Archbp. Chaput’s workshop on debate and discourse

There is an article/interview in the Boston Globe with Denver’s Archbishop, Most. Rev. Charles Chaput.  This is not quite prompt, since it refers to 17 March, but it was on the Globe’s site on the 29th.  From the blog of Michael Paulson on the Boston Globe.

This could be a practicum for developing and tone and attitude in responding to questions.

His observations on the e-mail he gets are valuable.

My emphases and comments.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver spent St. Patrick’s Day lunch fielding questions from a group of journalists in Washington; I posted his opening remarks a few days back, in which he explained his position that politicians who support abortion rights should not present themselves for Communion, but also said that he does not deny Communion to those who seek it. Now the full transcript of the Q&A is available thanks to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, which hosted the lunch.

There are multiple interesting exchanges.

Sally Quinn, of On Faith, had a lengthy discussion with Chaput about her decision, as a non-Catholic, to take Communion at the Catholic funeral for Tim Russert. Quinn offered several different explanations for her action, saying at one point, “I wanted to do it because I wanted to see what it felt like, since I’m now – as you say, reporters should know about religion. I want to experience a lot of different religions,” and saying at another point, “I felt very much like I wanted to do this for Tim. He was a very close friend of mine and it was a very emotional time.” And then, she said:

“It seems to me, listening to you and trying to understand who is really acceptable, it would seem that nobody should be able to take communion, given your guidelines, because everyone is a sinner. Everyone has scandal in their background; everyone has done something wrong. When I look at the people in a Catholic church, when I see them getting up and they are friends of mine – even at Tim Russert’s funeral – whose consciences I know are not clear, I think why are those people allowed to take communion? I think about the Catholic priests who abused young children who still take communion. I think of those who knew about it and stayed silent and are still taking communion. How do you resolve those issues?”

Here is a portion of Chaput’s response:

“The teaching of our church about Holy Communion isn’t that you have to be perfect or that you even have to be good. It’s that you have to be sorry for your sins and you have to believe what the church believes – not just about the Eucharist, whether it’s the body and blood of Christ, but about what we believe as Catholics…

What I think the basic problem is most of the time, Sally, is that people think that they can make up their own meaning for the Eucharist – for me it means that I admire Catholics, and for me it means that I like Tim Russert. But that’s not what the church means, and that’s why we don’t invite people to communion who don’t share our faith. Catholics who don’t believe what the Catholic Church believes shouldn’t receive.”

And then, another exchange between the two:

QUINN: Did you believe that the pope made a mistake by giving communion when he was here to Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry and those other Catholics?

CHAPUT: I’ve given communion to people who come up who aren’t Catholics. We kind of joke that every time there’s a funeral, you have a lot of first communions because you don’t embarrass people when they come to communion and chase them away because that’s a terrible pastoral decision. But to tell them beforehand that it’s not appropriate unless you’re a Catholic is appropriate.

So there are all kinds of different issues going on in your question. I don’t think that my guidelines are mine; I don’t think they’re harsh. I think they’re just what the church has always understood. Now people don’t have to agree with us. If I don’t agree, let’s say, with an Evangelical church, I’ll still respect what they ask of me when I’m there. And I think that those of you who aren’t Catholics or who are non-believing Catholics or whatever, if you come to a Catholic church, it wouldn’t be appropriate for you to receive communion out of respect for what the church believes. So this isn’t about me being better than you or you being better than me; it’s simply what our church believes and practices.

[I am impressed with the simplicity and directness of Archbp. Chaput's answers.]

Another exchange that caught my attention came between Chaput and Patricia Zapor, of Catholic News Service, who asked the archbishop about the vitriolic nature of so much e-mail about Catholic issues — something I experience in the comments on this blog[No kidding!]

This is what Chaput said:

“I used to get some hate mail before I was online, but not nearly as much as I did afterwards. I think the way that we have immediate access, which means we immediately speak out of our emotions rather than write a letter, send it the next day, you might change your mind. Instead you write it and you push the button to “show them,” you know, that kind of thing. [Yes... surely that is part of it.  This is what I mean when I talk about "self-editing" and in the anti-spam words "think before posting".]

So I think our immediate ability to communicate has led to a coarsening discourse for one thing. I gave a talk recently – I think it may have been when I was in Toronto, where I said that the Lord reminds us that we are sheep among wolves, but it’s important for us not to become wolves ourselves because of our experience, and I think that often happens.

Some of the worst emails I get are from Catholic conservatives [As I have said frequently on this blog, there are those on the trad side of things who can be pretty nasty.  Whenever I write that, trads jump in and say "But Father! But Father! We are the ones who endure the nastiness!  Those liberals are nastier than we are!"  Fine.  But reread Archbp. Chaput's impressions. ] who think I should excommunicate and refuse communion to Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. of Colorado and to former-Sen. [and now Secretary of the Interior] Ken Salazar of Colorado, and why aren’t you doing this? I mean, just awful kind of stuff that they write. Sometimes, I must admit, that when I write back, I’m not as friendly as I should be. But I try not to be mean.”

And then, reflecting on the difference between e-mail from liberals and conservatives, he said:

The left mail I get will use terrible words but be less vitriolic. They use the F-word and things like that, call me names like that. But the right is meaner, but they’re not as foul.

 

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104 Responses to Archbp. Chaput’s workshop on debate and discourse

  1. “The left mail I get will use terrible words but be less vitriolic. They use the F-word and things like that, call me names like that. But the right is meaner, but they’re not as foul.”

    OUCH, point well taken

  2. Noah Moerbeek says:

    Wait we can write e-mail to our bishops and they actually reply? I wonder if they are on myspace too?

  3. Nathan says:

    Yes, David Osterloh, the point is well taken. May God help us to be kind in addressing our shepherds (as well as everybody).

    My question is, “Why?” I’ve wondered for a while if perhaps we could call those tendencies among us “Charles Bronson Syndrome.” Almost every old-school Trad with whom I’ve discussed the Church relates their experience as if the people who were supposed to protect their most prized possessions turned out to be the ones who broke in and ransacked the house.

    Do you think that those on the Catholic left would relate similar stories, especially over the last 30 years? Does the analogy apply to the conservative Catholics who are fine with the liturgical changes? I honestly don’t know.

    In Christ,

  4. DarkKnight says:

    I guess we can be proud that at least we’re not potty mouths.

    I think that one reason that a conservative’s e-mail can be nastier is because (I hope) it is less likely to be a pure appeal to emotion and more likely to cite Canon Law and church documents. It probably hurts because it hits them with their own machinery and is harder to dismiss as lunacy.

    Maybe sometimes it pricks the conscience? I hear, for example, that my bishop is actually far more conservative than his public persona and the diocesan operatives’ actions make appear. I suspect that even as the Holy Father is the victim of the Curia, the bishops are victims of their chancelleries with people in place that they didn’t even appoint in both instances.

    Maybe we’re nastier because we’re more passionately in love with the Bride of Christ. Maybe our passions give wings to our thoughts (and fingers) before our intellect can call time out and censor.

    Maybe I’m just making excuses for my own behavior. [Nah, that couldn't be it or could it?]

  5. Diane says:

    Perhaps Abp Chaput should be Vatican Spokesman. He is tuned in and explains things in simple ways, with great candor. I think they actually like talking to him.

  6. Diane says:

    That is, reporters like to engage him. Chaput ends engaging reporters lol

  7. Fr. Charles says:

    Thanks for the post. I’m proud of my brother Capuchin! It’s always good to see evidence that one can still be civil in the midst of the madnesses that surround us.

  8. Magdalene says:

    I was kicked off a discussion list for defending Archbishop Chaput–my archbishop, by the way. The list is run by a well known writer who constantly criticized the bishop and urged her list to write to him. They harrassed him pretty continuously over the not ex-communicating of the pro-abortion politicians.

    Archbishop has been very vocal in his pro-life work. He reminds those Catholic who support abortion of the graveness of this intrinsic evil. In my own opinion, which does not count, I think some of these high-profile scandal causing politicians should be denied Communion but then I am not the bishop and the responsibility is not on my soul. I support the Archbishop in his tireless efforts on many fronts.

  9. Robert Lee says:

    Archbishop Chaput should be more than the Vatican spokesman, he should be a made a cardinal. In fact, I think he is a great candidate to be the first American pope.

