Thursday, January 31, 2008

Community Communion Distributors

(Non-Catholics can just go look at another blog for a second, it's kind of technical, and therefore very dull...)

I know we've been all over this one and there isn't much need for it, but something just popped into my head while reading this:

Canon law, that is, the law of the Roman Catholic Church, is clear: when a person distributing Communion objectively knows that another person seeking Communion is, in the words of Canon 915, “excommunicated, interdicted, or…obstinately persist[ing] in manifest grave sin,” the person distributing is obligated ro refuse Communion to the person seeking.

In response to the question,“Who is to judge the state of a Catholic communicant's soul? Who may make the decision to refuse Holy Communion?,” Archbishop Raymond Burke responded: “Canon 915 does not require that the competent authority in the church actually judge the state of a person’s soul, which only God can do, but rather the objective contradiction between the faith the person professes and his or her persistent actions contrary to clear teaching, after pastoral admonition, especially in the light of the harm that such counter-witness causes."

It made me realize yet another reason the employment of non-consecrated persons to touch the sacred species is bad.

The writer refers to "a person distributing Holy Communion" who was, until recently always a priest or deacon. In the old Church, these people were trained in situations under which it is necessary to refuse a potential communicant. An extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, as we call them officially, is not a trained person. He, or more usually she, is in no position to be able to implement the canonical requirement to refuse Holy Communion to someone whom she knows to be in manifest grave sin. (In most cases, she has no idea that there is such a thing as grave sin, and what the word "manifest" might mean, but that's a rant for another day.)

This led me to the next conclusion. Has the Church, by allowing people who are not trained and have no competence to refuse Holy Communion declared or even assumed that there is no reason at all, in any circumstance to refuse a communicant. The implication is that the Church as accepted the protestant assertion that there is nothing about that little white disk that is especially important. Certainly nothing about it important enough to say, "No, I'm sorry Mr. Kerry, I can't give you Communion."

I'm not sure whether this is the result on the disposal of the idea that the bread actually becomes the body and blood of Christ, or the ancient and ever-new heresy that Christ isn't really God, or the widespread assumption that God isn't very important. Catechesis in the last 40 years would support all these ideas equally felicitously I think.


sorry about getting all Catholic for a second. It just popped in there.

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