And So It Is

Hard to be Truly Catholic

We are certainly at a cross road in the Church. It is very difficult to determine where the line is drawn and whether or not it is time to take action. A priest made a decision based on the facts before him to deny Holy Communion to a lesbian who had made her orientation known to him beforehand. As is the general rule, unless there is the possibility of public scandal, anyone who presents himself or herself for Holy Communion should not be denied. The sad reality is that today there are many who receive Holy Communion while in an unworthy state (i.e., not in a state of Grace) while others use the opportunity to "make a statement." Those unworthy should not come forward to receive and certainly should not put the priest in a difficult pastoral circumstance, especially if he is aware of a person's state.

Canon 915 speaks of denying Holy Communion to someone in manifest grave sin. The key here is that the sin is public and there is no equally public sign of contrition or remorse. By the same token, the sin must be "manifest," which means that it is clear and obvious to others. If it is manifest, then something need be done. The hard question is "what?"

While there is not easy way to deal with such a situation, the Church needs to take the opportunity to catechize the faithful about Sin and being in the state of Grace in order to receive Holy Communion. Generally speaking, most people who should refrain from coming forward for Holy Communion still come to receive. In these cases, the sin may not be "manifest" and thus the person should not receive on his or her own initiative. But most today do not understand this to be the case and still present themselves nonetheless.

In this regard, the U.S. bishops have prepared a document meant to teach the faithful about receiving worthily. Like so many other teachings, this particular document should be entered into the growing database of what constitutes catechetical illiteracy. In the end, the responsibility remains on priests, religious, and teachers to work toward correcting the level of illiteracy in helping people attain the Kingdom of heaven. Unfortunately, the catechetical failure has been widespread and will take a long time to correct. It has to start somewhere and maybe this situation can be a starting point for many.