  10. Curtis says:

    DarkKnight,
    If I had a nickel for every time a conservative tried to justify his screed with the old “zeal for Thy house” excuse, I would be a rich man. :) What also gets me is the “I AM THE SOLE REMAINING DEFENDER OF CHRISTENDOM” routine and the “IF THE SCHOOL BOARD VOTES THIS WAY, SATAN WILL HAVE PREVAILED AGAINST THE GATES, &c…” We are given to hyperbole and melodrama with a pinch of paranoia thrown in.

    Also – two things that mix like vinegar and baking soda: email and canon law. Blah!

  11. boredoftheworld says:

    I’ve reread the Archbishop’s impressions and I’m having difficulty with my own impression of his impression. The only example he gives of those horrible monstrous conservatives is they think he should excommunicate politicians and then without further description says “I mean, just awful kind of stuff that they write”.

    If we’re supposed to find coherence in that, the “I mean” refers to the previous sentence. The left use the “f-word” and call him names but the right is “mean”? Vitriolic: “harsh or corrosive in tone”.

    And suddenly, the penny dropped. I’ve had this VERY argument for years… with women. Specifically in the earlier years of my marriage with my wife. I’d lay out everything in exact detail explaining why she was wrong, how to rectify the problem and avoid it in the future and rather than “thank you for pointing this out I’ll get to work on fixing it right away” I’d get called MEAN. (Surely you married guys know what I’m talking about here.)

    I’ve almost learned, after all these years, how to “argue” with my wife. Never in a million years did I expect I would have to apply that kind of insanity to the bishops of the Church who are supposed to be men after all.

    If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, where do bishops come from?

  12. JSP says:

    The Apocalypse of St. John, Chapter 3, Versus 15-16

  13. Diane says:

    People want excommunications left and right (no pun intended). I think where Chaput is coming from, based on his recent talk on poor formation is this: You don\’t neglect to teach the faithful properly for 40 years, then resort to excommunication as a first remedy (and that is what it is suppose to be!)

    I would imagune that is why some bishops, including Chaput are reluctant to deny Communion.

    However, I think there will come a time or a case that will move him to do just that. But, not before he is satisfied he has done all he can to lift the ignorance.

    The actions we see on the surface are only a manifestation of greater ignorances several layers deep. Hence, defiant Catholic pols need more work (cavity vs root canal)

  14. Denise in CA says:

    “The teaching of our church about Holy Communion isn’t that you have to be perfect or that you even have to be good. It’s that you have to be sorry for your sins and you have to believe what the church believes – not just about the Eucharist, whether it’s the body and blood of Christ, but about what we believe as Catholics… ”

    Here he really should have mentioned that Confession was necessary after committing a mortal sin. Incomplete teaching is a big reason so many Catholics go to Holy Communion but not to Confession, thereby compounding their sin.

    “…who think I should excommunicate and refuse communion to Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. of Colorado and to former-Sen. [and now Secretary of the Interior] Ken Salazar of Colorado, and why aren’t you doing this? I mean, just awful kind of stuff that they write.”

    This is what he considers “just awful stuff”? In other words, why aren’t you doing your job? I have to say, during my lifetime (44 years) I have only an impression of the vast majority of Bishops being silent or schmoozy whenever dealing with issues that are not popular. Not taking action has made the politians pretty comfortable in their dissent. And no, I’m not one to write to Bishops at all, so I’m not one of the “nasty” trads you talk about.

  15. chironomo says:

    But… what about the nasty and mean traditionalists who point out these matters of church law… and are actually right?? Is it “mean” to point out what the Church teaches and insist upon it? Has anybody had an experience in which a “lefty” commenter insisted upon following church teaching and traditionalists argued against it? My experience has most often been that the progressive commenters argue that the Church’s teachings are in error or unjust and so need to be changed.

  16. I just lost my patience with a contributor on an Orthodox forum for being disrespectful (not once, but several times) of a bishop. And “liberal Orthodox” is nearly an oxymoron, so yes, I take the archbishop’s point.

    And this reporter is not Catholic, yet approached the Chalice? I missed that. How, well, I don’t know what to call it, exactly. Leaving aside what I would be doing from my own faith’s perspective, I can’t imagine doing that.

  17. Andrew says:

    Diane stated “…You don’t neglect to teach the faithful properly for 40 years, then resort to excommunication as a first remedy…”

    Thank you for pointing this out. It helped me to better appreciate the situation faced by the Shephards of our Church. As a convert, sometimes it is difficult to watch their silence on issues. Even at a lower lever this seems to happen all the time. For example the Evangelical church I used to attend wouldn’t dream of marrying couples who lived together prior to marriage and I see Catholic priests who do it all the time. I understand that they believe it is the pastoral approach to help them not live in sin. However, when I am sharing the Catholic faith with my non-Catholic friends, these “pastoral approacches” usually cause far more scandal than “bringing the hammer” does. I’m always having to say, “but, but that’s not what the Church really teaches”. To which they answer, “then why do they do it?”. Frustrating…

    Where is the balance between extending someone a loving hand and giving someone a loving kick in the ___? I suppose only God knows for sure. It does make me thankful that I am not a bishop and reminds me exactly how much they need our prayers!

  18. Bill in Texas says:

    My notion is that when someone says a person is being mean in his or comments, they are saying that the mean person is coming across like a parent: talking down, lecturing, judging.

    My experience of ultra-conservative rants matches that notion. My experience of ultra-liberal persons is that their rants are more like what a child or an adolescent would say, including the profanity. There isn’t much of love in either experience. Either kind of rant can be nasty, although in different ways.

    My experience of Catholics who are simply making their best effort to be faithful to the teachings of the Church is that they do not engage in rants. They ask questions, rather than making pronouncements. They are more concerned about applying the answers and the teachings to their own lives — not about loudly and publicly judging the lives and practices of others.

    It seems to me that the ultra-conservative and the ultra-liberal alike love to make pronouncements, and to loudly and publicly judge others. It seems to me that each of the extremes puts a lot of effort into proclaiming the errors of the other’s ways.

    I’ve always kind of liked the last two lines of Cardinal del Val’s Litany of Humility:
    “That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, O Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.”

  19. Chris says:

    This disturbs me — a lot:

    “I’ve given communion to people who come up who aren’t Catholics. We kind of joke that every time there’s a funeral, you have a lot of first communions because you don’t embarrass people when they come to communion and chase them away because that’s a terrible pastoral decision.”

  20. Michael J says:

    I do not think I understand the Archbishops statement that “you don’t embarrass people when they come to communion”.

    Is he really saying that the “sin” of embarassing an individual is worse than the sin of sacrilige? Or is he saying that giving Communion to a Non-Catholic is not sacriligeous?

  21. Ohio Annie says:

    It has been my experience in dealing with all sorts of folks that nobody has really cornered the market on self-righteousness and arrogance, though they all try very hard. Lefties swear more but I have been slammed much more viciously by righties. Lefties have been easier to reason with in my experience. The swearing kind of stuff is easy to blow off but being called “puerile” (for not engaging in an unrelated argument on the supposed superiority of the EF over the OF, which was not being addressed at the time at all) and that kind of pseudo-intellectual garbage really is more vicious. But I blow it all off anyway, meanness is bad coming from anybody. There is a reason the Pope’s first encyclical was on caritas.

    On serving Communion to non-Catholics: I agree with the archbishop’s take on it for a number of reasons. I know it should be a teaching moment but there is a time and place for everything. Like telling people at the outset they are not supposed to communicate if they are not Catholic or are not in a state of grace. The requirements of Catholicism are not as well-known as they once were, for good or ill.

  22. Chris says:

    Michael J, I’m not sure.

    But one of the incredible mistakes on the part of Paul VI was when he carelessly allowed bishops to decide whether or not non-Catholics should be able to receive Communion.

    It led to huge disasters like inter-Communion services and, also, smaller scale disasters like what this bishop is admitting to.

    Either way, Chaput doesn’t seem to understand this his number one job, outside of saving souls, is to protect Christ in the for of Communion. [What a supremely inappropriate comment.]

    I’m hoping I’m reading this wrong, but I don’t see how I could be.

  23. roxanne says:

    There is something here that disturbs me. “the right is meaner”. I could have used some examples, such as he gives for the left with their name calling and “f” bombs, besides enforcing Canon Law. I know Chaput is a good man but I have never forgotten the account in Mother Angelica’s biography of Chaput’s outrage over Mother’s ability to keep EWTN from the ultimate control of the American Bishops. So his worst emails are from Catholic Conservatives?

