From a reader:
I come from a mid-sized parish with at least 10 EMHCs every Sunday, which just seems like way too much. I’ve also noticed that they give blessings, with the laying on of hands and everything, to catechumens, non-Catholics, etc. I’m a catechumen myself and obviously not an expert, but this seems wrong – maybe even invalidating the blessing?
We also have at least one openly gay EMHC, an ex-priest at that.
Should he be serving the Eucharist at all? Who should I contact about these issues?
Three issues here.
First, are that many EMHC’s really necessary?
On this point, though I don’t know the situation on the ground there in the parish (e.g. numbers of communicants, the age and physical condition of the priest, the availability of deacons, etc.) I can’t say too much. However, even if there really isn’t a need for lay distributors, the concept of active participation and the distinction of roles of clerics and lay people is now so screwed up in some places that you might as well shout your concerns into the knothole of a tree for all the good it will do. Raise the issue and you will be told that this is the “right” of the “baptized”, blah blah blah. So, you’ll have to shrug that off for now.
Second, can EMHCs give blessings?
NO. I direct your attention to this entry HERE. That should answer your questions. As a catechumen this will be great catechesis for you.
If EMHCs are doing this at that parish, you could address your question to the parish priest or to the local bishop. However, again, people are so muddle-headed about blessings and the difference of clerical and lay roles, you might receive silence and the 1000 yard stare.
Third, “openly gay EMHC, an ex-priest”!
Grrr. No. This isn’t to be happening.
This is a more serious problem. It is also something you have to be sure about before doing anything.
Perhaps a direct question to the parish priest could serve you well in this situation. ”Is Sempronius, the EMHC, a priest who left active ministry?” If yes, “How does that square with Redemptionis Sacramentum 168?”
In the document from the Congregation for Divine Worship called Redemptionis Sacramentum we read:
4. Those Who Have Left the Clerical State
[168.] “A cleric who loses the clerical state in accordance with the law . . . is prohibited from exercising the power of order”. It is therefore not licit for him to celebrate the sacraments under any pretext whatsoever save in the exceptional case set forth by law, nor is it licit for Christ’s faithful to have recourse to him for the celebration, since there is no reason which would permit this according to canon 1335. Moreover, these men should neither give the homily nor ever undertake any office or duty in the celebration of the sacred Liturgy, lest confusion arise among Christ’s faithful and the truth be obscured.
If it is true that an ex-priest is acting as a EMHC, you could bring the matter to the attention of the local bishop with a copy of the letter to the Congregation for Divine Worship, which issued the document Redemptionis Sacramentum.
However, you would need, first, to be RIGHT, namely, know correctly that he is an ex-priest (a priest not in active ministry for one reason or another). Then you would have to demonstrated that he actually does what you say he does, namely, that he serves as an EMHC. Perhaps a parish bulletin would have a list of EMHCs for a Sunday. Perhaps there would be a photo. Perhaps there would be some other people who would affirm that this is going on. Perhaps the pastor of the parish would defend the activity of the man in question in writing.
In any event, it could be useful to make sure you have FACTS and not just be guessing.
Reason #60382 for Summorum Pontificum.