestant church yet, where parishioners are given a sacred vessel and unconsecrated hosts to lift up during the consecration, and then distribute among their family members in their pews. There are many Protestant denominations that hold great reverence for Holy Communion, believing it to be the actual Body and Blood of Christ, or that the actual Body and Blood of Christ come with the consecrated Host (Bread) and Wine. (Transubstantiation or Consubstantiation). In some of these Protestant churches, Holy Communion does not happen every Sunday, and when it does occur, parishioners are in joyful expectation, preparing themselves spiritually and prayerfully to partake of it. I think sometimes us Catholics take Holy Communion, available every Sunday and weekday when public Mass is held, for granted. In earlier Church times in the Catholic Church, Holy Communion was made available to parishioners on a regular basis.

  2. Diane Harris says:

    Thank you, Christian, for your solid review of my post on “Distinguishing Priest Believers from Priest Non-Believers.” I think we are on the same wavelength on many points here, except for your last paragraph, responding to my words characterizing the priest who perpetuates sinful handling of the Holy Eucharist as “reducing a congregation to a lifeless Protestant bread scenario.”

    I want to clarify, lest I scandalize anyone in their particular experience in a specific Protestant denomination. As you said, “That’s a pretty big category to reference” and then you pointed out many positive attitudes of certain Protestant sects toward receiving Communion. I think for many it is a symbol of “unity of community.” I have felt for some time now that it is a credit to many Protestant ministers NOT to claim that they have the ability to confect the Holy Eucharist, and NOT to claim that what they do actually brings the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ to the ‘altar.’ It is my impression that many if not most ministers do not even see a Communion rite as a “sacrifice.” Some have told me that it is up to Christ, if He wants to “go into the bread,” and I have friends who think that only happens for believers, and only sometimes. Some wash little communion cups in the dishwasher, some use paper cups and throw them away after use; some pass bread down the pew and break off pieces, scattering “crumbs.” It doesn’t matter. It is just about bread and wine. One Protestant friend of mine was totally incredulous when I explained to him the cleansing of the sacred vessels at Mass! And how each tiny fragment is truly the Body of Christ!

    But these are not the points which I want to clarify. It might have been clearer if I had not capitalized “Protestant,” which understandably causes readers to think of their own experiences of various denominations. Rather I was thinking of the diversity of resistance, its content and magnitude, by “protesters,” for which we have so many examples in current society, showing how a specific issue can cause subdivision into many forms, some even devolving to violence. Thus, from One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith, there are now nearly 50,000 sets of beliefs, “churches,” some creedal and some not, as “founders” try to express their own biases. As an example, consider the threatened split in the Methodist Church from disagreements on homosexuality. Or other splits in several churches over disagreement on the ordination of women. There have also been racial splits which now seem more difficult than ever to heal. Healing splits often seems to depend on yet another new organization forming, and hence the divisions only increase. And that is what I meant as a “protestant bread scenario.”

    When we hear that even Catholics in substantial proportion do not believe in the Real Presence, why should we be surprised if a huge majority of the 50,000 sets of beliefs do not treat their Communion as a real and substantial Presence of Jesus Christ? Now Communion is not the only issue upon which new denominations evolve. There are a multiplicity of issues, the combinations of which lead to even more splits. Confession? Contraception? Divorce? Prayers for the dead? Abortion? Euthanasia? It is the persistence of the entropic nature of mankind toward a custom-designed faith for each individual; but that is NOT what Christ founded.

    At different times and in different places, pressure rises from within a ministry or a congregation or a community and, without One Fold and One Shepherd, decided by the One who holds the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven (authority), the only solution is to vote and split again. And very few matters decided by vote end up with stricter, more faithful interpretations. While voting on dogma is absurd, it is not so far away from the threatening synodal processes stirring in the Catholic Church in Germany, and that is one reason that such breaches as we see proposed are of great concern.

    And so we have faith leaders making boards such as you describe, legitimizing the use of tweezers and baggies, and designating laity to participate by holding hosts during the consecration, and self communicating, and bishops refusing to allow priests to follow church law regarding Communion (on the tongue). It is that kind of lack of legitimacy, lack of authority, which leads priests or ministers to think they have a pretty good idea or two, and force it on others, especially souls in their care.

    Sometimes such ‘modifications’ arise from the congregation but most of the current, illegitimate changes seem to be coming out of the priests and bishops own fearfulness. It is also such a mindset which denigrates the Body of Christ to mere bread, for if one believed in the Real Presence he could not treat the Eucharist in such a way. I also used the word “lifeless” as meaning the absence of Christ. Thus, each little protester cleric will eventually have his own favorite “bread scenario”. But it will be the rare priest who admits it is because he is afraid of the plague, and God’s judgment coming to him sooner rather than later.

    We speak of whether or not all the parishioners separated by COVID will return to the pews, and rightfully so. But very little is being said openly about priests leaving the altar. I heard recently a story (unconfirmed) about a priest who made up a reason about why he was unable to anoint one of his parishioners dying from COVID and asked another priest in a different parish to do the anointing. I understand that is what then occurred. Some priests rise heroically to the need, others hide out. Some greatly missed their people and saying Mass for them; others got rather too used to the lack of demand on them during the lock-down and have reduced their schedules and even delayed reopening.

    I will not be surprised to see over the next few years about 3-5 priests per hundred active priests leave the priesthood (other than through retirements) because they never really believed their lives could be at risk, from plague or from persecution focused against the Catholic Church. Jesus is finding out who His friends are. So are we.

  3. christian says:

    I think there is a question to how much of the priests around the world utilizing individual, unusual modifications to their Mass, non-Canonical and unapproved, are using COVID-19 as an excuse to implement these practices which they had already desired, or are they implementing these practice out of fear of exposure to parishioners and possibly contracting COVID-19. I do think there is fear among some of these priests around the world.

    To me it is a profound contrast between those in the mission field who put their life on the line bringing the Gospel of Christ to others and administering the sacraments, even suffering and dying in the process- and -parish priests who are afraid to leave the confines of the sacristy to give Communion to parishioners at the altar rail or the area directly in front of the sacristy, or to leave the confines of their rectory to administer the Anointing of the Sick or Last Rites/Extreme Unction.

    It is important and beneficial to be wise and prudent; adhering to recommended protocols such as PPE and hand-washing and hand sanitizing, But God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but one of power and strength to do His will in serving others for the sake of Christ. This is especially pertains to priests who were ordained to serve God’s people in their congregation and others in need of their pastoral care.

    Timothy 2:6-8 “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me His prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.”

  4. christian says:

    Clarification: The New Testament verse which I shared is from 2 Timothy Chapter 1, verses 6-8.
    St. Paul’s exhortation reaches down to us through the ages.

    “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me His prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.”

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