  24. Brian Mershon says:

    Just leaves me wondering if Archbishop Chaput and Archbishop Burke are reading the same Code of Canon Law. Why won’t Archbishop Chaput do what the Code says he is supposed to do?

    Is every Bishop and Archbishop his own arbitrary judge of what the simple canon states regarding their “duty” to refuse Holy Communion to known public heretics?

    And also, why does the Archbishop think it is a joking matter [At what point did he joke about this? Referring to a clerical joke about first Communions of this kind isn't the same thing as making this into a joke, which is what you imply.] that he allows non-Catholics to receive Holy Communion sacrilegiously, in light of St. Paul’s explicit warning against it?

  25. Michael J says:

    Ohio Annie,

    I understand what you are saying. At my son’s birthday party, I realized that I had failed to take advantage of a “teaching moment” and instruct him about gun safety. I refrained from taking the gun away for fear of embarassing him in front of his friends, and he ended up killing himself. Boys will be boys though, lol.

    Do you see how absurd this argument is? You would honestly risk an individuals eternal damnation (receiving Holy Communion unworthily is a mortal sin, is it not?) because it is not the “appropriate teaching moment”?

  26. boredoftheworld says:

    This disturbs me—a lot

    How mean and nasty of you. :)

    Or at least it will be by the time it hits the bishop’s desk. I’ve finally figured all this out and I’m appalled. Here’s the way I see this playing out:

    Joe Catholic witnesses something that he doesn’t understand, he asks his parish priest about it. The priest gives him an answer that doesn’t satisfy him for whatever reason so Joe starts reading. Joe returns to his parish priest with the original question and pages of backup material, priest gives him the “Spirit of Vatican II” answer so Joe goes back to the books.

    Joe checks with another local priest, gets the same answers and begins to get agitated. At the next deanery meeting priest B says “you won’t believe the crazy question I got last week!”, priest A says “hey, me too! The guy is a crank.” Now the entire deanery is forewarned so when Joe starts parish hopping to find something that resembles the Catholicism he believes in, the priests are ready for him. He is brushed off one too many times and so begins the great letter writing campaign…

    The first letter to the bishop is 10 pages long and has 100 footnotes, it doesn’t get read because the bishop has 150 parishes that have Confirmations in the next 6 weeks, plus he’s still meeting with the lawyers every third day because of the abuse scandal settlements.

    The second letter arrives by certified mail and has 20 signatures from like minded Catholics and it gets the “thank you for your concerns” form letter because the Priest Personnel Board is meeting at the same time the Bishop’s Stewardship Appeal fundraiser is set to kick off.

    The third letter is nailed to the Cathedral door and Joe’s off to the SSPX (in my dreams… in reality he’s off to the local megachurch). Everyone is left bewildered, especially Joe Protestant ne Catholic. [Alas... what you describe is not rare.]

    If only Holy Communion hadn’t been distributed to non-Catholics to avoid offending them…

  27. Chris says:

    I’m going to hide now after sparking this debate — I can hear the ecumenical brownshirts marching down my hallway coming to take me out.

    In all seriousness, the last time I ever went to a Novus Ordo outside a wedding or funeral, about 10 years ago, was when I saw a priest give a baptism groom marrying my Catholic cousin Holy Communion during the wedding.

    I came back and wrote to the bishop, whose name I’m keep private, saying he should consider doing something about it. The Bishop said that, unless I’m willing to use my name with the complaint, which would have obviously gotten back to my cousin, that he “couldn’t” pursue this further.

    It’s been the Traditional Latin Mass ever since and I’m not naive enough to have faith in our prelates any more.

  28. Matt says:

    I think the impression of excommunication that is being applied is incorrect on both sides. The Bishops are inferring that traditional catholics want to be MEAN. Traditional Catholics
    (at least the ones I know) want it to be used a teaching instruction to the excommunicated and those around them.

    Excommunication is NOT punishment. It is designed to call to mind, in a very direct and public way, the need to examine ones life and thought process. It is deisgned to teach the excommunicated that what they are doing is not healthy. It also teaches those who are observers that the activity of the one who was excommunicated is not acceptable.

    All in all, I think that if the Bishops publically explained this when they excommunicated those who clearly need it, it would teach everyone. For those that are excommunicated, they need to be constantly reminded that the Church wants them to correct their ways, be sorry for what they have done and return to the church.

    How can that be a bad thing?

  29. shadrach says:

    Chaput’s statements here are excellent. Both pastoral and orthodox.

    His characterization of the uncharitable tone of critics from the right is all too true. All those gospel stories about the Pharisees, and the tale about the Prodigal’s older brother are a warning to those of us who value the Church to be more charitable. Too many people use the Church as a cloak behind which to be uncharitable, as an excuse for their psychological compulsion to be nasty: this is an eloquent expression of the flaws that original sin bequeathed unto us.

    Charity converts, not self-righteous bile.

  30. Noah Moerbeek says:

    shadrach

    What were you saying about self righteous bile?

  31. Paul Haley says:

    With all due respect to His Excellency I would offer this alternative when non-catholics present themselves for communion: “Are you Catholic? No, then I will given you my blessing for the Eucharist is reserved for those who hold to the Catholic Faith.” Of course, I agree that instruction before the Mass that communion is for those who hold to the Catholic Faith is a prerequisite when non catholics are present or likely to be present such as at a funeral Mass.

    By the way the blessing that I speak of is given to those children at our traditional masses who have been baptized but are obviously too young to have received their first holy communion. In his defense I have communicated with His Excellency a number of times via e-mail and find him to be a very kind man who knows how to be charitable yet direct in his answers.

    But, as one poster has pointed out, this is all because non catholics have been allowed to receive communion by the highest authorities in the Catholic Church, something which I, in my pre-Vatican II experience, would never have imagined happening. Yes, it is testimony to how far the church has changed in discipline since those days gone by. Good? Methinks not, but then who am I?

  32. Michael J says:

    WWJD?

    Bolsena Orvietta, Italy, 1263. Having difficulties in believing in the Real Presence, a priest consecrated this host and blood began seeping from it immediately upon consecration. Pope Urban IV commissioned the feast of Corpus Christi in part as a result of this miracle.

    Perhaps Our Lord did not receive the memo about not using the Eucharist as a “teaching moment” or was being “uncharitable” for causing such embarassment to the Priest

  33. Noah Moerbeek says:

    I think the most important thing to remember is that by respecting the bishop we respect Christ. Especially when presenting ourselves in person or in writing to him. Bishops in order to do excommunications and making sweeping reform thirst for support from their flock. If we assure them of our support of their apostolic mission they will become better shepherds.

    As to shadrach you should read St. Alphonsus or St Chrystom. These extremely charitable souls did not waiver at warning people that their actions may put themselves in hell. Helping a soul find grace in god and turn back from hell is the greatest charity one can do. Many people who are outspoken believe they are trying to help these people avoid the penalties for what is a grave error.

  34. joebe says:

    I’m with Michael J. It seems the Archbishop misses the point of what Holy Communion really is. To avoid embarrassment of the person wrongly receiving is the lamest and weakest of excuses.

  35. Chris says:

    Myself: “Either way, Chaput doesn’t seem to understand this his number one job, outside of saving souls, is to protect Christ in the for[m] of Communion. Father: [What a supremely inappropriate comment.]

    Father, can you tell me why it was inappropriate?

    I just got done reading a Michael Davies piece where he made that argument. If he was wrong, then please tell me why. I don’t want to repeat something again that is “supremely inappropriate.”

  36. teresa says:

    It is shocking to read some comments there. People try to tell who is catholic and who is not. Being baptized by the Mother Church, I think everyone who has got this sacrament is a catholic. Why judging the others according to your own feelings?

    And it is shocking for me to read so much hatred and distress against the own brethren, dividing them into lefties and righties. Well, left or right, it is only a technical term, but we are all catholics so this division shouldn’t be served to say that some “catholics” aren’t really catholics.

    And I do believe we lay people should stop telling the priests what they should do. Priests have got the ordination, we lay people don’t, and priests have run through an academical program in theology. So I think we should be somewhat humble.

    I do agree that some priests are not doing their job very well. But I now prefer avoiding them then telling them about my personal opinions.

