We'll receive a $25,000 grant if others match it by Pentecost. $24,070 to go. Your gift will be doubled!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

When bishops disagree: on withholding the Eucharist

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Mar 31, 2009

 In the Code of Canon Law, #916 obligates the faithful to determine for themselves whether they are prepared to receive Communion (that is, in a state of grace), and act accordingly. Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington has cited Canon 916 to explain why he will not deny the Eucharist to a pro-abortion politician. The recipient himself is responsible, he argues.

Archbishop Raymond Burke, the head of the Apostolic Signatura, disagrees. He cites Canon 915 to support his argument that priests should withhold the Eucharist from those who are in manifest grave sin. It's the responsibility of the Eucharistic minister, he says.

Who's right? Canon lawyer Edward Peters acknowledges that both American prelates are citing the canons correctly. But individual provisions of the Code should not be read in isolation, he argues; one canon supports another. In this case, Peters reasons:

I suggest that, for one to argue that Communion reception by Catholics is a purely personal decision under Canon 916 is to ignore impermissibly Canon 915 and its assertion of ministerial obligations in certain cases.

In other words, it is the responsibility of the individual to refrain from approaching the Eucharist if he is not in a state of grace. But when it is evident to everyone involved that the individual has failed to meet that responsibility, the priest should take action. But Peters makes that argument more elegantly, and his analysis is definitely worth reading.

 

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Spring Challenge Grant
Progress toward our Spring Challenge Grant goal ($24,070 to go):
$25,400.00 $1,330.00
95% 5%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.

Matching Campaign
Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org
Shop Amazon

Recent Catholic Commentary

A silent scandal: Catholic schools promoting morally unacceptable vaccines 17 hours ago
A More Militant Church? 17 hours ago
How we'll know if the Vatican and the US hierarchy are serious about deposing negligent bishops 17 hours ago
Final take on the LCWR: A time to plant, a time to uproot 20 hours ago
With the LCWR, has the Vatican taken Gamaliel's advice? 24 hours ago

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope challenges world leaders' silence on persecution of Christians CWN - April 6
Pope outlines plans for the extraordinary jubilee of mercy CWN - April 13
Vatican completes doctrinal assessment of Leadership Conference of Women Religious CWN - April 16
Pope accepts resignation of Bishop Finn CWN - April 21