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Friday, March 2, 2012

Archdiocese of Washington Clarifies Teaching on Denying Communion

A friend sent the following email today which softens somewhat the Archdiocese's earlier actions. As with my friend, I find it encouraging. Hat tip to Donna for the alert. My comments in red.

On Thursday the Archdiocese of Washington put out another statement that I find somewhat encouraging, from Fr. G's point of view. After recounting Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist and citing c. 915, it says:
"Ideally, the priest will handle such a situation pastorally by discussing the consequences of such sin with the person privately before actually denying them Communion. Fr. Guarnizo did this according to a deacon's report who was in a meeting with Father.
"The Archdiocese of Washington recognizes that the prime obligation to determine one’s preparedness to receive Communion falls to the persons who are presenting themselves for Communion.  In extreme cases where someone has been formally excommunicated or is trying to use the Eucharist to make a political statement This is exactly what happened when Johnson announced to the priest that she introduced her lesbian "lover" in the sacristy. it is appropriate to consider denying Communion. The reception of the Eucharist is a blessing and a grace. We should receive Jesus with the intention of becoming more like him. No one is entitled to the Eucharist. It is a free gift and should be received with humility and reverence. Exactly!
"The Second Vatican Council proclaimed that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. As such it is a sign of unity, but it must be a unity that is based on authentic Church teaching and mutual respect in charity."
This is a welcome if belated balance to the unqualified apology that was issued on Wednesday. I hope it means that the Archdiocese is creating some space to say that ideally Father would have had a conversation with her before Mass, but since that was precluded by her own actions, he acted with good intent in a difficult situation. Above all, it was Ms. Johnson's prime obligation not to present herself for Communion as she evidently knew that she was not prepared in the eyes of the Church.
Well, we can hope.
Amen, Donna. I'm offering my morning Mass for Cardinal Wuerl and Fr. Guarnizo as well as Barbara Johnson and her "lover."