    And that is also why I prefer the TLM, you can’t do much wrong in the TLM, but in a Novus Ordo Mass, there is too much personality of the priest, so that it depends a lot upon the character of the priest to make a good Novus Ordo Mass.

    To sum up: We have to believe in the objectivity of the Sacraments – the sacrament of baptism is real, so everyone who got himself baptized is a catholic. He can be a good or bad one, but he is catholic objectively.

  37. Bill in Texas says:

    The instructions I was given during EMHC training included:

    – The EMHC is not to bless people who come up with their arms crossed over their chests (indicating that they do not wish to receive the Eucharist). This includes children. The EMHC is not to touch the heads of these people with the thumb and index fingers of the right hand, which are to remain in contact with each other when not holding a host, and is not to make the Sign of the Cross over them. It is permissible to touch the top of such a person’s head with the back of the right hand and it is permissible to say something to the person that will not be mistaken for a blessing, such as “Go in peace.” The reason for this is that the EMHC is not a priest, cannot bless anyone, and is not to do anything that might make people think that the EMHC is doing anything “priestly.” We serve, we help, but we do not replace. Father has explained, more than once, that if people want to receive a blessing instead of Holy Communion, they may come to the priest. Of course, some people don’t listen, and there are always new folk and visitors who are from places where, I guess, this “rule” is unknown or unobserved.

    – The EMHC has the authority to not give the Blessed Sacrament to someone who presents himself or herself for Holy Communion if something seems “not right.” For example, the person is unknown to the EMHC (and all of us EMHCs in my parish have been around for a while and know who’s in the parish) AND they seem unsure about what to do. It’s OK to ask, “Are you Catholic?” or “Have you received Holy Communion before?” (If the person is a small child who seems too young, and the parent is standing behind them, we ask the parent, “Has this child made First Communion?” If the person does not say “Amen” after the EMHC says, “The Body of Christ” and before placing the Host on the person’s tongue or hand, the EMHC is to say, “Say ‘Amen’.” If they don’t then we ask — politely — whether they are Catholic.

    – If a communicant who receives in the hand does not consume the Host in front of the EMHC, the EMHC is to stop them and tell them that they must consume the Body of Christ immediately, in front of the EMHC, or they must return the Body of Christ to the EMHC immediately.

    I have never had to do anything extreme as an EMHC, just do as I was trained. The usual challenge is when someone wants a blessing from me (doesn’t happen as often now, because Father has taken the time to explain this more than once to the parishioners during a homily). I’ve never had anyone walk off with the Blessed Sacrament (though one of our other EMHC’s has had this experience and did as we were trained — and she retrieved the Host after a short exchange with the communicant, who claimed to be some form of Eastern Rite Catholic and claimed it was ok in HIS church to take the Body of Christ back to the pew before consuming It). At funerals (which I assist with sometimes), Father always explains that non-Catholics are welcome to come up for a blessing but that only Catholics may receive Holy Communion, so we’ve not had a problem in those situations. I guess Father does the same thing at weddings — I haven’t been to one of those in our parish with this priest.

    I hope this helps allay some fears. This is all in the Diocese of Dallas. EMHCs and Lectors here have to be approved by the Bishop, and we are not allowed to serve in these capacities for more than a year or two at a time.

  38. ssoldie says:

    Thanks Brian Mershon,you hit the nail on the head.

  39. Ohio Annie says:

    Michael J, receiving communion unworthily is not always a mortal sin. The Archbishop is saying we don’t know other people’s circumstances.

  40. Mr Haley I have seen blessings being given at the altar rails in traditional churches too, but it is not permissible:

    http://www.adoremus.org/0209CDW_Blessing.html

  41. teresa says:

    I remember an experience: I have shown two friends from Asian an ancient church in the city where I live now, and there happened to be a mass for children. Out of curiosity they asked me whether they can watch it. Of course I said yes. So they sat down in the pow. And they knelt as the others knelt and finally, it was time for communion, they tried to go too as they thought they should do it. I hold them back and whispered to them that people who aren’t baptized couldn’t go to communion. They were satisfied because they just want to do the right thing.

    But in compare: the Protestants would be really offended, if you tell them that they shouldn’t go. I know somebody who is studying protestant theology, and she said she has the same right, so I gave up discussing with her.

    I think the modern world has misinterpreted the meaning of the sacrament: they take it to be a privilege, and religion is often taken to be a social community, most people don’t understand what faith really means. So it would be a hard job persuading them not to go to communion as non-catholics.

  42. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Certitude of one’s own rightness can make it easier to rationalize the way one treats othrs. Treating others with courtesy – even when they appear to be clearly wrong – can help them to see your point of view. I once wrote Abp. Chaput about a concern and in his reply he commended me for being courteous in my request, which was ultimately granted. Just sayin’.

  43. elmo says:

    Calling people out of the communion line because they might not be Catholic isn’t exactly an appropriate pastoral response to a mourner at a funeral Mass. This shouldn’t be difficult to understand but it appears some on this thread are really trying to their best to prove Abp Chaput’s point about the meanness of “conservatives”.

    I agree with the poster who said to stop second-guessing the priests or bishops. Obviously, Abp Chaput is aware of canon law and is not afraid to enforce it. Clearly, he is not ignoring “the rules” when he tells people before the Mass not to receive communion if they are not in communion with the Church. As a shepherd and teacher, he seems to want to balance applying the rules with mercy and prudence to those who are grieving. So, get off the priests and bishops backs and leave the Monday morning quarterbacking to football.

  44. Edward Martin says:

    How is the Archbishop, or any celebrant for that matter, supposed to know just who is Catholic and who is not? Yes some would be obvious, but many would not.

    Will the new translation of the liturgy look something like this:

    “Are you a Catholic” (in black)

    If yes “present” the Eucharist, if “no” provide blessing (in red)

    “Body of Christ” (in black)

  45. “I’ve given communion to people who come up who aren’t Catholics”

    This is true for any priest/bishop who is honest. There is no badge identifying Catholics as compared to non-Catholics who come up in the communion line particularly at weddings and funerals where a majority of the congregation does not belong to the parish. Even judgments on their lack knowledge on how to receive have to presume that the person is either non-Catholic or lapsed Catholic who has forgotten, but weddings and funerals are occasions that lead many people back to the sacraments, including confession. Presumption of guilt is poor pastoral practice at the distribution of communion. Most priests offer communion reception guidelines at these type of Masses. People do have to take responsibility when they have been properly instructed.

    Being right does not justify hatred or joy at the suffering of an enemy. The nastiness of the enemies of Christianity does not justify the nastiness of the Christian. Why is it difficult to simply accept that people who share similar thoughts to us may not express them appropriately, or that at times we fail ourselves to express truth in love?? I would argue when Christian truth is divorced from love then it ceases to be truth (and of course vice a versa).

  46. Cathy says:

    I feel like I need to defend traditional Catholics here. People make a big deal about how nasty traditional Catholics can be. It seems to be assumed that the majority of people who go to the TLM are nasty. I have been going to the TLM since 1998 and have visited several communities in that time.

    First, I would have to say that the vast majority of people whom I met where extraordinarily kind and charitable in spite of often being treated with condescension and downright ugliness. In my experience, it was a small minority who gave the TLM this bad wrap of being nasty.

    Second, wouldn’t it be charitable to forgive those who get nasty instead of calling them “nasty”. I so often hear people complain about the nastiness of trads implying that they are never uncharitable. People especially like to call trads “pharisee”. I wonder if a modern day version of pharisee is one who says, “Thank you, Lord, that I am not like that nasty trad. I am moderate and charitable.”

    Third, I wonder how the non-trad population would behave if the Mass as they now know it were dramatically changed, say if Latin were reintroduced and ad orientem posture. Maybe there are some liberal Catholics who would be kind, charitable, and long suffering, but I’ve heard plenty of nastiness from liberals towards trads even though they currently have what they want in the liturgy.

    I think this classification of trads as nasty is another excuse to send us to the back of the bus. And it’s just an excuse. The reality is that a lot of folks just don’t like the “old” ways. Making us trads look like nasty curmudgeons who don’t really get the fundamentals like charity is just a way of ostracizing us further.

  47. Bill in Texas says:

    elmo — Personally, I’ve never refused to give Holy Communion to anyone, although there have been a couple of instances where I worried whether I had done the right thing by the communicant and by Our Lord (that is, had I given Holy Communion to someone who was not Catholic). My post was long enough without adding all the instruction we had about being extremely careful about refusing a communicant. Funeral Masses are not such a problem for me, since Father gives the Body of Christ at those, and I have the Blood of Christ if Father says we are distributing under both Species. If a communicant receives from Father, then I will certainly have no problem providing them with the Blood of Christ.

