Challenge Grant: Our Boosters will match donations up to $45,000. We have $36,944 to go. Please donate!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

"Poignantly Painful." And Public.

By Diogenes (articles ) | Aug 23, 2003

Milwaukee auxiliary bishop Richard Sklba has a column on inter-communion which makes some good points but also scores a couple own-goals.

The Holy See's 1993 Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism lays out the specific conditions when someone not of our Catholic faith may receive Communion at a Catholic Mass: possessing a deep spiritual hunger, being properly disposed, sharing our Catholic faith in the Real Presence and being separated from one's own minister. ... An open invitation to everyone present does not respect the individual decision required for such a step. It may even put social pressure on someone who prefers not to come forward for whatever reason. At the same time, a priest or Eucharistic minister should be respectful and never refuse a person who approaches.

But what is the priest meant to be respectful of -- the personal desires and subjective theological intuitions of the communicant or, where they conflict, the doctrine of his own Church? Suppose an Episcopal prietess presents herself for communion. Her claim to be in Holy Orders is ipso facto a declaration that she does not share the Catholic faith regarding the connection between valid ordination and the Real Presence. Is Sklba's priest obliged to pretend that in the interval between her donning her roman collar and the Agnus Dei at Mass she has rethought her eucharistic theology and renounced her errors and her orders? Note that the Pope (in Ecclesia de Eucharistia 46) makes no mention of respecting individual predilections:

These conditions, from which no dispensation can be given, must be carefully respected, even though they deal with specific individual cases, because the denial of one or more truths of the faith regarding these sacraments and, among these, the truth regarding the need of the ministerial priesthood for their validity, renders the person asking improperly disposed to legitimately receiving them.

Sklba renders the waters yet murkier by his remarks on the ecumenical exchange of blessings:

In our national Lutheran/Catholic Dialogue we have developed a practice which has become both enriching and poignantly painful for each of us. Attending a neighboring Catholic parish on Saturday evening, the entire group comes forward at Communion time, with Catholic members of the Dialogue receiving Communion if they so choose, and our Lutheran partners simply crossing their arms over their chests and requesting a blessing. The same practice is reversed the following morning when the entire group participates in the service at a nearby Lutheran congregation: Lutherans come forward for Communion while the Catholics ask a blessing.

The entire group participates. So what does it mean when a Catholic bishop folds his arms across his chest and asks a blessing of a Lutheran minister? Are we to understand that the bishop is requesting a purely personal gesture of good will from John or Mary? Or is there some implicit theology of benediction by which the Lutheran minister is to be viewed as a conduit of grace for the Catholic bishop? Or is it, at bottom, a kind of We-Would-If-We-Could agit-prop?

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 Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($125,323 to go):
$150,000.00 $24,677.05
84% 16%
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!

Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: AveMaria580 - Aug. 25, 2003 1:28 PM ET USA

    What possible blessing does a protestant minister have to give a Catholic bishop or any Catholic? The Bishops by ordination have the fullness of the priesthood. They are (God help us) in the direct apostolic succession. A protestant "ordination" is only a man-made social ritual. They have no real authority as far as the Church goes. They are schismatics and heretics. Many are well meaning but they still have no authority and certainly no spiritual power to bless.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Aug. 24, 2003 10:21 AM ET USA

    My dear Diogenes; are you so provincial to even insinuate that a sincere protestant, a minister at that, DOES NOT have any blessing to give a Catholic, even a Bishop!? Isn't it enough for you that they are obedient (in this age of disobedience and defiance) in correctly deferring from receiveng the elements in the other's church? Your attitude of superiority surprises me.

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Is Cardinal Kasper losing his grip? 2 hours ago
The Pope is not the problem 23 hours ago
Do not confuse sacramental discipline and Catholic doctrine. 24 hours ago
Ignatius Press into the Breach: Trumping the Kasper Proposal October 22
Has the Vatican finally discovered how to avoid inaccurate English translations? October 22

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Key synod report calls for 'gradualism' in Church response to irregular family situations CWN - October 13
As synod concludes, bishops issue message, approve document; Pope weighs in CWN - October 20
Cardinal Parolin: UN must protect innocents from Islamic State CWN - September 30
Synod of Bishops opens with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica CWN - October 6