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Sample Letter for Priests Planning to Visit Washington, DC

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Mar 15, 2012

This just in from a priest friend of CatholicCulture.org, who prefers to remain anonymous:

Sample letter to be used by any priest who needs to celebrate Mass in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and who wants to avoid unpleasant misunderstandings with the Cardinal’s staff.

Your Eminence:

The following is a list of categories of people to whom I think I must deny reception of Holy Communion if, immediately before Mass, they identify themselves to me as members of one or more of these categories, and then later during Mass present themselves to me unrepentant in order to receive the Body of Christ:

  1. bigamists and polyandrists
  2. child molesters, rapists, abortionists
  3. non-Catholics such as practicing Lutherans and other Protestants
  4. non-Catholics such as practicing Hindus, Wiccans and other pagans
  5. divorced and civilly remarried Catholics without a declaration of nullity from the Church
  6. notorious apostates
  7. gay and lesbian lovers who flaunt the moral teachings of the Church and try to get priests in trouble by crusading against them for refusing communion when required by Church teaching
  8. people high on illegal mind-altering chemicals or bombed out on alcohol
  9. Satanists
  10. diocesan vicars general who have unjustly placed a priest on administrative leave and/or revoked his faculties for denying Holy Communion to someone who has identified him/herself as obstinately persisting in manifest grave sin.

I just thought you ought to know what I have been taught in seminary. If you require that I re-include into Eucharist communion any of the above categories, please let me know soon. I plan to be in your diocese later this year. It is my understanding that your silence in this matter implies assent.

Asking your Eminence’s blessing, I am,

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Fr. _____________________

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Show 7 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Salome - Mar. 19, 2012 6:23 AM ET USA

    In Melbourne a few years back, Abp Pell (as he then was) got himself in all manner of trouble in the secular press by refusing the sacrament to people who turned up in rainbow sashes. I think fronting up to a priest in a sacristy and introducing him to one's 'lover' is just as flagrant a poke in the eye to Church teaching and a 'dare' to the priest to let you win--or lose--at his peril either way. Sorry, folks (including Dr Peters), but 'This is my lover' is pretty unambiguous.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Mar. 17, 2012 10:34 PM ET USA

    My dear woman, what are you talking about?! These two cases which you are presenting as equilavent are most certainly not. In Mary Magdelane's case we can deduce that she was frightened, humiliated and quite aware that she deserved the penalty. The just penalty was ready to be executed. In the case of the lesbian, she is certainly NOT frightened but militant, with an intense attitude of entitlement. NO ONE is "entitled" to the Eucharist. Without humility, an approach to God can certainly destroy

  • Posted by: Grace2014 - Mar. 17, 2012 7:30 AM ET USA

    I am distressed with the letter you posted from a "Priest". I don't believe it. Anyone who spent hours in the confessional would not write something so horrifying. Lastly, Father Marcel could have made his case with silence. Instead as Dr. Peters and others have noted, Father Marcel, may not understand canon law. As a laywoman, I remember the woman caught in adultery. Perhaps Father Marcel could have modeled Jesus. Please read canonist Ed Peters: http://canonlawblog.wordpres

  • Posted by: Canonigo Regular - Mar. 16, 2012 8:52 PM ET USA

    Dr Peters' nuanced response certainly could be right. His point is that it is improbable that at the time of denying communion Fr Guarnizo could have had enough info to know if the woman was indeed in a state of sin and that her sin was indeed manifest (widely public). Granted. But does that require administrative leave for Fr. Guarnizo and a grovelling apology to someone who by that time was known to be a prominent lesbian rights crusader? Hardly, I think.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Mar. 16, 2012 8:36 PM ET USA

    As a psych nurse routinely involved with clients attempting to recover a normal level of functioning I can be deeply sympathetic with this effort to process such an apparently traumatic event. But as a man and a Christian with a certain “more militant” constitutional bend, I fear that this same event must also be viewed more as an “infection” with respect to the Body of Christ, that must be promptly addressed and cleansed before the “body” is done serious harm.

  • Posted by: Defender - Mar. 16, 2012 1:54 PM ET USA

    Canonist Edward Peters seems to disagree: "Fr. Marcel Guarnizo’s statement evidences misunderstandings of several aspects of Catholic law on the administration of holy Communion and confirms my sense that Guarnizo erred in withholding holy Communion in this case. Regarding those errors, I believe that he, and those inclined to support or even imitate him, need correction." Are seminarians taught right or are the Church lawyers?

  • Posted by: DrJazz - Mar. 16, 2012 7:43 AM ET USA

    I like it! Every priest in the U.S., including those of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., should send this letter to the Cardinal.

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