    The stories about finding consecrated Hosts stuck between pages of hymnals are worrying enough to make me careful. The biggest worry, for me, is about people who may try to acquire the Body of Christ for the purpose of committing some outrage or sacrilege. And believe me, those people are out there. Just check YouTube. You’ll be making Acts of Reparation frequently, right along with me.

    Speaking for myself, I am always nervous when serving as an EMHC. Not “shaking hands and quaking knees” nervous, but “highly attentive and careful” nervous. It is a great and serious responsibility, and I never forget Who is in my hands, or take the Eucharist for granted. I’d hate to think that any EMHC could ever be careless or indifferent.

  48. If John Doe, who either is obviously not Orthodox (doesn’t have his arms crossed over his chest, or has his left arm crossed over his right), is unknown to the priest, or is known by the priest to be in a state of sin, approaches the Chalice, the priest will bless him and offer the Chalice for him to venerate, but will not give him Holy Communion. No words of rejection need be spoken, and there is no embarrassment or scandal. Refusal of the Holy Mysteries (I’m not sure “excommunication” is the right word) is not uncommon, and a priest may very well bar someone from the Chalice during Confession.

    I just don’t understand why refusing the Mysteries to someone who is in a state of sin or disobedience has to be scandalous, or even public.

  49. Brian Mershon says:

    Elmo: Which priest/bishop should we stop “judging?” Should we turn off our brains.

    Archbishop Burke, the Supreme Legislator in the Church, [Archbp. Burke is not the Supreme Legislator. The Supreme Legislator, or Lawgiver, in the Church is the Bishop of Rome.] disagree with Archishop Chaput’s decision on Canon 915. Canon 915 is crystal clear.

    Archbishop Chaput refuses to enforce it. It is really quite simple.

  50. Chris says:

    I keep hearing charity, charity, charity.

    When, as Catholics, did we start thinking charity meant “nice” instead of telling people the truth in a compassionate and constructive way?

    If there is a priest or bishop giving Holy Communion to those he knows are not or most likely are not Catholic then why would I be “nice” to him? I am compelled to be respectful and point out he is doing the wrong thing. That is true charity.

    And what about the charity towards Christ and respecting Him by not giving him to nonbelievers?

  51. Liam says:

    Abp Burke is *not* the “Supreme Legislator in the Church”.

  52. elmo says:

    Bill in Texas: Just want to clarify that I was not speaking of your remarks as an EM in my comment. I was speaking of the people here who are excoriating Abp. Chaput for acknowledging that people who shouldn\’t sometimes receive communion from him at funeral Masses, despite his asking them not to beforehand.

    These drive-by posters seem to have set themselves up as an alternative tribunal wherein they and they alone decide whether a bishop or priest is following the rubrics properly and judge him according to their own lights. In other words, they have been downright mean.

    I had an EM refuse to give me the chalice after the priest had already given me the host. Apparently, I didn\’t respond quickly enough for her liking when she said \”the blood of Christ\”. That refusal was very hurtful! And yeah, you bet I gave the pastor an earful after Mass. To his credit he was very dismayed and said he would speak to the EM. I have experienced this kind of pain firsthand and for one who is in such grief and whose relationship to the Church is irregular in some way to be refused or questioned at such a moment would probably be 100 times worse and would likely drive that soul away for good. I can\’t help but wonder if this is what people are really willing to do in order to maintain some idea of purity.

    Brian Mershon: I don’t know what you are talking about. I was responding to the comments here about Abp Chaput’s statement that he is pretty sure that at funeral Masses, he has given communion to people who shouldn’t have received it.

  53. Brian Mershon says:

    OK Liam: Aside from the Pope, whom we all know has universal powers in all matters at all times and in all places, Archbishop Burke IS the Supreme Legislator of the Chuch.

    Canon 915 is crystal clear to anyone who can read and who has a sixth grade (or less) education. That is the point. [It seems to me that, as clear as 915 is, it is not crystal clear. How to apply canons is not always perfectly clear.]

    I’m quite certain the Pope agrees with Archbishop Burke on this canon and was fully aware of whom he was appointing when he made him the Supreme Legislator in the Church, [Archbp. Burke is not the "Legislator" or any kind of legislator right now. It is crystal clear that the Bishop of Rome is the Legislator.] second only to himself.

  54. Gregor says:

    “…I’ll still respect what they ask of me when I’m there…”

    Yes – it is all about respect – something the reporter lacks when it comes to the Catholic Church.

    If this was a Native American religious ceremony that restricted tribal outsiders from some ceremonial activities, would the reporter have a problem with that? Would they barge in and insist on their need to experience it to “understand” it?

  55. shadrach says:

    Noah Moerbeek, I’ve read ‘em. Oh, I’m not distancing myself from the sort of self-righteousness I outlined. I can be, and have been, guilty of it myself. I think the interaction between Christ and the Pharisees is worth re-visiting again and again to keep reminding ourselves of the mote in our eyes. Nastiness under the guise of ‘charity’ rarely helps anything. A lot of what has been done or said under the guise of tough love, is really largely an expression of rancor – and not true righteous anger. It causes such damage and drives people away from orthodoxy, reverent liturgy and the Church.

  56. Michael Garner says:

    I think that the main problem here is that the Archbishop would not deny Communion “to anyone who seeks it.” This is not only in contradiction to canon law but to moral law as well. By giving Communion to known unrepentant dissident Catholics one not only assists the dissident person on his/her path to hell but one throws the Blessed Sacrament “to the dogs” and assists the person in his/her sacrilege. [I think people are getting a bit strange now. I suspect that Archbp. Chaput would not, for example, give Holy Communion to cross-dressers with rainbow sashes openly protesting the Church's teaching on some issue. Let's not go over board with what he said in this interview. The fact is, when you are distributing Communion, you don't know very often who is standing in front of you.]

  57. toomey says:

    Cathy, that was a good post, and I agree. Without jumping into the rest of this foray, I also want to say that I wish AB Chaput were more open to the TLM.

  58. Michael Garner says:

    Brian Mershon,

    The prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura(Archbishop Burke) is not the “Supreme Legislator.” A legistator makes laws. The Apostolic Signatura is the highest court in the Church. The Pope himself is the “Supreme Legislator” and the “Supreme Judicial Authority.”

  59. Bill in Texas says:

    elmo, it wasn’t you I was worried about. 8-)

    We (EMHCs), like priests, know that more than likely on any given Sunday at any given Mass there are liable to be Protestant visitors, including curious media reporters who “want to see what it felt like,” and improperly-disposed Catholics in the line for Holy Communion. All we can do is watch out for the obvious yellow flags (things that get your attention as “not quite right”) and follow our instructions. It will never be obvious who is and who is not receiving worthily. If someone presented himself for Holy Communion while wearing strange vestments, horns on his head, and with a sign around his neck saying “I am a priest of Satan and I serve his hateful will, Christians beware!” it would be easy. Or even a guy with five o’clock shadow, wearing an evening gown and high heels. But it’s never going to be so obvious, is it?

  60. “CHAPUT: I’ve given communion to people who come up who aren’t Catholics. We kind of joke that every time there’s a funeral, you have a lot of first communions because you don’t embarrass people when they come to communion and chase them away because that’s a terrible pastoral decision. But to tell them beforehand that it’s not appropriate unless you’re a Catholic is appropriate.”

    I don’t think this is correct, according to Canon law. Priests and Bishops have an obligation to obey Canon Law. Whether the communicant is embarrassed (how could we know what they will feel?) does not “trump” Canon Law.

  61. elmo says:

    you don’t embarrass people when they come to communion and chase them away because that’s a terrible pastoral decision.

    I ask people again: Is it worth driving a soul (especially one in mourning) away from the Church in order to uphold the letter of Canon Law?

  62. Michael J says:

    Ok shadrach,

    How would you characterize the issue being discussed – refusal to administer Holy Communion to an individual *known* to be unworthy – “tough love” or “rancor”?

  63. Chris says:

    elmo: I ask people again: Is it worth driving a soul (especially one in mourning) away from the Church in order to uphold the letter of Canon Law?

