Action Alert!

Rome has spoken

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Apr 29, 2004

When should a priest withhold the Eucharist from a Catholic who is an obstinate public sinner?

And who should make the decision to refuse Communion: the parish priest? the local bishop? the bishops' conference? the Holy See?

Those questions have been answered. It's up to the pastor.

In June 2000, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts issued a declaration on that very issue.

The whole document is worth reading, but here's the bottom line:

The discernment of cases in which the faithful who find themselves in the described condition are to be excluded from Eucharistic Communion is the responsibility of the Priest who is responsible for the community. They are to give precise instructions to the deacon or to any extraordinary minister regarding the mode of acting in concrete situations.

4. Bearing in mind the nature of the above-cited norm (cfr. n. 1), no ecclesiastical authority may dispense the minister of Holy Communion from this obligation in any case, nor may he emanate directives that contradict it.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: - Apr. 30, 2004 9:26 AM ET USA

    So what happens when the Deacon or Priest deliberately gives Communion to a public sinner who has excommunicated him/herself? The vicar General takes the minister to task? Ha! The Bishop? Ha, ha! The Bishop's Conference? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha ....... Come on Phil, get real !