    I ask you this: why are you less worried about offending Christ by handing Him out to anyone than you are driving a protestant futher from the Church than they already are? [An adjustment of tone is needed now.]

  64. elmo says:

    Chris: I’m not. Now, will you answer my question?

  65. Chris says:

    Elmo, I would say that defending Christ in the form of Communion is worth anything you can come up with, including driving a protestant further away from the Church.

  66. Maynardus says:

    Sadly, the Archbishop’s observations have been amply vindicated in this august forum today! [Indeed.] I would offer only one observation – for which I’ll undoubtedly be called an arch-liberal, EMHC-hugging, four-alarm heretic – 99.9% of the time the one who unworthily approaches and receives the Eucharist is the one who commits the sin! As others have observed, a priest or bishop can hardly be help responsible for identifying the religious affiliation of a communicant or the state of their soul. Especialy if – as the Archbishop stated – an announcement is made before Communion, I’m afraid he’s off the hook on this one. Perhaps some of the energy generated by this topic could be channelled into prayers that our priests and bishops receive the gift or reading souls and minds!

  67. Lee Bohannon says:

    This is a good post. However, there is something that I have often wondered about. It is the nature of the Eucharist itself. When writing to the Church at Corinth, St. Paul says that many are sick and some have died because they improperly ate the bread or drank the cup. What if Paul is right? Maybe people who eat and drink improperly nowadays do not get physically sick, but what if something happens spiritually? I mean, is it not possible that such souls go into spiritual darkness that is much worse than what they already experience? Of course, if we really believed that people were at risk who improperly approached the table, we would do everything possible to protect them. [I think St. Paul is probably speaking of spiritual death, rather than physical death.]

    If possible, I would love to have Father’s comments about this matter.

  68. shadrach says:

    Michael J,

    It depends what you mean by knowledge. If you can make a window into somebody’s soul at the very point that they receive communion, then bully for you.

    I think this next bit of difficult reading just about covers what each of us needs to know and worry our heads about. We all know it, but we need to read it again and again:

    He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18: 9-14.

    I’m sure the tax-collectors and prostitutes are still entering into the Kingdom of God before us Pharisees. That can be mysterious, but that’s good news.

  69. The decision to refuse communion goes beyond embarrassment. Who is known to be unworthy??? Who has the authority to make that decision??? Do you know whether or not a person has received the sacrament of reconciliation immediately before reception? [Well... that is an old standby. But this becomes far more complex when the person in question is a public figure, famous, recognizable, and notorious for something. In that case there is the additional concern of scandal. Public figures who have publicly caused scandal must do something to repair that scandal. They should probably do that before receiving Communion in a place where they will be recognized, so as to avoid causing confusion and wonder among the faithful. So.. with the famous, it is not simply a question of not knowing if the person just made a good confession, or even a perfect act of contrition.] And if it is known, doesn’t picking and choosing those worthy, violate the sacrament?

    We should be careful of our hyperbolic language pitting sacrilege against salvation of souls, law against pastoral practice, as if things are truly that black and white or truly eclusive. After all, how dare the Father allow the great sacrilege against the Son for the salvation of souls. Note the last canon gives context to the Law without supplanting the Law.

  70. boredoftheworld says:

    [Alas… what you describe is not rare.]

    I know, and it stinks. Incoherence seems to be the mark of the Church in our day.

    Get a load of this: http://thericatholic.com/stories/2011.html

    “Jesus Wasn’t Always Nice” by Bishop Tobin. It may have already shown up here but after contrasting that with Archbishop Chaput’s observations I’m suffering a case of cognitive dissonance.

    All I think “we” really want is some coherence, we want our pastors to say what the various documents say and we want the documents to say what the pastors say. Then at least we could make informed decisions about eternity.

  71. ALL: If people will not self-edit and discuss things in a civil manner, I will delete their comments and then lock them out of the blog.

  72. Matt says:

    Absolutely. I would not want ANYONE at my funeral to receive communion who was not allowed to. I would consider it an insult to my life of struggling to be the best Catholic I could.

    Perhaps through my death I can be an insrtument of teaching for those who will come.

    I also don’t want people to mourn for me. I want them to pray for my soul so that I may go to heaven and be with our Lord. Once I am before the Lord, hopefully he will allow me to plead for those of my family who need his help.

    Funerals should be about getting the soul of the deceased person to heaven and not about those who feelings may be hurt.

    Usque quaque Fidelis

  73. boredoftheworld says:

    Someone always brings up Pharisees. It’s the Catholic version of Godwinning a thread. It’s the nuclear option.

    I usually find that to be “just awful kind of stuff”. Drawing a comparison between pharisees and the Faithful when there is no evidence that the interior disposition is even remotely similar is bad enough, but in order for one side to be the pharisees the other must be the repentant publican. And that’s not only apparently not the case it’s blatantly not the case.

    Truly it would be horrible for someone to stand up publicly and boast of his immaculate adherence to the law and love of the Lawgiver while sneering at a contrite penitent. But we don’t have that here.

    What we have here is penitents asking why the pharisees don’t have to repent.

  74. Michael Garner says:

    FR. Z said: [I think people are getting a bit strange now. I suspect that Archbp. Chaput would not, for example, give Holy Communion to cross-dressers with rainbow sashes openly protesting the Church’s teaching on some issue. Let’s not go over board with what he said in this interview. The fact is, when you are distributing Communion, you don’t know very often who is standing in front of you.]

    The post states, “he explained his position that politicians who support abortion rights should not present themselves for Communion, but also said that he does not deny Communion to those who seek it.”

    I was speaking in my comment about people giving Holy Communion to public dissident Catholics such as politicians who support abortion. If my view, which is to deny such people Communion, is “strange” then please count me in.

  75. Matt says:

    It depends what you mean by knowledge. If you can make a window into somebody’s soul at the very point that they receive communion, then bully for you.

    As far as I know, Padre Pio was the only one documented to have this type of gift.

    All of the concern here could have been mitigated by the Bishop stating “I have never knowingly given communion to anyone who I knew was non-catholic or not properly disposed. Having said that I am sure there are those who have presented themselves to me who would not normally be admitted to Eucharist. To them I ask that they refrain from this action in the future out of respect for our Lord.”

    It states the same thing. I think many are latching onto the statment of “knowing he has given communion to non-catholics” as some kind of an admission that he did this intentionally.

    Public figures always need to choose their words carefully lest someone with a keyboard choose to bash them with those words later.

  76. Matt says:

    We (EMHCs), like priests, know that more than likely on any given Sunday at any given Mass there are liable to be Protestant visitors, including curious media reporters who “want to see what it felt like,” and improperly-disposed Catholics in the line for Holy Communion. All we can do is watch out for the obvious yellow flags (things that get your attention as “not quite right”) and follow our instructions. It will never be obvious who is and who is not receiving worthily. If someone presented himself for Holy Communion while wearing strange vestments, horns on his head, and with a sign around his neck saying “I am a priest of Satan and I serve his hateful will, Christians beware!” it would be easy. Or even a guy with five o’clock shadow, wearing an evening gown and high heels. But it’s never going to be so obvious, is it?

    Hi Bill,

    I would be careful with championing being a EMHC (ExtraOrdinary not Eucharistic). Unless you live in a diocese with a single priest who oversees more than 500 people at a single Mass there is no NEED for a EMHC. If you fell a call to the priesthood then pursue it and help bring more priests into this world.

    What is need is more priests and not more EMHC.

    But, But what about the shut-ins in the hospital? This is where Deacons and associate priests come in. Visiting the sick and hospital bound should be a major part of the ministry of all the ordained. It is the sick that NEED their priests and deacons the most.

    EMHC should be the very great exception and not the rule. If you have EMHC scheduled in your bulletin then you should petition your priest and bishop to import more priests. They are out there!

    *ExtraOrdinary definition according to Webster:*
    1 a: going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary b: exceptional to a very marked extent

    So if you have EMHC at EVERY Mass on ALL Sunday’s then they meet the definition of usual, regular, or customary and do NOT qualify no matter how much a Pastor WANTS them, unless there is a grave need you should kindly decline to be a EMHC.

  77. Bill in Texas says:

    Matt: The Need is not defined by me or by you. The bishop authorizes the use of EMHC on a parish-by-parish basis (that’s why he has to approve each and every one of us), Father oversees it. We are so short of priests in the Dallas diocese that parishes are being shut down. We have one priest to serve a large and growing parish. The bishop is doing all he can to obtain additional priests, including from Asia and Africa.

    I’m not worried. We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t need to be.

    I appreciate your concern, but I believe it is misplaced. Finally, it is up to me to prayerfully decide what I should and should not do. Until I am told I am no longer needed, I will obey Father and the Bishop.

    I hope this allays your concerns.

  78. Ma Tucker says:

    I wonder whether criticism of how you operate always stings more than vulgar bilge. One you can dismiss the other you have to mull over and answer. Sometimes criticism is true but you are loathed to admit it and you tend to see the messenger as mean and uncharitable. I like Archbishop Chaput writings very much but the example he gives for meanness here is very poor in my view.

  79. Xavier says:

    Ma Tucker,

    You make an excellent point. Thanks for the good insight!

  80. Someone in this thread — I believe it was the good Father himself — mentioned the distinction between apprising others of the law (in this case, refraining from Holy Communion given the presence of manifest grave sin), and enforcing that law in situations where those who come to receive are not immediately known. For those whose offenses are public, and whose persistence is public, it is raised “to the next level,” as they say. But still, will an average parish priest be able to recognize the soon-to-be former Governor of Kansas on sight?

    There are steps that have been taken, and most vigorously, to remind any party of their offense, and of the need for repentance. In a sense, the offenders are given an opportunity that is denied the rest of us until their Judgment; the chance to see themselves in their fallen nature as God sees them. (Theologically imprecise, perhaps, but I trust it gets the point across.)

    The bulk of this burden, at some point, rests with the offender themselves. Every man and woman in national political life, who has cooperated in the legalization of abortion, is by now completely aware of who they are, and of the gravity of their offense.

    But when Archbishop Chaput spoke on the sad state of affairs in American Catholic life, he did not refer to “them,” but to “us.” I invite readers to look into his remarks…

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=15439

    and not assume he was talking about someone else.

    The Introit for this past Sunday said: “Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man: for Thou art my God and my strength.” The psalmist cries out to be delivered from a land of perdition, but only after asking for an examination of his own offenses. Not a bad idea as we approach Calvary in the coming weeks, not to mention the battle for hearts and minds in the public square.

    Come to think of it, I might be a wee bit overdue for Confession myself lately.

  81. Fr. Z says – ALL: If people will not self-edit and discuss things in a civil manner, I will delete their comments and then lock them out of the blog

    Oh, Father – It is ironic that you should have to ask this in the combox of a post about civil debate and discourse.

  82. Nicknackpaddywack says:

    Funny how this thread kinda became a case in point of what the Archbishop was talking about in terms of the nasty discourse.

  83. ckdexterhaven says:

    Pride. I think as Americans, we’re taught from the beginning that pride is a good thing.

    But, pride IS one of the “biggies” for a reason. Maybe a priest is proud of his background as a democrat (small d), to see that the Democrat (capital D !!) Party has become the Party of Death. His pride prevents him from properly shepherding his flock. Maybe some “Traditional” Catholics take pride in the fact that they go to the “Holy” Church in their town, and those that attend a different parish are looked at uncharitably. Sometimes pride in being Traditional takes precedence over being charitable, Christ-like.

    We’ve got some trying times ahead of us as a nation, as Catholics. Let’s not let pride get in the way of changing hearts, changing minds.

  84. Andreas says:

    I think folks should pay attention to the entire sequence, as follows:

    QUINN: Did you believe that the pope made a mistake by giving communion when he was here to Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry and those other Catholics?

    CHAPUT: I’ve given communion to people who come up who aren’t Catholics. We kind of joke that every time there’s a funeral, you have a lot of first communions because you don’t embarrass people when they come to communion and chase them away because that’s a terrible pastoral decision.

    (So far the answer was not given: it was merely a setup – perhaps somewhat regrettable a setup – but it was a prelude to the answer that comes in the last sentence, namely):

    But to tell them beforehand that it’s not appropriate unless you’re a Catholic is appropriate.

    I think the Archbishop made an effort to defend the Pope prior to giving his answer. He tried to avoid giving the impression that he’s better than the Pope, that he could have handled it better. A lot goes on in an interview, one has to think fast, and to scrutinize every statement in minute detail afterwards can be misleading. To make a clear judgment you have to allow for weakness, for pressure, for other factors.

  85. ben says:

    It seems to me that there are people of goodwill on both sides of this question. I have have confidence that both Chris and elmo are striving to be obedient to the Lord. I think that when they hear the Lord say, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Chris, and those like him hear the Lord commanding us to defend the Eucharist at all costs. I think elmo and those like him hear the Lord commanding us to welcome the stranger. I don’t think either of them is being mean.

    I also don’t think anything I’ve read in this thread is nasty at all. Some things have been zealous, but zealotry for either of the 2 great commandments must be a good thing.

  86. It is truly sad to read these pieces as they show how far the Church has slipped. I have been to Catholic weddings where the priest will not offer Mass as he suspects so many attendees will receive who are not in the state of grace(e.g., absence from the sacraments for years). Knowingly giving Communion to non-Catholics??? Why would anyone bother to be Catholic WITH ALL THAT IT IMPLIES? In our Traditional chapel, it is assumed that every one there aspires to be a saint. If anyone doesn’t, it is just understood they will repair to a Novus Ordo cathedral, take their feet off the pedals, and just coast into irrelevancy, i.e., damnation.

  87. I’m sad to see the vitriol sent in Archbishop Chaput’s direction in these comments. He is such a strong, powerful, orthodox voice in the Church today, very articulate, very courageous, and has always been consistently right with regards to matters of abortion and the Eucharist. Sometimes the biggest problem with pro-life Catholics is that we make other pro-life Catholics out to be the enemy. We’re on the same team here…

  88. Mike M says:

    I think we should seriously consider the criticisms of us as conservative Catholics. We absolutely should consider to stand by our beliefs, but we serve no one by being self-righteous and nasty. Jesus had no patients for those people. I hope not to come across like the Pharisees.

    We are all sinners. We should proclaim the Truth out of love for one another, not use it as an excuse for hate.

    Archbishop Chaput certainly seems to be a great leader.

  89. Ricky Vines says:

    Some Christians or Catholics are no longer followers of Jesus. I recall a rumor that the late Pope John Paul the Great sent arms to the Kosovo Muslims instead of the Christians during the conflict. It has been proven later that the Christians were engaged in ethnic cleansing.

  90. Corleone says:

    Ricky – that rumour is beyond ridiculous, since the Vatican has no arms to send, save the antiquated swords and ceremonial axes of the Swiss guard. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to excercise charity today.

    As for the comment regarding Christians and ethnic cleansing, the Balkans are on par with Africa when it comes to savagery, irrationality and conflict; ALL stemming from tribalism. Religion had nothing to do with it, and was only used as a cover for nationalism, both on the part of the Serbs and the Albanians. Were the Serbs so worried about their holy places in Kosova falling into the hands of Mohammedans they could have easily turned them over to the custody Christian Albanians, which comprise about 6% of the population of Kosova. But it was all about Serb nationalism, not Christianity.

  91. Paul Haley says:

    I should clarify my remarks regarding the blessing of small children at the altar rail who, although baptized, are way too young for first communion. The priest, and it is always a priest who distributes communion in our masses, always keep his thumb and forefinger closed and merely touches the head of the child with the remaining fingers and presumably says something to the effect of: May Almighty God bless you or, even God bless you, dear child, and the words are not spoken out loud. This is in no way a substitute for the profound and solemn last blessing to the entire congregation following the Ite Missa est. Now, whether this violates the CDF instruction or not is not up to me to judge and I leave that up to those charged with the pastoral responsibility – i.e., the priests. God bless.

  92. Ricky Vines says:

    Corleone: Did I say arms? How about alms? The Pope sent alms. ( Although the Vatican does
    have funds to procure weapons – for self defense. )

  93. Ohio Annie says:

    Ricky and Corleone, besides those charming halberds, the Swiss Guard have (has?) H&K MP 5s concealed. But I like alms better, please!

  94. Michael J says:

    shadrach,

    Perhaps “known to be unworthy” could have been better phrased as “known to be inelligible” thus not implying (which I did not intend) any judgement about the interior disposition of any one particular individual.

    By knowledge, I mean objective, easily available public knowledge such as:

    The so called “sisters of perpetual indulgence” – a publicly active homosexual group whose stated reason for existence is defiance of Catholic doctrine. Men mocking Catholicism by dressing as Nuns in some grotesque harlequin makeup.

    Former President of the United States Bill Clinton – Ignoring any criticism of this mans behavior, it is publicly known that he is not Catholic.

    My 3-year old son very obviously has not attained the age of reason.

    Are you, or anyone else seriously suggesting that it is impossible to know that any of the above three should not be allowed to receive Holy Communion and that if they present themselves, that it should not be denied?

  95. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    QUINN: Did you believe that the pope made a mistake by giving communion when he was here to Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry and those other Catholics?

    CHAPUT: I’ve given communion to people who come up who aren’t Catholics. We kind of joke that every time there’s a funeral, you have a lot of first communions because you don’t embarrass people when they come to communion and chase them away because that’s a terrible pastoral decision. But to tell them beforehand that it’s not appropriate unless you’re a Catholic is appropriate.

    ********
    ********

    So, His Excellency, admits to knowingly–and, apparently jokingly (?)–giving the Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ to people who don’t share the Catholic or (even) Christian Faith. [I don't think that is a fair characterization of what Archbp. Chaput said. I don't he said he "jokingly" gives the Eucharist to anyone. I believe he said that it is a matter of a clerical joke - in an ironic sense - that many first Communions are given, because you cannot always know to whom you are giving Holy Communion.]

    A night club has stricter standards.

    While love covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet 4:8), the excuse of “being pastoral” engenders an even greater multitude.

    Fr. Z has come up with the word, “ineffable,” for liturgy. [I did not come up with the word "ineffable" for liturgy.] But, shouldn’t we come up with a word for doctrinally-conservative bishops (like Chaput) who nevertheless act like any other liberal one?

    Suggestions?

  96. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    And then, reflecting on the difference between e-mail from liberals and conservatives, he said:

    “The left mail I get will use terrible words but be less vitriolic. They use the F-word and things like that, call me names like that. But the right is meaner, but they’re not as foul.”

    Poor Archbishop Chaput. He gets e-mails wondering why he hasn’t excommunicated pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

    What a nasty world we live in. I’m crying inside for him. [Sooo... being foul is ... what... justified when you don't like what he does/doesn't do?]

  97. JC says:

    Nasty can be in the eye of the beholder. Bishop Tobin, during the Mother Angelica/Cardinal Mahony kerfluffle, wrote a great piece on conservative anger. Fr. Groeschel made a comment like this at the talk he gave here a few weeks ago–but the way he said it was that he gets a lot of angry mail from conservatives because liberals have totally written him off.

    On the surface, there is a thin line between pharisee and prophet–however deep a gulf in between. I will admit to anger, but an anger that comes from perpetual frustration at the lack of support from the Church in living my life as a Catholic. Those of us who *want* to be Catholic are hit (as a poster notes up above with that nice little parable about sending the letters to the bishop after butting heads witth several priests) over the head with out “outdated we are,” how some of the things that matter most to us as Catholics “went out with Vatican II,” and so forth.

    It is very frustrating, and while the Internet subculture definitely lends itself to a certain vitriol on any given subject, I have always rejected the view that we behave somehow differently online than in person. [That is a very sad comment, given what I have seen on the internet in the years I have been working with it.]

    Maybe Archbishop Chaput (whose record has some “issues”–including his opposition to the Colorado Human Life Amendment) is write about writing online versus writing a letter. But the internet has given a great voice to the frustrated–on all sides of the spectrum.

    In some ways, while we can say that the tone needs to change, it’s more that those in power need to get thicker skins and learn to read through the bitterness. The last ten years have been arguably the biggest cultural revolution in history. Certainly as big as the Industrial Revolution and the invention of the printing press, if not bigger. [All the more reason to use it well and set a standard.]

  98. boredoftheworld says:

    perpetual frustration at the lack of support from the Church in living my life as a Catholic.

    That pretty well sums up everything that’s been driving me nuts for the last decade. I think I’ll print it, frame it… and then nail it to the cathedral door.

    Er, metaphorically of course.

  99. Jackson says:

    Matthew W.I. Dunn, many who are outside Denver think that Chaput is doctrinally conservative. The doctrinal issues in Denver were cleaned up by Stafford, who inherited a bad mess, and did an excellent job cleaning it up. Chaput gets to ride on what Stafford did, though Chaput will act if outright heresy erupts. Socially, Chaput is quite liberal, even in the ballpark of “Roger Mahoney” liberal, though not quite that looney. Chaput is an enigma who sometimes skirts the line of orthodoxy. I will give him credit for the good, and criticize the not so good, but one thing I will say. Chaput has not yet met the man he is afraid of, meaning he will take anyone on over any issue. You just might not agree with his side of the issue. In a word, frustrating.

  100. JC says:

    Father,
    It may be sad, but it’s true. I hear conversations among liberals and secularists IRL that don’t sound much different than what one reads on _Huffington Post_. I know lots of conservatives who never post online but are still very angry and bitter.

    Part of the problem online is that comboxes and bulletin boards, which can be great for Socratic dialogue, usually end up being used for summary arguments instead, for lack of space. The details behind a person’s position-if there are any–get lost, so the person with a refined position may bet “lumped” in with the person who doesn’t. Like, if a conservative argues against the war in Iraq for conservative reasons but is labelled a liberal. A Catholic talks about masonic-type organizations and beliefs based strictly on the relevant papal writings but is labelled a “conspiracy nut”.

    But I’m also concerned that, at least in presentation, Archbishop Chaput seems to be talking more about the *content* than the tone of conservatives’ opinions. For example, the audacity of people who would presume to tell him how to enforce 915. As others have said, one can present the most reasoned, evidence-based case and still be accused of being “vitriolic,” if the case is criticizing the recipient personally.

    Being “mean” is purely a subjective impression. It’s like _The Green Book_ C. S. Lewis discusses in _The Abolition of Man_: “Reading this upsets me, so I say the author is mean!”

    The author may or may not be “mean”; but that is a value judgement, an assessmennt of the person’s motivations and psychology, which diverts the discussion. And if the person is angry to begin with for havnig his or her views ignored, calling the person “mean” is only going to perpetuate the cycle. Far better to say something like Bishop Tobin did regarding Mother Angelica and Cardinal Mahony: “I understand why you’re angry, but . . . ”

    It’s like with my kids. “Daddy! She’s being mean to me!” “No! She’s being mean to me!”
    “I don’t care who’s being mean to whom: I want to know *what happened.”

  101. kate says:

    Sally Quinn behaved VERY badly.
    I was not a fan of Tim Russert, but I wonder what he would have thought of her experimentation with the Eucharist. I like the idea posted above of the receiver being asked if they are Catholic before receiving and being given a blessing instead.

  102. Anthony says:

    I agree with the Archbishop that those on the right, those who have clear lines of right and wrong, are meaner than those on the left. My little nephew thinks I’m mean too, especially when I yell at him, really loud too, when he tries to do something wrong that will most likely kill him… like walking out into traffic, or shoving things in the electrical socket.

  103. Ricky Vines says:

    When I wrote that the “Latin Mass types” were mean spirited, I was reminded of
    the nurse in “one that flew over the cuckoo’s nest”.

    When thinking of the vulgarity of the liberal types, I picture Sandra Bullock
    in “A Time To Kill”

    Both types drive people away from the church. The first type however will send
    the victims to therapy; the second type will just make them angry.

  104. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    Fr. Z replied:

    So, His Excellency, admits to knowingly—and, apparently jokingly (?)—giving the Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ to people who don’t share the Catholic or (even) Christian Faith. [I don’t think that is a fair characterization of what Archbp. Chaput said. I don’t he said he “jokingly” gives the Eucharist to anyone. I believe he said that it is a matter of a clerical joke – in an ironic sense – that many first Communions are given, because you cannot always know to whom you are giving Holy Communion.]

    Chaput–a Catholic bishop and (presumably) a custodian of Sacred Things–admits to giving Holy Communion to people he knows are not Catholic. His excuse is that he doesn’t want to “embarrass” or “chase [them] off.”

    So, this is a knowing act on Chaput’s part . . . not just some “Whoops, I thought he was Catholic!”-moment.

    As to joking: I see your point, but still disagree. Chaput says that he jokes over what he already knows, viz. that despite his instructions, he will still make a conscious decision not to refuse the Sacrament to people he knows (or, makes a good surmise) are not Catholic.